July 24, 2015
Journal Article

Uranium Fate in Hanford Sediment Altered by Simulated Acid Waste Solutions


Many aspects of U(VI) behavior in sediments that are previously exposed to acidic waste fluids for sufficiently long times to induce significant changes in pH and other physical, mineralogical and chemical properties, are not well documented in the literature. For this reason, we conducted a series of macroscopic batch experiments combined with a variety of bulk characterization studies (Mössbauer and laser spectroscopy), micro-scale inspections (µ-XRF), and molecular scale interrogations (XANES) with the objectives to: i) determine the extent of U(VI) partitioning to Hanford sediments previously exposed to acidic waste simulants (pH = 2 and pH = 5) and under neutral conditions (pH = 8) at varying background solution concentrations (i.e., NaNO3); ii) determine micron-scale solid phase associated U valence state and phase identity; and iii) provide information for a plausible conceptual model of U(VI) attenuation under waste plume acidic conditions. The results of the batch experiments showed that the acid pre-treated sediment had high affinity for aqueous U(VI), which was removed from solution via two pH dependent and apparently different mechanisms (adsorption at pH = 2 and precipitation at pH = 5). The micro-scale inspections and XANES analyses confirmed that high concentration areas were rich mainly in U(VI), demonstrating that most of the added U(VI) was not reduced to U(IV). The laser spectroscopy data showed that uranyl phosphates {e.g. metaautunite [Ca(UO2)2(PO4)2•10-12H2O] and phosphuranylite [KCa(H3O)3(UO2)7(PO4)4O4•8(H2O)]} were present in the sediments. They also showed clear differences between the U bearing phases in the experiments conducted in the presence or absence of air. The data generated from these experiments will help in a better understanding of the reactions and processes that have a significant effect and/or control U mobility.

Revised: November 12, 2015 | Published: July 24, 2015


Gartman B.N., N. Qafoku, J.E. Szecsody, R.K. Kukkadapu, Z. Wang, D.M. Wellman, and M.J. Truex. 2015. Uranium Fate in Hanford Sediment Altered by Simulated Acid Waste Solutions. Applied Geochemistry 63, no. December 2015:1-9. PNNL-SA-105743. doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2015.07.010