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[en] The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) manages 27 sites that have groundwater containing uranium concentrations above background levels. The distal portions of the plumes merge into background groundwater that can have 50 μg/L or more uranium. Distinguishing background from site-related uranium is often problematic, but it is critical to determining if remediation is warranted, establishing appropriate remediation goals, and evaluating disposal cell performance. In particular, groundwater at disposal cells located on the upper Cretaceous Mancos Shale may have relatively high background concentrations of uranium. Elevated concentrations of nitrate, selenium, and sulfate accompany the uranium. LM used geologic analogs and uranium isotopic signatures to distinguish background groundwater from groundwater contaminated by a former uranium processing site. The same suite of contaminants is present in groundwater near former uranium processing sites and in groundwater seeps emanating from the Mancos Shale over a broad area. The concentrations of these contaminants in Many Devils Wash, located near LM's Shiprock disposal cell, are similar to those in samples collected from many Mancos seeps, including two analog sites that are 8 to 11 km from the disposal cell. Samples collected from Many Devils Wash and the analog sites have high AR values (about 2.0)-in contrast, groundwater samples collected near the tailings disposal cell have AR values near 1.0. These chemical signatures raise questions about the origin of the contamination seeping into Many Devils Wash. (authors)
[en] In order to examine the dissolution behavior of pulverized irradiated fuels, approximately 1g of powdery irradiated fuels (burnup: 50 GWd/t, cooling time: more than 15 yr, size: 90-150, 300-355, and 850-1,000 μm) was weighed out accurately and dissolved in HNO3 solutions (300 cm3) stirred at 300 rpm. The dissolution reactions were followed by measuring [UO22+] and [HNO2] in dissolvant solutions. Dissolution ratios were calculated as percentage of [weight of uranium dissolved]/[initial weight of uranium in fuels]. It was found that the powdery irradiated fuels are dissolved easily even at room temperature in 3-4M (mol/dm3) HNO3 solutions and much more rapidly than non-irradiated UO2 powders (95% theoretical density). These results indicate that the pulverization of irradiated fuels is effective for making the dissolution conditions mild. Furthermore, the difference in dissolution behavior between powdery non-and irradiated fuels were suggested to be due to the difference in their densities, the acceleration effect of certain fission products in irradiated fuels, or the participation of oxidants other than HNO2 and NO3- in dissolution reactions of irradiated fuels. (author)
[en] A numerical model is being developed to describe groundwater flow in the Navajo Sandstone aquifer that underlies the US DOE Office of Legacy Management Tuba City disposal site that is located near Tuba City, Arizona. The site is a former uranium-ore processing mill that operated from 1956 until 1966. Resulting groundwater contamination extends approximately 457 meters (1,500 feet) off the site. The primary contaminants are nitrate, sulfate, and uranium. Onsite solid waste encapsulation was completed by 1990 and pump-and-treat groundwater remediation was implemented in 2002. A site conceptual model, along with an approach to numerically simulate groundwater flow and advective transport of contaminants at the site, is being developed. Numerical model calibration will address transient periods of active and inactive groundwater withdrawal during the remedial action. The calibrated model will be applied to forecast contaminant capture under the current and hypothetical groundwater extraction scenarios. (authors)
[en] Acid sulfate soils (ASS) are soils and soft sediments in which sulfuric acid may be produced from iron sulfides or have been produced leaving iron oxyhydroxysulfates in amounts that have a long lasting effect on soil characteristics. If soil material is exposed to rotting vegetation or other reducing material, the Fe-oxyhydroxysulfates can be bacterially reduced to sulfides including disulfides (pyrite and marcasite), and Monosulfidic Black Ooze (MBO) a poorly characterised material known to be a mixture of iron sulfides (especially mackinawite) and organic matter. The chemistry of these environments is strongly affected by Fe and S cycling processes and herein we have sought to identify key differences in environments that occur as a function of Fe and S concentration. In addition to our chemical results, we have found that the effects of particle size on self absorption in natural sediments play an important role in the spectroscopic identification of the relative proportions of different species present.
