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Modeling the sensitivity of hydrogeological parameters associated with leaching of uranium transport in an unsaturated porous medium

  • Mohanadhas, Berlin (Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology) ;
  • Govindarajan, Suresh Kumar (Department of Ocean Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology)
  • Received : 2017.08.29
  • Accepted : 2018.05.03
  • Published : 2018.12.31

Abstract

The uranium ore residues from the legacies of past uranium mining and milling activities that resulted from the less stringent environmental standards along with the uranium residues from the existing nuclear power plants continue to be a cause of concern as the final uranium residues are not made safe from radiological and general safety point of view. The deposition of uranium in ponds increases the risk of groundwater getting contaminated as these residues essentially leach through the upper unsaturated geological formation. In this context, a numerical model has been developed in order to forecast the $^{238}U$ and its progenies concentration in an unsaturated soil. The developed numerical model is implemented in a hypothetical uranium tailing pond consisting of sandy soil and silty soil types. The numerical results show that the $^{238}U$ and its progenies are migrating up to the depth of 90 m and 800 m after 10 y in silty and sandy soil, respectively. Essentially, silt may reduce the risk of contamination in the groundwater for longer time span and at the deeper depths. In general, a coupled effect of sorption and hydro-geological parameters (soil type, moisture context and hydraulic conductivity) decides the resultant uranium transport in subsurface environment.

Keywords

Numerical modeling;Sandy soil;Silty soil;Sorption;Uranium transport

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