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Decommissioning Projects - Europe

(last updated 19 Sep 2017)

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> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

European Commission considers long-term stewardship of uranium mine and mill tailings an open issue

"In summary, the Commission study came to the conclusion that, in most cases, the tailings objects in today's EU do not have an intolerable impact on the environment and health and only in a few sites have potential cross-border impacts been observed. Nevertheless, in a number of cases, more work must be done to ensure the long-term stability and long-term performance of the sites."
"One highly important issue remains to be sufficiently addressed in almost all Member States, namely long-term stewardship of existing legacies to ensure long-term monitoring, surveillance and maintenance."

Situation concerning uranium mine and mill tailings in the European Union, Commission staff working paper , SEC(2011) 340 final, European Commission, Brussels March 11, 2011

 

European Commission study on "Situation concerning uranium mine and mill tailings in an enlarged EU"

Contract notice in Official Journal 2004/S 135-114777, July 14, 2004
Lot No 2: Situation concerning uranium mine and mill tailings in an enlarged EU.
1) [...]
2) Short description: Obtain a detailed overview of the situation in an enlarged European Union concerning uranium mine and mill tailings, the activities being undertaken to remediate the problem and rehabilitate the areas concerned, identify best practices and expected costs and be in a position to propose harmonised standards for the long-term management of these wastes.
3) Scope or quantity: 250 000 EUR.
4) Indication about different starting/delivery date: Starting 1.1.2005 (tentative date).

The resulting detailed report is not available online:
Situation Concerning Uranium Mine and Mill Tailings in an Enlarged EU, by J.Vrijen, R.Hähne, R.Barthel, B.Tunger, G.Deissmann, TREN/04/NUCL/S07.39881, June 30, 2006, 171 p.

A summary report was released in 2008:
The Long-Term Safety of Uranium Mine and Mill Tailing Legacies in an Enlarged EU , by W. Eberhard Falck, EUR 23660 EN, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2008, 33p. [The legacy of about sixty year mining and milling of uranium ores in Europe has resulted in a variety of smaller and larger environmental liabilities needing care and attention. A special group amongst all these liabilities is the group of mine and mill tailing disposal sites. A detailed overview of the situation of these disposal sites in the EU is the subject of a special study completed by the Commission in 2006 and updated in 2008. The study clearly shows that a long-term stewardship is needed, not only for management of existing legacies, but also for avoiding new legacies and meeting demands for future uranium production.]

 

Eastern Europe: European Union supports cleanup of uranium mining sites

Under its PHARE program , the European Union appropriates ECU 2 million for the preparation of remediation concepts for uranium mining operations in Eastern Europe. The funds are made available under the title "Health and biodiversity" of the Multi- Country programme for the environment.
"This component aims to control the risk to human health and the environment caused by past uranium mining operations in the region. The project will increase in scope and intensity over a four- to five-year period, enabling the nine countries involved to carry out their own national remediation programmes for uranium mining liabilities. The project comprises a data collection/evaluation phase (1996) and a pilot project phase (1997-1999)." (from 1997 project description)

> See also: The Legacy of Uranium Mining in Central and Eastern Europe, a View from the European Union , by Simon Webster and Jan Vrijen (120k PDF)


Bulgaria   flag

General · Bukhovo
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Uranium concentrations in stream water and sediment still show three-fold increase downstream Bulgaria's former uranium mining sites

"The aim of this study is to assess the radiological impact of surface water and sediment around uranium mining sites 20 years after their closing. The areas under observations are 31 former classical underground uranium mining and exploratory sites in Bulgaria, named as objects. [...] The range of uranium concentration in water flowing from the mining sites was from 0.012 to 6.8 mgU l-1 with a geometric mean of 0.192 mgU l-1. The uranium concentrations in water downstream the mining sites were approximately 3 times higher than the background value (upstream). The concentrations of Unat, 226Ra, 210Pb, and 232Th in the sediment of downstream river were higher than those upstream by 3.4, 2.6, 2, and 1.7 times, respectively. [...]"
Radiological impact of surface water and sediment near uranium mining sites, by Ivanova K, Stojanovska Z, Badulin V, et al. in: Journal of Radiological Protection, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct. 27, 2015), p. 819-834

 

Bukhovo

Bulgaria: European Union assists in securing Bukhovo uranium mill tailings

"Reconstruction of Buhovo Tailings Pond ECU 3,800,000
The Buhovo tailings pond is potentially one of the most dangerous facilities surrounding Sofia. The tailings dam of the Buhovo uranium mine was declared no longer safe some years ago and the facility producing the tailings ceased operation. The highly radioactive tailings are contained behind two adjacent dams constructed from clay. One of the dams has some drains in the downstream face but the existing pumping station at the downstream toe is derelict and contaminated water is draining from the dam into the local stream. In addition, the risk of dam failure poses enormous threats.

Phare will support the second phase of a project commenced in 1994 with Phare funding. The project is designed to minimise the risk of contamination from the tailings pond and eliminate the contamination of water by preventing this from leaving the site. The first phase of the project involved constructing a dam across the gully to intercept the water flow upstream of the tailing pond and diverting the water around the pond by means of a by-pass channel.

The second part of the project will provide financing for the following measures

(Phare Programme Description, Programme Code: BG9807)


Czech Republic   flag

General · Rožná mine / Dolní Rožinká mill · Hamr mine / Stráž mill · Stráž ISL · Příbram · Mydlovary mill
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

> For photos of Czech uranium legacy sites, see Tváře uranu / Faces of uranium , by Václav Vašků

 

Czech government to allocate at least another US$ 1.74 billion for remediation of legacy uranium mine sites until 2042

The Supreme Audit Office (NKU) has examined how DIAMO in the years 2006 to 2015 drew and used the money to remediation of the consequences of mining activities and how these funds had provided the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Finance (MoF). In the audited period the company Diamo paid for remediation of the consequences of mining operations a total of 36.8 billion crowns [US$ 1.42 billion] [...].
Removal of the consequences of mining activities will continue according to current plans, by the end of 2042, and the state will pay for it at least another 45 billion crowns [US$ 1.74 billion]. Of this amount, nearly $ 27 billion [US$ 1 billion] will be required for the liquidation of uranium mining in Straž pod Ralskem. The total amount, however, will probably be even higher. The liquidation plan had not contain expenses associated with cleaning and pumping mine water and the subsequent monitoring of sites. (The Supreme Audit Office Dec. 12, 2016)

Czech president proposes resumption of uranium mining in Jáchymov

> View here

Uranium concentrations in mine water discharges from closed uranium mines in Czech Republic decrease with time, study finds

"The aim of the study is to assess the evolving mine water quality of closed uranium mines (abandoned between 1958 and 1992) in the Czech Republic. [...] Gravity flow discharges (mine adits, uncontrolled discharges) or shafts (in dynamic state or stagnating) were sampled. [...]
The sampling proved that uranium concentrations in mine waters did not predominantly exceed 0.45 mg/L. In case of discharges from old adits abandoned more than 40 years ago, uranium concentrations were below the MCL of US Environmental Protection Agency for uranium in drinking water (0.03 mg/L). Higher concentrations, up to 1.23 mg/L of U, were found only at active dewatered mines. [...]"
Impact of uranium mines closure and abandonment on groundwater quality, by Rapantova N; Licbinska M; Babka O; et al, in: Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, aheadofprint, Dec. 13, 2012

Decommissioning cost close to current price of uranium produced

So far, the cleanup of the Czech uranium mines has cost the government CZK 21 billion (US $778 million) since 1989, and a total cost of CZK 80 billion (US $3 billion) would be expected by 2040. (Prague Post Nov. 6, 2003)
Given the total historic Czech uranium production of approx. 108,000 metric tonnes U, the specific cleanup cost would reach $28 per kg U (or $10.8 per lb U3O8) produced. This figure is only slightly lower than the current spot market price for uranium of approx. $13 per lb U3O8. And, this specific cost figure is not far away from those incurred for the cleanup of the US UMTRA Title I uranium mill tailings sites ($14.70 per lb U3O8) and the German Wismut sites ($13.91 per lb U3O8).


