Uranium chemistry in stack solutions and leachates of phosphogypsum disposed at a coastal area in Cyprus
SourceJournal of environmental radioactivity
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The effect of the matrix composition (main constituents) on the concentration and chemical behavior of uranium in phosphogypsum stack solutions and leachates has been investigated. Solid and aqueous samples were taken from three different sub-areas of a phosphogypsum stack at a coastal area in Vasilikos (Cyprus). The sub-areas are characterized whether by their acidity (e.g. "aged" and "non-aged" phosphogypsum) or by their salt content, originating from pulping water during wet stacking or (after deposition) from the adjacent sea. Measurements in stack solutions and leachates showed that phosphogypsum characteristics affect both, the concentration and the chemical behavior of uranium in solution. Uranium concentration in solutions of increased salinity is up to three orders of magnitude higher than in solutions of low salinity and this is attributed to the effect of ionic strength on the solubility of phosphogypsum. Modelling showed that uranium in stack solutions is predominantly present in the form of uranium(VI) phosphate complexes (e.g. UO2(H2PO4)2, UO2HPO4), whereas in leachates uranium(VI) fluoro complexes (e.g. UO2F2, UO2F3-) are predominant in solution. The latter indicates that elution of uranium from phosphogypsum takes places most probably in the form of fluoro complexes. Both, effective elution by saline water and direct migration of uranium to the sea, where it forms very stable uranium(VI) carbonato complexes, indicate that the adjacent sea will be the final receptor of uranium released from Vasilikos phosphogypsum. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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