Professor Recognized For Uranium Waste Research

Tuesday, December 02, 2008 at 15:17



A University of Saskatchewan researcher has received a national award and $200,000 in research funding for his collaborative research with the world’s largest uranium producer to minimize the environmental impact of mine waste.


The research partnership between geochemist Jim Hendry and Cameco has earned them the 2008 Synergy Award for Innovation in the large companies category by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


It’s in recognition of their 15-year effort to protect groundwater from toxins stored in uranium tailings ponds.


Hendry says they’re trying to understand what could happen to the minerals in the tailings that bind the toxins over the next 10,000 years.


He says they can then use that knowledge to try to predict their long-term impact on nearby lakes and rivers.


After uranium ore is extracted from deep within the ground and processed, a toxic toothpaste-like waste is deposited in tailings ponds.


Hendry and Cameco are studying the stability of toxins like arsenic and selenium in these tailings to determine whether the elements could morph into soluble forms in the future and eventually enter the groundwater.