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Uravan, Colorado

Uravan was a town in western Montrose County, Colorado, now abandoned as a ghost town and Superfund site. The town was a company town established by U. S. Vanadium Corporation in 1936 to extract the rich vanadium ore in the region. As a byproduct of vanadium extraction, small amounts of uranium were also produced, at the time mostly used as a yellow pigment. The name is a contraction of Uranium vanadium.

The town was located approximately 90 mi SSW of Grand Junction along the San Miguel River.

During World War II, Uravan provided part of the uranium needed by the Manhattan Project for the first atomic bomb. Because of wartime secrecy the Manhattan Project would only publicly admit to purchasing the vanadium, and did not pay the uranium miners for the uranium ore (in a much later lawsuit, many miners were able to reclaim lost profits from the U.S. government).

In the beginning of the Cold War, to ensure adequate supplies of uranium for national defense, the United States Congress passed the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1946, creating the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) which had the power to withdraw prospective uranium mining land from public purchase, and also to manipulate the price of uranium to meet national needs. By setting a high price for uranium ore, the AEC created a uranium "boom" in the early 1950s, which attracted many prospectors to the four corners region of the country. Uravan's fortunes grew as it became one of the major "yellowcake towns" in the region, though American ores were always considerably lower grade than those from the Belgian Congo and South Africa.

American military requirements of uranium declined in the 1960s, and the government completed its uranium procurement program by the end of 1970. Simultaneously, a new market emerged: commercial nuclear power plants. However, in the U.S. this market virtually collapsed by the end of the 1970s as a result of economic strains caused by the energy crisis, popular opposition, and finally the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979, all of which led to a de facto moratorium on the development of new nuclear reactor power stations.

Coordinates: 38°22′06″N, 108°44′11″W

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Uravan,_Colorado". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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