Handling risøs NORM started

Danish Decommissioning does not accept waste containing naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). In the past, small quantities of have been received and placed over the years in and around two ponds containing Risø's own NORM waste. The external waste has now been cleared away.

D The two basins were built in 1980 as part of a uranium extraction attempt on Risø. More than 1000 tonnes of ore from Greenlandic Kvanefjeld managed to be crushed and reprocessed before the experiment was abandoned. Since then, the low-level residual material tailings have been stored underwater in the basins to prevent the spread of this fine-grained waste product.

In June, the basins were briefly emptied of water, and all waste other than tailings – including metal pipes, concrete blocks and drums – were lifted out of the basins to be dried, sorted and packed. Then water is again filled over the bottom layer of tailings.

A container that has stood between the ponds for a number of years was also moved and cleared of the many bins, boxes and drums of NORM waste such as soil and ore samples. In total, eight half-height ISO containers and 20 drums were filled with NORM waste. The packed containers and drums are now in a separate NORM section on our lava site storage facility.

Quanefire ore and tailings
Next to the tailings ponds, 3,700 tonnes of uranium ore from the Kvanefel mine still lie as an unused resource. Danish Decommissioning has always expected to have to manage and clean up both ore pits and tailings. This falls naturally under the last major decommissioning project, the waste treatment plant and the storage facilities.

However, as a result of an injunction announced by Roskilde Municipality, in the coming months we will take various measures in relation to the ore piles: they are covered and groundwater monitoring is set up and a monitoring programme with groundwater samples will be set up. When a new upgraded storage facility is ready on Risø, the ore is expected to be moved here, after which the previous storage area will be cleaned.

Similarly, tailings are expected to be removed from the basins by then, packed in containers and transferred to the new storage facility, after which the basins are cleaned. What will happen in the longer term with the NORM waste is awaiting a national NORM strategy.

Read the announced injunction from Roskilde Municipality
Read the note on NIRAS'environmental engineering studies of soil and groundwater at the ore bunkers
Read DD -radonleakage note from ore piles and tailings basins