HELSINKI, March 12 Uranium that leaked from
Talvivaara's nickel mine in eastern Finland
last November has been found in high concentrations at the
bottom of nearby lakes, potentially increasing clean-up costs
for the miner.
Finland's nuclear safety authority, STUK, said water samples
taken last week from lake Salminen, near the Sotkamo mine,
showed uranium levels six times higher than the advised level
for drinking water.
The Talvivaara disaster has dominated headlines in Finland.
The country's many lakes are interconnected, meaning pollution
in one lake can flow into rivers and lakes downstream.
Authorities said the levels of uranium in waters near the
mine had decreased since the leak but the latest data suggested
there still was a heavy concentration of pollution in some lakes
near the mine.
STUK director Tarja Ikaheimonen said the uranium-affected
water could begin flowing downstream in the spring as snow and
ice begin to melt, while adding it would not pose a significant
threat to public health.
"I think these waters belong to the waters that need to be
cleaned," Ikaheimonen said.
Talvivaara said it expected the uranium and other leaked
metals to remain settled at the bottom of the lake, although it
would consider the need for purification.
It is currently draining cleaned excess waters from the mine
in an attempt to be able to restart mining and crushing
"Of course we will proceed based on requirements set by
STUK. We have not yet received a demand to pump away or clean
the water," Talvivaara's environmental manager Veli-Matti Hilla
Last Friday Talvivaara's shareholders agreed to stump up 261
million euros ($340 million) through a new share issue to keep
the mine running.
($1 = 0.7684 euros)
(Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by Mark Potter)