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Radioactive seepage through groundwater flow from the uranium mines, Namibia

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doi: 10.3390/hydrology4010011
Authors:Abiye, Tamiru; Shaduka, Ignatius
Author Affiliations:Primary:
University of the Witwatersrand, School of Geosciences, Johannesburg, South Africa
Directorate of Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Authority, Namibia
Volume Title:Hydrology
Source:Hydrology, Vol.4, 11p. Publisher: MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland. ISSN: 2306-5338
Publication Date:2017
Note:In English. 10 refs.; illus., incl. 3 tables, sketch maps
Summary:The study focused on the seepage of uranium from unlined tailing dams into the alluvial aquifer in the Gawib River floodplain in Namibia where the region solely relies on groundwater for its economic activities as a result of arid climatic condition. The study reviewed previous works besides water sample collection and analyses for major ions, metals and environmental isotopes in addition to field tests on physico-chemical parameters (pH, Electrical Conductivity, Redox and T). Estimation of seepage velocity (true velocity of groundwater flow) has been conducted in order to understand the extent of radioactive plume transport. The hydrochemistry, stable isotopes and tritium results show that there is uranium contamination from the unlined uranium tailings in the Gawib shallow aquifer system which suggests high permeability of the alluvial aquifer facilitating groundwater flow in the arid region. The radioactive contaminants could spread into the deeper aquifer system through the major structures such as joints and faults. The contamination plume could also spread downstream into the Swakop River unless serious interventions are employed. There is also a very high risk of the plume to reach the Atlantic Ocean through seasonal flash floods that occurs in the area.
Subjects:Actinides; Alaskite; Alluvium aquifers; Aquifers; Arid environment; Eh; Electrical conductivity; Faults; Flash floods; Floodplains; Floods; Flows; Fluvial features; Fractures; Geologic hazards; Granites; Ground water; Human activity; Hydrogen; Hydrology; Igneous rocks; Isotopes; Joints; Metals; Mine waste; Mines; Mining; Natural hazards; Permeability; PH; Plutonic rocks; Pollution; Radioactive isotopes; Radioactivity; Seepage; Stable isotopes; Style; Tailings; Terrestrial environment; Tritium; Uranium; Africa; Atlantic Ocean; Namibia; Southern Africa; Erongo Region; Gawib River; Langerheinrich Mountains; Swakop River
Coordinates:S224800 S224800 E0150020 E0150020
Record ID:801939-14
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2021 American Geosciences Institute.
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