Sulfur Polymer Stabilization/Solidification Treatability Study of Mercury Contaminated Soil from the Y-12 Site

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As a result of past operations, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12 Plant) has extensive mercury-contamination in building structures, soils, storm sewer sediments, and stream sediments, which are a source of pollution to the local ecosystem. Because of mercury’s toxicity and potential impacts on human health and the environment, DOE continues to investigate and implement projects to support the remediation of the Y-12 site.URS and #9122;CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR) under its prime contract with DOE has cleanup responsibilities on the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and is investigating potential mercury-contaminated soil treatment technologies through ... continued below

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Kalb, P.; Milian, L. & Yim, S. P. November 30, 2012.

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As a result of past operations, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12 Plant) has extensive mercury-contamination in building structures, soils, storm sewer sediments, and stream sediments, which are a source of pollution to the local ecosystem. Because of mercury’s toxicity and potential impacts on human health and the environment, DOE continues to investigate and implement projects to support the remediation of the Y-12 site.URS and #9122;CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR) under its prime contract with DOE has cleanup responsibilities on the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and is investigating potential mercury-contaminated soil treatment technologies through an agreement with Babcock and Wilcox (B and W) Y-12, the Y-12 operating contractor to DOE. As part of its investigations, UCOR has subcontracted with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) to conduct laboratory-scale studies evaluating the applicability of the Sulfur Polymer Stabilization/Solidification (SPSS) process using surrogate and actual mixed waste Y-12 soils containing mercury (Hg) at 135, 2,000, and 10,000 ppm.SPSS uses a thermoplastic sulfur binder to convert Hg to stable mercury sulfide (HgS) and solidifies the chemically stable product in a monolithic solid final waste form to reduce dispersion and permeability. Formulations containing 40 – 60 dry wt% Y-12 soil were fabricated and samples were prepared in triplicate for Environmental Protection Agency Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) testing by an independent laboratory. Those containing 50 and 60 wt% soil easily met the study criteria for maximum allowable Hg concentrations (47 and 1 ppb, respectively compared with the TCLP limit of 200 ppb Hg). The lowest waste loading of 40 wt% yielded TCLP Hg concentrations slightly higher (240 ppb) than the allowable limit. Since the Y-12 soil tended to form clumps, the improved leaching at higher waste loadings was probably due to reduction in particle size from friction of the soil mixing, which creates more surface area for chemical conversion. This was corroborated by the fact that the same waste loading pre-treated by ball milling to reduce particle size prior to SPSS processing yielded TCLP concentrations almost 30 times lower, and at 8.5 ppb Hg was well below EPA limits. Pre-treatment by ball milling also allowed a reduction in the time required for stabilization, thus potentially reducing total process times by 30%.Additional performance testing was conducted including measurement of compressive strength to confirm mechanical integrity and immersion testing to determine the potential impacts of storage or disposal under saturated conditions. For both surrogate and actual Y-12 treated soils, waste form compressive strengths ranged between 2,300 and 6,500 psi, indicating very strong mechanical integrity (a minimum of greater than 40 times greater than the NRC guidance for low-level radioactive waste). In general, compressive strength increases with waste loading as the soil acts as an aggregate in the sulfur concrete waste forms. No statistically significant loss in strength was recorded for the 30 and 40 wt% surrogate waste samples and only a minor reduction in strength was measured for the 43 wt% waste forms. The 30 wt% Y-12 soil did not show a significant loss in strength but the 50 wt% samples were severely degraded in immersion due to swelling of the clay soil. The impact on Hg leaching, if any, was not determined.

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  • Report No.: BNL--98912-2012-IR
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-98CH10886
  • DOI: 10.2172/1068794 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1068794
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc842470

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  • November 30, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • July 21, 2016, 7:05 p.m.

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Kalb, P.; Milian, L. & Yim, S. P. Sulfur Polymer Stabilization/Solidification Treatability Study of Mercury Contaminated Soil from the Y-12 Site, report, November 30, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc842470/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.