Cleanup of Rožná mine / Dolní Rožinká tailings

Underground laboratory PVP Bukov for spent nuclear fuel repository at Rožná uranium mine

Underground laboratory for spent nuclear fuel repository at Rožná uranium mine to be commissioned in 2017: Thomáš Rychtařík, Director of the state company Diamo signed with the Director of the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SÚRAO) Jiří Slovák an agreement on ensuring the operability of the underground research facility (PVP) Bukov. Under the agreement, DIAMO's GEAM Dolní Rožinká branch will be starting this year to provide a workplace for SÚRAO at the Rožná underground mine for researchers and its normal operation.
(Diamo Feb. 10, 2017)

Underground laboratory for spent nuclear fuel repository under construction at Rožná uranium mine: By spring the underground research facility Bukov will be completed at a depth of more than five hundred meters in the Rožná uranium mine. The laboratory is used by the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SÚRAO) in research preceding the site selection for the construction of a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel. (iDNES 8 Jan. 2016)

 

Underground natural gas storage planned in Rožná uranium mine after forthcoming closure

Diamo state enterprise concluded a contract with the Czech gas company to use the Rožná underground uranium mine to build a natural gas storage. Permission to survey the mine for this purpose was received from the Ministry of Environment last week. The uranium mine will be closed within the next three years. (Finanční Noviny Sep. 23, 2009)
The construction of 60 to 70 kilometers of tunnels with a cross-section of 12 to 14 square metres at a depth of approx. 1000 metres below ground would provide a storage capacity of approx. 100 million cubic metres of natural gas at a pressure of 13 MPa. The excavation of the tunnels would take 5 to 7 years. As a by-product, residual uranium could be mined. (Diamo Noviny October 2009)

Exploratory work for a giant underground natural gas storage at the site will be completed by the end of this year. The management hopes to sign until then a contract with an investor for the cavern. This would mean employemnt for the miners for the coming years. (Deník Aug. 6, 2014)

Geological exploration work [for the underground gas storage] was suspended in February this year because the investor did not pay the bills. (E15.cz Nov. 24, 2015)

Installation of photovoltaic panels planned on embankment of Dolní Rožinká uranium mill tailings dam

Czech state owned uranium mining company Diamo plans to install 21,400 square metres of photovoltaic panels on the crest and next to the southern base of the embankment of the K1 uranium mill tailings dam at its Dolní Rožinká uranium mill. (Diamo Noviny Září (Sep.) 2009)

 

> View operational issues

 

U.S. Trade and Development Agency issues Presolicitation Notice for Rozná mine waste water treatment project

> View Presolicitation Notice (Apr 25, 2002)

Czech Government to fund cleanup of Rožná mine / Dolní Rožinká tailings

The state will pay at least another Kč6.5bn (EUR 211 million) for the reclamation of land hit by uranium mining in Dolní Rožinká. (ČTK April 4, 2002)

> View older issues


Cleanup at Hamr mine / Stráž mill site (Czech Republic)

Dismantling of surface facilities at former Hamr uranium mine continues with demolition of landmark pit-head frame: The dismantling of the surface facilities at the former Hamr underground uranium mine continued on May 4, 2015, with the dismantling of pit-head frame No. 3. Of the total of 97 buildings designated for demolition, 65 have already been torn down. Upon completion of the dismantling works, a surface area of approx. 33.3 hectares will be released. The total cost is estimated at CZK 619 million [US$ 25.3 million]. (Diamo May 4, 2015)

The dismantling of the surface facilities at the Hamr underground mine started a few days ago, and the dismantling of the Stráž pod Ralskem mill will begin end of September. The work will be completed by the end of next year at costs of CZK 1.2 billion [US$ 55 million]. (Deník Sep. 23, 2014)

On July 19, 2010, Diamo s.p. released an analysis of environmental hazards found at the former Hamr and Křižany underground uranium mines and the Stráž uranium mill site.
> Download Analýza rizik území ve správě DIAMO s. p., o. z. TÚU Stráž pod Ralskem zasažených hlubinnou těžbou uranu – závěrečné zhodnocení , Červen 2010 (261k PDF - in Czech)


Groundwater cleanup at Stráž ISL site (Czech Republic)

> View more recent issues

Czech government allocates another US$ 316 million in the next five years for groundwater cleanup at former Stráž uranium in situ leach site

"[...] we have developed a new proposal for financing the removal of the negative consequences of chemical extraction of uranium for the years 2018 to 2022 in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. For this period, a total amount of nearly CZK 6.9 billion [US$ 316 million] is earmarked," Minister of Industry Jiří Havlíček (ČSSD) said on Monday (Sep. 18). (ČTK Sep. 18, 2017)

One million tonnes of contaminants removed in groundwater restoration effort at former Stráž uranium in situ leach site

In August 2016, a significant milestone was reached in the groundwater restoration project at the site of the former Stráž uranium in situ leach site: one million tonnes of contaminants have been removed from the Cenomanian aquifer that is affected by the residual process solutions from in situ leaching. It is expected that still another 2.5 million tonnes have to be removed to achieve the water quality goals, a process that will carry on to approx. 2037. (DIAMO Noviny Sep. 2016)

Czech government allocates another US$ 190 million in the next three years for groundwater cleanup at former Stráž uranium in situ leach site

The Czech government will earmark 4.5 billion Kč [US$ 190 million] for 2015 to 2017 to remove damage caused by the environmentally unfriendly method of uranium mining in Stráž pod Ralskem, Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek told journalists. The process is estimated to cost about 50 billion Kč [US$ 2.1 billion] and last until 2037.
Uranium mining took place in Stráž pod Ralskem between 1967 and 1996 having contaminated over 370 million cubic meters of underground water with four million [tonnes of] chemicals on an area of 27 square kilometers. The situation is even more complicated because the contaminated land is near the large drinking water reservoirs in northern and central Bohemia. The land reclamation process began in 1996, its costs at around 20 billion Kč [US$ 843 million] so far. (Prague Post Jan. 10, 2015)

EUR 1.21 billion of funding approved for groundwater restoration at former Stráž ISL site

The government has approved a project for the removal of damage caused by uranium mining in the area of Stráž pod Ralskem, North Bohemia, that will cost 31.3 billion Czech crowns [EUR 1.21 billion] and will last until the year 2042, ČTK reported. The Stráž pod Ralskem project is technically and financially demanding as it is widely regarded as one of the most contaminated areas of land in the Czech Republic, Industry and Trade Ministry spokesman Jiří Sochor said. (Prague Post Jan. 11, 2012)
On Oct. 5, 2011, the Minister of Industry submitted to the Government a request to provide a total of 32 billion crowns [EUR 1.29 billion] for the groundwater cleanup at the former Stráž pod Ralskem uranium in situ leach site. Redevelopment of the landscape will take more than thirty years. (Calla, Hnutí DUHA, Zelený kruh, Naše Podještědí, Oct. 5, 2011)

Insufficient funding jeopardizes groundwater restoration at former Stráž ISL site

The 2010 state budget provides 1.15 billion Czech Crowns [EUR 45.42 million] less than required for the groundwater cleanup at the former Stráž in situ leach uranium mine. The lack of funds would mean the groundwater remediation at Stráž would have to stop, causing an environmental disaster, according to Diamo's director Jiří Jež. (Ekonomika.iHNed.cz Oct. 1, 2009)
On Dec. 21, 2009, the government allocated an additional 1 billion Czech Crowns [EUR 37.84 million] for the groundwater cleanup at the former Stráž in situ leach uranium mine in 2010, leaving a financial gap of 150 million Czech Crowns [EUR 5.68 million]. (Calla/Jihočeské matky Dec. 29, 2009)

New treatment plant to accelerate reclamation after uranium in-situ leach mining at Stráž pod Ralskem

Construction of a plant for mother liquors processing, aimed at cutting the time needed to clean up an area damaged by uranium mining in Stráž pod Ralskem in northern Bohemia, was launched on May 6, 2008. The cleanup of the 27 square-kilometre area was originally expected to cost Kč 100 billion (US$ 6.2 billion) and to take 100 years. Thanks to new technologies, it will take 30 to 40 years and will cost some Kč 40 billion (US$ 2.5 billion), Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman told journalists. Construction of the plant will cost some Kč 2 billion (US$ 123 million) and costs of the first stage, which started on May 6, 2008, will reach Kč 1.154 billion (US$ 71 million). (Prague Daily Monitor May 7, 2008)
On November 27, 2009, the plant was inaugurated in the presence of Ing. Vladimír Tošovský, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic. (Diamo Nov. 27, 2009)
"With the new rehabilitation technologies, the cleanup of the deposit could be accelerated significantly, with the deposit to be cleaned up until 2035," said Diamo CEO Jiří Jež. (MF Dnes Mar. 3, 2010)
On Sep. 7, 2012, the new neutralization and decontamination station NDS 10 was inaugurated. The plant allows to complete the groundwater restoration by 2037, according to Diamo CEO Jiří Jež. (Diamo Sep. 7, 2012)

