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Uranium and Technetium Bio-Immobilization in Intermediate-Scale Physical Models of an In Situ Bio-Barrier

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journal contribution
posted on 15.11.2006, 00:00 by Mandy M. Michalsen, Bernard A. Goodman, Shelly D. Kelly, Kenneth M. Kemner, James P. McKinley, Joseph W. Stucki, Jonathan D. Istok
We investigated the long-term effects of ethanol addition on U and Tc mobility in groundwater flowing through intermediate-scale columns packed with uncontaminated sediments. The columns were operated above-ground at a contaminated field site to serve as physical models of an in situ bio-barrier for U and Tc removal from groundwater. Groundwater containing 4 μM U and 520 pM Tc was pumped through the columns for 20 months. One column received additions of ethanol to stimulate activity of indigenous microorganisms; a second column received no ethanol and served as a control. U(VI) and Tc(VII) removal was sustained for 20 months (∼189 pore volumes) in the stimulated column under sulfate- and Fe(III)-reducing conditions. Less apparent microbial activity and only minor removal of U(VI) and Tc(VII) were observed in the control. Sequential sediment extractions and XANES spectra confirmed that U(IV) was present in the stimulated column, although U(IV) was also detected in the control; extremely low concentrations precluded detection of Tc(IV) in any sample. These results provide additional evidence that bio-immobilization may be effective for removing U and Tc from groundwater. However, long-term effectiveness of bio-immobilization may be limited by hydraulic conductivity reductions or depletion of bioavailable Fe(III).