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XA0201572 RADIATION LEGACY OF THE USSR ENTERPRISES FOR MINING, MILLING AND PROCESSING OF URANIUM ORES: CONSERVATION, DECOMMISSIO
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XA0201572
RADIATION LEGACY OF THE USSR ENTERPRISES FOR MINING,
MILLING AND PROCESSING OF URANIUM ORES: CONSERVATION,
DECOMMISSIONING AND ENVIRONMENTAL REHABILITATION
A.A. BURYKIN, A.A. ISKRA
All-Russia Research Institute of Chemical Technology
V.P. KARAMUSHKA
All-Russia Research and Planning Institute of Industrial Technology
Moscow, Russian Federation
Abstract
The long-term operation of USSR uranium mining and milling enterprises produced a great volume of
low level radioactive waste in the form of rock spoil heaps (181 million m3), hydro-metallurgical
,
3
plants tailings dumps (340 million m ) and basins of mine waters (200 million m ) with total activity
of25.1-10!5Bq (670 kCi). The total area occupied by the dumps is about 180 km2. The paper presents
brief characteristics of the activities of uranium ore mining enterprises located at the CIS countries'
territories, their wastes' status and describes measures for rehabilitation and restoration of
territories of the Soviet uranium mining and metallurgical complex.
1. INTRODUCTION
The production complex of mining and processing enterprises of the former USSR included 8
uranium combines and a plant for uranium raw materials' processing now located at the
territories of six independent countries:
• Russian Federation-Lermontov Industrial Association (LIA) "Almaz" (Caucasus
Mineral Waters, Stavropol Land); Argun (Priargunskii) Industrial Mining and
Chemical Association AMCA (Chita Region);
• Ukraine-Scientific and Industrial Association "Eastern Mining and Enrichment
Combine" (Zholtye Vody); Industrial Association "Pridneprovskii Chemical Plant"
(Dnieprodzerzhinsk);
• Kazakhstan-KASKOR Joint Stock Company (Aktau); Industrial Association
"Tselinnyi Mining and Chemical Combine"-IA "Tselinnyi MCC" (Stepnogorsk);
• Tajikistan-Industrial Association "Eastern Combine for Rare-Earth Metals"-IA
"Vostokredmet" (Khodgent);
• Uzbekistan-Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine (Navoi);
• Kyrghyzstan-Industrial Association "Southern Combine for Polymetals" (Kara-
Baity).
The total area of lands spoilt by the ore mining and processing activities is about 0.5 thousand
km2, of which
by ore mining objects-26.5% (133 km), about 81% of the area make quarries and
rock spoil heaps;
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• by ore processing objects-38% (190 km2), about 92% of the area make tailings
dumps;
• by auxiliary objects-8% (31 km2);
• (146.5 km2) are occupied by cities and settlements.
2. CHARACTERISTICS OF WASTES GENERATED AS A RESULT OF ACTIVITIES
OF ORE MINING AND PROCESSING ENTERPRISES OF THE FORMER USSR
Over the period of activities of these enterprises a great volume of low level radioactive waste
has been generated in the form of rock spoil heaps (181 million m3), hydro-metallurgical
plants tailings dumps (340 million m3) and basins of mine waters (200 million m ) with total
activity of 25.MO15 Bq (670 kCi). The total area occupied by the dumps is about 180 km2.
Below a brief characteristics of the activities of uranium ore mining enterprises at the CIS
countries' territories and their wastes' status is presented.
2.1 The Russian Federation
2.1.1 The Lermontov Industrial Association "Almaz" is located in the town of Lermontov,
the Stavropol Region. The association was established in 1950 as an industrial uranium
mining enterprise on the basis of the Beshtau and Byk deposits.
Sources of radioactive contamination of the environment have been left on the site of the
enterprise after the completion of works on uranium ore mining and processing. These are
dumps of unamenable ores and barren rocks as well as a pumped tailings dump. Their total
area is 1366.7 thousand m . The actual volume of unamenable ores and barren rocks in three
dumps is 3960.9 thousand m ; the volume of the HMP tailings dump is 12031.6 thousand m
(Table 1).
