Micro-analytical characterisation of radioactive heterogeneities in samples from Central Asian TENORM sites
Faculty of Sciences. Chemistry
Journal of environmental radioactivity. - London
, p. 63-70
University of Antwerp
The present work focuses on the use of micro-analytical techniques to demonstrate the heterogeneous distribution of radionuclides and metals in soils collected at Former Soviet Union mining sites in Central Asia. Based on digital autoradiography, radionuclides were heterogeneously distributed in soil samples collected at the abandoned uranium mining sites Kurday, Kazakhstan, Kadji Sai, Kyrgyzstan and Taboshar, Tajikistan. Using electron microscopy interfaced with X-ray microanalysis submicron - mm-sized radioactive particles and rock fragments with U, As, Se and toxic metals on the surfaces were identified in Kurday and Kadji Sai samples. Employing scanning and tomographic (3D) synchrotron radiation based micro-X-ray fluorescence (mu-SRXRF) and synchrotron radiation based micro-X-ray diffraction (mu-SRXRD) allowed us to observe the inner structure of the particles without physical sectioning. The distribution of elements in virtual crosssections demonstrated that U and a series of toxic elements were rather heterogeneously distributed also within individual radioactive TENORM particles. Compared to archived data, U in Kadji Sai particles was present as uraninite (U4O9+y or UO2+x) or Na-zippeite aNa(4)(UO2)(6)[(OH)(10)(SO4)(3)]center dot 4H(2)O), i.e. U minerals with very low solubility. The results suggested that TENORM particles can carry substantial amount of radioactivity, which can be subject to re-suspension, atmospheric transport and water transport. Thus, the potential radioecological and radioanalytical impact of radioactive particles at NORM and TENORM sites worldwide should be taken into account. The present work also demonstrates that radioecological studies should benefit from the use of advanced methods such as synchrotron radiation based techniques. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.