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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Nov;20(11):7740-67. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1486-3. Epub 2013 Jan 26.

Biogeochemical behaviour and bioremediation of uranium in waters of abandoned mines.

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Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, Cape Breton University, P.O. Box 5300, 1250 Grand Lake Road, Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada, B1P 6L2,


The discharges of uranium and associated radionuclides as well as heavy metals and metalloids from waste and tailing dumps in abandoned uranium mining and processing sites pose contamination risks to surface and groundwater. Although many more are being planned for nuclear energy purposes, most of the abandoned uranium mines are a legacy of uranium production that fuelled arms race during the cold war of the last century. Since the end of cold war, there have been efforts to rehabilitate the mining sites, initially, using classical remediation techniques based on high chemical and civil engineering. Recently, bioremediation technology has been sought as alternatives to the classical approach due to reasons, which include: (a) high demand of sites requiring remediation; (b) the economic implication of running and maintaining the facilities due to high energy and work force demand; and (c) the pattern and characteristics of contaminant discharges in most of the former uranium mining and processing sites prevents the use of classical methods. This review discusses risks of uranium contamination from abandoned uranium mines from the biogeochemical point of view and the potential and limitation of uranium bioremediation technique as alternative to classical approach in abandoned uranium mining and processing sites.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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