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Understanding uranium behavior in a reduced aquifer

Abstract : Uranium contamination of groundwater is a concern at several US Department of Energy sites, such Old Rifle, CO. Uranium transport in the environment is mainly controlled by its oxidation state, since oxidized U(VI) is relatively mobile, whereas U(IV) is relatively insoluble. Bio-remediation of contaminated aquifers aims at immobilizing uranium in a reduced form. Previous laboratory and field studies have shown that adding electron donor (lactate, acetate, ethanol) to groundwater stimulates the activity of metal- and sulfate-reducing bacteria, which promotes U(VI) reduction in contaminated aquifers. However, obtaining information on chemical and physical forms of U, Fe and S species for sediments biostimulated in the field, as well as kinetic parameters such as U(VI) reduction rate, is challenging due to the low concentration of uranium in the aquifers (typically < 10 ppm) and the expense of collecting large number of cores. An in-situ technique has been developed for studying uranium, iron and sulfur reduction dynamics during such bioremediation episodes. This technique uses in-well columns to obtain direct access to chemical and physical forms of U(IV) produced in the aquifer, evolving microbial communities, and trace and major ion groundwater constituents. While several studies have explored bioreduction of uranium under sulfate-reducing conditions, less attention has been paid to the initial iron-reducing phase, noted as being of particular importance to uranium removal. The aim of this work was to assess the formation of U(IV) during the early stages of a bio-remediation experiment at the Old Rifle site, CO, from early iron-reducing conditions to the transition to sulfate-reducing conditions. Several in-well chromatographic columns packed with sediment were deployed and were sampled at different days after the start of bio-reduction. X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray microscopy were used to obtain information on Fe, S and U speciation and distribution. Chemical extractions of the reduced sediments have also been performed, to determine the rate of Fe(II) and U(IV) accumulation.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 12:26:56 AM
Last modification on : Friday, February 26, 2021 - 12:44:03 PM

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Noémie Janot, John Bargar, Juan Lezama-Pacheco, Kenneth Williams, Philip Long, et al.. Understanding uranium behavior in a reduced aquifer. AGU Fall Meeting, Dec 2012, San Francisco, France. ⟨hal-02536222⟩

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