Deposition of Uranium Precipitates in Dolomitic Gravel Fill

Debra H. Phillips, D.B. Watson, S.D. Kelly, B. Ravel, K.M. Kemner

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Uranium-containing precipitates have been observed in a dolomitic gravel fill near the Department of Energy (DOE) S-3 Ponds former waste disposal site as a result of exposure to acidic (pH 3.4) groundwater contaminated with U (33 mg L-1), Al3+ (900 mg L-1), and NO3- (14?000 mg L-1). The U containing precipitates fluoresce a bright green under ultraviolet (UV) short-wave light which identify U-rich coatings on the gravel. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) microprobe analysis show U concentration ranges from 1.6-19.8% (average of 7%) within the coatings with higher concentrations at the interface of the dolomite fragments. X-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy (XANES) indicate that the U is hexavalent and extended X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy (EXAFS) shows that the uranyl is coordinated by carbonate. The exact nature of the uranyl carbonates are difficult to determine, but some are best described by a split K+-like shell similar to grimselite [K4Na(UO2)(CO3)3·H2O] and other regions are better described by a single Ca2+-like shell similar to liebigite [Ca2(UO2)(CO3)3·11(H2O)] or andersonite [Na2CaUO2(CO3)3 · 6H2O]. The U precipitates are found in the form of white to light yellow cracked-formations as coatings on the dolomite gravel and as detached individual precipitates, and are associated with amorphous basalumnite [Al4(SO4)(OH)10·4H2O].

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7104-7110
    Number of pages7
    JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
    Issue number19
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemistry(all)
    • Environmental Chemistry

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