Colloid Formation During Waste Form Reaction: Implications for Nuclear Waste Disposal

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Science  01 May 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5057, pp. 649-651
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5057.649


Insoluble plutonium- and americium-bearing colloidal particles formed during simulated weathering of a high-level nuclear waste glass. Nearly 100 percent of the total plutonium and americium in test ground water was concentrated in these submicrometer particles. These results indicate that models of actinide mobility and repository integrity, which assume complete solubility of actinides in ground water, underestimate the potential for radionuclide release into the environment. A colloid-trapping mechanism may be necessary for a waste repository to meet long-term performance specifications.