U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Team trains at uranium facilities

Sgt. Joshua M. Kamami examines a bank of mixer settlers during rare earth element recovery operations at White Mesa uranium mill. During Operation Pay Dirt, the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-based Nuclear Disablement Team 1 trained at the White Mesa uranium mill in Utah and the Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery mine and plant north of Casper, Wyoming, April 4 - 8. (U.S. Army photo by Maj. Mark S. Quint)

During Operation Pay Dirt, the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered Nuclear Disablement Team 1 trained at the White Mesa uranium mill in Utah and the Nichols Ranch in-situ recovery mine and plant north of Casper, Wyoming, April 4 - 8.

Maj. Mark S. Quint, the team leader for NDT 1, said Operation Pay Dirt provided a great training opportunity for his one-of-a-kind team.

“The NDT has focused primarily on nuclear infrastructure associated with the enrichment process and all of the following steps necessary to develop a nuclear weapons program,” said Quint. “Our partnership with this industrial scale manufacturer provides an incredibly valuable training venue as their facilities are analogous to the facilities our adversaries abroad possess.”

Army NDTs directly contribute to the nation’s strategic deterrence by staying ready to exploit and disable nuclear and radiological Weapons of Mass Destruction infrastructure and components to deny near-term capability to adversaries. The specialized teams also facilitate follow-on WMD elimination operations.

The U.S. Army’s three Nuclear Disablement Teams — NDT 1 “Manhattan,” NDT 2 “Iron Maiden” and NDT 3 “Vandals” — are part of the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland-headquartered 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards headquarters.

“NDT operations are inherently dependent on our interagency partnerships. This training allows the NDTs to more efficiently exploit similar infrastructure to inform our joint partners on WMD capacity of adversary states,” said Quint. “Furthermore, in operations with allied nations, our team can help maximize the efficiency of limited CBRNE forces, by recommending to the theater CBRNE commander which type of units can exploit different facilities.”

Quint said NDT 1 was able to leverage the vast experience of the staff at Energy Fuels during Operation Pay Dirt.

“The highlight of the training was our direct interaction with the exceptionally knowledgeable staff,” said Quint. “The passion that those staff members exude is evident in their facilities. Also, it is invaluable for NDT members to train on industrial scale infrastructure, and both Energy Fuels sites offered that.”

Quint said he believes the partnership with Energy Fuels will continue in the future and will contribute to the readiness of the U.S. Army’s Nuclear Disablement Teams.

“Based on their generosity, patriotism and culture of openness, I believe this partnership with Energy Fuels will continue in perpetuity. We’re excited to continue to send our forces to their facilities to gain a world class understanding of the uranium mining and milling process,” said Quint, a 14-year U.S. Army veteran from Paulsboro, New Jersey.

Quint served as a field artilleryman before becoming a U.S. Army Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (FA 52) officer.

“Readiness is at the core of the NDT mission. Our adversaries must continue to understand that the Nuclear Disablement Team remains the U.S. Army’s premier resource for technical exploitation of nuclear infrastructure worldwide,” said Quint. “Energy Fuels is one of our partners in industry, academia and government that help fulfill our unique yet critical mission. We are grateful to them and many others for their ongoing commitment to our readiness.”

Curtis H. Moore, the vice president for marketing and corporate development at Energy Fuels, said his team was impressed by the wide variety of instruments the Nuclear Disablement Team employed during the training.

“They had a broad range of equipment that they were able to use effectively to identify and characterize the materials and potential hazards present in an operating uranium mill,” said Moore, who has worked for the Lakewood, Colorado-based corporation for nearly 15 years.

Moore said Energy Fuels is the largest U.S. uranium producer and White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium and vanadium mill in the nation.

According to Moore, Energy Fuels would welcome the opportunity to host NDTs at their facilities again in the future.

“It was a genuine pleasure to host the U.S. Army Nuclear Disablement Team at our facility. We always appreciate the opportunity to discuss our operations, from our commitment to environmental responsibility to our ability to domestically produce many critical materials,” said Moore. “The Nuclear Disablement Team’s insightful questions and dedication to their mission was a unique experience for us. We’d be happy to host them, and others in the U.S. Army, again in the future.”

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