Paper No. 2-8
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM

ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION NEARBY A URANIUM MINE


BALDEZ, Phoenix1, BOWERS, Fenton1, LAMBERT, Patrick1, and MOORE DIAS DA CUNHA, Kenya2, (1) Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, pbaldez@unm.edu, (2) Department of Civil Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
The mining and milling of uranium produce tailings that are usually deposited in the surrounding areas. These tailings contain radionuclides from the natural series of uranium that due to the natural processes can be leached and consequently transported to the environment. The presence of these radionuclides in the environment contaminates the soil and water and can cause serious damage to the human health. One of the sources of the water contamination is the transport of the radionuclides due to the mobility of the isotopes in soils. The objective of this proposal was to study the mobility of uranium present in the tailing and mineral from the uranium mines. The mobility of uranium in a specific soil is very important because based on this data it is possible to predict the behavior of the uranium in this soil and consequently the possible contamination of groundwater, wells, stream and springs. The mineral samples and the tailing were collected in an uranium mine located at Four Corner. The uranium concentrations present in the tailing and mineral samples were determined using a LSC. The samples were per-concentrated in the Environmental Laboratory and counted in the Nuclear Laboratory at UNM. The results of uranium concentrations from the tailing and minerals samples from the uranium mine will be presented as well as the predicted mobility of the isotopes in the soil.