In the U.S. we use depleted uranium as an essential part of our power grid and our national defense. Some people are concerned about the effects that this process might have on the environment, and what dangers it might pose for the public health. If your company works with depleted uranium, hiring the right disposal company is essential to ensure that all protocols are followed for maximum safety and efficacy of the final disposal.
Over the last six decades or so, uranium has become an important part of the world’s energy use, and is now one of the most important energy minerals. The mining process is similar to many other metals and concentrated for use primarily in nuclear power plants, although a small portion of it is also used for medical applications. This naturally-occurring element is concentrated in the Earth’s crust in a quantity of around 2.8 parts per million. There are uranium mines in about 20 countries.
Uranium-235 (U235) is extracted during the uranium enrichment process, and concentrated into fuel that is used to power nuclear reactors. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of this process, and this depleted version has a lower concentration of U235 than natural uranium.
Depleted Uranium Storage
This depleted version of the mineral is initially stored as uranium hexafluoride somewhere near the enrichment facilities, but it cannot be stored in these areas permanently. In some cases depleted uranium will be sold for commercial use. Long-term disposal must follow the guidelines for low-level radioactive waste and be converted to chemically stable uranium oxide compounds.
Problems Associated With Improper Disposal
The company you choose for disposal of depleted uranium plays an important role in the long-term safety of our communities. Hiring the wrong company could mean that this product ends up in unsafe storage facilities where it could leak out and cause health or environmental problems. It’s important to hire a company that takes the responsibility of secure and proper disposal seriously, and ensures that the storage facilities have proper environmental controls and regulations to prevent problems that could occur from exposure to things like moisture.
When procedures and protocols are followed properly, depleted uranium disposal can be safe, which is why it’s so critical that you choose the right facility with trained staff and appropriate procedures in place to ensure the highest level of safety for the public.