Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The next 10,000 years: Uranium mining near Nagarjunasagar dam will not pollute villages in Nalgonda district at least until the year 12012

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Uranium mining near Nagarjunasagar dam will not
pollute villages in Nalgonda district at least until the year 12012.


A team of researchers has found that the movement of radionuclides
from the tailings pond (dump yard) of the proposed uranium mining site
at Seripalli village in Nalgonda district will move very slow and it
will take about 10,000 years to escape from the site and pollute
nearby villages.

Buoyed by the success of uranium mining at Thummalapalle in Kadapa
district, the Uranium Mining Corporation of India (UCIL) has set its
eyes now on two other uranium rich places – Peddagattu and Lambapur –
in Nalgonda district. There have been concerns that mining at these
sites, located in the vicinity of Nagarjunasagar, would pollute dozens
of villages.

A study conducted at Seripalli tailings pond showed the radionuclides
move very little from the pond even at the end of 10,000 years due to
their high distribution coefficients and low groundwater velocities.
The research study was led by senior scientist Dr L Elango and was
published in the prestigious Hydrogeology Journal.

The team conducted extensive hydrogeological investigations followed
by three-dimensional groundwater flow and contaminant transport
modelling around the proposed uranium tailings pond at Seripalli. The
idea was to estimate the radiological impact of uranium mining.

The researchers used a finite-element-based model to measure the
hydrogeological parameters, groundwater level, and the groundwater
flow and contaminant transport from the uranium tailings pond. The
simulated groundwater level compared reasonably with the observed
groundwater level.

They also modelled the transport of long-lived radionuclides like
238U, 234U, 230Th and 226Ra from the proposed tailings pond. The
ingrowths of progenies were also considered in the modelling.

“These concentrations were translated into committed effective dose
rates at different distances in the vicinity of the uranium tailings
pond. The results indicated that the highest effective dose rate to
members of the public along the groundwater flow pathway is 2.5 times
lower than the drinking water guideline of 0.1 mSv/y, even after a
long time period of 10,000 years,” the study pointed out.

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