Home > Industries We Serve > Mining > Radiochemistry
Radiochemistry

Radiochemistry

Groundwater Monitoring for Radioactive Constituents

NORM and TENORM

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) are found everywhere.  Baseline groundwater monitoring studies help mining companies evaluate the extent and concentration of NORM at their operating sites.  When NORM is used for commercial purposes such as mining, and its radioactivity content is modified, it is classified as a Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM). These materials are often regulated because they result in a radioactive concentration that is higher than the original NORM. 

Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailings

On January 26, 2015, EPA proposed new ground water protection standards at facilities that extract uranium using in-situ recovery (ISR).  The EPA expects to finalize the rule by December of 2016.  TestAmerica supports current and proposed rules for the monitoring of radioactive constituents at Uranium and Thorium Mill Tailing mines.

In the ISR process, oxidizing chemical solutions are pumped through injection wells into the ore body where the uranium is solubilized. The uranium-rich solutions are pumped to the surface through extraction wells, then piped or transported to a processing plant where the uranium is recovered and further processed prior to shipment.

Currently, facilities are required to monitor groundwater conditions for less than 2 years after restoration.  There is a potential for uranium and other constituents to remobilize over time, with the potential for groundwater contamination. EPA proposed to establish additional monitoring requirements during all phases of an ISR facility.  Under current requirements, ISR operators must monitor groundwater to assess pre-operational baseline conditions, facility operations, and during groundwater restoration and stability monitoring.   The proposed rule will modify the current monitoring requirements to more fully establish baseline conditions, demonstrate restoration, and to demonstrate that the restored water quality is stable.

How Can TestAmerica Help?

TestAmerica supports the analysis of the 13 constituents for which groundwater protection standards have been proposed: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, nitrate (as N), molybdenum, combined radium-226 and radium-228, uranium (total), and gross alpha-particle activity (excluding radon and uranium).

TestAmerica also provides a full suite of NORM and TENORM radiochemistry testing services to the Mining industry.  We provide a variety of analytical options for the determination of radioactive constituents in groundwater as well as wastewater, soil and solid waste.   With more than 30 years of radiochemistry testing expertise, TestAmerica provides full service radiochemistry testing support for mining operations throughout the United States.  Our team of experts assists in determining the best technical approach to meet your program’s data needs.

To learn more about TestAmerica's radiochemistry services, visit our Radiochemistry and Mixed Waste page.

Analytical Methods and Options

Parameter

Method

Groundwater (baseline)

Produced Water

Soil, Solid  Waste & Sludge

Gross Alpha/Beta

EPA 900.0/ SW846 9310

X

X

X

Gamma Spec – NORM List

EPA 901.1, Mod

 

X

X

Gamma Spec

EPA 901.1

X

 

 

Total Uranium and Thorium

SW846 6020A

 

X

X

Isotopic Uranium and Thorium

HASL 300

X

 

X

Lead-210

Lab SOP

X

 

 

Radium-226

EPA 903.0

X

 

 

Radium-228

EPA 904.0

X