Effect of compost and soil covers on radon emanation from uranium tailings

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 80, No. 908, 1987

R.H. McCORKELL and M. SILVER, CANMET-EMR, Ottawa, Ontario

The effects of covering materials on radon emanations from uranium mine mill tailings were investigated. Granular materials with air in the spaces allow radon to pass freely. Moist covers of compost or soil decrease radon emanation from tailings. Water-saturated covers were more effective, and freezing the tailings with these covers further decreased radon escape. Water itself is a poor radon barrier probably due to circulation. Plants had no effect on radon emanation through soil. Although radon diffusion through water-saturated powders appears to be very slow and inefficient, about 25% of the radon escaping from the grains in water-saturated tailings diffuse to the surface and emanate when no cover is present. The radon escaping from tailings through covers of water-saturated compost or soil is no more than could be accounted for by radon produced in the covers themselves.
Mots Clés: Underground mining, Radon emanation, Uranium tailings, Health, Safety, Soil, Compost, Water, Environmental control.