Uranium ore mining and milling have been terminated in the Mecsek Mountains (southwest Hungary) in 1997. Mine tailings ponds are located between two important water bases, which are resources of the drinking water of the city of Pe´cs and the neighbouring villages. The average U concentration of the tailings material is 71.73 μg/g, but it is inhomogeneous. Some microscopic particles contain orders of magnitude more U than the rest of the tailings material. Other potentially toxic elements are As and Pb of which chemical state is important to estimate mobility, because in mobile form they can risk the water basis and the public health. Individual U-rich particles were selected with solid state nuclear track detector (SSNTD) and after localisation the particles were investigated by synchrotron radiation based microanalytical techniques. The distribution of elements over the particles was studied by micro beam X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) and the oxidation state of uranium and arsenic was determined by micro X-ray absorption near edge structure (μ-XANES) spectroscopy. Some of the measured U-rich particles were chosen for studying the heterogeneity with μ-XRF tomography. Arsenic was present mainly in As(V) and uranium in U(VI) form in the original uranium ore particles, but in the mine tailings samples uranium was present mainly in the less mobile U(IV) form. Correlation was found between the oxidation state of As and U in the same analyzed particles. These results suggest that dissolution of uranium is not expected in short term period.

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