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Liquid Wastes of Uranium Production


Development of Process for Deep Recovery of Radionuclides from Liquid Wastes of Uranium Production Facility of JSC “UMP”, in Order to Prevent Radiological and Technogenic Impact on the Environment

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-RWT/Radioactive Waste Treatment/Environment
  • CHE-OTH/Other/Chemistry
  • FIR-FUC/Fuel Cycle/Fission Reactors

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Joint Stock Company "Ulba Metallurgical Plant", Kazakstan, Ust Kamenogorsk


  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, USA, CA, Livermore

Project summary

This project is aimed at development of effective and economically feasible technology of decontamination and regeneration of liquid wastes (LW) accumulated during production of process of Uranium Production Department of Joint Stock Company “Ulba Metallurgical Plant” (UP JSC “UMP”). Such products of UP include uranium dioxide ceramic powders of nuclear grade (UO2), U3O8, ceramic nuclear fuel pellets for energy reactors. Developed technology of liquid wastes decontamination will be used for effective transaction of those into non-radioactive, at the same time, all the sanitary and radiation protection requirements to purified solutions, to organization of secondary use of reagents in the technologies of uranium production obtained as a result of LRW purification, to safe utilization of solid wastes will be followed.

The technology of uranium dioxide ceramic powders and U3O8 powders production at UP JSC “UMP” is based on hydrolysis and extraction scheme that provides for daily liquid wastes volume in the range 200-300 m3. Their average salt composition is 120 g/l and uranium and its fission products concentration is up to 50 mg/l. According to the existent at JSC “UMP” flow sheet, the following can be used as a feed material: uranium hexafluoride enriched up to 5% U-235, reprocessed materials – uranyle nitrate hexahydrate, “yellow cake”, uranium oxides, uranium containing scrap of different composition. Use of reprocessed fuel as feed material results in worse radiological situation as inside the plant as in the whole region.

Liquid wastes of UP JSC “UMP” are accumulated in special retention ponds located at plant area that is situated inside the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk. Actuality of development of effective and economically feasible process for decontamination of liquid wastes of Uranium production is justified by serious environmental situation related to unsafe storage and accumulation of liquid wastes in retention ponds, from which liquid wastes started to enter groundwater creating a threat of contamination of Ust-Kamenogorsk drinking water sources. Today there is no integrated technology in the world for deep recovery of radionuclides from liquid wastes that in its salt and radionuclide composition are close to wastes of Uranium production, i.e. the technology that would allow implementing almost non-waste cycle of decontamination of liquid wastes for the companies working in the same industry.

The main goal of this project is to develop an integrated process of LW decontamination that includes most effective and economically feasible methods of deep recovery of radionuclides allowing the transfer LW into non-radioactive wastes and return part of reprocessed wastes into production cycle as reacting agents, minimize amount of secondary solid wastes obtained during the decontamination of LW and fix them into compact and safe condition (in the case of closed cycle – secondary dissolution of accumulated solid wastes and re-use of uranium in UP technological cycle). Development and implementation of such process of LW decontamination at UP JSC “UMP” will allow reducing radiological influence on the environment. Developed technology of LW decontamination will provide for solution of very important tasks of world energy – provision of non-profiliration of nuclear materials, increase of environmental safety of ceramic nuclear fuel production, development of common concept of effective and safe work with LW of nuclear fuel cycle.

This project completely meets principles of ISTC goals and tasks implementation. During the project implementation scientists and specialists of JSC “UMP” that were involved into producing mass destruction weapons before, now will be involved in solving important peaceful tasks of world energy industry. Taking into account that the project will end up in development and testing of actual technology, these scientists and specialists will continue using their skills for development and improvement of methods for decontamination of industrial wastes.

This project will be pided into three tasks:

  1. rating of all liquid wastes accumulated during hydrometallurgical processing at UP JSC “UMP” based on the evaluation of their radionuclide and microelement compositions;
  2. laboratory experimental researches and determination (based on their results) of most optimal and highly effective methods of deep recovery of radionuclides from LW based on their rating; development of process flow sheet of integrated decontamination of LW that will allow: transfer of LW into non-radioactive ones, recover valuable reagents from LW and return them into production cycle, minimize accumulation of secondary solid radioactive wastes after LW decontamination considering the possibility of their additional processing and returning into production process;
  3. creation of experimental technological site for complete, highly-effective decontamination and reprocessing of LW at UP JSC “UMP”, testing and improvement of developed technology.

At all stages of project implementation the close interaction with Collaborator is implied. It includes information exchange, cross checking of obtained results, testing of technology flow sheet developed during project implementation, help in visiting international meetings on project theme, conduction of mutual meetings and work seminars

Preliminary evaluation of scientific and technical approaches for the project implementation allowed specialists of JSC “UMP” to point possible methods of LW decontamination, its transfer into non-radioactive with return of recovered reagents into technological production cycle. The most acceptable methods that will be used for the completion of project tasks are: re-precipitation with ammonium water and calcinations, ion sorption and sorption and membrane method, electrodialysis, reverse osmosis, galvanic chemical treatment for transfer of radionuclides into compact and solid phase or for purification of wastes from dissolved metal ions, reduction.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

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