Investigating humic substances interactions with Th4+, UO22+, and NpO2+ at high pH: Relevance to cementitious disposal of radioactive wastes

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A number of geodisposal concepts for intermediate level radioactive waste involve geological emplacement within cementitious repositories. Such facilities, once rehydrated with groundwater, will create high pH environments due to aqueous phase reaction of the cements. This work focuses on the interactions of several important long-lived radionuclide cations with dissolved organic matter (DOM) constituents (humic and fulvic acids) under high pH conditions. We also sought to test the comprehensive speciation model WHAM/Humic Ion Binding Model VII for these specific conditions. Results for Th demonstrate high fractions present as organic complexes at all pH values. Binding of neptunyl to DOM shows a maximum over the pH range expected within an evolving repository. Uranyl exhibits decreasing binding with pH, however, the majority of metal in solution is present as organic complexes under the lower pH conditions investigated (10-10.5). We have updated the WHAM/Model VII binding values for UO22+, and have for the first time added NpO2+ values to the database. These updates now allow application of the model for more complex mixtures across the entire repository pH range. Calculations for three simulated cement interstitial waters (representing different degradation phases) suggest U(VI) and Np(V) are not likely to be significantly bound to DOM under these conditions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-228
Number of pages14
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2013