Re-injection of waste brine to continue until at least 2006

As part of the groundwater cleanup programme performed at the former Stráž pod Ralskem uranium in situ leach facility in North Bohemia, contaminated groundwater is pumped from the wellfield and treated in an evaporator, concentrating the contaminants. As a stopgap measure, the evaporator condensate is returned underground into the wellfield.
"The thicker product is less mobile and less likely to spread contamination further. It is the best DIAMO can do for now, until it gets the technology to process the waste into a final product, according to Jiří Mužák, manager of DIAMO's mathematical modeling department. Although the company is working on a process to crystallize the waste, it is still in its infancy, and the company will have to keep returning the chemicals to the ground until at least 2006, said Mužák." (Prague Post Nov. 3, 1999)

A Chance for Groundwater at Stráž ?

by Peter Diehl, 9 June 1995

In-situ leaching is often presented as an environmentally friendly method of uranium production. With in-situ leaching, the uranium ore is not brought to the surface by conventional mining methods, but a leaching agent is injected into the ore deposit to dissolve the uranium. The uranium bearing liquid is then pumped to the surface, where the uranium is recovered.

In-situ leaching, indeed, does not require extensive shafts and galleries, nor large waste deposits, and it produces only small amounts of waste slurries.

But the problems arise, as soon as the site is to be shut down. That is the actual situation now of the Czech government in the case of the in-situ leaching site of Stráž pod Ralskem in North Bohemia. Here, 4 million tonnes of sulfuric acid have been injected into the underground in an area of 5.7 km2 over a period of more than 25 years, to produce the raw material for nuclear weapons and for reactor fuel.

In the leaching zone about 200 m below ground, 28 million m3 of highly contaminated liquid containing 80 g/l of total dissolved solids are found as a result of this acid injection. 11 contaminants are found in concentrations of even more than 100 times drinking water standards, with the highest excess of 30,000 times the drinking water standard for aluminium. The majority of the total contaminant load is caused from sulphate at 65 g/l, exceeding the drinking water standard 260-fold.

Moreover, the contaminated liquid migrated away from the leaching zone into surrounding areas, contaminating another 110 million m3 of groundwater in an area of 28 km2. In addition, the acid reached along faulty wells another aquifer located above the leaching zone. This aquifer is being used for drinking water supply. 76 million m3 have been contaminated in this aquifer.

With the planned shut-down of the site, the Czech government now faces the virtually unsolvable problem of restoring the groundwater quality in this largest aquifer of North Bohemia. The government-owned uranium mining company DIAMO thus was directed to develop a restoration concept for the site. This concept was presented at a conference in the last week of May.

The restoration goal for the upper aquifer (used for potable water supply) is the drinking water standard, to be achieved by pumping of contaminated waters. The goal seems to be attainable for this aquifer, although some contaminants, as aluminium, exceed the standard up to 1000-fold.

But for the leaching zone and its surroundings, the goal of reaching the potable water standard is regarded as absolutely unrealistic. For this aquifer, the goal is defined that anticipated contaminant migration to the upper aquifer shall not worsen the water quality in this aquifer beyond potable water standards. But it is still unclear, which contaminant level in the lower aquifer is sufficient to achieve this goal. According to the latest modeling results presented, a level of total dissolved solids of 10 g/l will be reached in the year 2014, and a level of 1 g/l in 2032, after continuous pumping. These figures were obtained from extensive computer modeling performed by the company.

Unfortunately, pumping alone does not solve the problem, since the water produced cannot be discharged, due to its high contaminant load. Therefore, a water treatment plant is being built, including an evaporator for the contaminated liquid. The evaporation residues are to be processed to marketable products (alunit, aluminium oxide or aluminium sulphate), if economically viable, or dumped otherwise. Later, as the contaminant load of the pumped liquids decreases, reverse osmosis units are to be installed before the evaporator, thus allowing operation of the evaporator at full capacity and an increase of pumping rate from initially 5.5 m3 per minute up to 30 m3 per minute. Without this additional technology, pumping would thus take much more time.

During the first years, the evaporation residues are to be re- injected into the leaching zone, since the processing plant for the residues won't be operable before the year 2000 - this proposal caused unbelieving stupefaction with some observers.

The restoration concept is now being reviewed by the consulting company MEGA a.s., a privatized spin-off of the former uranium mining company. Project director Dr Anděl has already drawn attention to some critical points: For example, pilot scale tests for the restoration are missing, to verify the concepts based on modeling. Moreover, the extraordinary energy consumption of the evaporation unit and the reverse osmosis plants as not been assessed in detail. But in this regard, the review comes already too late, since the evaporation plant is already under construction.

The total cost of the groundwater restoration project at the in- situ leaching site of Stráž pod Ralskem is estimated at more than one billion US-Dollars and will have to be paid by the state budget. If this cost is attributed to the amount of uranium produced, a specific cost of $ 75 per kilogramme of uranium produced can be calculated. This is three times the current market price of uranium.


Příbram

Příbram waste rock deposits

Diamo, administrator of Příbram uranium waste rock pile, stops proposal to process the pile into building material

State-owned company Diamo disagrees with the intent of the company Ekototalbau CZ that wants to mine stone from the largest waste rock pile in the former Příbram uranium mining district. According to Diamo, the proposed method is not sufficiently friendly and would probably cause excessive dust. Diamo, which is the administrator of the heap, concluded an agreement with Ekototalbau CZ which basically means that the company can not carry out its intention, said the director of the state company Diamo Tomáš Rychtařík. (Deník Aug. 7, 2015)

Locals oppose processing of largest Příbram uranium waste rock pile into building material

The company Ekototalbau CZ s.r.o. proposes to process a total of 5 million tonnes of material over a period of 20 years from waste rock pile No. 15, which is the largest uranium mine waste rock pile in the Příbram area, containing about 12.8 million tonnes of material. The processed material would be used for the construction of paved areas, such as roads.
"The city would be burdened with certainty the next 30 to 50 years, it is awfully long. For me, the associated risks, it is a radioactive material, there is also a question of dust," fears Příbram Mayor Jindřich Vařeka.
The company Ecoinvest Příbram has already obtained the consent to process waste rock piles No. 9 and 11. (iDNES July 31, 2015)

Residents oppose processing of further Příbram waste rock pile for uranium recovery

The private company Ecoinvest Příbram s.r.o. wants to extract 250 tonnes of uranium from a 4 million tonne waste rock pile at Příbram. The pile is one of 23 left from the former uranium mining operations in the Příbram area. One other pile (No. 16) has already been processed and will be soon finished. Most of the processing residue is used as building material, such as for roads.
Residents of the surrounding villages, in particular of Háje, are opposing the project for the resulting dust and noise during a period of 30 years. (MF Dnes July 27, 2011)


MAPE Mydlovary uranium mill, South Bohemia

Further delay for reclamation of Mydlovary tailings ponds due to lack of funding

State company Diamo is asking for an extension of time for reclaiming the environmental burdens at Mydlovary near České Budějovice. The definitive end of the work in 2024 is not endangerd. But the mayors of the area don't believe this.
Instead of the end of 2015, the completion date now requested is December 2020. The application for the extension of the construction permit for the reclamation of two former tailings ponds at Mydlovary is presented by the state company Diamo who is responsible for cleaning an area of 285 hectares affected by uranium mining.
"The request is in response to the postponement due to reclamation funding. It is the money of the operational programs of the European Union. The partial delay will not affect the overall completion date declared, which is the year 2024," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Trade František Kotrba. (iDNES Feb. 3, 2016)

Remaining six tailings ponds in Mydlovary to be reclaimed within ten years

The ponds with radioactive waste that were left over from processing of uranium ore at Mydlovary in South Bohemia will disappear within ten years, Diamo's director Tomáš Rychtařík told journalists. Originally it was envisaged that the reclamation will end 12 years later, in 2036. For 26 years, only one of the seven settling ponds was reclaimed. The ponds cover an area of 270 hectares. (ČTK Aug. 15, 2014)

