Primarily, the solid residue from a conventional uranium recovery facility in which uranium or thorium ore is crushed and processed mechanically or chemically to recover the uranium, thorium, or other valuable materials. This naturally radioactive ore residue contains the radioactive decay products from the uranium chains (mainly the uranium-238 chain). Although the milling process recovers about 93 percent of the uranium, the “tailings” contain several naturally occurring radioactive elements, including uranium, thorium, radium, polonium, and radon, as well as heavy metals and other constituents. For further information, see Uranium Mill Tailings and the Backgrounder on Uranium Mill Tailings.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, February 15, 2023