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Enhancing Nuclear Safety


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Uranium decay daughters from isolated mines: Accumulation and sources

​Journal of Environmental Radioactivity / Volume 149, Pages 110-120, November 2015

Summary

​This study combines in situ gamma spectrometry performed at different scales, in order to accurately locate the contamination pools, to identify the concerned radionuclides and to determine the distribution of the contaminants from soil to bearing phase scale. The potential mobility of several radionuclides is also evaluated using sequential extraction. Using this procedure, an accumulation area located downstream of a former French uranium mine and concentrating a significant fraction of radioactivity is highlighted. We report disequilibria in the U-decay chains, which are likely related to the processes implemented on the mining area. Coupling of mineralogical analyzes with sequential extraction allow us to highlight the presence of barium sulfate, which may be the carrier of the Ra-226 activities found in the residual phase (Ba(Ra)SO4). In contrast, uranium is essentially in the reducible fraction and potentially trapped in clay-iron coatings located on the surface of minerals.


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