While nuclear power generation may reduce carbon emissions, sustainable use of NM’s prolific uranium resources will depend on developing methods for extraction, processing, and remediation that do not impair the limited water supplies in this arid region and do not leave behind a legacy of contamination harmful to ecosystem or human health. Environmentally responsible development and remediation of uranium requires better understanding of its distribution and forms (speciation) and mobility.
Our research will address questions related to Uranium mobilization and transport:
- What dissolved and colloidal Uranium species exist in contaminated subsurface sites?
- Can Uranium mobility in ground waters be predicted quantitatively?
- How can Uranium be quickly and economically extracted from deep and/or low-grade ore deposits without danger of long-term contamination?
- How can Uranium be immobilized to prevent contamination of water sources?
- Can on-site recovery technologies be applied to impaired water supplies to restore aquifer quality? Can mine and mill tailings be “mined” economically to partially offset remediation costs?
- How has Uranium been transported from scattered point sources to other locations in an arid environment?
Inadequate understanding of uranium (U) biogeochemistry and mobility in natural and contaminated environments and our consequent inability to control transport of U during and after mining is a critical roadblock to its sustainable utilization in NM. This work will promote collaborations between university scientists concerned with fundamental uranium biogeochemistry, engineers, applied geologists and regional resource managers concerned with mineral resources, contamination, and remediation.
From the 2016 Super Short Film Festival
NM EPSCoR Blog
Below are publications by NM EPSCoR researchers during the period of the award, listed by component.