Reclamation of MAPE Mydlovary uranium mill completed

The state enterprise Diamo completed the cleanup of part of the ecological legacies in Mydlovary. The MAPE uranium mill and one of seven tailings ponds have been reclaimed, at cost of ČZK 653 million [EUR 26.9 million], of which the European Union paid ČZK 468 million [EUR 19.3 million].
The tailings pond K IV/D (surface area 32 hectares) was covered with a layer of mineral sealing, clay and loam, to prevent the infiltration of rain. The cover has a minimum design life of 200 years. Monitoring will continue for decades. (ČTK May 10, 2011)

Insufficient funding will halt cleanup at former Mydlovary uranium mill site

The state budget for 2010 does not include 140 million Czech Crowns [EUR 5.3 million] required for the cleanup of the former Mydlovary uranium mill site. This will lead to an interruption of the reclamation of the tailings ponds and/or the mill site. (Calla/Jihočeské matky Dec. 29, 2009)

European Union to pay for cleanup of former Mydlovary uranium mill site

On Dec. 9, 2008, state-owned enterprise Diamo started the cleanup of the Mydlovary uranium mill site in South Bohemia. The European Union is paying 85% of the estimated cleanup cost of 587 million crowns [EUR 22.8 million]. This cleanup comprises only the contaminated objects on the mill site, not the uranium mill tailings. Completion is expected in October 2010.
Total cleanup (including mill tailings) is expected to last at least 20 years from now, at estimated costs of more than 3.5 billion crowns [EUR 136 million], of which 1 billion [EUR 39 million] have been spent already. (Pravo Dec. 10, 2008)

Information about the environmental situation at the Mydlovary site:


Estonia   flag

General · Sillamäe
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Silmet's uranium mill tailings deposit (Sillamäe, Estonia)

Aerial view: ÖkoSil Ltd · Google Maps

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Cleanup completed at Sillamäe tailings pond

Estonia has completed the decade-long clean-up of one of Europe's most hazardous radioactive waste dumps on the Baltic coast, an official in charge of the operation said. The project cost 21.4 million euros (28.5 million dollars) and was funded by Estonia, Nordic countries and the EU. (BC Oct. 21, 2008)

First phase of cleanup completed at Sillamäe tailings pond

The first phase of cleanup at the radioactive waste pond near the town of Sillamäe has been completed: A double row of reinforced concrete piles reaching deep into the ground will keep the hill from slowly slipping into the sea. In addition, a special drainage system will take away most of the water so that it will not mix with the waste.
(The Baltic Times May 9, 2003)

Remediation works begin at Sillamäe tailings pond

On June 5, 2001, the launch of main remediation works at the Sillamäe Radioactive Tailings Depository was celebrated. The Sillamäe remediation project of 20 million EUR, technically designed by the German company Wismut GmbH and managed by ÖkoSil, will be completed by 2006. Ökosil arranged an international tender to choose the building contractor for Stage 1 of the project, due to be completed by September 2002. (Silmet release June 4, 2001)

Groundworks begin on the Sillamäe tailings pond

Preparatory works at the Sillamäe tailings pond started with the excavating and re-locating of approx. 500,000 cubic metres of oilshale ashes and ground in the tailings pond. Groundworks are scheduled to be completed by the end of May 2001. The next steps planned are the construction of the pile grillage, shore protection embankment and a diaphragm wall.
The Sillamäe remediation project is managed by AS ÖkoSil , a public-private partnership company established in 1998 by the Estonian State and the Silmet Group .
According to the technical design project prepared by the German company Wismut GmbH , the project will be carried out over seven years. The total cost of the remediation project is 312 million EEK (20 million EUR). Grant financing for the project is provided by the EU Phare, NEFCO, Governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Additional financing will be provided by the Estonian Government from the Nordic Investment Bank long-term environmental loan for Estonia. (Ökosil Ltd release Nov. 22, 2000)

> For details on the reclamation project, see Ökosil Ltd

Decommissioning Project presented for Sillamäe tailings
Dam in extremely poor condition

In a paper presented at the Tailing Dams 2000 conference, contractor Wismut gave an overview of the situation of the Sillamäe uranium mill tailings deposit and the proposed reclamation activities.
The volume of seepage migrating from the deposit to the Gulf of Finland is estimated at approx. 260,000 m3/a. Dominating contaminants in the seepage are ammonia (1-10 g/l) and nitrate (0.1-1 g/l). The total nitrogen load of approx. 1680 t/a is by far higher than the average input of 78 t/a from the Baltic coast.
The geotechnical stability factors for the dam were determined to be in the range of close to equilibrium, F=1.0 (!), up to F=1.25, rather than the internationally used criteria of F = 1.3 - 1.5. These results are preliminary, since important geotechnical parameters are not known. The weakest point is the weathered Cambrian blue clay underlying the dam.
The geotechnical condition of the dam is so poor that no cover can be applied on the tailings, nor even investigative drilling can be performed on the dam crest, before stabilisation is performed.
Wismut's prefered option for dam stabilisation is placing a pile grillage in front of the dam.
For details, see: Tailing Dams 2000 Proceedings, March 28-30, 2000, Las Vegas, Nevada, Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Inc. , Lexington, Kentucky, March 2000, 482 p.
Radioactive Waste Cleanup To Cost 200 Million Kroons

December 11 - An estimated total of 200 million kroons (US$ 15 million) will be needed to safeguard a reservoir of radioactive waste left behind by a former Soviet military plant at Sillamäe.
The funds needed for the work would be provided by the European Union's PHARE programme , said an official from the Ministry of Environment . In order to make the reservoir environmentally safe, it must be covered with an impermeable layer, and the dam separating the reservoir from the Baltic Sea must be reinforced.
The German company Wismut , which provided the winning tender for the work, said it could cover the reservoir with ashes from the burning of oil shale, which would prevent rainwater from entering the reservoir and would prevent the reservoir from contaminating the ground water.
The reservoir was created from the decades of waste deposited from a plant extracting rare chemical elements for the military industry. The reservoir contains eight million tons of radioactive waste, including 1,200 tons of uranium.
The most critical omission by the military was the failure to secure the ground underneath the 33-hectare disposal site. The reservoir is now 25 meters high.
Wismut plans to make the reservoir safe in five years. (ESTONIAN REVIEW Vol. 8, No. 50, Dec. 6 - 12, 1998)

Silmet's "Uranium Lake" needs a billion Kroons

SILMET, ESTONIA -- SILMET'S "URANIUM LAKE" NEEDS A BILLION KROONS in order to be safely contained, according to the environment commissioner of the European Union, Ritt Bjerregaard, after a recent visit to the toxic waste dump at Silmet. The dump site is reported to contain 1,200 tons of uranium, 800 tons of thorium, 7 kilograms of radium and by- products of the decomposition of uranium. The toxic waste accumulated during the period when Silmet was a secret Soviet military factory. Ms. Bjerregaard inquired into the possibility of liquidating the base completely and other ways of stopping the future usage of the lake as a dump site. Estonian government has already allocated 4.8 million kroons to seal the banks of the lake which in some points is only 20 meters from the Baltic Sea.
Source: X-USSR antinuclear campaign newsletter, Sep-Oct 1996, N 3

For details on the Sillamäe uranium mill tailings deposit, see:
Ehdwall,H; Sundblad,B; Nosov,V; Putnik,H; Mustonen,R: Content and environmental impact from the waste depository in Sillamäe. Swedish Inst. of Radiation Protection (Ed.), SSI 94-08, Stockholm 1994, 42 p.


