Evaluation of the effect of a cover layer on radon exhalation from uranium mill tailings: transient radon flux analysis.
Cécile Ferry, Patrick Richon, Alain Beneito and Marie-Christine Robé
JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RADIOACTIVITY, 63 : (1) 49-64.
An experimental study concerning the transport of 222Rn in uranium mill tailings (UMTs) and in the cover layer was launched in 1997 with the participation of the French uranium mining company (COGEMA). Evaluation of the cover layer's effectiveness in reducing 222Rn flux emanating from UMTs was one of its objectives. In the first phase, the 222Rn flux densities were measured regularly on a UMT layer. In the second phase, the UMT was covered with a one-meter layer of compacted material consisting of crushed waste rock derived from mining activities. Radon-222 flux was then measured at the surface of this cover layer. Observations were compared with radon flux calculated using TRACI, a model for vertical water and gas flow and radon transport. The results show that the calculations bear a fair resemblance to the observations in both cases. They also show that the effectiveness of the cover layer calculated with TRACI, using the thickness and textural properties of the cover material, is very close to the measured effectiveness.