The Department of Energy announced Wednesday that it has reached an agreement with American Capital Energy to build a photovoltaic energy system where 2.5 million cubic yards of radioactive mill tailings are buried in Bodo Canyon.
The DOE’s Office of Legacy Management and American Capital Energy have agreed to a three-year option on a lease of up to 25 years to establish a solar-generated power facility.
The site could accommodate a system generating up to 4.5 megawatts or enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes.
American Capital Energy is a privately held business in Lowell, Mass., founded in 2005.
“We look forward to working with American Capital Energy to provide renewable energy to the people of Durango and to support the ongoing beneficial reuse of former nuclear sites,” Jalena Dayvault, the DOE site manager in Durango, said in a statement Wednesday.
Under the agreement, American Capital has three years to acquire permits and a connection with a local utility, which could buy the power for itself or wheel it out, as they say in the trade, to another utility.
La Plata Electric Association is aware of the plan, but has not taken a position on its role.
Construction of solar panels would cover 18 acres of the burial cell and 3½ acres adjacent to the site.
The burial site in Bodo Canyon is 3½ miles southwest of Durango. It covers 120 acres, 42 of which constitute the cell.
The cell contains radioactive waste from the milling of uranium at Smelter Mountain for all but three years from 1942 to 1963.