Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Energy, Environment Protection, Nuclear Power Engineering
Abstract The concentrations of heavy metals and radionuclides in the sediments and water of Great Bear Lake were determined during 1978 near an operating silver mine and an abandoned uranium mine. Additional information on the level of mercury in fish tissues were also collected. The mines, situated on the same site, deposited tailings and other waste material directly into the lake. The concentrations of mercury, lead, manganese, and nickel in the sediments were highest near the tailings deposit and decreased significantly as the distance from the mine increased. Although there were also significant positive correlations between these metals and the organic content of the sediments, water depth and slope of the bottom had no impact on metal distribution. Since the concentrations of arsenic, cobalt, copper,226radium,210lead and230thorium varied inconsistently throughout the study area, the distribution of these substances could not be related to any of the environmental factors that were measured. There were, however, significant negative correlations between the concentrations of232thorium and228thorium and distance from the mine and organic content of the sediments. Heavy metal and radionuclide levels in water were generally below detectable limits, reflecting the strong chemical bonding characteristics of the sediments. The low concentrations of mercury in the tissues of lake troutSalvelinus namaycush were probably related to low uptake rates and the ability of this species to move into uncontaminated areas of the lake.
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