Uranium in the groundwater

  Trench in lowland moor Copyright: LFH
 

Uranium in the groundwater

Project term: since 2010

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Project members: Thomas R. Rüde, Thomas Demmel

Uranium is – in addition to its radioactivity – a strong kidney toxicant and since 2011, a toxicologically justified regulatory limit for drinking water was established. In a study for the State Environmental Agency of Bavaria (LfU Bayern) in 2011 it was shown that local high uranium contents in groundwater in the Lech Valley originate from lowland fen soils. Uranium is released from these triggered by agricultural measures – peat decomposition by drainage and nitrate input.

It has now been shown in a follow-up project that also the other areas in southern Bavaria with high uranium in groundwater are due to the release of natural uranium from lowland fens. Experiments in Wielenbach, a regional office of the LfU, show that an input of uranium from phosphate fertilizers in soils as discussed in the press and politics, takes place, but has no effect on uranium concentrations in groundwater under the conditions in southern Bavaria.

In subsequent investigations, various fen sites in Germany are being investigated hydrogeochemically with regard to their potential function as uranium sinks.