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Decommissioning and remediation of uranium milling and processing facilities


After the final shutdown of an ore extraction and treatment installation, site remediation for the facilities, soil, air and water demands the consideration of the possible consequences arising from the presence of natural radionuclides, of any associated heavy metals and of water with various chemical properties.

This study aims at examining the main methods for reducing pollution to meet regulatory clearance levels, and to assess the advantage of new R&D, in order to improve the existing health situation by an economically reasonable optimization, based on experience gained throughout the world, in the EU and in the Eastern countries.

1. Problems raised by the final shutdown of ore extraction and treatment installations

It is important to identify clearly the facilities used and the site remediation operations necessary in the uranium extraction industry, in order to examine the origin and respective scale of the potential types of pollution concerned.

To this purpose, the following items have been investigated:

- General characterization of the installations and their sites
- Importance of the question and the nature of the problems posed
- General regulatory requirements: the main texts to be considered are international recommendations, European directives, national regulations.

2. Operational implementation of methods and progress for site remediation

The primary objective of site remediation is the hazard-free return to the public domain of the maximum area used during industrial activity. Since total restoration is not always possible, the objective must be to obtain maximum safety through the implementation of certain measures. Although these measures may be initially curative, they are above all preventive and optimally effective for the protection of the human and natural environment, while facilitating landscape integration. The study presents an approach in terms of risk, and examines the various inspections required before and after remediation, necessary for drawing up the measures adopted. It covers:

a) Installation decommissioning and dismantling
b) Site remediation: curative and preventive measures
c) Surveillance of restored sites.

3. Problems identified requiring future research and development

The remediation of uranium ore extraction and treatment sites still raises a number of questions, for which further investigations are obviously necessary, requiring the identification of broad areas for consideration. The study clarifies the main R&D orientation, in line with priorities and in view of the problems raised, in technical and economic terms.


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Participants (2)

FZR Rossendorf