Sorbent materials for rapid remediation of wash water during radiological event relief

Chemosphere. 2016 Nov:162:165-71. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.07.077. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Procedures for removing harmful radiation from interior and exterior surfaces of homes and businesses after a nuclear or radiological disaster may generate large volumes of radiologically contaminated waste water. Rather than releasing this waste water to potentially contaminate surrounding areas, it is preferable to treat it onsite. Retention barrels are a viable option because of their simplicity in preparation and availability of possible sorbent materials. This study investigated the use of aluminosilicate clay minerals as sorbent materials to retain (137)Cs, (85)Sr, and (152)Eu. Vermiculite strongly retained (137)Cs, though other radionuclides displayed diminished affinity for the surface. Montmorillonite exhibited increased affinity to sorb (85)Sr and (152)Eu in the presence of higher concentrations of (137)Cs. To simulate flow within retention barrels, vermiculite was mixed with sand and used in small-scale column experiments. The GoldSim contaminate fate module was used to model breakthrough and assess the feasibility of using clay minerals as sorbent materials in retention barrels. The modeled radionuclide breakthrough profiles suggest that vermiculite-sand and montmorillonite-sand filled barrels could be used for treatment of contaminated water generated from field operations.

Keywords: Breakthrough; Cesium; Montmorillonite; Radionuclides; Retention; Vermiculite.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Aluminum Silicates / chemistry
  • Bentonite / chemistry
  • Clay
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Radioactive Hazard Release*
  • Radioisotopes / chemistry*
  • Radioisotopes / isolation & purification*
  • Wastewater / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / chemistry*
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive / isolation & purification*


  • Aluminum Silicates
  • Radioisotopes
  • Waste Water
  • Water Pollutants, Radioactive
  • Bentonite
  • vermiculite
  • Clay