This year, lack of funding is causing curtailment of operations at the tailings site north of Moab from December through February. “I’m optimistic this is not going to happen again,” Don Metzler said.
He spoke briefly during the Tuesday, Nov. 27, meeting of the Moab Tailings Project Steering Committee. He elaborated on his comment during an interview after the meeting, saying he believes federal funding will be forthcoming to keep the project on task.
“I am optimistic because of the good work we’ve done,” he said, “and because David Huizenga is still the man in charge and has visited the site. He knows the work we are doing, he knows our performance and our safety record. It means we have an ally.”
Huizenga is senior advisor for environmental management at the U.S. Department of Energy. Metzler said efforts will be made to get more money from Congress during the 2014 funding cycle. Members of the steering committee plan to send a representative to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress early next year.
“It’s going to take a lot of input from our representatives in Congress,” steering committee member Audrey Graham added. As for the tailings project, Metzler said local government officials have been good to work with. He said morale is high among workers.
“That’s because we have tried to let employees know they are valued,” Metzler said. “We have people who are happy and high-producing.” He noted that 27 of the 112 workers opted to take time off for the next three months. Metzler anticipates they will return rested and ready to work.
One laid-off worker plans to ride his motorcycle to the Florida Keys and spend the winter there, Metzler said. Another will spend the time refurbishing a vintage automobile.
“If they get to do a lifetime dream during this period, they’ll come back with their batteries charged,” he said.