Corrosion of Uranium in Desert Soil, with Application to GCD Source Term M Page: 4 of 40
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Printed September 1999
Corrosion of Uranium in Desert Soil, with Application to
GCD Source Term Models
James L. Krumhansl, Mollie E. Thompson, Harlan W. Stockman, Howard L. Anderson and
Sandia National Laboratories
P.O. Box 5800
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0750
Uranium fragments from the Sandia Sled Track were studied as analogues for weapons
components and depleted uranium buried at the Greater Confinement Disposal (GCD) site in
Nevada. The Sled Track uranium fragments originated as weapons mockups and counterweights
impacted on concrete and soil barriers, and experienced heating and fragmentation similar to
processes thought to affect the Nuclear Weapons Accident Residues (NWAR) at GCD.
Furthermore, the Sandia uranium was buried in unsaturated desert soils for 10 to 40 years, and
has undergone weathering processes expected to affect the GCD wastes. Scanning electron
microscopy, X-ray diffraction and microprobe analyses of the fragments show rapid alteration
from metals to dominantly VI-valent oxy-hydroxides. Leaching studies of the samples give
results consistent with published U-oxide dissolution rates, and suggest longer experimental
periods (ca. 1 year) would be required to reach equilibrium solution concentrations.
Thermochemical modeling with the EQ3/6 code indicates that the uranium concentrations in
solutions saturated with becquerelite could increase as the pore waters evaporate, due to changes
in carbonate equilibria and increased ionic strength.
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ANDERSON, HOWARD L.; BACA, JULIANNE; KRUMHANSL, JAMES L.; STOCKMAN, HARLAN W. & THOMPSON, MOLLIE E. Corrosion of Uranium in Desert Soil, with Application to GCD Source Term M, report, September 1, 1999; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc620718/m1/4/: accessed November 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.