Sources, Speciation and Mobility of Plutonium and Other Transuranics in the Groundwater at the Savannah River Site (Sept. 2003-Sept. 2006) Page: 1 of 5
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Annual Progress Report: DE-FG02-03ER63659
Sources, Speciation and Mobility of Plutonium and Other Transuranics in the
Groundwater at the Savannah River Site (Sept. 2003-Sept. 2006)
November 7, 2006
Lead PI: K.O. Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, 508-
Co-PI's: D. Kaplan, SRNL, S. Peterson, PNNL, M. Dai, WHOI
The intent of this research effort is to: i) provide the basis for accurate modeling and prediction
of actinide transport; ii) allow for remediation strategies to be planned that might use in-situ
manipulations of geochemical variables to enhance (for extraction) or retard (for immobilization)
Pu mobility in the groundwater zone; iii) identify specific Pu sources and the extent of far field,
or long-term migration of transuranics in groundwater; iv) reduce costly uncertainty in
performance and risk assessment calculations. This new knowledge is essential to ensure
continued public and worker safety at the DOE sites and the efficient management of cleanup
and containment strategies.
RESEARCH PROGRESS and IMPLICATIONS
The following is a summary our findings as of year 3 of a 3 year project. Specific objectives of
this project are: (1) the determination of the speciation of plutonium and other transuaranics (Am,
Cm) in groundwater at the F area of the Savannah River Site. This includes the separation of Pu
into particulate, colloidal and <1 kilo-Dalton dissolved phases and the determination of redox
states and isotopic composition in each fraction; and (2) conduct laboratory tests using site-
specific sediment and groundwater to compare plutonium and curium sorption (e.g., cation
exchange, surface complexation, and precipitation) and derived sorption mechanism constants.
Ground water Pu data from our most recent field sampling in October 2004 can now be
compared to the same four wells sampled in April 1998 and reported in Dai et al. 2002. The
wells included what we consider a "background" well FSB-108D (Well 1 in Dai et al. 2002), and
a sequence of wells starting at the F-area seepage basins and running downgradient towards
Fourmile Branch Steam (FSB-92D, FSB-78 and FSB-79, or 2, 3, 4, respectively).
Focusing first on the isotope 239Pu and the most basic measurement of Pu concentration in the
filtrate (that which passes through a 0.2 pm filter- Fig. 2), we find in both 2004 and 1998 239Pu
is highest near the source well 2 (140-170 x 106 atoms/kg) and decreases rapidly in the
downstream wells 3 & 4 (distance = 0.2 and 0.5 km, respectively). The background well has a
measurable 239Pu concentration of only 0.14 and 0.22 x 106 atoms/kg in 1998 and 2004,
respectively. Analytical errors on this measurement are quite small, and thus one conclusion is
that this pattern of sharp 239Pu concentration decrease with distance from the source has not
changed significantly for 239Pu. However, there are more subtle but measurable increases in
239Pu (170 vs. 140 x 106 atoms/kg in 2004 vs. 1998 in well 2, and 10 vs. 5, in 2004 and 1998 in
well 3 and a small decrease in 239Pu in well 4 (1 vs. 4 x 106 atoms/kg in 2004 and 1998), which is
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Buesseler, K. O.; Kaplan, D.; Peterson, S. & Dai, M. Sources, Speciation and Mobility of Plutonium and Other Transuranics in the Groundwater at the Savannah River Site (Sept. 2003-Sept. 2006), report, November 7, 2006; Woods Hole, Massachusetts. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc878554/m1/1/: accessed April 23, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.