[en] Aquatic or land-based plastic pollution has raised serious concerns for ecosystems, and especially human and animal health worldwide. A variety of legislative instruments were developed to control, reduce, and manage the usage of plastics in day-to-day life to minimize the adverse outcomes brought by sending these plastic to landfill. Existing legislation heavily embraces levies, bans, and voluntary efforts through “reduce and reuse campaigns.” Thus, the present review highlights the pros and cons of the existing legislation and its implementation. It also assesses the need for the improvement of plastic legislation to better consider environmental and human health impacts. The paper proposes new efficient management strategies to aid in the development of plastic legislation which prevents increase of plastic pollution worldwide, the potential challenges that would arise from its implementation, and the mechanisms for overcoming these challenges. The paper proposes a conventional management strategy based on the current plastic management and legislation. It aims to improve the feasibility and effectiveness of the implementation of future plastic policies.
[en] Discharge of Fe(II)-rich groundwaters into surface-waters results in the accumulation of Fe(III)-minerals in salinized sand-bed waterways of the Hunter Valley, Australia. The objective of this study was to characterise the mineralogy, micromorphology and pore-water geochemistry of these Fe(III) accumulations. Pore-waters had a circumneutral pH (6.2-7.2), were sub-oxic to oxic (Eh 59-453 mV), and had dissolved Fe(II) concentrations up to 81.6 mg L-1. X-ray diffraction (XRD) on natural and acid-ammonium-oxalate (AAO) extracted samples indicated a dominance of 2-line ferrihydrite in most samples, with lesser amounts of goethite, lepidocrocite, quartz, and alumino-silicate clays. The majority of Fe in the samples was bound in the AAO extractable fraction (FeOx) relative to the Na-dithionite extractable fraction (FeDi), with generally high FeOx:FeDi ratios (0.52-0.92). The presence of nano-crystalline 2-line ferrihydrite (Fe5HO3.4H2O) with lesser amounts of goethite (α-FeOOH) was confirmed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) coupled with selected area electron diffraction (SAED). In addition, it was found that lepidocrocite (γ-FeOOH), which occurred as nanoparticles as little as ∼5 lattice spacings thick perpendicular to the (0 2 0) lattice plane, was also present in the studied Fe(III) deposits. Overall, the results highlight the complex variability in the crystallinity and particle-size of Fe(III)-minerals which form via oxidation of Fe(II)-rich groundwaters in sand-bed streams. This variability may be attributed to: (1) divergent precipitation conditions influencing the Fe(II) oxidation rate and the associated supply and hydrolysis of the Fe(III) ion, (2) the effect of interfering compounds, and (3) the influence of bacteria, especially Leptothrix ochracea.
[en] The US Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for risk reduction and cleanup of its nuclear weapons complex. DOE maintains the largest cleanup program in the world, currently spanning over a million acres in 13 states. The inventory of contaminated materials includes 90 million gallons of radioactive waste, 6.4 trillion liters of groundwater, and 40 million cubic meters of soil and debris. It is not feasible to completely restore many sites to pre-disposal conditions. Any contamination left in place will require monitoring, engineering controls and/or land use restrictions to protect human health and environment. Research and development efforts to date have focused on improving characterization and remediation. Yet, monitoring will result in the largest life-cycle costs and will be critical to improving performance and protection. Through an inter-disciplinary effort, DOE is addressing a need to advance monitoring approaches from sole reliance on cost- and labor-intensive point-source monitoring to integrated systems-based approaches such as flux-based approaches and the use of early indicator parameters. Key objectives include identifying current scientific, technical and implementation opportunities and challenges, prioritizing science and technology strategies to meet current needs within the DOE complex for the most challenging environments, and developing an integrated and risk-informed monitoring framework. (authors)