Assessment and Reclamation of Soils From Uranium Mining Areas: Case Studies From Portugal


The exploration of uranium and radium began in Portugal in 1909 and lasted until 2001, when the uranium mines closed. Wastes from mining, ore milling and processing contain radioactive elements, which can be spread to soils, surface and groundwaters around the mining areas. The concentration of radionuclides can locally attain levels toxic to biota. Radionuclides in soils can be immobilized by complexation with organic matter or by formation of solid phases. However, radionuclides can be in the exchangeable complex or in the soil solution, allowing their uptake by plants and/or their spread into the adjacent soils and/or waters. Owing to the radioactivity of their wastes, the abandoned uranium mines are considered dangerous and are subject to remediation to ensure they are handed back in acceptable environmental and public health condition. Soil rehabilitation is essential, and correct methodologies must evaluate the soil characteristics and consider the physicochemical properties of the potential hazardous elements.


M. M. Abreu, M. C. F. Magalhães

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