Laboratory evaluation of colloidal actinide transport at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP): 1. crushed-dolomite column flow... Page: 1 of 16
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LABORATORY EVALUATION OF COLLOIDAL ACTINIDE TRANSPORT AT THE
WASTE ISOLATION PILOT PLANT (WIPP): 1. CRUSHED-DOLOMITE COLUMN
W. G. Yelton, Y_ KIBehl;J:W Kelly, M. Dunn, J. B. Gillow,
A. J. Francis, and H. W. Papenguth FEI 8 1 1997
Colloid-facilitated transport of Pu; Am, Ug Th, and'Np has been'recognized as a potentially imp ar T-I
phenomenon affecting the performance of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility being
developed for safe disposal of transuranic radioactivevwaste. 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 pm)
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.
INTRODUCTION M S E
Under the authorization of Public Law 96-164 (1979), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has
been developing the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility, located approximately 42 km
east of Carlsbad, New Mexico for the safe disposal of nuclear wastes produced by the defense
nuclear-weapons program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established the
regulatory standards (U.S. EPA, 1993) for cumulative radioactive release to the accessible
environment over 10,000 years to demonstrate the WIPP facility compliance.
The only credible potential mechanism for escape of radionuclides to the accessible environment
involves human intrusion scenarios, i.e., repository breach during drilling for natural resources.
In human intrusion scenarios, the brines present in the repository together with introduced
drilling muds are transported up the intrusion boreholes under the driving force of pressurized
fluids in the disposal area. Some of the radioisotopes could reach the surface, while others could
move laterally toward the WIPP Site boundary, principally through the Culebra Dolomite
Member of the Rustler Formation (Culebra). Performance assessment calculations (WIPP PA
Division, 1991ab) showed that releases of radioactive isotopes of the actinide elements Th, U,
Np, Pu, and Am would contribute the most to the total release of radioactivity, with Pu and U
being the largest contributors. These calculations did not include colloid-facilitated transport.
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Yelton, W.G.; Behl, Y.K.; Kelly, J.W.; Dunn, M.; Gillow, J.B.; Francis, A.J. et al. Laboratory evaluation of colloidal actinide transport at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP): 1. crushed-dolomite column flow..., article, December 31, 1996; Albuquerque, New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc681657/m1/1/: accessed November 12, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.