To assess the potential hazard from radioactive wastes, a plant with known radiosensitivity, Tradescantia clone 02, was grown in radioactive soil obtained from uranium mill tailings. The levels of radiation on these tailings varied from 0.03mR/hr (background) to a maximum of 3.00 mR/hr. Tradescantia grown in soil with a radiation level greater than 0.10 mR/hr evidenced significantly reduced reproductive integrity and fecundity, as measured by the number of stunted hairs per stamen, pollen viability, and numbers of somatic mutations. Based on these data, the radioactivity from uranium mill tailings has the potential to alter normal plant succession due to its detrimental effect on any species that is relatively radiosensitive.
Rechel, E. A. and Campbell, W. F.
"The effects of radiation from uranium mill tailings on Tradescantia,"
Great Basin Naturalist: Vol. 38
, Article 10.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/gbn/vol38/iss4/10