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Environmental Radioactivity Assessment Around Old Uranium Mining Sites Near Mangualde (Viseu), Portugal

[+] Author Affiliations
Fernando P. Carvalho, João M. Oliveira, Lubélia M. Torres

Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear, Sacavém, Portugal

Paper No. ICEM2007-7366, pp. 1325-1331; 7 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2007-7366
From:
  • 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

abstract

Uranium ore was extracted in the surroundings of Mangualde city, North of Portugal, in the mines of Cunha Baixa, Quinta do Bispo and Espinho until a few years ago. Mining waste, milling tailings and acid mine waters are the on site remains of this extractive activity. Environmental radioactivity measurements were performed in and around these sites in order to assess the dispersal of radionuclides from uranium mining waste and the spread of acidic waters resulting from the in situ uranium leaching with sulphuric acid. Results show migration of acid waters into groundwater around the Cunha Baixa mine. This groundwater is tapped by irrigation wells in the agriculture area near the Cunha Baixa village. Water from wells displayed uranium (238 U) concentrations up to 19 × 103 mBq L−1 and sulphate ion concentrations up to 1070 mg L−1 . These enhanced concentrations are positively correlated with low water pH, pointing to a common origin for radioactivity, dissolved sulphate, and acidity in underground mining works. Radionuclide concentrations were determined in horticulture and farm products from this area also and results suggest low soil to plant transfer of radionuclides and low food chain transfer of radionuclides to man. Analysis of aerosols in surface air showed re suspension of dust from mining and milling waste heaps. Therefore, it is recommended to maintain mine water treatment and to plan remediation of these mine sites in order to prevent waste dispersal in the environment.

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