Finland   flag


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning


France   flag

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Germany   flag

> See extra page


Hungary   flag

General · Mecsek
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Hungary: Closure of Mecsek uranium mine

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Total cost for reclamation of Mecsek uranium mining estimated at US$ 177 million: The remediation and post remediation work necessary for the uranium mining carried out in the area in the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s may cost the Hungarian taxpayers about 39 billion forints [US$ 177 million], according to Zsolt Berta, CEO of Mecsek-Öko Inc. For the recultivation carried out between 1998 and 2008 the amount of 20.7 billion forints [US$ 94 million] was spent. The long-term remediation - cleaning mine water, tailings, tailings remediation - which began in 2004, costs 5 billion forints [US$ 23 million]. The program may have to continue for another 30 years, at a total cost of about 13 billion forints [US$ 59 million]. So, the repair of the damage caused by 42 years of uranium mining in the area could take 45 years.
For next year, the amount of 370 million forints [US$ 1.68 million] will be allocated, the same as for this year. (BAMA Sep. 28, 2012)

Further funding assured for treatment of Pécs uranium mill tailings seepage: 370 million forints [US$ 1.65 million] have been allocated in next year's state budget for the continued uranium mining remediation work carried out by Mecsek-Öko Zrt. So, the Pellérd-Tortyogói aquifers will not be compromised. (Pécsi Újság Dec. 6, 2011)

Pécs drinking water at risk due to insufficient funding for treatment of uranium mill tailings seepage: Due to insuffient allocation of funds for 2011, the treatment of the mill tailings seepage at the former Pécs uranium mine will have to be halted as early as September. Conservationists believe this could have unpredictable consequences, as the drinking water of 200,000 people may be contaminated from the unlined tailings dumps. (Pécs TV/Pécsi Újság Sep. 9, 2011)

Reclamation of Pécs uranium mine completed: The reclamation of the Pécs uranium mine has been completed, according to Hungarian Radio. The cleanup initially was planned to be completed within five years, but it actually took more than ten years. The work comprised the closure of the mining shafts, the cleanup of 62 hectares of land, the disposal of 700,000 cubic metres of contamined soil, and the cleanup of 14 km of streams of flowing water. (Pécsi Újság Jun 11, 2009)

The government of Hungary has ordered the closure of the Mecsek uranium mine, claiming that the mine is no longer competitive in the world market and is the site of extensive environmental damage. [UI News Briefing 96/46]
Closure of Hungary's only uranium mine at Mecsek, in operation since 1964, has been confirmed. 400 of its 1000 employees will remain in 1998 to begin the restoration of the site which is expected to take until 2002. The site is a possible candidate for use as a disposal facility of the waste from the Paks nuclear power station. [UI News Briefing 97/43]

The decommissioning is being performed by the state-owned Mecsek Ore Environment company (Mecsekérc Környezetvédelmi RT ), the successor of Mecsek Ore Mining Company.

Uranium mill tailings ponds, Pécs, Hungary:
Aerial view: Google Maps

Contaminated groundwater is travelling at a speed of 30 - 50 m per year from the tailings ponds towards nearby drinking water wells supplying about half of the potable water demand of the city of Pécs.

The European Commission has granted Euro 1.28 million under its Fifth Framework Programme for the research project PEREBAR investigating the use of permeable reactive barriers for groundwater cleanup at this and other sites. The 3-year project started in March 2000.
> see also


Poland   flag

General · Kowary
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Aquatic mosses demonstrate serious pollution of rivers affected by abandoned uranium mines in Southwestern Poland, study

"The past uranium/polymetallic mining activities in the Sudety (SW Poland) left abandoned mines, pits, and dumps of waste rocks with trace elements and radionuclides which may erode or leach out and create a potential risk for the aquatic ecosystem, among others. In the present work four rivers affected by effluents from such mines were selected to evaluate the application of aquatic mosses for the bioindication of 56 elements. Naturally growing F. antipyretica and P. riparioides were compared with transplanted samples of the same species. The results demonstrate serious pollution of the examined rivers, especially with As, Ba, Fe, Mn, Pb, Ti, U and Zn, reaching extremely high concentrations in native moss samples. [...]"
Trace elements in native and transplanted Fontinalis antipyretica and Platyhypnidium riparioides from rivers polluted by uranium mining, by Kosior G, Steinnes E, Samecka-Cymerman A, et al., in: Chemosphere, aheadofprint, Nov 5, 2016.

Abandoned uranium mines in Poland still in need of reclamation

A survey of abandoned uranium mine sites in the Jelenia Góra region in Southwestern Poland has reveiled that many sites are in poor condition and require reclamation. The sites had been active from 1946 to 1972 and have since remained without any cleanup. The main hazards identified are from ground failures above mine cavities, from slope instabilities of waste rock deposits, and from elevated radiation levels at waste rock dumps.

> Download German version of report: Abschlussbericht: Überwindung der Folgewirkungen von Bergbauvorhaben - Umgang mit radioaktiven Kontaminationen in der Region Jelenia Góra in Südwestpolen , G.E.O.S. Freiberg 2007 (2.6MB PDF)
> Download Polish version of report: Raport końcowy: Zwalczanie negatywnych następstw przedsięwzięć górniczych - Postępowanie z kontaminantami radioaktywnymi w regionie Jeleniej Góry w Polsce południowo-zachodniej , G.E.O.S. Freiberg 2007 (2.7MB PDF)
> Download site map (1.1MB PDF)

 

Kowary

'Highly disturbing' radon concentrations of up to 1 million Bq per cubic metre found in former Kowary uranium mine adits accessible to visiting tourists

Measurements of radon activity concentration were conducted for a period of 6 months, from April to September 2011, in the air of two adits constituting part of the disused uranium mine 'Podgórze' in Kowary. [...]
The maximum values ranged from 800 to more than 1000 kBq·m-3. [...]
The risk of receiving a radiation dose higher than the national standard of 1 mSv/year by members of the public occurred as soon as after spending 1 h inside the workings. The minimum monthly effective radiation dose received by every employee in the tourist adit no. 19 in Kowary was higher than 1/5 (4 mSv) of the annual effective dose allowed by Polish law (20 mSv/year).

Extremely high radon activity concentration in two adits of the abandoned uranium mine 'Podgórze' in Kowary (Sudety Mts., Poland), by Fijalkowska-Lichwa L, in: Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Aug. 26, 2016, ahead of print

High radioactivity levels still found in effluents from abandoned uranium mine galleries in Kowary area

"Conclusions
Although the protection measures against leaching of radioactive elements from the old galleries of abandoned uranium mines in the Kowary region has been undertaken and cultivation of the mining area had been performed, the levels of radioactivity in surface and groundwater on this area are still large. The maximum measured uranium concentrations in outflows from old galleries reach the values up to 2000 mBq/l [resulting in uranium concentrations of up to 116 g/l]. Measures should be taken to reduce the radon content in tap water from Kowary Dolne well."
Radiological Hazard of Mine Water from Polymetallic and Uranium Deposits in the Karkonosze Mountains, South-West Poland, by Nguyen D C, Nowak J, Bialic M, et al. in: B. Merkel, M. Schipek (Eds.): The New Uranium Mining Boom, Challenge and lessons learned, Berlin Heidelberg 2011, p. 771-778

Cleanup of Kowary uranium mill tailings completed with EU aid

The uranium mill tailings at the former Kowary uranium mill site in Poland were reclaimed with European Union aid in 2001. The 250,000 tonnes of tailings were stabilized on site and protected with a multi-layer cover. There remains a stability hazard, however, since the western dam foot is located in the immediate range of influence of storm floods, which can cause significant erosion damage.

Remediation of the low-level radioactive waste tailing pond at Kowary, Poland , European Commission, Report EUR 20312 EN, March 2002


Portugal   flag

General
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

Aerial view, Urgeiriça uranium mill tailings: Google Maps

  > See also: Notícias e Eventos (EDM - Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, SA - in Portuguese)

 

Reclamation of former uranium mines of Mondego Sul to start in 2017

On March 25, Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro, S.A. (EDM) presented the project to recover the old uranium mines of Mondego Sul, in the district of Coimbra. The start of the project, which will last 11 months, is scheduled for this year, implying a total investment of 5.4 million euros. The completion of these works will ensure the recovery of a total area of about 21.5 hectares, ensuring the confinement and sealing of about 580 thousand cubic meters of mining waste. (EDM Mar. 28, 2017)

Portuguese government extends mandate for EDM to reclaim the former uranium mine sites by another seven years

On Sep. 21, 2015, the Council of Ministers extended the mandate for Empresa de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (EDM) to reclaim the former uranium mine sites in the country by another seven years. The mandate had initially been given in 2005 for a period of ten years.
> Download Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 81/2015 , Diário da República, 1.ª série - N.º 184 - 21 de setembro de 2015, p.8390-8391 (165k PDF - in Portuguese)

Families of Portuguese uranium miners who died from occupational cancers finally to receive compensation

Widows and children of uranium miners, who died from cancers caused by radioactivity, will be compensated by the state, almost 15 years after the closure of the National Uranium Company.
The compensation will be 50,000 Euros for the families of those who died between the age of 45 and 55, due to malignancies, including lung, bone and lymph/hematopoietic system. 40,000 Euros will receive who can prove that the spouse or parent died between the age of 56 and 65, for the same reasons, and 30,000 Euros in cases in which the victims were over 65 years. Parliament unanimously approved this Friday (Feb. 12).
According to the socialist deputy James Barbosa Ribeiro, it is estimated that in 70 cases workers were victimized by the effects of contact with that very mineral used in the defense industry and the nuclear power plants. (Jornal de Notícias Feb. 12, 2016)

