Modeling Np and Pu transport with a surface complexation model and spatially variant sorption capacities: Implications for reactive transport modeling and performance assessments of nuclear waste disposal sites
One-dimensional (1D) geochemical transport modeling is used to demonstrate the effects of speciation and sorption reactions on the ground-water transport of Np and Pu, two redox-sensitive elements. Earlier 1D simulations (Reardon, 1981) considered the kinetically limited dissolution of calcite and its effect on ion-exchange reactions (involving 90Sr, Ca, Na, Mg and K), and documented the spatial variation of a 90Sr partition coefficient under both transient and steady-state chemical conditions. In contrast, the simulations presented here assume local equilibrium for all reactions, and consider sorption on constant potential, rather than constant charge, surfaces. Reardon's (1981) seminal findings on the spatial and temporal variability of partitioning (of 90Sr) are reexamined and found partially caused by his assumption of a kinetically limited reaction.
In the present work, sorption is assumed the predominant retardation process controlling Pu and Np transport, and is simulated using a diffuse-double-layer-surface-complexation (DDLSC) model. Transport simulations consider the infiltration of Np- and Pu-contaminated waters into an initially uncontaminated environment, followed by the cleanup of the resultant contamination with uncontaminated water. Simulations are conducted using different spatial distributions of sorption capacities (with the same total potential sorption capacity, but with different variances and spatial correlation structures). Results obtained differ markedly from those that would be obtained in transport simulations using constant Kd, Langmuir or Freundlich sorption models. When possible, simulation results (breakthrough curves) are fitted to a constant Kdadvection–dispersion transport model and compared. Functional differences often are great enough that they prevent a meaningful fit of the simulation results with a constant Kd (or even a Langmuir or Freundlich) model, even in the case of Np, a weakly sorbed radionuclide under the simulation conditions. Functional behaviors that cannot be fit include concentration trend reversals and radionuclide desorption spikes. Other simulation results are fit successfully but the fitted parameters (Kd and dispersivity) vary significantly depending on simulation conditions (e.g. “infiltration” vs. “cleanup” conditions). Notably, an increase in the variance of the specified sorption capacities results in a marked increase in the dispersion of the radionuclides.
The results presented have implications for the simulation of radionuclide migration in performance assessments of nuclear waste-disposal sites, for the future monitoring of those sites, and more generally for modeling contaminant transport in ground-water environments.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Modeling Np and Pu transport with a surface complexation model and spatially variant sorption capacities: Implications for reactive transport modeling and performance assessments of nuclear waste disposal sites|
|Series title||Computers & Geosciences|
|Contributing office(s)||Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|