Wismut (Germany)

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Uranium Mines in East Germany, production stopped in 1990

Facilities in Wismut

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Wismuturanium mine

Strict radon emissions limits, set before German reunification in 1991, will needlessly add as much as DM 5-billion (US $3,4-billion) to the cost of cleaning up Europe's largest uranium mining operation, Germany's most senior nuclear standards official charged this week.
Klaus Becker, the official responsible for nuclear standards at the German Institute for Standards (DIN) in Berlin.
In coming years, taxpaying Germans will have to cough up DM 15-billion ($10,2-billion) to reclaim the land.
Becker said between DM 3-and DM 5-billion ($2,1-to $3,4-billion) must be spent to meet German standards for emissions of radon-222 and ist daughter products.
Germany´s limit of 250 becquerels per cubic meter is consistent with the International Commission on Radiation Protection´s (ICRP) recommendation for enclosed areas of a home; the ICRP recommends a limit of up to 600 Bq/m³ for enclosed workplaces. Becker maintains that the 250 Bq/m³ level is unjustifiably low and was set and accepted by governments when there were no practical applications of the limit to measure it against. Now that Germany faces a real and costly clean-up, the true price for setting ICRP-based limits is emerging, he said.
"Germany would be well served to follow the example of Switzerland" and increase masimum permitted radon levels in buildings to 1.000 Bq/m³, Becker said. But even that level is exceeded in Germany, apparently without consequence, he noted: the 24-hour average in a hall of the public water tretment plant in the city of Hof, just west of the uranium-rich Ore Mountains, Becker said, is 730.000 Bq/m³.