TABLE 1. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED AT THE IA "ALMAZ"
AS OF JANUARY 1, 1993
Storage site
Dumps of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dump
Total:
Area, 10 m
570.0
796.7
1366.7
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
3960.9
12031.6
15992.5
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
8403.7
14047.0
22450.7
Activity, Bq
1.40xl014
1.69xlO15
1.83xl015
The surfaces of unamenable ore and barren rock dumps were restored: covered with a clay and
chernozem layer and afforestated. Some measures have been taken to diminish the
environmental impact of the tailings dump. In particular, the beach of the embankment is
isolated by non-radioactive waste phosphogypsum produced in the processing of apatite
concentrate.
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2.1.2 The Argun Industrial Mining & Chemical Association (AMCA) is located in the
Krasnokamensk District, the Chita Region, 18 km north-east of the town of Krasnokamensk.
The Association is engaged in mining, enrichment and processing of uranium-molybdenum
ores. Uranium is mined in the Strel'tsovskii ore region in three underground mines and the
Tulukui open pit.
Dusty dumps of amenable and unamenable ores, a uranium open pit, a tailings dump, the
Urtui coal pit, a hydro-metallurgical plant (HMP) for enrichment of uranium and
molybdenum, and the Krasnokamensk Heating and Power Plant (HPP) are sources of
radioactive contamination for the surrounding territory. The tailings dump has been placed in
a natural valley with an embankment and the excavated topsoil. The bed of the valley is paved
with polyethylene film and a 0.5 m thick layer of inert ground. The HPP uses the Urtui coals
with a high content of natural radionuclides (NRNs). In burning the coals, the NRNs are
released in the atmosphere or discharged in an ash-disposal site. That is why the coals'
burning is under control: only coals with uranium content not exceeding 0.006% are allowed
to be used as a fuel. In such a way observation of permissible level of the NRN releases set by
the NRB-76/87 Rules is ensured.
Mine waters of the AMCA, industrial sewage from the HPP and residential sewage are
discharged through a collector in surface storage ponds and the local surface hydrologic
system. The sewage from the HMP is discharged in the tailings dump. The total area of the
storage ponds and the tailings dump is 4.264 km .
By using a multistage flow sheet developed at the association for radiometric enrichment of
uranium ores the waste from a radiometric enrichment plant is divided into two classes:
• waste with sufficiently high uranium content to be used for heap leaching;
• waste with low uranium content comparable with that of a barren rock.
Barren rocks produced in mining and processing of uranium ores are kept in special dumps.
The dumps of unamenable ores are used, as a rule, for heap leaching to extract an additional
product. Waste from heap leaching is used, in turn, in the site to fill worked-out areas. The
dumps of unamenable ores and barren rocks take a total area of 2.73 km (see Table 2). Before
forming a dump, the grading of an appropriate site is made, including topsoil excavation and
filling of a 1-m-thick cushion course from barren rock.
TABLE 2. RADIOACTIVE WASTE PRODUCED AT THE AMCA AS OF
JANUARY 1, 1993
Storage site
Dumps of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dump
Total:
Area,
10W
2730
4264
6994
Volume of
radwaste,
10V
104440
109000
213440
Quantity of
radwaste,
io3t
211260
69170
280430
Activity, Bq
16.7xlO14
29.0xl014
45.7xlO14
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The total quantity of radioactive waste including that in the HPP ash-disposal site, the coal
14
dump and a blending stockpile is 284.3 million tons with a total activity of 46.6x10 Bq.
2.2 Ukraine
2.2.1 The Scientific & Industrial Association "Eastern Mining & Enrichment Combine"
founded on the basis of the Pervomaiskii and Zheltorechenskii uranium-containing iron ore
deposits in the Kirovograd ore region in the Ukraine. The mines simultaneously extracted
uranium and iron. As of 1990, the enterprise stored 3770 thousand tons of unamenable ores
2
and barren rocks in dumps with an area of 181.4 thousand m (Table 3).
The bottom of the dumps is formed from loam's. Unamenable ores with a volume of 1960
thousand m were buried in the cavities of an iron ore mine. This amounts to 8% of the design
volume.
Since 1976 a tailings dump with a useful volume of 29200 thousand m has been in service at
a distance of 7 km from the HMP. As of 1990, it was 87% full, corresponding to 25404
thousand m of waste in the form of pulp. The bottom of the tailings dump is water-proofed
with compacted natural loam. The exposure dose rate (EDR) in a 950-m-radius observation
zone varies within the range of (1.7-2.5)xlO mR/h. Another tailings dump 400 m distant
from the HMP has been taken out of service because it was completely filled (8400 thousand
m ). The tailings dump was constructed with no waterproofing course. The EDR within the
observation zone limits does not exceed 2.5x10 mR/h.
