Environmental monitoring for some transuranium elements Page: 2 of 5
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ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING FOR SOME
J. Sedlet and N. W. Golchert
Occupational Health and Safety Division
Argonne National Laboratory Argonne, IL 60439, U.S.A.
Knowledge of contemporary environmental levels of transuranium elements is
necessary as baseline information if the future impact of nuclear fuel
plants and power reactors is to be evaluated. The chemical behavior of
these elements at low concentrations in the environment is also important
in hazard prediction. This paper describes methods used by our group for
the analysis of environmental materials for several transuranium elements
and summarizes the results for the past several years. In some cases com-
parison with natural uranium and thorium was useful, and their concentra-
tions were also determined. The detailed data are given in a series of
annual reports (1).
2. RADIOCHEMICAL PROCEDURES
Measurements were made by alpha-particle spectrometry, except for some
uranium fluorometric analyses, with the use of radiotracers to determine
the chemical recovery by isotope dilution. Where possible, isotopic alpha
emitters were used as tracers. Exceptions were: 234Th for thorium isotopes;
239Np or 236Pu for 237Np; and 243Am for Cf and Cm isotopes. 243Am was used
for Am, Cf, and Cm since these actinides were separated together under con-
ditions where they behave quantitatively the same. Although 239Np was
initially used as a tracer for 237Np, it was found that Np could be separa-
ted with Pu so that both elements could be determined by alpha spectrometry
with 236Pu tracer without separating them from each other.
Water was analyzed by coprecipitating the transuranium elements and Th with
CaF2 after reduction with sodium bisulfite. The CaF2 was dissolved in 8N
HNO3-saturated Al(N03)3 solution, and the solution passed through a Dowex-1
ion exchange column to adsorb Th, Pu, and Np. The Th was eluted with con-
centrated HCl, and the Pu and Np either eluted together with dilute HCl-HF
solution, or the Pu eluted by reduction with NH4I solution and then the Np
with dilute HC-HF. The initial column effluent and washings were evaporated
nearly to dryness, the acidity adjusted to pH 2 with NH40H, and the trivalent
actinides extracted into a solution of Aliquat 336 in xylene and re-extracted
into dilute acid.
Soil, air particulates, vegetation, and bottom sediment were leached by
treatment with hot mineral acids, including HF. The insoluble material was
filtered, ashed, and the acid treatment repeated. The solution was made 8M
in HNO3 and the separation described above performed with one change. Prior
to the extraction step, the evaporated AI(NO3)3 solution was made ION in
NH4NO3 and the U extracted into ethyl acetate. The trivalent actinides were
then extracted with Aliquat 336.
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Sedlet, J. & Golchert, N. W. Environmental monitoring for some transuranium elements, article, January 1, 1977; Illinois. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1445745/m1/2/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.