Migration of Radioactive Wastes: Radionuclide Mobilization by Complexing Agents

Science  30 Jun 1978:
Vol. 200, Issue 4349, pp. 1477-1481
DOI: 10.1126/science.200.4349.1477


Ion exchange, gel filtration chromatography, and gas chromatographymass spectrometry analyses have demonstrated that ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), an extremely strong complexing agent commonly used in decontamination operations at nuclear facilities, is causing the low-level migration of cobalt-60 from intermediate-level liquid waste disposal pits and trenches in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory burial grounds. Because it forms extremely strong complexes with rare earths and actinides, EDTA or similar chelates may also be contributing to the mobilization of these radionuclides from various terrestrial radioactive waste burial sites around the country.