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Immobilization of U(VI) from oxic groundwater by Hanford 300 Area sediments and effects of Columbia River water

Ahmed, Bulbul, Cao, Bin, Mishra, Bhoopesh, Boyanov, Maxim I., Kemner, Kenneth M., Fredrickson, Jim K., Beyenal, Haluk
Water research 2012 v.46 no.13 pp. 3989-3998
adsorption, desorption, groundwater, hydrochemistry, microorganisms, mixing, nanoparticles, river water, rivers, sediments, uranium, Columbia River, United States
Regions within the U.S. Department of Energy Hanford 300 Area (300 A) site experience periodic hydrologic influences from the nearby Columbia River as a result of changing river stage, which causes changes in groundwater elevation, flow direction and water chemistry. An important question is the extent to which the mixing of Columbia River water and groundwater impacts the speciation and mobility of uranium (U). In this study, we designed experiments to mimic interactions among U, oxic groundwater or Columbia River water, and 300 A sediments in the subsurface environment of Hanford 300 A. The goals were to investigate mechanisms of: 1) U immobilization in 300 A sediments under bulk oxic conditions and 2) U remobilization from U-immobilized 300 A sediments exposed to oxic Columbia River water. Initially, 300 A sediments in column reactors were fed with U(VI)-containing oxic 1) synthetic groundwater (SGW), 2) organic-amended SGW (OA-SGW), and 3) de-ionized (DI) water to investigate U immobilization processes. After that, the sediments were exposed to oxic Columbia River water for U remobilization studies. The results reveal that U was immobilized by 300 A sediments predominantly through reduction (80–85%) when the column reactor was fed with oxic OA-SGW. However, U was immobilized by 300 A sediments through adsorption (100%) when the column reactors were fed with oxic SGW or DI water. The reduced U in the 300 A sediments fed with OA-SGW was relatively resistant to remobilization by oxic Columbia River water. Oxic Columbia River water resulted in U remobilization (∼7%) through desorption, and most of the U that remained in the 300 A sediments fed with OA-SGW (∼93%) was in the form of uraninite nanoparticles. These results reveal that: 1) the reductive immobilization of U through OA-SGW stimulation of indigenous 300 A sediment microorganisms may be viable in the relatively oxic Hanford 300 A subsurface environments and 2) with the intrusion of Columbia River water, desorption may be the primary process resulting in U remobilization from OA-SGW-stimulated 300 A sediments at the subsurface of the Hanford 300 A site.