SREL Reprint #2547




Immobilization of cesium-137 and uranium in contaminated sediments using soil amendments

John C. Seaman, T. Meehan, and P. M. Bertsch

Advanced Analytical Center for Environmental Sciences, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory,
University of Georgia, Aiken, SC 29802

Abstract: Batch and dynamic leaching methods were used to evaluate the effectiveness of hydroxyapatite (HA), illite, and zeolite, alone and in combination, as soil additives for reducing the migration of cesium-137 (137Cs+) and uranium (U) from contaminated sediments. Amendment treatments ranging from 0 to 50 g kg-1 were added to the sediment and equilibrated in 0.001 M CaCl2. After equilibration, the treatment supernatants were analyzed for 137Cs+, U, PO4, and other metals. The residual sediments were then extracted overnight using one of the of following: 1.0 M NH4Cl, 0.5 M CaCl2, or the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) extractant. Cesium was strongly sorbed to the contaminated sediments, presumably due to interlayer fixation within native illitic clays. In fact, 137Cs+ was below detection limits in the initial equilibration solutions, the CaCl2 extract, and the TCLP solution, regardless of amendment. Extractants selective for interlayer cations (1.0 M NH4Cl) were necessary to extract measurable levels of 137Cs+. Addition of illitic clays further reduced Cs+ extractability, even when subjected to the aggressive extractants. Zeolite, however, was ineffective in reducing Cs+ mobility when subjected to the aggressive extractants. Hydroxyapatite was less effective than illite at reducing NH4+-extractable Cs+. Hydroxyapatite, and mixtures of HA with illite or zeolite, were highly effective in reducing U extractability in both batch and leaching tests. Uranium immobilization by HA was rapid with similar final U concentrations observed for equilibration times ranging from 1 h to 30 d. The current results demonstrate the effectiveness of soil amendments in reducing the mobility of U and Cs+, which makes in-place immobilization an effective remediation alternative.

SREL Reprint #2547

Seaman, J. C., T. Meehan, and P. M. Bertsch. 2001. Immobilization of cesium-137 and uranium in contaminated sediments using soil amendments. Journal of Environmental Quality 30:1206-1213.

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