Environmental impact of Uranium mining : assessment of the remediation project at Stráž pod Ralskem / von Karolina Zázvorková
VerfasserZázvorková, Karolina
Begutachter / BegutachterinRapp, Klaus
UmfangII, 60, III-XI Bl. : Ill., Kt.
HochschulschriftWien, Techn. Univ., Master Thesis, 2012
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-51570 Persistent Identifier (URN)
 Das Werk ist frei verfügbar
Environmental impact of Uranium mining [0.94 mb]
Zusammenfassung (Englisch)

Uranium exploitation burdens the environment, ranging from moderate disturbances of the local environment to substantial release of radioactive and toxic mining waste. The severity of this uranium mining legacy highly depends on the mining method, the environmental protection used during mine operation and on the post-closure remediation in particular. Uranium mine remediation is a complex and cost intensive undertaking, requiring a development of a comprehensive and efficient plan. This thesis analyses an example of such a remediation programme. The examined case is a former in situ leaching mine at Stráz pod Ralskem in the Czech Republic where an inadequate mining practice has caused an extensive environmental damage. The remediation of the mine remains currently the most challenging and most expensive remediation project in the Czech Republic which is expected to last for another three decades. Firstly, the thesis evaluated the project by the means of a comparison with international best practice guidelines in order to identify the components vital for ist successful implementation. As a part of this evaluation, a proposal for a long-term stewardship programme was developed. Secondly, a financial analysis was conducted which identified the environmental damage caused by the uranium exploitation as a negative externality. In order to stress the economic impact of the environmental burden, the remediation costs were internalised in the price of nuclear energy generation in the Czech Republic. The calculations revealed that the remediation costs highly exceed the revenues from the sale of uranium produced in the examined time period and that if the costs were internalised, the nuclear energy price would increase by 14 %. In consequence, since the costs are covered by the Czech state, the funding of the remediation constitutes a subsidy to the nuclear power industry in the Czech Republic. The overall assessment of the remediation plan showed that its technological and scientific level was adequate. The failure to implement a long-term, legally established financial security was identified in this thesis as the main constraint which led to further environmental damage, efficiency losses and considerable cost increase. To prevent such negative developments in the future, remediation design procedures including a concrete financial scheme should be ideally standardised by law. On the whole, the findings illustrate from both environmental and economic point of view the high significance of possible environmental impact of uranium mining within the entire nuclear fuel cycle.