The Association mined uranium by the in-situ leaching method in the Devladovo and
Bratskoe deposits. At the sites restoration works have been carried out: 142.6 thousand m3 of
soil with total activity of 1.6 -1011 Bq were excavated following by their disposal into 2.8-3.5
m deep trenches.
TABLE 3. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE SIA "EASTERN
MEC" AS OF JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
Dumps
of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dumps
Total:
In-situ leaching
sites
Area, 10 m
181.4
2859
3041.4
2250
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
37600
11235
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
3770
37750
41520
-
Activity, Bq
3.4xlO13
2.1xlO15
15
2.1x10
1.8-1.9x10
Currently the Association is engaged in uranium and iron ore mining, iron-ore and uranium
concentrates and sulphuric acid production.
2.2.2 The Industrial Association "Pridnieprovskii Chemical Plant" started to process
uranium-containing raw materials from iron ore deposits of the Krivorozhskii field in 1948. In
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1948-1954 uncontrolled tailings dumps were created in natural clay pits within the sanitary &
protective zone (SPZ) of the enterprise.
Throughout the enterprise's activities 13663 thousand m of HMP tailings was accumulated in
the tailings dumps (Table 4).
TABLE 4. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE IA "PCP" AS OF
JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
HMP tailings
dumps
3 2
Area, 10 m
3998
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
13663
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
52017
Activity, Bq
2.7xlO15
The tailings dumps have no protective barriers. Another tailings dump ("D") of the plain
flooding type with a capacity of 10 million m and an area of 76 ha was put into service in
1954 in the Dnieper flood lands to store radioactive waste from the hydro-metallurgical
production of uranium. The tailings dump also has no waterproofing means. Its embankment
is made of waste from a coke plant by-product, that is, of crushed stone, gravel and silty soils
from coal, clay and mica shales. Since 1970 after compaction of its beaches the tailings dump
had been filled with phospho-gypsum from processing of apatite.
The first section of a flooding-type tailings dump ("C") with a capacity of 8.7 million m at a
distance of 14 km from the city of Dneprodzerzhinsk was put into service in 1968. An asphalt-
bitumen impervious blanket is used as an anti-seepage measure. The tailings dump was
operated with the use of a circulating water supply without discharge of wastewater into the
hydrosphere. The second section with a capacity of 19.2 million m and anti-seepage
protection was put into service in 1983 after the first section was completely filled. The
reliability of the anti-seepage measures was confirmed by full-scale studies and regime
observations.
A radioactive tailings dump (DP-6) is made in the form of a trench 54 x 121 m in size where
the remains of a blast furnace melting uranium ores in 1948-1964 were buried. The trench was
covered with solid rubble and a 1.5-2.0-m-thick chernozem layer as well as sowed with grass
for turfing. The archival materials of the enterprise which are not complete were used to
calculate the total activity of the tailings dumps. The survey work is under way now to
determine reliable data on the activity of the tailings dumps.
2.3 The Republic of Uzbekistan
2.3.1 The Navoi Mining & Metallurgical Combine
Ore mining and processing enterprises of the Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combine
(Navoi MMC) are situated within the limits of the borders of the Republic of Uzbekistan. At
present the Navoi MMC incorporates mines, open pits, HMPs, a sulphuric acid production
plant, three mining departments (MDs), extracting uranium by the in-situ leaching method: the
Northern MD, the Southern MD and the Central MD.
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In the Northern MD 8 in-situ leaching sites with the total area of 3831 m were
decommissioned in 1975-89. After the implementation of environmental protection measures
2
the surface exposure dose rate (EDR) within the SPZ (3520 thousand m ) has not exceeded
-2
.
3
2x10 mR/h. The volume of residual solutions in the depths is roughly 6782 thousand m .
On-site dumps of unamenable ores were built up for the operation period of a mine near the
Nurabad settlement. The volume of rock and ore mass amounted to 166.7 thousand t. The
EDR within the SPZ around the dumps is 1.7x10" mR/h.
