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Al-Qaim Site

Description

In this phosphate production site, Unit 340 existed to extract uranium from H3PO4 via a solvent extraction process. The final product was yellowcake which was sent to Al-Jesira. Unit 340 was destroyed during the 1991 war and never restarted operations.

click to enlargeDuring the past years equipment has been removed from the ruins. Some was stored and others used in fertilizer plants. By 1996 all that remained of Unit 340 was a few concrete structures and a single standing tank. During the 1995-96 demolition of Unit 340, the contents of solvent extraction tanks were dumped into the tank foundation structures. Numerous drums of concrete rubble, most containing visible but small amounts of yellowcake, were accumulated and stored on site.

Circa 2000 Iraqi authorities completed demolition of Unit 340. All waste drums were dumped into the foundation structures and the structures were covered with concrete. It is estimated that the foundation structures might contain 1000 kg of U but this is not a technically based estimate. The uranium is contained in a sludge/semi-solid form.

There is considerable surface contamination around the remnants of Unit 340 mainly in the form of gypsum residues (CaSO4:xH2O).

The main point of concern would be the contamination of groundwater via leakage of fluids from the foundation structures. The rate of leakage would depend on the extent of cracking/damage to the concrete structures.

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| Last update: Tuesday, 09 December, 2014.