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B.1. Practical intervention techniques to reduce public doses at uranium mining and milling legacy sites

The IAEA from June 2013 to June 2017 conducted a project that aimed to reduce the radiation doses of people living near uranium mining and milling legacy sites. The project resulted in a draft IAEA Technical Document (TECDOC) titled Short Term Measures for Reducing Risks from Legacy Sites Associated with Uranium Production and related training materials. The TECDOC and training materials target Member States that lack resources or experience to implement a remediation programme that would provide for long-term solutions. The document’s principles and approaches can be used to address legacies from the mining and processing of radioactive minerals other than uranium, known as naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) residues. The final TECDOC is expected to be available in 2018.

Three training events targeting African countries were also held as part of the project. In 2017, the training materials were used in national courses held in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that were financed by the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme.

Uranium tailings legacy issues have resulted in:

  • Exposure of the public to ionising radiation including gamma radiation through direct exposure to the tailings, the ingestion of tailings material (for example through children playing on the tailings material), and airborne radioactive emissions (radon and long lived alpha emitting particulates);
  • Contamination of surface and ground waters and local drinking water supplies with radionuclides;
  • Contamination of rivers and agricultural land with tailings;
  • The grazing of cattle on contaminated pastures and tailings;
  • Intrusion into the tailings to create living areas;
  • The diversion of scrap and other materials for construction purposes such as roads, foundations, buildings;
  • The diversion of raw materials through uncontrolled artisanal mining of abandoned mines.

Until the countries with legacy sites are able to implement well-funded and resourced remediation efforts, short-term intervention techniques can reduce public doses.

The project enhanced the regulatory frameworks and national capacities for countries that have legacy uranium production sites so that they can mitigate impacts and improve the safety of populations living near legacy sites.


  • Improved ability by regulators in African countries with uranium legacy sites to develop and implement site-specific measures to protect the public;
  • Increased awareness among legacy site managers of low-cost, mitigation techniques that reduce public exposure now and in the future;
  • Improved safety of legacy sites, which will contribute to increased protection of the public and a reduction in future legacy issues in the long term.

Beneficiary Countries: Member States in Africa and elsewhere with legacy sites.

The project was conducted by the IAEA with supplementary funding from the European Union.

Project Events

Technical Meeting

An IAEA Technical Meeting to present and review the draft TECDOC and training materials developed under Project B1 was held in Vienna 23 – 27 Feb 2015.

Regional Training Workshop

The first Regional Training Workshop on Practical Intervention Techniques to Reduce Public Doses at Uranium Mining and Milling Legacy Sites, took place in Centurion, South Africa 15 – 19 June 2015, with 20 participants from nine African states.

The Second Regional Training Workshop on Practical Intervention Techniques to Reduce Public Doses at Uranium Mining and Milling Legacy Sites for Portuguese-speaking Member States took place from 28 September – 2 October 2015 in Vienna with nine participants from Angola, Brazil and Mozambique. The IAEA’s technical cooperation programme provided support for the Brazilian participants.

A Regional Meeting in conjunction with project B.2.on the prevention of future legacy sites in uranium mining and processing was held 14-15 December 2015 in Vienna with the participation of 12 senior management representatives from nuclear regulatory bodies or other competent authorities in nine African Member States.

The participants, from countries with planned or operating uranium mining and milling facilities enhanced their ability to establish sound policies, regulatory frameworks and infrastructure to achieve sustainable levels of safety in line with IAEA safety standards.

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