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About uranium and its uses

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

About uranium and its uses:


Context:

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has arrested two persons with 7 kg natural uranium estimated to be worth around Rs 21 crore.

  • The duo were placed under arrest under the Atomic Energy Act of 1962 for possessing uranium without licence.

What exactly is uranium and what are its uses?

Occurrence: occurs naturally in low concentrations in soil, rock and water and is commercially extracted from uranium-bearing minerals.

Applications:

  1. Uranium that has a silvery grey metallic appearance is mainly used in nuclear power plants due to its unique nuclear properties.
  2. Depleted uranium is also used as shield against radiation in medical processes using radiation therapy and also while transporting radioactive materials.
  3. Though itself radioactive, uranium’s high density makes it effective in halting radiation.
  4. Its high density also makes it useful as counterweights in aircraft and industrial machinery.

Uranium Mining In India:

  • In India, Uranium deposits occur in the Dharwar rocks.
  • It occurs along the Singbhum Copper belt (Jharkhand); Udaipur, Alwar and Jhunjhunu districts of Rajasthan, Durg district of Chhattisgarh, Bhandara district of Maharashtra and Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Significant quantity of reserves were recently discovered in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between Seshachalam forest and Sresailam (Southern edge of Andhra to Southern edge of Telangana).

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Radioactive vs non radioactive elements.
  2. What is half life of an element? How is it measured?
  3. Abundance of various elements in earth’s crust.
  4. How uranium contaminates groundwater?
  5. Uranium limits- BIS vs WHO.

Mains Link:

A recent report has highlighted uranium contamination in India’s groundwater. Discuss the causes, its effects and ways to address the issue?

Sources: Indian Express.