Pre-Litigation Support for Orphan Uranium Mine Contamination

Pre-Litigation Support for Orphan Uranium Mine Contamination 3

First Environment provided pre-litigation support work at the Orphan Uranium Mine located at the base of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Project tasks included historical, legal, and policy research related to the mine and its sister milling site that was part of the yellow cake manufacturing process.

Both the mine and the milling properties were contaminated with uranium tailings and, at the time the sites were in operation, First Environment was asked to determine whether the operations were consistent with technologies at the time (e.g., the 1950s through 1960s).  The project team conducted historical corporate research for the identities of past and current owners as potential responsible parties (PRPs) and corresponded with local, state, and federal agencies— including the National Archives and Records Agency, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Arizona Department of Mines, and others—to obtain relevant government documents. Using this information, we compiled a regulatory and corporate history database for attorneys to identify potential litigants in a lawsuit and potential defensive positions.

Research included tracing historic mining operations to Source Material Licenses issued by the AEC in the 1950s and ‘60s and various leases and contracts authorizing the mine to operate. First Environment also accessed various databases for corporate and legal research. Specifically, we were able to review historical legislative and statutory histories that called for expansion of the mine into the Grand Canyon National Park. Our legislative research included precise accounts of debates that took place on the floor of the U.S. Senate over the merits of expanding the mine in the context of the “Cold War” era.