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Transport of Strontium and Cesium in Simulated Hanford Tank Waste Leachate through Quartz Sand under Saturated and Unsaturated Flow

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journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2010, 00:00 by Kenton A. Rod, Wooyong Um, Markus Flury
We investigated the effects of water saturation and secondary precipitate formation on Sr and Cs transport through quartz sand columns under saturated and unsaturated flow. Column experiments were conducted at effective water saturation ranging from 0.2 to 1.0 under steady-state flow using either 0.1 M NaNO3 or simulated tank waste leachate (STWL; 1 M NaNO3 and 1 M NaOH) mimicking Hanford (Washington, USA) tank waste. In 0.1 M NaNO3 columns, Sr transported like a conservative tracer, whereas Cs was retarded relative to Sr. The transport of Sr and Cs in the 0.1 M NaNO3 columns under all water saturations could be described with the equilibrium convection-dispersion equation (CDE). In STWL columns, Sr mobility was significantly reduced compared to the 0.1 M NaNO3 column, because Sr was incorporated into or sorbed to neo-formed secondary precipitates. Strontium sequestration by precipitates was confirmed by additional batch and electron micrograph analyses. In contrast, the transport of Cs was less affected by the STWL; retardation of Cs in STWL columns was similar to that found in 0.1 M NaNO3 columns. Analysis of STWL column data revealed that both Sr and Cs breakthrough curves showed nonideal behavior that suggest nonequilibrium conditions, although nonlinear geochemical behavior cannot be ruled out.