After the Central MD site was rehabilitated, the EDR within the SPZ limits does not exceed
2.0x10 mR/h. The volume of residual process solutions in the productive underground
horizon has amounted to 2344.6 thousand m .
An HMP flooding tailings dump located at a distance of 1 km from the settlement of Durmyan
over an area of 6022 thousand m has been in operation since 1964 (Table 5). This tailings
dump is provided with a recycling water supply system and hydraulic feed of the HMP tailings
when the fluid fraction of the pulp returns into the HMP. The tailings dump has accumulated
52800 thousand tons of waste containing uranium, radium and polonium. The EDR in the site
does not exceed 3.0x10 mR/h. The SPZ area is 8360 thousand m .
TABLE 5. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE NAVOI MMC
AS OF JANUARY 1,1990
Storage site
Dumps of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dump
In-situ
leaching
grounds
3 2
Area, 10 m
55.2
6022
3831
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
47800
9126.4
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
166
52800
Activity, Bq
3.4xlO12
7.4xlO15
2xlO12
2.4 The Republic of Kyrghyzstan
2.4.1 The Industrial Association "Southern Combine for Polymetals"
(LA
"Yuzhpolimetall") was established on the basis of the Kyrghyz Mining Combine founded in
the 60s. The Combine mined and processed uranium ores from the Southern Kazakhstan ore
region.
Throughout the period of the Combine's activities 18 dumps of unamenable ores and barren
rocks with a total volume of 55436 thousand m and 4 tailings dumps containing a total of
35695 thousand m of radioactive pulp were formed on its sites (Table 6). In the depths of two
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depleted in-situ leaching grounds 2009 thousand m of residual process solutions is left. The
solutions contain natural radionuclides of the uranium series and high concentrations of
chemical components. The dumps of unamenable ores and rocks are at a distance of up to 80
km from populated areas. All of the dumps had been taken out of operation by 1991. No data
on the restoration of the areas occupied by the dumps is available. Three tailings dumps at a
distance of 2-11 km from the settlement of Minkush were taken out of service within 1960-
1969. A 0.5-m-thick layer of loam was filled and compacted on the surfaces of the tailings
dumps as an environmental protection measure. The EDR within the SPZ is no more than 25-
30 uR/h.
TABLE 6. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE IA
"YUZHPOLIMETALL" AS OF JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
Dumps of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dumps
Total:
In-situ
leaching
grounds
Area, 10 m
2144
2576
4720
424
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
55436
35695
91131
2009
Radwaste
mass, 10 t
110873
34461
145344
Activity, Bq
6.0xl014
3.2xl015
3.8xlO15
3.3xlOU
An on-site tailings dump of the Kara-Baltinskii Ore Mining Combine (an independent
industrial enterprise since 1992) has been in service since 1955 to the present time. The beach
of its embankment is 65% formed from loam and 35% covered with polyethylene film. As of
1995, the tailings dump was filled to 54% of the design capacity. At present the tailings dump
is used in reprocessing of molybdenum-tungsten-bearing raw materials and radioactive waste
in an HMP.
2.5 The Republic of Kazakhstan
2.5.1 The Industrial Association "Tselinny Mining & Chemical Combine" was established
on the basis of large uranium, uranium-molybdenum and uranium-phosphorus ore deposits in
North Kazakhstan. The basic production facilities are located at a distance of 20 km from the
town of Stepnogorsk. The uranium mining enterprises are located at distances of 120 to 500
km from the basic production facilities.
In the period of its activities the facilities of the association produced 66592 thousand m of
radwaste accumulated in a flooding HMP tailings dump and on-site dumps of unamenable
ores in the mining enterprises (Table 7).
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TABLE 7. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE
IA "TSELINNYIMCC" AS OF JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
Dumps of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dump
Total:
Area, 10 m
823
7220
8043
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
14592
52000
66592 •
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
16200
56600
72800
Activity, Bq
4.5xlO14
2.0xl015
2.4x10
The flooding tailings dump occupies a space of 7220 m and is located in the SPZ of the
HMP. It was used in 1969-90 and filled to 90% of its design capacity. The bottom of the
tailings dump is paved with polyethylene film. The tailings dump consists of two ponds. The
surface of the one pond is isolated from the environment by polyethylene film. The second,
evaporating pond has the non-isolated surface. The basic radioactive contaminants in the
238
232
HMP pulp are the natural radionuclides of the U and Th series.
