One uranium deposit exists in Hungary, with continuous radiological monitoring of the site. Nuclear spectroscopical methods are well established in order to study the problem concerning radionuclides. However, very limited information is available on the distribution and chemical form of uranium in the tailings sludge. In order to solve this complex analytical problem, a combination of different analytical methods is necessary. One of the most applied methods for studying the major elemental composition of particulate samples is electron probe microanalysis (EPMA). However, uranium and its daughter elements are often present only at trace amounts in the particles, below detection limit of EPMA. For most actinides that are long-lived radionuclides, microbeam X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) has superior sensitivity to determine elements in microparticles. Detection limits and applicability of EPMA and laboratory μ-XRF are discussed for localization of uranium-rich particles in the inhomogeneous tailings material. Laboratory μ-XRF provided an efficient way to identify these particles that can be easily relocated for further non-destructive microchemical investigations. Finally, for water analysis a simple and reliable method for U analysis is presented using total reflection X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (TXRF) that can be applied for on-site analysis in situations of accidental uranium contamination.
- Mine tailing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics