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Book Chapter

Reducing the long-term environmental impact of wastes arising from uranium mining

By
Kaye Hart
Kaye Hart
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), PMB 1, Menai, NSW 2234, Australia kph@ansto.gov.au
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Published:
January 01, 2004

Abstract

Uranium mining and milling produces significant quantities of solid and liquid wastes. Solid wastes include waste rock arising from the mining activity and tailings produced by processing of the ore through the millin circuits. Of these, tailings have the most pronounced impact on the environment as they represent almost the entire mass of material processed in the milling circuits and also contain over 85% of the original radioactivity present in the ore. Modern rehabilitation schemes for tailings impoundments include a number of layers designed to prevent infiltration of water, oxidation of minerals, capillary rise of salts, and release of Rn, thereby minimizing the impact of the disposal of tailings on the environment. Although the effectiveness of these engineered barriers may degrade with time, it is possible, using evidence from natural systems and archaeological constructions, to provide evidence of the long-term isolation of the contaminants contained in the uranium tailings from the environment.

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Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Energy, Waste and the Environment: a Geochemical Perspective

R. Gieré
R. Gieré
Universität Freiburg, Germany
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P. Stille
P. Stille
ULP-École et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre-CNRS, Strasbourg, France
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Geological Society of London
Volume
236
ISBN electronic:
9781862394841
Publication date:
January 01, 2004

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