Sediment-water distributions of plutonium as a function of pH and contact time are investigated in a holding pond at the Rocky Flats plant of the Department of Energy. Although plutonium has been shown to sorb from natural waters onto sediments, the results of this study indicate that under the proper conditions it can be redispersed at pH 9 and above. Concentrations greater than 900 pCi Pu/L result after 34 h contact at pH 11 or 12 and the distribution coefficient, defined as the ratio of concentration in the sediment to that in the liquid, decreases from 1.1 ?? 105 at pH 7 to 1.2 ?? 103 at pH 11. The plutonium is probably dispersed as discrete colloids or as hydrolytic species adsorbed onto colloidal sediment particles whose average size decreases with increasing pH above pH 9. About 5% of the total plutonium is dispersed at pH 12, and the dispersion seems to readsorb on the sediment with time. Consequently, migration of plutonium from the pond should be slow, and it would be difficult to remove this element completely from pond sediment by leaching with high pH solutions. ?? 1978 American Chemical Society.
Additional publication details
Dispersion of plutonium from contaminated pond sediments