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Radioactive Seepage through Groundwater Flow from the Uranium Mines, Namibia

School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, P.O. Box Wits 2050 Johannesburg, South Africa
Directorate of Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Authority, Ministry of Health and Social Services, Windhoek, 9000, Namibia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Abdon Atangana
Hydrology 2017, 4(1), 11;
Received: 22 December 2016 / Revised: 24 January 2017 / Accepted: 8 February 2017 / Published: 15 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Flow)
PDF [4986 KB, uploaded 15 February 2017]


The study focused on the seepage of uranium from unlined tailing dams into the alluvial aquifer in the Gawib River floodplain in Namibia where the region solely relies on groundwater for its economic activities as a result of arid climatic condition. The study reviewed previous works besides water sample collection and analyses for major ions, metals and environmental isotopes in addition to field tests on physico-chemical parameters (pH, Electrical Conductivity, Redox and T). Estimation of seepage velocity (true velocity of groundwater flow) has been conducted in order to understand the extent of radioactive plume transport. The hydrochemistry, stable isotopes and tritium results show that there is uranium contamination from the unlined uranium tailings in the Gawib shallow aquifer system which suggests high permeability of the alluvial aquifer facilitating groundwater flow in the arid region. The radioactive contaminants could spread into the deeper aquifer system through the major structures such as joints and faults. The contamination plume could also spread downstream into the Swakop River unless serious interventions are employed. There is also a very high risk of the plume to reach the Atlantic Ocean through seasonal flash floods that occurs in the area. View Full-Text
Keywords: groundwater flow; shallow aquifer; uranium seepage; Namibia groundwater flow; shallow aquifer; uranium seepage; Namibia

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Abiye, T.; Shaduka, I. Radioactive Seepage through Groundwater Flow from the Uranium Mines, Namibia. Hydrology 2017, 4, 11.

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