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DOE officials also noted that the $108 million in federal stimulus funds received by the project will be completely used up by Sept. 30, 2011. After that, no one is certain about what will happen to project funding levels, Metzler said.
The savings amounts to 37.5 percent in fuel savings, based on a comparability study conducted in Texas, according to the news release.
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So far, 1.5 million out of the 16 million tons of Cold War era uranium tailings have been relocated to the DOE's permanent disposal site near Crescent Junction, some 30 miles north of Moab. Metzler said the project is not only ahead of schedule, it is under budget.
"Based on performance, common sense says we'd have to be toward the head of the class," Metzler said. He admitted that there is room for improvement in the safety arena. A handful of incidents at the old Atlas site in the past year have resulted in minor injuries to workers, but no one has been seriously injured, according to reports.
Department of Energy's decision to ship the Atlas mill tailings by train instead of by truck saved an estimated 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel in the first year of shipping, DOE officials said in a recent news release.
Metzler said he originally believed shipping the 16 million tons of contaminated material by truck would be less expensive than using rail. However, he said, the process has gone so well with Union Pacific Railroad that choosing rail has proven to be "most likely" the best decision as far as project costs are concerned, as well.
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"Choosing rail is overwhelmingly the best decision we could have made," said Don Metzler, DOE project director for the Moab site.
Tailings project ahead of schedule DOE officials say rail transport has saved money
But, he added, the project competes with Vans Girls Shoes Black many others for DOE funding. Metzler said the DOE assistant secretary for environmental management has two top priorities for such projects: safety and performance.
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"The quicker we get it done, the less the cost will be and the less risk to the environment," Metzler said.
Tibbetts was referring to a public hearing held by the DOE early in 2008 in which a standing room only crowd of local residents unanimously voiced their opposition to a proposed DOE plan to ship the tailings by truck. 191 every day could pose serious safety hazards and shipping by rail would be the best alternative.
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