Assessment of the main natural radionuclides, minor and trace elements in soils and sediments of the Shu valley (near the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan)


New data on the concentrations of the main gamma-emitting radionuclides, minor and trace elements, and isotopes of uranium (with Ra-226 as a daughter product of U-238) and thorium in soils and sediments of the Shu valley (from the river Chon-Kemin to the river Kuragatty downstream the river Shu) are presented, determined by high-resolution gamma-spectrometry, k 0-instrumental neutron activation analysis and alpha-spectrometry with appropriate radiochemical separations of the samples, respectively. The results obtained showed an aquatic migration pathway of most of the trace elements and radionuclides and predicted water pollution downstream the river Shu. The scandium method showed pollution by As, Br, Ca, Cr, Zr of the Tasotkel dam impoundment and by Ca and Cr of the river Shu below its confluence with the river Kuragatty. According to the disequilibrium isotopic method for uranium (using the isotopic ratio U-234/U-238), areas with accumulation and leaching processes were estimated for soils and sediments of the river Shu and its main inflows.

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This work was funded under the International Science & Technology Center (ISTC) project “The Influence of Uranium Mining and Extraction Operations on the Environment of the Shu Valley in Southern Kazakhstan and Adjacent Region of Kyrgyzstan” (Contract K-1474) (ChuRad Project, Contract K-1474), Project of Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Environmental Impact Assessment of Radionuclide Contamination Associated with Uranium Extraction by In-situ Method of Underground Leaching” (registration state #0112PK02582) and Sandwich Training Educational Programme (STEP) of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Slovenian authors are grateful for financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) through programme P1-0143 and the Metrology Institute of the Republic of Slovenia (MIRS) under MIRS/IJS contract no. 6401-5/2009/27 for activities and obligations performed as a Designate Institute as an etalon (standard of measurement) for amount of substance in soil.

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Matveyeva, I., Jaćimović, R., Planinšek, P. et al. Assessment of the main natural radionuclides, minor and trace elements in soils and sediments of the Shu valley (near the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan). J Radioanal Nucl Chem 299, 1399–1409 (2014).

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  • Minor and trace elements
  • Natural radionuclides
  • River Shu
  • Uranium industry