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Extraction of oxidized and reduced forms of uranium from contaminated soils: effects of carbonate concentration and pH.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Environmental science & technology
Publication Date
Volume
39
Issue
12
Pages
4435–4440
Identifiers
PMID: 16047778
Source
Medline

Abstract

Uranium may present in soil as precipitated, sorbed, complexed, and reduced forms, which impact its mobility and fate in the subsurface soil environment. In this study, a uranium-contaminated soil was extracted with carbonate/ bicarbonate at varying concentrations (0-1 M), pHs, and redox conditions in an attempt to evaluate their effects on the extraction efficiency and selectivity for various forms of uranium in the soil. Results indicate that at least three differentforms of uranium existed in the contaminated soil: uranium(VI) phosphate minerals, reduced U(IV) phases, and U(VI) complexed with soil organic matter. A small fraction of U(VI) could be sorbed onto soil minerals. The mechanism involved in the leaching of U(VI) by carbonates appears to involve three processes which may act concurrently or independently: the dissolution of uranium(VI) phosphate and other mineral phases, the oxidation-complexation of U(IV) under oxic conditions, and the desorption of U(VI)-organic matter complexes at elevated pH conditions. This study suggests that, depending on site-specific geochemical conditions, the presence of small quantities of carbonate/bicarbonate could result in a rapid and greatly increased leaching and the mobilization of U(VI) from the contaminated soil. Even the reduced U(IV) phases (only sparingly soluble in water) are subjected to rapid oxidation and therefore potential leaching into the environment.

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