The Uranium Mill and Disposal Cell processing site is a former uranium-ore processing facility located in the town of Lakeview, Oregon, which is located approximately 16 miles north of the California-Oregon border. Uranium is used primarily for the development of nuclear power, and the uranium milling process used at the Lakeview site left radioactive tailings, which eventually contaminated nearby groundwater. No uranium ore was processed at the site after 1961.
Although the radiation hazards associated with uranium milling were largely unknown in the early years of uranium mining, subsequent studies of uranium miners led to the discovery that workers were indeed being exposed to high levels of radiation. The studies showed that intense inhalation of radon gas that uranium miners were subjected to could cause sharp increases of lung and other cancers in uranium miners. Shallow groundwater at the site area has been tested and has shown to have elevated concentrations of arsenic, boron, chloride, manganese, sodium, and sulfate. Although these concentrations have been shown to have originated from several sources, the Lakeview uranium site was deemed one culprit, and the Department of Energy (DOE) established controls to ensure protection of human health, including cleanup of the uranium tailings and continued monitoring of the groundwater at the site.
Operations at the Lakeview, Oregon site ceased in 1961, and from 1986 to 1988, the uranium tailing contaminants were removed from the site and placed in an engineered disposal cell, which is stored 7 miles northwest of Lakeview.