Laboratory Evaluation of Colloidal Actinide Transport at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP): 1. Crushed-Dolomite Column Flow Experiments
Colloid-facilitated transport of Pu, Am, U, Th, and Np has been recognized as a potentially important phenomenon affecting the performance of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility being developed for safe disposal of transuranic radioactive waste. In a human intrusion scenario, actinide-bearing colloidal particles may be released from the repository and be transported by brines (∼0.8 to 3 molal ionic strength) through the Culebra, a thin fractured microcrystalline (mean grain size 2 μm) dolomite aquifer overlying the repository. Transport experiments were conducted using sieved, uniformly packed crushed Culebra rock or nonporous dolomite cleavage rhombohedra. Experiments with mineral fragments and fixed and live WIPP-relevant bacteria cultures showed significant levels of retardation due to physical filtration effects. Humic substances were not attenuated by the Culebra dolomite. Comparison of elution curves of latex microspheres in columns prepared with microcrystalline rock and nonporous rock showed minimal effect of Culebra micropores on colloid transport. These data form part of the basis (see also Lucero et al., this volume) to parameterize numerical codes being used to evaluate the performance of the WIPP.
KeywordsPorosity Filtration Attenuation Sedimentation Geochemistry
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