Uranium concentrations in water and other samples obtained from the environment at the Talvivaara mine

STUK monitors radioactivity in the environment at the Talvivaara mine.

Following a leak in the gypsum pond at the Talvivaara mine in November 2012, a substantial amount of water with uranium content was leached in the environment. STUK monitors radioactivity in the environment at the Talvivaara mine. Waterways and bottom sediments are sampled both within and outside the mining area. Based on the results thus obtained, a more detailed analysis is completed, supplemented with recommendations for the use of drinking water where applicable.

The Talvivaara mine itself also monitors the environmental condition. The measurement results can be found on Talvivaara’s website.

The action level for the uranium content in drinking water is 100 microgrammes per litre. This limit is based on the radiation effects of uranium. Such water should not be used in cooking or as drinking water on a regular basis. Otherwise, the use of water need not be restricted due to its uranium content. The uranium content in surface waters in Finland is typically less than one microgramme per litre.

Total uranium concentrations in the mining area Total uranium concentrations in the mining area (microgrammes per litre.) Image shows the area outside the mining area affected by leaked water. In the south of Finland, along the Vuoksi waterway, effects have been detected as far south as in the Kivijärvi lake. In the north, along the Oulujoki waterway, no effects have been detected outside the mining area.

Comparison of uranium contents in drinking water

Total uranium concentration
µg/l

Total uranium concentration
Bq/l

 

1

0.03

Concentration level normally found in groundwater

30

1

WHO recommendation for water intended for human consumption. This assessment is based on the chemical toxicity of uranium.

100

3

The action assessment for water intended for human consumption is based on the radiation effects of uranium. When water is regularly used as drinking water, the exposure to radiation amounts to 0.1 millisieverts (mSv) per year.   

3,000

100

When water is regularly used in cooking and as drinking water, the exposure to radiation is equal to the average radiation dose to which a Finn is exposed per year (approximately 3.7 millisieverts (mSv)).

10,000

300

If water is used in cooking and as drinking water for a month, the resulting exposure to radiation is equal to the dose limit for the general public referred to in the Radiation Act – 1mSv per year. 

 

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