The total volume of mill tailings generated in the U. is over 95 percent of the volume of all radioactive waste from all stages of the nuclear weapons and power production.
(In-situ leach mining leaves the unusable portion in the ground, it does not generate this form of waste).
As a result, the health and environmental risks of blending are similar to those for uranium conversion and enrichment. So far, the NRC has been using guidelines developed by its staff in 1981 to oversee decommissioning efforts. regulations, however, cover a period of 1,000 years for mill tailings and at most 500 years for “low-level” radioactive waste.
In 1983 the federal government set standards for controlling pollution from active and abandoned mill tailings piles resulting from yellowcake production. The Future Uranium and associated decay products thorium-230 and radium-226 will remain hazardous for thousands of years. This means that future generations–far beyond those promised protection by these regulations–will likely face significant risks from uranium mining, milling, and processing activities.
If inhaled or ingested, however, its radioactivity poses increased risks of lung cancer and bone cancer.
Uranium is also chemically toxic at high concentrations and can cause damage to internal organs, notably the kidneys.
Uranium mill tailings contain radioactive materials, notably radium-226, and heavy metals (e.g., manganese and molybdenum) which can leach into groundwater. have disproportionately affected indigenous populations around the globe.