Background and Purpose
During the late 1950s and early 1960s a substantial
amount of prospecting and mining of uranium resources occurred in western
South Dakota, southeastern Montana, and northeast Wyoming. These lands are
located in the Grand, Moreau, and Belle Fourche/Cheyenne watersheds of the
Missouri River drainage. As a result of this historic activity,
degradation of both land and water resources have occurred from the
migration of contaminated materials by water and wind erosion. In
addition, the remnants of these impacts may pose a risk to human health.
Over the past eight years the Forest Service has completed a number of
Preliminary Assessments and Site Investigations at locations on lands
administered by the Forest Service. However, the overall extent of the
impacts to the Upper Grand and Moreau River drainages from these sites, as
well as sites adjacent to lands administered by the Forest Service, need
to be further investigated. In order to meet responsibilities under the
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of
1980 as amended, CERCLA, (42 U.S.C. 1251) Region One of the Forest Service
has partnered with the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology to
help in the evaluation of human health and environmental impacts resulting
from the past mining and prospecting of Uranium resources in the
The purpose of this study is to improve the ability of the Forest
Service to evaluate impacts to air, water, and soil resources, as well as
potential impacts to human health stemming from the migration of
contaminated material from past mining activities on or adjacent to lands
in the North Cave Hills. It is anticipated that this project will be
completed by December 31, 2006. It is also the intent of this endeavor to:
(1) develop a technical process for the evaluation of mining related
impacts; (2) evaluate the physical and chemical characteristics at a
limited number of sub-drainages; (3) develop educational opportunities for
students and Forest Service personnel pertaining the remediation of
historical mine and milling sites.
Project Goals and Tasks
- To collect and analyze field data from US Forest Service Lands in
northwestern South Dakota.
- Data from the project will be assessed to determine the offsite
impacts onto private lands due to soil and water erosion and to wind
transported dust originating from abandoned uranium mining sites on
Forest Service administered lands.
- Data collection and analytical methods will reflect true contaminant
dispersion and concentrations.
- The study will serve as proof-of-concept investigation for future
- Review of information and literature.
- Development of technical processes using a watershed approach for
the evaluation of the migration of contaminants by water and soil
erosion within a given watershed and for the evaluation air quality
within a given airshed.
- Conduct field sampling and testing of water and sediment and monitor
air quality and dust transport within the airshed. Water will be
collected from stream channels, soil samples will be collected using a
Geoprobe coring machine, and air samples will be collected using passive
samplers and a wind tunnel.
- Document and report on the field findings in a technical report,
journal manuscripts, M.S. thesis, and scientific presentations.
- Educational integration with undergraduate and graduate students,
outdoor classroom opportunities, community outreach, and a public