My brother opened up Google maps and asked me, “What’s that? ” Here’s what he was looking at, taken from Google Earth:
“That,” I replied, “Is where they stored the mill tailings from Rifle’s Superfund cleanup site.” Rifle’s vanadium processing mills left two contaminated sites. Contaminated soil was trucked to Estes Gulch, north of Rifle, where it was entombed in concrete.
In the 1970s (probably) CBS News 60 Minutes ran a story about the nuclear tests that were conducted in the Bikini Islands. The story ended with the reporter standing on what was probably the concrete dome on Runit Island where the nuclear waste from the islands was stored. The dramatic image of a “concrete island” stayed with me. Of course, now you can look up that image on Google Earth.
It made me wonder how many other “concrete islands” were created from Superfund cleanup sites. I’ll post more of Colorado’s concrete islands as I find them.
- Superfund Information Systems Site Information
- Superfund Documents
- Success Stories: Siting Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land. New Rifle Uranium Mill Tailings Regional Wastewater Reclamation Facility
Google Earth images and latitude/longitudes:
- Estes Gulch Rifle, Colorado Google Earth lat/long:
39o36’56.63” N 107o47’59.11” W
- Runit Dome lat/long: