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The Science of the Total Environment
Vol. 395, No: (2-3), 2008, Pages: 63 - 71

Interactions among phosphate amendments, microbes and uranium mobility in contaminated sediments

Knox AS, Brigmon RL, Kaplan DI, Paller MH

Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC 29808, USA.


The use of sequestering agents for the transformation of radionuclides in low concentrations in contaminated soils/sediments offers considerable potential for environmental cleanup. This study evaluated the influence of three types of phosphate (rock phosphate, biological phosphate, and calcium phytate) and two microbial amendments (Alcaligenes piechaudii and Pseudomonas putida) on U mobility. All tested phosphate amendments reduced aqueous U concentrations more than 90%, likely due to formation of insoluble phosphate precipitates. The addition of A. piechaudii and P. putida alone were found to reduce U concentrations 63% and 31%, respectively. Uranium removal in phosphate treatments was significantly reduced in the presence of the two microbes. Two sediments were evaluated in experiments on the effects of phosphate amendments on U mobility, one from a stream on the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC and the other from the Hanford Site, a Department of Energy facility in Washington state. Increased microbial activity in the treated sediment led to a reduction in phosphate effectiveness. The average U concentration in 1 M MgCl(2) extract from U contaminated sediment was 437 microg/kg, but in the same sediment without microbes (autoclaved), the extractable U concentration was only 103 microg/kg. The U concentration in the 1 M MgCl(2) extract was approximately 0 microg/kg in autoclaved amended sediment treated with autoclaved biological apatite. These results suggest that microbes may reduce phosphate amendment remedial effectiveness.

Keywords:rock phosphate, biological phosphate, and calcium phytate,Alcaligenes piechaudii and Pseudomonas putida,autoclaved biological apatite.


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