Geochemistry of Hydrofluoric Acid in Kaolinitic Soils

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This document explores the geochemical reactions likely to occur when hydrofluoric acid is spilled on Savannah River Site (SRS) soil. In particular, we evaluate the potential of environmental damage from a one-time release of concentrated hydrofluoric acid into a trench. According to interviews with personnel involved, sometime between 1955 and 1960 drums of 50-60 per cent hydrofluoric acid were disposed in a trench in the Central Shops area. The method of disposal suggests that most of the acid would have been released at the time of burial. No evidence of drum disposal or acidic pH values was found. Therefore, the ... continued below

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DENHAM, MILES May 11, 2004.

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Description

This document explores the geochemical reactions likely to occur when hydrofluoric acid is spilled on Savannah River Site (SRS) soil. In particular, we evaluate the potential of environmental damage from a one-time release of concentrated hydrofluoric acid into a trench. According to interviews with personnel involved, sometime between 1955 and 1960 drums of 50-60 per cent hydrofluoric acid were disposed in a trench in the Central Shops area. The method of disposal suggests that most of the acid would have been released at the time of burial. No evidence of drum disposal or acidic pH values was found. Therefore, the Soil and Groundwater Closure Projects group requested that we evaluate potential risk by examining the major geochemical interactions expected between hydrofluoric acid and soil. The geochemical calculations in this report were done with The Geochemist's Workbench (Registered). This program uses an extended Debye-Huckel method for calculating activity coefficients. The conclusions of this report are accurate, but some of the intermediate steps may have higher uncertainty. Hydrofluoric acid disposed in a trench in the area would have reacted with soil kaolinite to neutralize the pH to a value of about 4.2. Based on conservative assumptions, this would have occurred within the top 500 cm of soil. This analysis considers only the reaction of the acid with kaolinite. Other processes such as dilution, dispersion, and clogging of permeability would contribute to neutralization of the acid within a shorter distance. When the acid solution reached the water table, dilution would have driven the solution to saturation with gibbsite. A resulting layer enriched in aluminum may be the only remnant of the acid disposal identifiable today. However, any such layer would be difficult to identify because of the normally high aluminum concentrations in the soil. Subtle textural evidence of shallow soil dissolution may be present, but 40 years of rainfall infiltration may well have erased such evidence.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 11 May 2004

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  • Report No.: WSRC-TR-2003-00517
  • Grant Number: AC09-96SR18500
  • DOI: 10.2172/825189 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 825189
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc786036

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  • May 11, 2004

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  • Dec. 3, 2015, 9:30 a.m.

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  • May 5, 2016, 1:56 p.m.

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DENHAM, MILES. Geochemistry of Hydrofluoric Acid in Kaolinitic Soils, report, May 11, 2004; South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc786036/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.