Solid radioactive waste from radiometric enrichment and heap leaching is stored in piles
within the SPZ at a distance of 0.5-7.0 km from the enterprise. The piles are placed on a
surface preliminarily compacted by rolling without implementation of special water-proofing
measures. The EDR on the surface of the piles does not exceed 0.1 mR/h. The bottom under a
628000-m heap leaching dump is covered with asphalt and film to facilitate the collection of
productive solutions in sprinkling ore mass and to prevent contamination of the soil.
2.5.2 The KASKOR Joint Stock Company created in 1992 on the basis of the Caspian Mining
and Metallurgical Combine is a large-scale ore mining and processing enterprise that
incorporates 28 divisions. The Caspian MMC was established in 1959 on the basis of
uranium-phosphorus deposits in the inhabited territory of the Mangyshlak Peninsula in the
Republic of Kazakhstan.
One of the KASKOR divisions, a major chemical & hydro-metallurgical plant (CHMP) is a
big enterprise for complex processing of local uranium-phosphorus ores and graphite
concentrate. Its basic products are uranium concentrate, scandium oxide and fluoride,
crystalline scandium, aluminium-scandium alloys as well as rare-earth concentrates of the
light and medium-weight groups. From large-tonnage process waste the plant produces fodder
dicalcium phosphate (precipitate), food dicalcium phosphate (dentaphos) and ammonium
sulphate.
During the activities of the enterprise 210904 thousand m of radioactive waste was
accumulated in a CHMP tailings dump, a burial ground and a gypsum and rare-earth
concentrate (GREC) storage facility (Table 8).
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TABLE 8. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE KASKOR JOINT
STOCK COMPANY AS OF JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
Burial ground
CHMP tailings
dump
GREC storage
facility
3 2
Area, 10 m
100
85,000
90
Radwaste
3 3
volume, 10 m
1.8
210,000
904
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
6.0
360,000
_
Exposure dose
rate, uR/h
40-60
15-20
250
The CHMP tailings is located 5 km north from the plant site in the natural Koshkarata hollow.
During the 27-year operation of the tailings dump the total volume of waste in it had attained
210 thousand m , that is 70% of the design capacity of the dump. The CHMP pulp directed to
226
210
the tailings dump contains radionuclides Ra and Bi. The radiometric survey of soils and
ground and the upper aeration layer 0.3 m beneath the surface revealed no radionuclide
contamination in the territory surrounding the tailings dump. An excess above the natural
background is observed at the shore line of the tailings dump where the EDR ranges from 14
to 60 uJR/h with the maximum value corresponding to the uncovered tailings sediments.
The burial ground is at a distance of 12 km from the town of Aktau and 6 km from the
CHMP. The burial ground was in service for 25 years before filled. It accommodates 6000
^in
yxo
O'xsi.
tons of radioactive waste containing radionuclides Po, Th, U and others. The surface
and bottom of the burial ground are isolated from the environment by a compacted clay layer.
The EDR at the surface of the burial ground and within its SPZ does not exceed 40-60 |uR/h.
The GREC storage facility, 10 km away from the town, is waterproofed by iso-butylene and
concrete. It has a design capacity of 29626 m and holds 904 m of solid radioactive waste
210
22,7
228
containing Pb, Ac and Ac. The EDR in the vicinity of the storage facility is 250 p,R/h.
2.6 The Republic of Tajikistan
2.6.1 The Industrial Association "Eastern Combine for Rare Metals" (IA "Vostokredmet")
was established on the basis of the Leninabad Mining and Chemical Combine which is
situated in the western part of the Fergana Valley, one of the most picturesque areas of Central
Asia.
The combine was established as a large-scale uranium mining enterprise on the basis of
uranium deposits situated in Tajikistan, Kyrghyzstan and Uzbekistan. As the country's first
raw materials base, the Combine incorporated seven mines and five plants, including plant V
with a hydrometallurgical shop and the Tabashar, Adrasman, Mailisui, Uigur and Tyuya-
Muyun mines.
Throughout the period of the Combine's activities 34907 thousand m of low-level radioactive
waste was accumulated in its territory. The waste are stored in 9 tailings dumps (a total area of
1741 thousand m ) and 21 dumps of unamenable ores (a total area of 2241741 thousand m )
in the mining and processing enterprises (Table 9).
