EnergySolutions and Union Pacific Railroad struck an agreement Monday for rail services and upgrades to an existing line that will support moving about 16 million tons of uranium-mill tailings over the next 20 years away from their current location near the Colorado River and Moab.

The Department of Energy announced Tuesday that the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding to ready a rail line between the tailings pile and the new 250-acre disposal site at Crescent Junction 30 miles away in time to start moving the waste next spring.

"We have been working with Union Pacific representatives for several months to finalize this agreement so that it is satisfactory to both parties," said EnergySolutions' Jeff Stevens. "Obtaining this MOU helps ensure that we can begin moving tailings as soon as possible."

Track repairs and improvements to rail crossings are needed, and Union Pacific will be replacing ties and spikes along with replacing switches. Last year EnergySolutions was awarded a $98 million contract to get the project going through its first phase, ending in 2011.