Redox chemistry of sulphate and uranium in a phosphogypsum tailings dump
SourceJournal of environmental radioactivity
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The present study aims to assess the effect of redox conditions existing within the tailings dump on the stability of phosphogypsum (e.g. sulphate reduction) and uranium(VI). Phosphogypsum sampling and in-situ measurements were carried out at a coastal tailings dump in Vasiliko Cyprus, pH, EH and solubility experiments were performed in simulated laboratory systems and thermodynamic calculations using MINTEQA2. Generally, in the open tailings dump oxidizing conditions predominate stabilizing sulphur and uranium in their hexavalent oxidation states. On the other hand, after the application of a soil/vegetative cover and in the presence of natural organic matter, anoxic conditions prevail (EH<-70mV) resulting in S(VI) and U(VI) reduction to S(-II) and U(IV), respectively. Although, the sulphide anion can form very insoluble compounds with heavy metal ions (e.g. Cd(II), Pb(II) etc.) and U(IV) oxide has very low solubility, partial reduction of sulphate to sulphide within gypsum may affect the stability of phosphogypsum resulting in enhanced erosion of the material by rain- and seawater and washing out of contaminants in particulate/colloidal form. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
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