The radiological impact of the Belgian phospate industry

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Abstract

The Belgian phosphate industry processes huge amounts of phosphate ore (1.5 to 2 Mton/year) for a wide range of applications, the most important being the production of phosphoric acid, fertilizers and cattle food. Marine phosphate ores show high specific activities of the natural uranium decay series (usually indicated by Ra-226) (e.g. 1200 to 1500 Bq/kg for Moroccan ore). Ores of magmatic origin generally contain less of the uranium and more of the thorium decay series (up to 500 Bq/kg). These radionuclides turn up in by-products, residues or prod-uct streams depending on the processing method and the acid used for the acidulation of the phosphate rock. Sulfuric acid is the most widely used, but also hydrochloric acid and nitric acid are applied in Belgium. The five Flemish phosphate plants, from 1920 to 2000, handled 54 million ton of phosphate ore containing 65 TBq of radium-226 and 2.7 TBq of thorium-232. A large plant in the Walloon provinces produced in 2004 0.8 Mton of phosphogypsum, valorizing about 70 % of the gypsum in building materials (plaster, cement), in fertilizers, and in other products such as paper. The remainder was stored on a local disposal site.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRadiation protection from knowledge to action
Place of PublicationParis, France
Pages1-10
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2006
EventIRPA 2006 - 2th European IRPA Congress : Encouraging Sustainability in Radiation Protection - France - IRPA Europe, Paris, France
Duration: 15 May 200619 May 2006

Conference

ConferenceIRPA 2006 - 2th European IRPA Congress : Encouraging Sustainability in Radiation Protection - France
CountryFrance
CityParis
Period2006-05-152006-05-19

Keywords

  • phosphate ore, phosphate industry, NORM, Belgium

ID: 309698