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Phosphate amendments for chemical immobilization of uranium in contaminated soil

Baker, Matthew R., Coutelot, Fanny M., Seaman, John C.
Environment international 2019 v.129 pp. 565-572
hydroxyapatite, mining, phosphorus, phytic acid, polluted soils, power generation, sediment contamination, sediments, sodium tripolyphosphate, soil remediation, soluble phosphates, uranium
Uranium (U) contamination is a major environmental problem associated with the mining and processing of nuclear materials for both weapons and power production. When possible, in situ soil remediation techniques are preferable for reducing the risk associated with diffuse low-level U contamination. Uranium is known to form sparingly soluble phosphate compounds that persist in the environment. Therefore, batch experiments were performed to evaluate the efficacy of three phosphate amendments, hydroxyapatite (HA), sodium phytate (IP6) and sodium tripolyphosphate (TPP), to immobilize U in contaminated sediments. The amendments were added at equivalent phosphorus (P) concentrations and then equilibrated under a range of test conditions, with changes in soluble U and Ptotal monitored at pre-set time intervals. Only HA was effective at reducing the soluble U soil fraction when compared to the control, with IP6 and TPP increasing the soluble U soil fraction. After equilibration, changes in contaminant partitioning in the amended sediments were evaluated using operational extraction methods. Sequential extraction results for HA generally indicated a transfer of U from labile to more recalcitrant phases, while the results for IP6 and TPP were more ambiguous.