Radiation pollution due to the Eastern Mining Processing Plants operation

22:46 22.08.11

The Eastern Mining Processing Plant has been operating beginning from the fiftieth of the last century. Its capacities (mines, plants, laboratories, pilot factories, tailings ponds) are located in the territory of Zhovti Vody city and its suburbs. In the eightieth certain production capacities of the Eastern Mining Processing Plant were constructed in Kirovograd region.

The Eastern Mining Processing Plant is involved in the underground mining of uranium ore and its benefication using the hydrometallurgical method. The leach plant (LP) is operating today, where imported uranium ore is processed and the tailings pond of radioactive wastes is located, including the entire tailings hydraulic handling system (pump stations, pulp pipe lines, unloaders, etc.).

Each object affects the radioactive contamination of environment to a varying degree.
Leach Plant is located 2,5 km away from the residential construction of Zhovti Vody, in the Northern part of the industrial area.

When uranium ore is processed and uranium concentrate is received, radon and uranium ore dust, containing natural radionuclides (NR) is delivered to the environment.

Liquid and solid technologic wastes (sludge to waste, washery waste, equipment decontamination and others) are spewed out into the tailings pond Shcherbakovskoye.

Bog iron ore quarry tailings pond is located on the northern skirts of the Leach Plant’s industrial site. Adjacent human settlements are Zhovti Vody (2,5 km away) and Veselaya Ivanovka village (1,7 km away). Wastes were stored from 1964 to 1982. The tailings pond is filled out to the planned marks; currently wastes are not spewed out. The tailings pond contains 19,3 million tons of radioactive wastes with total activity of 27000 Ku.
Volume activity of tailings is 5,2 Bq/kg. Total effective beta activity of stored materials is 9330 Ku.  Radon flux density from the earth covered with the loam soil of the tailings pond part is 2000-3200 Bq/m2/s.

Tailings pond Shcherbakovskoye is located 1,5 km south of Zhovti Vody. It consists of two sections – “new” and “old” ones. The “old” section is 1,6 km long and 0,6 km wide; it is filled out to the planned marks. It contains 5,47 million cubic meters of solid phase comprising about 9 million tons of tailings. Wastes are under the water layer. However, during hot and long period there may be drawdown, and dry dust “plages” are formed.

The “new” section of the tailings pond is located in the western gully branch. The area of the section is 256 ha, specified capacity – 25,84.100 cubic meters. About 34 million tons of wastes are buried there. Total alpha activity of stored radioactive wastes is 50200 Ku.

Tailings transfer systems of the Leach Plant

Tailings hydrotransportation system of the Leach Plant consists of the hydraulic transport of mill tailings and recirculated water system.
The hydraulic handling system consists of two pulp pump stations and dredging pipes with the emergency dumping system.

During the period of the pulp pipe line operation, there were numerous integrity damages and radioactive pulp spillages along the pulp pipe route. Consequently, soil along the route has high concentration of uranium natural isotopes, including such isotopes as Ra226, Th230, Po210, Pb210, K40. The estimated total specific alpha activity ranges from 222 to 4884 Bq/kg.

Not only is the surface of the ground contaminated. The ingress of contamination achieved up to one meter to the deep. Besides, the content of uranium, thorium, polonium, plumbum isotopes is increasing with the depth.

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