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Title: Uranium mill tailings and radon

Abstract

The major health hazard from uranium mill tailings is presumed to be respiratory cancer resulting from the inhalation of radon daughter products. A review of studies on inhalation of radon and its daughters indicates that the hazard from the tailings is extremely small. If the assumptions used in the studies are correct, one or two people per year in the United States may develop cancer as a result of radon exhaled from all the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action program sites. The remedial action should reduce the hazard from the tailings by a factor of about 100.

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Labs., Albuquerque, NM (USA)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
6483832
Report Number(s):
SAND-80-2142(Rev.)
TRN: 81-009169
DOE Contract Number:
AC04-76DP00789
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
11 NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE AND FUEL MATERIALS; 63 RADIATION, THERMAL, AND OTHER ENVIRON. POLLUTANT EFFECTS ON LIVING ORGS. AND BIOL. MAT.; DAUGHTER PRODUCTS; RADIATION HAZARDS; MILL TAILINGS; RISK ASSESSMENT; RADON; INHALATION; NEOPLASMS; REVIEWS; STANDARDS; DISEASES; DOCUMENT TYPES; ELEMENTS; FLUIDS; GASES; HAZARDS; HEALTH HAZARDS; INTAKE; ISOTOPES; NONMETALS; RARE GASES; SOLID WASTES; TAILINGS; WASTES; 054000* - Nuclear Fuels- Health & Safety; 560151 - Radiation Effects on Animals- Man

Citation Formats

Hanchey, L A. Uranium mill tailings and radon. United States: N. p., 1981. Web. doi:10.2172/6483832.
Hanchey, L A. Uranium mill tailings and radon. United States. doi:10.2172/6483832.
Hanchey, L A. 1981. "Uranium mill tailings and radon". United States. doi:10.2172/6483832. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/6483832.
@article{osti_6483832,
title = {Uranium mill tailings and radon},
author = {Hanchey, L A},
abstractNote = {The major health hazard from uranium mill tailings is presumed to be respiratory cancer resulting from the inhalation of radon daughter products. A review of studies on inhalation of radon and its daughters indicates that the hazard from the tailings is extremely small. If the assumptions used in the studies are correct, one or two people per year in the United States may develop cancer as a result of radon exhaled from all the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action program sites. The remedial action should reduce the hazard from the tailings by a factor of about 100.},
doi = {10.2172/6483832},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = 1981,
month = 4
}

Technical Report:

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  • This regulatory guide describes methods acceptable to the NRC staff for calculating radon fluxes through earthen covers and for calculating the resulting minimum cover thickness needed to meet NRC and EPA standards. The guide also suggests methods for obtaining the various parameters used in calculating the radon fluxes and earthen cover thicknesses and suggests default values for certain parameters. This regulatory guide is applicable to active uranium tailings sites. The NRC staff is using the methods stated in this guide as a basis for review and concurrence of DOE remedial action plans for inactive sites. The guidance is intended tomore » be used for calculating radon flux attenuation by earthen uranium mill tailings covers. The parameter values and examples presented are limited to earthen cover materials, but the diffusion theory and the methods presented are also applicable to man-made materials. Detailed supporting information for calculating minimum cover thickness is published separately in the ''Radon Attenuation Handbook for Uranium Mill Tailings Cover Design,'' NUREG/CR-3533 (Ref. 1).« less
  • In this document, the Environmental Protection Agency EPA responds to comments received on the proposed rulemaking National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants; Standards for Radon-222 Emissions from Licensed Uranium Mill Tailings, published in the Federal Register on February 21, 1986.
  • This background information report summarizes the health effects of radon-222 and the risk assessment procedure. It describes the source of radon-222 emissions. Estimates of radon - 222 emissions from the existing tailings impoundments are presented. The baseline industry risk assessment for individuals, regional and national populations, and the control techniques and work practices that can be used to reduce radon-222 emissions are described. The resulting emissions after application of these control methods are estimated and a comparison of work practices, costs, and effectiveness is presented.
  • An experiment was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the Canada Center for Mineral and Energy Technology (CANMET) to measure the emanation rate of radon from cemented unclassified mill tailings in two dewatered stopes of a uranium mine at Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada. The radon was monitored upstream and downstream and in both stopes to determine the concentration in the stopes and the amount exhausted from both stopes. The emanation rate was determined to be 0.55 pCi/sq cm/sec from the mill tailings, which is approximately 1,000 times higher than the average flux in the mine before backfilling.
  • This report describes the findings of a special study on the use of sodium to amend radon barriers on stabilized tailings piles for the Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action (UMTRA) Project. The study was undertaken because adsorbed sodium in clay-rich soils reduces the hydraulic conductivity of those soils relative to non-sodic soils. This phenomenon would facilitate efforts to comply with proposed groundwater standards (40 CFR 192) by greatly reducing the amount of water that may pass through the radon barrier, contact the tailings, and eventually transport contaminants to the underlying groundwater. The goals of the study were to: evaluate themore » feasibility of this approach identify levels of sodium needed to achieve the desired effect address the longevity and reversibility of the phenomenon identify ways to construct a sodium-amended radon barrier recommend policies and continuing actions regarding the use of this approach.« less