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TABLE 9. RADIOACTIVE WASTE ACCUMULATED IN THE IA
"VOSTOKREDMET" AS OF JANUARY 1, 1990
Storage site
Dumps
of
unamenable
ores
HMP tailings
dumps
In-situ
leaching
grounds
3 2
Area, 10 m
224
1741
Radwaste
volume, 10 m
2678
32229
14754
Radwaste
weight, 10 t
1847
33684
Activity, Bq
7.0xl012
2.5xlO14
4.0x10
In two mining departments which extracted uranium by the in-situ leaching method the
12
volume of residual process solutions having an activity of 4.0x10 Bq in the productive
horizons occurring at a depth of 450-600 m amounted to 14754 thousand m .
The dumps of unamenable ores and barren rocks are disposed over the vast territory of the
Combine. Twelve dumps of the mining department No.2 are arranged on the terraces of the
Chauli-Sai river 0.3-6.5 km away from the city of Khodzhent. The quantity of radwaste
accumulated within the period of operation of the dumps (1953-1980) whose area is 156.6
2
12
thousand m and having the activity of 4x10 Bq is 469.8 thousand tons. The EDR within the
SPZ is 200-600 pJR/h.
Eight dumps 1-10 km away from the settlement of Charkassar were formed within the
operation period of the Adrasman mine in 1954-89. Their total area is 34 thousand m ; the
quantity of radwaste with a total activity of 5.4x10 Bq is 292.1 thousand tons. The EDR
within the SPZ varies from 70 to 100 jiR/h. On the site of the mine at a distance of 50 m from
the settlement there is a tailings dump of an ore mining enterprise. The tailings dump that
occupies an area of 34 thousand m was in operation in the period of 1949-1958. The volume
of waste in it is 102 thousand m with a total activity of 2.4x10 Bq. The EDR within the SPZ
is 50-60 uR/h.
3
12
A storage of barren ores with a volume of 1195 thousand m and an activity of 2.5x10 Bq
remained in the site of the Tabashar mine 4 km distant from the settlement Tabashar after the
15-year operation of the mine (1950-1965). The EDR within the SPZ is 40-100 uR/h. Four
tailings dumps with a total volume of 4547 thousand m and a total area of 573.8 thousand m
were formed at different times during the operation of a pilot HMP (1949-1965). The total
activity of waste in the tailings dumps is 3.6x10 Bq. The EDR within the SPZ is 40-60 |uR/h.
In the valley of the Maili-Su River 15 km away from the town of Mailisai a HMP tailings
dump was in operation from 1947 to 1962. At present the surface of the tailings dump is
isolated from the environment by a 0.5-m-high soil layer. The volume of waste in the tailings
dump is 1340 thousand m ; the activity is 1.9x10 Bq. The EDR on the surface of the tailings
dump is up to 30 u.R/h.
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A tailings dump for the waste of hydro-metallurgical processes (from the GMP-1 plant) has
been in operation since 1963 in the Digmai cavity 4 km away from the town of Gafurov. The
2
3
tailings dump occupies a space of 692 thousand m and is filled with 19200 thousand m of
14
waste. The activity of the waste amounts to 1.56x10 Bq. The EDR within a 1-km-radius SPZ
varies from 40 to 250 uR/h.
2
Since 1949 to 1967 an HMP tailings dump with an area of 267 thousand m at a distance of 2
km from the town of Gafurov was in operation. The volume of waste is 2600 thousand m ; the
activity of waste is 2.9x10 Bq. A 0.5-m-high soil layer covers the surface of the tailings
dump. The EDR in the vicinity of the tailings dump varies within 20-60 uH/fi.
A tailings dump in the town of Gafurov was operated in 1945-1950. It was intended for a pilot
plant for hydro-metallurgical processing of uranium ores. The tailings dump (an area of 39
thousand m ) is disposed within the area of service and pilot production buildings. It was
completely dried and in 1963 its surface was covered with a 1.0-m-thick layer of inert soil.
