Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Evapotranspiration covers at uranium mill tailings sites

July 15, 2022

Waste isolation is a key strategy for mitigating risk from municipal solid waste (MSW) and hazardous waste streams. Conventional covers at MSW facilities are designed for a 30-yr post-closure period where compacted soils and geosynthetics are used to minimize percolation into buried waste. Recently, evapotranspiration (ET) covers have shown beneficial use for MSW management. Evapotranspiration covers encourage infiltration, storage, and transpiration of precipitation to minimize percolation. Such covers may also have beneficial use for long-term waste issues, such as at Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act (UMTRCA) sites. These sites were covered by a clay radon barrier to create tortuous flow paths that allow radioactive decay and attenuation of short-lived, radon-222 gas. For long-term waste isolation, an ET-radon cover may provide greater resilience by exploiting natural processes instead of resisting them. This update presents a review of the current state-of-the-science regarding ET covers and considerations for long-term applications.

Publication Year 2022
Title Evapotranspiration covers at uranium mill tailings sites
DOI 10.1002/vzj2.20222
Authors Todd Caldwell, Sarah Tabatabai, Jena Huntington, Gwendolyn Elizabeth Davies, Mark Fuhrmann
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Vadose Zone Journal
Index ID 70233184
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Nevada Water Science Center