Topsoil Stockpiling Versus Exposure to Traffic: A Case Study on In situ Uranium Wellfields


Address correspondence to P. D. Stahl, email


Management of soils on areas subjected to planned disturbance, such as surface mine sites, is crucial to post-disturbance restoration. We conducted a study to determine which of the following two topsoil management strategies resulted in less of a negative impact to the soil and vegetation resources and better promoted site restoration on in situ uranium wellfields: (1) removal of topsoil from an entire wellfield and stockpiling until mining activity is complete; or (2) leaving the majority of topsoil on the wellfield and allowing it to be exposed to disturbance associated with wellfield development activity (primarily heavy vehicle traffic). Our study compared selected soil properties from areas on in situ uranium wellfields managed by the two strategies stated above and with adjacent, relatively undisturbed sites. Vegetation reestablishment was assessed on sites where topsoil was left in place. Results indicated that levels of vehicular traffic on wellfields did not cause significant soil compaction and that removal and stockpiling of topsoil results in more negative impacts than disturbance inflicted when topsoil is left in place.