Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM
URANIUM AND URANIUM PROGENY IN GROUNDWATER ASSOCIATED WITH URANIUM ORE BEARING FORMATIONS
Uranium is a naturally occurring element that is recovered commercially as an energy fuel when found in sufficient concentrations and quantities. Geoscientists have historically sampled and analyzed groundwater from existing wells for uranium and other elements as a uranium exploration method. In 1973, the Atomic Energy Commission initiated the National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) program to identify uranium resources in the United States. NURE investigators systematically sampled and analyzed groundwater across the United States to determine the presence and levels of uranium and other chemical constituents. Analysis of the NURE data revealed that naturally occurring uranium is commonly found in fresh water aquifers in uranium producing regions of the United States.
In situ uranium recovery (ISR) has been widely practiced in the United States for about 40 years. Because ISR is conducted in aquifers, a vast amount of baseline ground water quality data is required before mining can begin which must be provided to regulatory agencies and the public. This baseline data, from over 100 mine areas, reveals that elevated concentrations of uranium and its progeny occur in the groundwater in and around the uranium mineralization.
It is this understanding of the uranium radiochemical footprint in groundwater that USEPA uses as the basis for issuing Aquifer Exemptions for ISL uranium recovery facilities according to their rules at 40 CFR 146.4 that requires a finding that groundwater in a uranium ore zone cannot now and will not in the future serve as a source of drinking water. ISR cannot be conducted in the United States without a USEPA approved Aquifer Exemption.
© Copyright 2013 The Geological Society of America (GSA), all rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted to the author(s) of this abstract to reproduce and distribute it freely, for noncommercial purposes. Permission is hereby granted to any individual scientist to download a single copy of this electronic file and reproduce up to 20 paper copies for noncommercial purposes advancing science and education, including classroom use, providing all reproductions include the complete content shown here, including the author information. All other forms of reproduction and/or transmittal are prohibited without written permission from GSA Copyright Permissions.