RE: RE: uranium nitrate disposal

From:Jim at ProSciTech <>

Bob Richmond gives a way to further condense the uranium contents, but the 
disposal remains a problem. If you are in the USA there would be strict rules 
laid down and those have to be followed. If you are lucky, then you don't have 
those rules or laws in South Africa. The disposal methods required in USA are 
expensive, often require high energy input (concrete and transport) and tend to 
concentrate the problem in certain locations. Incidentally, it makes no 
difference if the substance is U nitrate or U acetate. In August '99 I gave the 
following advice to some bewildered USA histologist on this server.

"No, I will not quote on the disposal, but allow a comment. You may well need 
operate under the rules established by some brainless Committee. Just to make
you feel more despondent about the cost and the waste of scarce funds, its
environmentally not smart either:
The quantity is actually 50g of UA or about 25g of uranium.
A few granite boulders hold that much, albeit well locked up.
Concrete even in a slightly acid environment (humic acid) dissolves slowly, but 
certainly a lot faster than the radiation is reduced to near background.
Furthermore, UA is fully soluble in water so its thread is greater in terms of
chemical toxicity than from radiation.
Seepage into the groundwater is about the worst thread during long term
storage. Burying, particularly in concrete which is also subject to fractures
is not save.

As a poison UA it is not cumulative, so lead, cadmium or mercury are rather
worse in that respect and dilution is an option.
Seawater contains 0.00015g U per ton. One cubic meter of freshwater weighs a
ton. So a square km of ocean, just to the depths of one meter contains more
than 150g of U.
There is something environmentally perverse about producing at an environmental 
cost a lump of concrete, to ship that to a far-away place and bury it, so we
think that we have done the right thing.
Sensibly, UA is best disposed by great dilution. I suggest dripping it
overboard on a cruise makes sense to me, its cheaper and rather more fun."
Jim Darley
ProSciTech                 Microscopy PLUS
PO Box 111, Thuringowa  QLD  4817  Australia
Ph +61 7 4774 0370  Fax:+61 7 4789 2313
Great microscopy catalogue, 500 Links, MSDS, User Notes
ABN: 99 724 136 560            

On Tuesday, February 13, 2001 1:44 PM, 
[] wrote:
> Mr. M.Kirby at S.A.I.M.R in Johannesburg, South Africa asks:
> >>Uranium nitrate in solution. How do you guys dispose of the stuff?
> Incineration? Encapsulation?
> I've got 20 litre drums of the stuff sitting in my waste store and would
> appreciate any advice.<<
> Uranyl ion can be precipitated out, very nearly quantitatively, as sodium
> uranyl sulfate, a dense granular bright yellow precipitate easily separated
> out and stored in an airtight jar. I suppose you have some idea of the
> initial concentration of the solutions. From then on it's a straightforward
> stoichiometric calculation of how much sodium sulfate (or sodium hydroxide
> and sulfuric acid) you need. - In the United States I doubt you could find
> anyone in a hospital who could do the calculation, and - if I didn't do it
> myself - I would enlist the aid of a bright high school chemistry student.
> Obviously incineration would only disperse the stuff, since you're disposing
> of a chemical element.
> Bob Richmond
> Samurai Pathologist
> Knoxville, Tennessee USA

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