Former Urgeiriça uranium miners again asking for compensation

About 70 miners from the former uranium mines at Urgeiriça this Saturday (May 17) held a vigil in front of the official residence of the Prime Minister again demanding compensation for the families of those who died from occupational diseases. (Jornal de Notícias May 17, 2014)

Significant DNA damage found in residents living near an abandoned uranium mining site (Portugal)

"Significant DNA damage was observed in the peripheral blood samples from volunteers living in the Cunha Baixa village. A significant decrease of NK and T lymphocytes counts were observed in the individuals from the Cunha Baixa village, when compared with individuals from the reference site. Uranium and manganese levels were significantly higher in the Cunha Baixa village inhabitants. On the other hand, zinc levels were significantly lower in those individuals when compared with the volunteers from the control village. Results suggest that inhabitants from Cunha Baixa have a higher risk of suffering from serious diseases such as cancer, since high DNA damages were observed in peripheral blood leukocytes and also decreased levels of NK and T cells, which play an essential role in the defense against tumor growth."
Biomonitoring a human population inhabiting nearby a deactivated uranium mine, by Lourenco J, Pereira R, Pinto F, et al, in: Toxicology, aheadofprint, Jan. 28, 2013

Serious DNA damage found in mice living in the surroundings of an abandoned uranium mining site (Portugal)

"Genotoxic effects caused by the exposure to wastes containing metals and radionuclides were investigated in the European wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). The animals were captured in the surroundings of an abandoned uranium mining site. [...]
Results confirmed the bioaccumulation of cadmium and uranium in organisms exposed to uranium mining wastes. P53 gene was found to be significantly up-regulated in the liver of those organisms and SNPs in the Rb gene were also detected in the kidney.
Our results showed that uranium mining wastes caused serious DNA damage resulting in genomic instability, disclosed by the significant increase in DNA strand breaks and P53 gene expression disturbance. These effects can have severe consequences, since they may contribute for the emergence of serious genetic diseases. The fact that mice are often used as bioindicator species for the evaluation of risks of environmental exposure to humans, raises concerns on the risks for human populations living near uranium mining areas."
Metal bioaccumulation, genotoxicity and gene expression in the European wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) inhabiting an abandoned uranium mining area, by Lourenco J, Pereira R, Goncalves F, et al, in: The Science of the Total Environment, aheadofprint, Dec. 6, 2012

Protest at abandoned Cunha Baixa uranium mine

On Sep. 5, 2009, half a hundred people participated in a human chain in defense of the environment at the abandoned mine of the Cunha Baixa, concelho de Mangualde, where uranium was mined for decades. The initiative congregated participants of Portuguese and Spanish environmental associations, former workers of the Empresa Nacional de Urânio (ENU) and their families, who this way concluded the 1st Iberian Conference of the Uraniferous Zones, dedicated to the subject of the "Hazards of uranium". (Diário de Notícias 6 Sep 2009)

Reclamation programme for Urgeiriça uranium mines presented

At the occasion of the opening of the public tender for the reclamation of the Old Barrage of the Urgeiriça uranium mine, the reclamation programme was presented on July 20, 2005. The reclamation of the Old Barrage is considered a key element of the environmental reclamation program. It is to be carried out at estimated costs of Euro 6.3 million in the years 2006/2007. The reclamation of the New Barrage and the Industrial Zone is to follow. The total reclamation cost is estimated at Euro 70 million. (Diário de Notícias/EDM July 20, 2005)

Study confirms elevated levels of environmental radioactivity in former Urgeiriça uranium mining area

Sampling performed by the National Institute of Health for the study "Projecto MinUrar" has confirmed that elevated levels of radioactivity exist in soils, water, and air around the former uranium mines of Urgeiriça. The levels do not exceed applicable standards, though. A health survey of residents of the area indicated on average a lower function of the thyroid. The results of the tests for chromosome aberrations and for polonium in hair will only be available by the end of the year. (Diário Digital / Região de Leiria, July 13, 2005)

Begin of decommissioning of Urgeiriça uranium mines delayed

The begin of the decommissioning of the uranium mines in the Urgeiriça area (Nelas), set to begin on Feb. 14, 2005, was delayed. (Público Feb. 15, 2005)

Decommissioning of the uranium mines in the Urgeiriça area (Nelas) in central Portugal is set to begin on Feb. 14, 2005. The mines had been exploited between 1951 and 1991. The decommissioning costs are estimated at Euro 6.3 million. This first decommissioning phase also comprises the mines of Cunha Baixa and Quinta do Bispo (Mangualde), and Vale de Abrutiga (Coimbra).
The total decommissioning cost for the 61 uranium mines in the districts of Viseu, Coimbra, Guarda and Castello Branco is estimated at Euro 56 million. Of these, Euro 35 million will be spent in 2005 and 2006. (Público Feb. 12, 2005)

Former Portuguese uranium miners to receive same pensions as underground miners

After a long struggle, the Portuguese Cabinet approved on Dec. 15, 2004, that the former uranium miners of ENU will be put on an equal footing with underground miners and will receive the same pensions. (Público Dec. 16, 2004)

Blockaders of uranium ore concentrate transport demand environmental restoration of mining area

On Nov. 16, 2004, 300 protestors prevented a transport of 30 t of uranium ore concentrate originating from the former Urgeiriça mines and destined for Germany. The protestors demanded that the proceeds from the uranium sale were allocated for the reclamation of the old uranium mining area. The blockade was lifted in the evening, after negotiations with the Portuguese Minister of Environment.
The dismantling of the installations of the former mining company ENU is to be completed by the end of the year 2004. At closure time, 337 t of uranium ore concentrate remained on site, 127 t of which have been sold to Germany now. (Público Nov. 17, 2004)

Activists form human cordon at abandoned Portuguese uranium mine

On July 31, 2004, approx. 40 environmentalists formed a symbolic human cordon at the entrance of the Quinta do Bispo uranium mine (Mangualde) to protest the lack of security at the 56 former uranium mines in the districts of Viseu, Guarda and Coimbra in the Central Region. The environmental organization AZU urged the government to reclaim the sites. (Público July 31, 2004)

Waste transfers exposed at abandoned Portuguese uranium mine

While municipal waste of the city of Mangualde has been dumped in the abandoned Quinta do Bispo uranium mine, radioactive material from the abandoned mine has, in turn, been used for ground works in the city of Mangualde. The environmental association Ambiente em Zonas Uraníferas (AZU) calls for a commission to investigate the affair. (Público Jul 1, 2004)
The Chamber of Mangualde has ordered the contractor who had placed the mining waste in the city to relocate the material to the former mine site. (Público Jul 3, 2004)
The radioactivity levels found by the Institute of the Environment in the material used in Mangualde were only slightly elevated. Therefore, only such material will be brought back to the mine that has not yet been used.
AZU will hold a symbolic "human cordon" at the mine site at 17:00 hrs on July 31, 2004, to draw attention to the lack of security at the site. (Público Jul 27, 2004)

Environmentalists to go to court over government's negligence with abandoned uranium mines

At the occasion of the World Environment Day, the environmental association Ambiente em Zonas Uraníferas (AZU) announced to go to court over the government's alleged negligence concerning the abandoned uranium mines in central Portugal. According to AZU, there exist approx. 50 abandoned uranium mines in the Coimbra-Viseu-Guarda-Castelo Branco area. (Público Jun 6, 2004)

Illegal fishing in former Granja do Jarmelo open pit uranium mine (Guarda)

The environmental organization Quercus is worried about people fishing in the former Granja do Jarmelo open pit uranium mine, located between Guarda and Vilar Formoso. The people are getting access to the site crossing damaged fences, neglecting danger signs. The mine had been abandoned in the early 1980s after 50 years of exploitation. (Correio da Manhã May 24, 2004)

Epidemiological study to be performed among residents of the Urgeiriça uranium sites

The National Institute of Health Dr. Ricardo Jorge (INSA) is to collect samples of hair and blood of about 300 resident people in the concelho of Nelas, near the mines of Urgeiriça. The objective is to carry out an epidemiologic study ("Projecto MinUrar") to evaluate health effects in the population living next to the radioactive sites. (Público June 16, 2003)
> See also: INSA release March 31, 2003 (in Portuguese)