The radon concentration in the air directly above the dump was 2-5 Bq/m ; the release of
12
radon to the atmosphere from the entire surface of the dump is about 2.96x10 Bq/y. A
decision on the on-site burial of the tailings dump was made in 1991. The most effective
measures were chosen to ensure the reliable disposal of the tailings dump and the radiation
cleanness of the surrounding areas. Under study is the choice of an appropriate material for
the covering of the dump surface. The covering must reduce the release of radon from the
surface down to 0.05-0.1 Bq/(m s). It is suggested to use for this purpose loessial loam's with
subsequent compacting. The height of the loam layer must be 1-2.5 m to ensure that the time
of radon diffusion to the surface would be at least 30 days until the almost complete decay of
the radon.
3. MEASURES FOR REHABILITATION AND RESTORATION OF TERRITORIES OF
THE MINING & METALLURGICAL COMPLEX
The necessity of carrying out of rehabilitation and restoration works at the territories of
enterprises of the mining & metallurgical complex is dictated by the currently going on
processes of reduction of the uranium ore mining. This causes the necessity of liquidation (or
laying up) and conversion of the ore mining and processing objects. If the areas of production
zones of the enterprises with located there buildings and structures are passed to local
authorities for further use, the radiation safety of the population and environment should be
ensured. The same condition should be fulfilled in a case of conversion of uranium ore-mining
enterprises - their transition to processing of gold-bearing or non-ferrous metals' ore
processing, etc. In addition to the reduction in the activity of the corresponding radiation
source, of extreme importance is reliable isolation of radioactive waste, especially its solid
phase, from the environment. For this purpose, dumps of barren rocks, unamenable ores,
radiometric enrichment tailings and heap leaching tailings as well as HMP tailings dumps
must be reliably covered with a remediation layer of inert rocks. In so doing, the residual
radon release must not exceed 1 Bq/(m2s) for stand-by enterprises and 0.2 Bq/(m2s) for
*y
1
abandoned enterprises. To meet standards for the residual radiation level (0.2 Bq/m" s") the
approximate depth of remediation layer for reliable isolation of the RW from the environment
must be not less than 1.0-2.0 m for dumps of barren rocks and 2.5-3 m for tailings dumps.
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The Federal Program on "Management of Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Materials,
Their Utilization and Disposal for 1996-2005" (named hereinafter the Program) was approved
by the resolution of the RF Government in 1995 to solve, on the comprehensive basis,
radwaste management problems as well as to construct long-term storage or disposal facilities
for reliable isolation of radwaste from the biosphere. For uranium mining and processing
facilities the Program envisages:
• a comprehensive study of the environmental impact of uranium mining facilities and
the laying-up or, if necessary, disposal of decommissioned mines, open pits and
tailings dumps;
• development of plants for decontamination and processing of liquid and solid
radioactive waste produced in uranium ore mining and processing;
• development of plants for reprocessing of waste from enriched uranium production to
extract useful elements and reduce the volume of the waste.
During the abandonment of and putting in a stand-by mode the uranium mining and
processing enterprises their personnel and the population must be protected from the action of
the factors of radiation hazard. Among the factors of highest significance are releases of mine
waters and the liquid phase of the HMP ore pulp to the hydrosphere, releases of radon and
products of its decay into the atmosphere, and dusts from dumps of unamenable ores,
enrichment tailings and host rocks. For this purpose "Sanitary Regulations on Abandonment,
Laying-up and Conversion of Radioactive Ore Mining and Processing Enterprises" have been
worked out and approved. This document establishes the permissible residual levels of
radiation contamination of the facilities to be abandoned or laid up. The standards worked out
for the residual radiation contamination assure that the radiation risk to the personnel of these
facilities and the population working or living in the neighbouring regions will be limited.
CONCLUSIONS
According to data of 1990 and 1993 radwaste inventorying, the main amount of radioactive
waste resulted from uranium ore mining and processing at the territory of former USSR is
concentrated in the form of rock and tailings dumps. The total area of lands under these
structures is 121.2 km2, of which 114.5 km2 (94%) come to tailings dumps.
To ensure the radiation safety in the abandonment, stand-by mode and conversion of uranium
mining and processing enterprises the following measures must be implemented:
• radiation-ecological survey of the actual state of the enterprises;
• research and development work involving the assessment of the environmental
impact of the enterprases;
• development of abandonment (stand-by) projects including both the assessment of
environmental damage and the feasibility study of planned environmental protection
measures.
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