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I'm surprised to hear we mine normal rocks to get fuel. Funny we have to do it in Canada and Australia then.

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine
by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 05:26:43 AM EST
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You could at least have tried to take context into account.  The question was "How bad can uranium mining become?" and the answer is "Not as bad as coal mining already is, even if we need to mine ordinary rock."

The three million tonnes coal burned each year in a coal plant contain about 5 tonnes uranium.  All the radon associated with that uranium is emitted (and some of the uranium, too).  5 tonnes uranium would fuel a nuclear power plant for two years, and when mining uranium, most radon is contained until it decays.  Therefore, nuclear plants emit much less than half as much radon as coal plants, no matter what ore is used.  The same applies to soluble radioactive substances, which are easily leached from coal ashes.

If coal plants don't kill all life on earth, uranium mining will do it even less.

by ustenzel on Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 08:05:21 AM EST
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But for each tU, there are 400 tons of tailing.

And when they do in situ leeching, here is what the IEA has to say about it:

« The technique of in situ leaching extracts uranium ore by percolating a solvent through the uranium bearing rock. Ammonium carbonate and sulphuric acid are common leaching agents. This technique reduces the radiation exposure of workers and avoids the creation of mine tailing heaps, but it increases the risk of groundwater contamination. Heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and nickel can be mobilised by the process and enter water supplies. Waste slurries and waste water from the leaching operation must be carefully handled and treated.

BTW, i know very little about all of this. I'm guessing in situ leeching produces less tailings.

Lastly, I don't get the comparison with coal-fuelled plants. I don't think it makes sense to compare the two alternatives on a step to step basis. The overall picture has to be taken into account. Arguing which alternative pollutes the less says little on which option is better for electricity generation.

Rien n'est gratuit en ce bas monde. Tout s'expie, le bien comme le mal, se paie tot ou tard. Le bien c'est beaucoup plus cher, forcement. Celine

by UnEstranAvecVueSurMer (holopherne ahem gmail) on Mon Aug 21st, 2006 at 10:31:40 AM EST
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And what's inert rock ("tailings") got to do with radon emissions?  Exactly nothing.

Listen, the whole point is, no matter how poor the uranium ore is going to get, it will never be as dirty as burning coal!  Those kooks with their constant "but all the damage done by uranium mining!" should get a grip on reality and rally against coal plants, because of "all the damage done by coal mining".

by ustenzel on Wed Aug 23rd, 2006 at 07:02:21 AM EST
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