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International Conference 2011

Uranium, Mining and Hydrogeology VI

Conclusions UMH I

From 4th to 7th October 1995 the first International Conference on Uranium Mining and Hydrogeology took place under the leadership of the chair for hydrogeology of the institute for geology (Prof. Broder Merkel, Claudia Helling) in cooperation with the Saxonian State Department for environment and land development, the hydrogeological section of the German geological society (FH-DGG) as well as the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH), German section.

The aim of the conference was, to point out the endangerment of the groundwater by former uranium mines, treatment plants, heaps and tailing and to discuss those problems with international specialists. Discussion was emphasized on mine flooding and possible methodologies for subterranean and superficial rehabilitation. Therefore hydrogeological, hydrochemical and geochemical problems have to be solved by means of different monitoring and analytical procedures as well as modelling tools.

The conference was opened representatively for the Saxonian State Minister for environment and land development Arnold Vaatz by the ministerial dirigent Dr. Staupe. Representing the University of Mining and Technology Freiberg rector Professor Dietrich Stoyan welcomed the participating guests. In the plenary session following thereafter the problems of the uranium mining industry on the groundwater situation in Saxonia and effects of tailings, heaps and mines were presented.

During three days over 40 lectures in German or English language were held. After the opening plenary session the further sessions concentrated on the four further groups of topics " leaching mine Königstein", "mine flooding", "chemistry, modelling and monitoring" and "tailings (settling ponds) and heaps". The courses of lectures were completed by an exhibition of 30 posters.

Concerning the mine "Königstein" their geochemical situation and development was discussed in a first section. In a second section the hydrogeological situation, investigations for the determination of aquifer parameters with different methods as well as as model for determining possible effects on the groundwater regime during and after flooding the mine were presented.

During the session "mine flooding" hydrogeochemical effects and the hydrogelogical problems of flooding uranium mines at different locations were treated. This session was introduced by a lecture of Henk Coetzee from Pretoria presenting uranium mines in South Africa.

Presentations on the topics "chemistry, modelling and monitoring" treated in particular modelling results for the temporal and spatial distribution of radioactive elements, in particular uranium and radium, within natural systems and mining areas. The behavior of pollutants in heaps and tailings and their influence on the quality of the groundwater was discussed in the sessions "tailings and heaps".

In all sessions uranium mines, heaps or tailings from Saxonia and Thuringia predominated the topics. In addition sites from the USA, Canada, South Africa and the Czech republic were presented and last but not least also from the former western part of the Federal Republic Germany (e.g. treatment plant Ellweiler). Investigations and results from outside the new federal states of Germany represented a valuable contribution concerning the exchange of experiences and the conversion of model results in the field of practical rehabilitation measures.

The University of Mining and Technology Freiberg was represented with 6 contributions from the institutes for geology, mineralogy, geotechnic, fluid mining industry and applied physics.

During the third day of the conference the contents of the presentations were discussed and analysed in three workshops with different topics. In a final plenum the results of the working groups were presented as the major results of the entire conference.

Saturday approx. 40 of the 350 participants took the opportunity for a field trip to the WISMUT wastes. After an introduction at the WISMUT company the heaps of the uranium mining around Schlema were visited as well as the tailings in Crossen and their water treatment plant.

As the first conference of this type in Europe with the special topic of Uranium mining under hydrogeological aspects this international conference encountered a very positive echo. The fact that a large interest and need for discussion exists is proved by the participation of scientists, authorities and engineer's offices from over 15 nations. This cooperation of theoreticians and practicians is extremely necessary and presents a further special feature of this conference. Also the exchange of experience between east and west was praised, since owing to the generous sponsoring of the Saxonian State Department for environment and land development the invitation of prominent specialists and the participation of scientists from Russia, Ucraine and Romania became possible. The communication was facilitated by the use of simultaneous interpreters.

Schließlich wurde auch der Wunsch geäußert, eine ähnliche Veranstaltung in ca. 2 Jahren durchzuführen, um zu sehen, inwieweit die vorgetragenen Ansätze in der Realität umgesetzt werden konnten. Bleibt zu hoffen, daß das Sächsische Umweltministerium dann wieder als Sponsor zur Verfügung steht.

Finally the desire was expressed to organize a similar meeting in approx. 2 years in order to see, to what extent the preseted suggestions were transfered to reality. It remains to hope that the Saxonian Department of the Environment is then available again as a sponsor.

3 years later (1998) the second conference (UMH II) followed

© A. Berger <umh@geo.tu-freiberg.de>, 17.05.2010, http://www.geo.tu-freiberg.de/umh/UMHI_Conclusion.htm