22:03 05 Nov 2020

The expert told how safe it is to work on uranium mining site

The expert dispelled the myth that working on uranium mining is the way to death

This was stated by Professor, Head of the Department of Mining Engineering and Education of the National Technical University "Dnieper Polytechnic" Volodymyr Bondarenko in the article "Mining uranium: how safe is it and why do it? Myths and truths".

"No, it doesn't correspond to reality, because what we extract is closer to the background. That's what we experience in our daily life when we sit on granite, for instance. Granite indicates some level of radioactivity. It has a natural radiation background. With mining uranium, it's the same. How mining happens: we obtain the grains, and then, when we deliver them to the factories, the concentration rises. It is the chemical plants, where the concentration increases, which requires a certain regime. There's nothing like it at the site. We dissolved the ore, sent it over, and that's it.

The uranium that we extract from the ground is uranium in the disseminated form: grams per ton of solid. At such concentrations, you can hold it in your hands, and nothing will happen", he stated.

It is also noted that uranium nuggets don't exist in nature. So on average, about 1.5 kg of uranium is obtained from 1 ton of ore. The uranium from the mine is far from being nuclear fuel. It is an ore with low background radioactivity.

In order to use uranium at a nuclear power plant, it must be enriched. The concentration of uranium-235 must be increased from natural to that required for running a nuclear reactor. And uranium-238 is just a gray, heavy metal. Suitable for making a keychain. Absolutely safe.

Many have heard of the scary stories about uranium mines. Back in the Soviet Union, there were legends that criminals, doomed to die, worked in uranium mines. There were also myths about the obligatory lead underwear for miners. Of course, nothing of the kind actually happened (although miners still need a special suit for work). Then uranium was a greater danger than it is today, though.

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