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Agriculture in an Area Impacted by Past Uranium Mining Activities

[+] Author Affiliations
F. P. Carvalho, J. M. Oliveira

Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear, Sacavém, Portugal

O. Neves, M. M. Abreu, E. M. Vicente

Universidad Técnica de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal

Paper No. ICEM2007-7370, pp. 977-980; 4 pages
  • The 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Bruges, Belgium, September 2–6, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4339-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3818-8
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME


The shallow aquifer near the old Cunha Baixa uranium mine (Viseu, Portugal) was contaminated by acid mine drainage. Concentration of radionuclides in water from irrigation wells and in the topsoil layer of the agriculture fields nearby display enhanced concentrations of uranium, radium and polonium. Two types of agriculture land in this area were selected, one with enhanced and another with low uranium concentrations, for controlled growth of lettuce and potatoes. Plants were grown in replicate portions of land (two plots) in each soil type and were periodically irrigated with water from wells. In each soil, one plot was irrigated with water containing low concentration of dissolved uranium and the other plot with water containing enhanced concentration of dissolved uranium. At the end of the growth season, plants were harvested and analysed, along with soil and irrigation water samples. Results show the accumulation of radionuclides in edible parts of plants, specially in the field plots with higher radionuclide concentrations in soil. Radionuclides in irrigation water contributed less to the radioactivity accumulated in plants than radionuclides from soils.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME
Topics: Uranium mining



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