To produce the 25 tonnes or so of uranium fuel needed to keep your average reactor going for a year entails the extraction of half a million tonnes of waste rock and over 100,000 tonnes of mill tailings. These are toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. The conversion plant will generate another 144 tonnes of solid waste and 1343 cubic metres of liquid waste.
Contamination of local water supplies around uranium mines and processing plants has been documented in Brazil, Colorado, Texas, Australia, Namibia and many other sites. To supply even a fraction of the power stations the industry expects to be online worldwide in 2020 would mean generating 50 million tonnes of toxic radioactive residues every single year.
These tailings contain uranium, thorium, radium, polonium, and emit radon-222. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency sets limits of emissions from the dumps and monitors them. This does not happen in many less developed areas.
The tailings are of course less radioactive than the ground from which they came. For we\’ve deliberately gone there to get the radioactive elements and take them out.
The above was written by:
David Thorpe is a freelance environmental journalist and a news editor for Defra\’s Energy, Resource, Sustainable and Environmental Management magazine.
Truly the inmates have taken over the asylum.
This “freelance environmental journalist” is saying that uranium ore has a concentration of 0.025%. Typically, the actual concentration is around 0.5% (check). He’s off by a factor of 20.
It would help if Mr. Thorpe gave sources for the information he shares with us. Without them he can’t persuade anyone nor can we show him where he’s mistaken. That makes the article nothing but a cry for attention to himself.
Is it something to do with the stuff being brought up to the surface?
(Radon, being a gas, always finds it’s way up to the surface.)
Not sure I understand what he is bleating about.
“It would help if Mr. Thorpe gave sources for the information he shares with us. Without them he can’t persuade anyone nor can we show him where he’s mistaken. That makes the article nothing but a cry for attention to himself.”
His job is to tell politicians and “opinion formers” like Polly what they want to hear so they can continue in blissful ignorance. Facts only cofuse things.
If he’s the same as virtually all the other “environmental journalists” and “science correspondents” who find their way into the MSM he’ll be bereft of any scientific credentials or training and probably wouldn’t understand the facts anyway.
Although I worked briefly for Rossing Uranium Limited, that was nearly twenty years ago and I’m no expert on the uranium industry. That being said, I suspect Mr Thorpe has gotten his numbers a little confused – he is a journalist after all and even if he has some sort of scientific background, I’ll bet it is in biology or something.
As this blog’s unpaid (and uncredited) mining consultant I shall look into the numbers and report back.
Ooops, having made that snarky remark about being uncredited I glanced at the blogroll.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
I shall report to Nurse for a sound spanking immediately. And I promise not to enjoy. Not even one little bit.
The report, in best cnsulting style, will follow shortly.