Cleanup of uranium sites at Urgeiriça may be postponed for lack of funds

The cleanup of the former uranium mine and mill sites at Urgeiriça, scheduled to begin in 2003, possibly will have to be delayed, since no provisions have been made for it in the state budget, so far. 70 to 75% of the estimated cost of Euro 50 million will be supplied by the European Union. (Público June 16, 2003)

Environmentalists call for start of cleanup at Urgeiriça

In a press conference held on June 5, 2003, the environmental organization Ambiente nas Zonas Uraníferas (AZU) urged the government to commence the cleanup of the legacy of uranium mining at Urgeiriça - which had been promised by the government for two years. AZU proposed to sell the 300 tonnes of uranium concentrate still stored in Urgeiriça to obtain the funds necessary for a cleanup of the legacy of uranium mining in the area.
There exist four million tonnes of uranium mill tailings in the area. A study by Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear had shown that the surrounding area is contaminated with heavy metals and radioactive materials at levels that can be dangerous for humans. (Diário de Notícias June 6, 2003)

Portuguese uranium mine workers call for cleanup of old uranium mine sites

After 40 former uranium mine and mill workers have deceased from cancer in the last years, former workers of Empresa Nacional de Urânio (ENU) call for the reclamation of the legacy of uranium mining in the Urgeiriça area. They in particular mention the heap leaching piles, where acid is being used still to extract uranium, and where leaking liquid may reach the groundwater. In addition to the mine at Urgeiriça, there are 58 old exploration sites requiring cleanup, spread out across the districts of Viseu, Guarda and Coimbra. (Público June 9, 2002)
[from this press article it is not clear why the workers don't consider their former occupational exposure as a much more likely cause of contracting cancer.]

The former employees of the Empresa Nacional de Urânio (ENU) and the inhabitants in the Urgeiriça region want to have voice in the process of environmental restoration of the region. They have decided to create an organism for which they intend to get the statute of Non Governmental Organization (NGO). The name of the association is "Os Amigos das Minas de Urânio" (Friends of the uranium mines).
The rising numbers of deaths from cancer, and the contamination of soil and waters are their questions of concern. They demand the environmental restoration of the mining area and the urgent elaboration of an epidemiologic study. (Diário de Notícias 14 June 2002)

Portugal funds uranium mine cleanup

"The Portuguese Government recently released about EUR 50 000 000 for mine rehabilitation. The priority was ascribed to the uranium mines to which most of the financial support was endorsed." (Environmental Remediation of Uranium Production Facilities, OECD NEA / IAEA, Paris, Feb 2002, p. 28)


Romania   flag

General · Ciudanoviţa
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Majority of former uranium mine sites in Romania still waiting for cleanup

Former uranium mines need a stringent, professional and expensive regime of closure and decommissioning, followed by rehabilitation in which nature is allowed to reclaim the mining land. Throughout this period, the radioactivity must be monitored to ensure that waste and radon gas is not entering into the water supply or air.
Yet in Romania, just two of 23 uranium mining sites have been shut down in this way. Many mines stand inactive or suffer delays and staggered works, leading many to believe that a slow-burning environmental disaster is taking place across the countryside.
The Romanian government has promised to invest EUR 220 million in the closure of 23 uranium sites, but so far only 10 percent of this figure has been absorbed. (EUobserver Mar. 16, 2016)

 

Romania: Băiţa Bihor and Banat mines to be shut down

"Romania's chief nuclear regulator intends to revoke the licences of some of the country's uranium mines but would like to see one of them turned into the world's first regional repository for low and intermediate level waste, it is reported. According to Dan Cutoiu, radiation protection standards are being violated at the mines, which are described as uneconomic. The Băiţa Bihor and Banat mines are reported to be the ones facing closure, although the Crucea plants would remain in operation to serve national demand." (UI News Briefing 00.13, 29 March 2000)

 

Ciudanoviţa mine, Caraş-Severin

Uranium mine waste dumps in Ciudanoviţa area still awaiting rehabilitation

In the area of Ciudanoviţa-Lişava-Natra people are living in danger, as the former uranium mines poison the air. Mine dumps in Caraş-Severin county are waiting in vain to be rehabilitated.
The Ciudanoviţa area is known throughout the country for its high levels of radioactivity. That's because of the waste dumps of uranium mines operated since the early '50s. The subject is under a taboo for state authorities, which provide very little information about the true "ecological bombs".
Ecological Cooperation Group Nera has initiated a monitoring of the mine dumps in the Ciudanoviţa-Lişava-Natra area and the town of Anina. The conclusions drawn by volunteers coordinated by Cornel Popovici Sturza, president of the NGO, will be made available to the protagonists directly responsible for the management of these wastes. "For almost 20 years, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Economics administered the mine closure in the Ciudanoviţa-Lişava-Natra area, but without much progress in the rehabilitation of mine waste dumps. Rainwater washes the landfills into rivers, livestock is grazing on the deposits, and food from the market certainly bears traces of radioactivity. The worst is that I saw people in homes built with stones from these deposits. There, the permissible limit was found to be exceed 300 times," said Sturza. (Adevărul Sep. 29, 2010)

 


Slovenia   flag

General · Žirovski vrh
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Žirovski vrh

Aerial view: Google Maps

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 


Spain   flag

General · Andújar · Quercus
> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

General

> See also: National Reports for Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (IAEA)

 

Medical tests extended to former uranium miners

Medical tests, so far only done with former workers of the Andújar uranium mill, now have been extended to 300 former employees of the Sierra Morena and Cárdena uranium mines. (El País July 5, 2007)

 

Quercus uranium mill, Saelices el Chico, Salamanca

Environmental Impact Study for decommissioning of Quercus uranium mill available for comment:
The comment period is 30 days.
> Download: Announcement of Ministry of Finance and Public Administration in Official Journal of Apr. 7, 2016 (PDF - in Spanish)

CSN orders decommissioning of Quercus uranium mill: The Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear - CSN) has ordered the dismantling and decommissioning of the Quercus uranium mill in Salamanca. The plant was inactive since 2003, but the public uranium enterprise Enusa had achieved a number of extensions, given the possibility that the nuclear renaissance could make uranium mining in Spain attractive. Tired of extensions, the CSN plenary decided on 12 December (2011), not to grant a further extension of the deadline and gave Enusa three months to present a decommissioning plan.
A Berkeley spokesman says the CSN decision does not affect its business [i.e. Salamanca I project]: "No impact on our project. We move on." He added that they would need a plant between 2.5 and 3 times bigger. (El País Sep. 28, 2012)

Decommissioning of Quercus uranium mill deferred in expectation of restart: The Quercus uranium mill was shut down in 2002, and decommissioning should have been underway in the meantime. However, in view of the proposal by Berkeley Resources Ltd to restart mining (see here), Enusa requested on March 21, 2010, the permission to defer the decommissioning until end 2011. The Nuclear Security Council (CSN) approved the request in June 2010. (El País Aug. 18, 2010)

 

Andújar uranium mill, Andalusia

Aerial view, uranium mill tailings: Google Maps

 

Former Andújar uranium mill workers give up struggle for recognition of ailments as professional diseases

The former employees of the Andújar uranium mill have given up their struggle in the courts for the recognition of their ailments as professional diseases, after 15 out of 45 cases have been dismissed by the Superior Court of Justice of Andalusia. (El País Nov. 8, 2009)

Government declines recognition of former Andújar uranium mill workers' ailments as professional diseases

The central Government has turned its back on the former workers of the Andújar uranium mill (FUA) when issuing two resolutions in which it rejects their demand to recognize their ailments as professional diseases. (El País June 6, 2008)

Medical reports dismiss radiation doses received by former Andújar uranium mill workers as cause of diseases

The minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Jesus Boiler, disappointed the ex-workers of the Andújar uranium mill when indicating that the medical reports of the Regional Government of Andalusia do not see a cause-effect relation between their diseases and the ionizing radiations of uranium received between 1959 and 1981. The factory had 126 workers of which 56 have died. A positive medical report is essential for the Social Security to recognize the pathologies of these ex-employees as professional diseases, which could increase their pensions. (El País Dec. 14, 2007)

Former Andújar uranium mill workers still fighting for compensation

The workers of the former Andújar uranium mill have been fighting unsuccessfully for 15 years to obtain recognition of their diseases as professional disease. Half of them already has died. The Ministry of Labor now demands new tests for the ex-employees to recognize the professional disease. (El País Apr. 8, 2007)
On April 16, 2007, the Ministry of Work and Social Security communicated the recognition of professional disease to 54 ex-workers that had contact with uranium in the mines. For the rest of the employees, in particular those of the Fábrica de Uranio (FUA) of Andújar (Jaén), further investigations will have to be done to determine whether their diseases were caused by their exposure to ionizing radiation from uranium during the 22 years of operation of the factory. (El País April 17 & 19, 2007)

