Dispersion of radionuclides through groundwater systems is widely considered one of the most important pathways for potential environmental impact from uranium mining activities, particularly over the long-term. Due to the slow rates of contaminant migration, only radionuclides with relatively long half-lives are of importance in the transport process. Th-230 and Pb-210 are generally not transported significant distances due to the particle-reactive nature of thorium and lead (although such transport can occur under very acid conditions). Consequently, the radionuclides of primary concern are U-238, U-234 and Ra-226.
Uranium isotopes in groundwater in the vicinity of the Ranger and Nabarlek mines
These projects aim to use measurements of the two uranium isotopes U-238 and U-234 to determine the origin of uranium in groundwater in the vicinity of Ranger and Nabarlek minesites. Because of the long-term nature of groundwater dispersion, the projects involve regular measurement of the isotopes in groundwater samples collected over several years. The Nabarlek project is being carried out in collaboration with the Northern Territory Department of Resources . Project leader: Bruce Ryan.
Ryan B, Bollhöfer A, Martin P 2007. Uranium in groundwater at a rehabilitated Uranium mine in Western Arnhem Land, Australia. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference, Environmental Radioactivity: From measurement and Assessment to Regulation. 23–27 April 2007, Vienna, Austria.
Ryan A and Bollhöfer, A 2007. A summary of radionuclide activity and dissolved metal concentrations in Nabarlek borewaters from 1996 to 2005. Internal Report 530, Supervising Scientist, Darwin. Unpublished paper.
Iles M, Martin P, Ryan B & leGras C 2002. Long-term study of groundwater dispersion of uranium at Ranger Mine. In Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist research summary 1995-2000, Supervising Scientist Report 166, Supervising Scientist, Darwin NT, 7-12.
Martin P & Akber RA 1999. Radium isotopes as indicators of adsorption-desorption interactions and barite formation in groundwater. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 46 271-286.
Martin P & Akber RA 1996. Groundwater seepage from the Ranger uranium mine tailings dam: Radioisotopes of radium, thorium and actinium. Supervising Scientist Report 106 , Supervising Scientist, Canberra.
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