Description: Radioactive wastes disposed of in subsurface environments contain a variety of radionuclides and organic compounds. Microorganisms play a major role in the transformation of organic and inorganic constituents of the waste and are partly responsible for the problems encountered at the waste disposal sites. These include microbial degradation of waste forms resulting in trench cover subsidence, migration of radionuclides, and production of radioactive gases such as /sup 14/CO/sub 2/, /sup 14/CH/sub 4/, HT, and CH/sub 3/T. Microbial processes involved in solubilization, mobilization, and immobilization of toxic metals under aerobic and anaerobic conditions are reviewed. Complexing agents and several organic acids produced by microbial action affect mobilization of radionuclides and heavy metals from the wastes. Microorganisms play a significant role in the transformation and cycling of tritium in the environment by (i) oxidation of tritium and tritiated methane under aerobic conditions and (ii) production of tritium and tritiated methane from wastes containing tritiated water and organic compounds under anaerobic conditions. 23 references, 2 figures, 2 tables.
Date: January 1, 1984
Creator: Francis, A.J.
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