Parliament demands medical tests for former Andújar uranium mill workers

On Sep. 22, 2005, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved a motion presented by the United Left in which it backs the demands of the former workers of the Andújar uranium mill (FUA). Since the mill closed its doors in 1992, 48 of the 126 former employees have passed away, the majority of which by cancer, that the group attributes to the ionizing radiations of the uranium to which they were exposed during 22 years. The motion directs the Government to sign within three months a protocol between the Social Security and the Government of Andalusia to perform special medical tests on the former employees to prove that the diseases are caused by the radiation exposure. (El País Sep. 23, 2005)

Former uranium mill workers file complaint for compensation of health damages

On Dec. 12, 2003, the former workers of the Andújar uranium mill (FUA) will make a complaint before the Ministry of Science and Technology to demand an indemnification of Euro 12 million for the occupationally caused disease that say to suffer after having manipulated uranium without protection measures during 22 years. The claim is signed by 48 workers and 32 widows of former employees of the FUA.
The Ministry now has three months to respond to this request. In case there is no answer, the workers of the FUA will be able to sue the ministry under civil law. Earlier attempts to initiate prosecution under criminal law had been unsuccessful, since no causal link could be proven between the radiation exposure and the diseases and deaths of the workers. (Europa Press Dec. 11, 2003)


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General · Zheltiye Vody · Dniprodzerzhynsk


> See also Issues for: New Mining Projects · Operating Mines · Legislation & Regulations
> See also Data for: Deposits, Proposed and Active Mines · Old Mines and Decommissioning

Decommissioning of Zheltiye Vody uranium mill tailings (Ukraine)

Uranium mill tailings pond Щ (Shch), aerial view: Google Maps
Uranium mill tailings pond КБЖ (KBZh), aerial view: Google Maps
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Group detects high radiation levels at abandoned uranium mine in Dnipropetrovsk region

A group of independent environmentalists has uncovered a zone in Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk region where the radiation level is higher than that in Chernobyl, the Ukrainian paper Segodnya said on Friday (Dec. 3). Regional authorities have dismissed the report, saying the ecologists used equipment not certificated in Ukraine.
The abandoned uranium mine, located in the Ukrainian village of Dovhyvka, poses a great danger to people and the environment, Oleksiy Vedmidsky, the head of a local group of ecologists, said. "My particle detector measured 2611 micro Roentgen per hour there," the environmentalist said adding that normal exposure is 30 micro Roentgen per hour. "Even in the Chernobyl zone near the reactor the exposure is 500-600 micro Roentgen per hour," he said. "According to our information, 7 million tones of processing medium are buried there," ecologist Yuriy Babynin said. Locals keep livestock in the abandoned site. (RIA Novosti Dec. 3, 2010)

State Nuclear Regulation Committee assesses technical conditions of Zheltiye Vody uranium mill tailings ponds as satisfactory

The State Nuclear Regulation Committee has found as satisfactory the technical condition of dams of tailing ponds of the state enterprise Eastern ore mining and enrichment plant (Zhovti Vody, Dnipropetrovsk region). Ukrainian News learned this from a statement by the State Nuclear Regulation Committee.
"As for the technical condition of tailing ponds of the Eastern ore mining and enrichment plant, following the analysis of the documentation provided on the matter it has been established that the condition of dams can be assessed as satisfactory on the whole. This provides normal conditions for exploiting them," reads the statement on the results of the checks at the Eastern ore mining and enrichment plant.
The regulator notes that the State Nuclear Regulation Committee permanently monitors the enterprises of the uranium production in Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovohrad regions. (Ukrainian News Agency Oct. 20, 2010)

 

Decommissioning of Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings (Ukraine)

Uranium mill tailings pond Д (D), aerial view: Google Maps
Uranium mill tailings pond С (S), aerial view: Google Maps

 

Some of the Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings dumps present serious groundwater contamination hazard

"Conclusions
The groundwater monitoring data and results of the screening-level radionuclide transport modeling analyses for the groundwater pathway suggest that the uranium mill tailings of the former Pridneprovsky Chemical Plant facility 'Sukhachevskoe', 'Baza S' and 'South East' represent relatively safe sites.
On the contrary 'Dneprovskoe', 'Western' and 'Central Yar' uranium mill tailings represent serious sources of radionuclide (in particular uranium) and toxic chemical substances migration to groundwater. It is important to maintain long-term institutional control at the site, which should preclude the potential exposure of humans to the contaminated groundwater and surface water in the immediate vicinity of tailings. [...]"
Groundwater Monitoring Data and Screening Radionuclide Transport Modeling Analyses for the Uranium Mill Tailings at the Pridneprovsky Chemical Plant Site (Dneprodzherzhinsk, Ukraine), by O. Skalskji, D. Bugai, O. Voitsekhovitch, et al., in: B. Merkel, M. Schipek (Eds.): The New Uranium Mining Boom, Challenge and lessons learned, Berlin Heidelberg 2011, p. 219-228

State Nuclear Regulation Committee assesses technical conditions of Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings ponds as satisfactory

The State Nuclear Regulation Committee has found as satisfactory the technical condition of dams of tailing ponds of the state enterprises Barrier (Dniprodzerzhynsk, Dnipropetrovsk region). Ukrainian News learned this from a statement by the State Nuclear Regulation Committee. "The technical condition of railing ponds is satisfactory, the railway track and the road for motor transport on the dam of the Dniprovske tailing pond do not function, therefore, there is no influence of vibration loads on the dam," reads a statement on the result of the inspection at the state enterprises Barrier held on October 12 and October 13.
According to the State Nuclear Regulation Committee, the checks uncovered only minor erosion on slopes of the tailing ponds "South-Eastern" and Sukhachevske of the state enterprise. There are also some places of dry beaches on Sukhachevske. According to the statement, most of uncovered irregularities at the Barrier state enterprise concern the organizational questions on control over the technical condition of the tailing ponds.
The regulator notes that the State Nuclear Regulation Committee permanently monitors the enterprises of the uranium production in Dnipropetrovsk and Kirovohrad regions. As Ukrainian News earlier reported, the state enterprise Barrier was founded on 13 December 2000 for restoration and reclamation works on territories hit by radioactive contamination. (Ukrainian News Agency Oct. 20, 2010)

Cleanup of Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings stuck by insufficient allocation of funds

For an effective management of the tailings, an annual amount of Hryvnia 500 million (US$ 96 million) is required. In the year 2000, however, only Hryvnia 2.3 million were allocated; these were sufficient for some preliminary stabilization of the tailings dump С (S) only. In the year 2001, the budget provided for Hryvnia 7.3 million, but only 1 million was allocated; it was used for some dam stabilization. In 2002, the budget provided for Hryvnia 1 million, of which only 312,000 were allocated - insufficient to pay even the salaries of the Baryer employees. The 2003 budget provided for Hryvnia 7 million, but in the first nine months, no funds at all were allocated yet.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute elaborated a 10-year plan (for 2004 - 2013) requiring a total budget of only Hryvnia 25 - 26 million (US$ 4.8 - 5 million). But, given the expected state budget constraints in 2004 and the experience of the previous years, it is highly unlikely that this plan will ever be realized. (Zerkalo Nedeli 18 Oct. 2003)

Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings threaten residents

The former Dnipro chemical works has left a legacy of 36 million tonnes of uranium mill tailings near Dniprodzerzhynsk. Uranium ore from the USSR and eastern European countries used to be processed here. The tailings cover an area of 600 hectares. They are flooded by underground waters and the wind blows radioactive dust into Dniprodzerzhynsk. Four out of nine storage sites are within the city zone. Every Dniprodzerzhynsk resident receives a dose of 5.6 Millisieverts a year, this is some 460 per cent in excess of normal level.
The Baryer enterprise, whose work is to maintain the stores is waiting for a flood in fear. One of the site is just some 500 m from the Dnieper. Uranium waste flows into the Dnieper via the small Konoplyanka river.
Underground waters should be at least four metres below the bottom of the storage site, but actually the waste is lying in the water.
It would take millions of hryvnyas to remove the waste to a safe and properly equipped depository, but local authorities do not have such a sum. (Novyy Kanal television, Kiev / BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Mar 21, 2002)

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