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J Environ Radioact. 2007;96(1-3):39-46. Epub 2007 Apr 16.

Radioactivity in the environment around past radium and uranium mining sites of Portugal.

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Instituto Tecnológico e Nuclear, Departamento de Protecção Radiológica e Segurança Nuclear, Estrada Nacional 10, 2686-953 Sacavém, Portugal.


Measurements of ambient radiation doses and determination of radionuclide concentrations in mining waste and soils were performed in 60 areas of former radium and uranium mining. In several places, mining waste and low-grade uranium ore left on the surface contain radioactivity above regional background. Most of the former mining sites present no enhanced radionuclide concentrations. However, in the mining facilities where the radioactive ore was chemically extracted, mill tailings contain materials with elevated levels of radioactivity, up to 200 times the levels in unaffected soils of the region. Mud from neutralization ponds used to treat acid mine waters contains also elevated radionuclide concentrations. Furthermore, depending on the type of waste, the radioelement composition varies. Environmental rehabilitation measures shall take these differences into account in order to prevent in the long term the radioactive contamination of agriculture soils and water resources, and to ensure adequate radiological protection to the public and to the environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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