out with the uranium?

Posted February 7, 2009 from Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has one of the largest uranium deposits in the world - eighth largest in the world, it is estimated. The mining of uranium, used in the nuclear industry, dates back to the mid-19th century in the Czech Republic. After World War II, uranium mining was of significant interest to the Russians. In fact, the Czech Republic was then the only source of uranium for the Soviets, who controlled its extraction and imported the Czech uranium exclusively until the fall of communism in 1989.

The two dominant types of mining technology have been used here: conventional underground mining (much of it done by political prisoners in the 1940s and 1950s as forced labor) and in-situ leaching with sulfuric acid. In a nutshell, the method consists of injecting a leaching liquid, in this case sulfuric acid, through wells into the ore deposit, and then pumping uranium bearing liquid from other wells.

In-situ leaching supposedly reduces the possibility of accidents and radiation for the miners, but the environmental risks are great. Unfortunately, the Czech Republic can attest to the detrimental environmental risk of uranium leaching.

To read more, please visit my Czechs in America blog.

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