Thermal treatment of simulant plutonium contaminated materials from the Sellafield site by vitrification in a blast-furnace slag
Four waste simulants, representative of Plutonium Contaminated Materials (PCMs) at the Sellafield site, were vitrified through additions of Ground Granulated Blast-furnace Slag (GGBS). Ce (as a Pu surrogate) was effectively partitioned into the slag product, enriched in an amorphous CaO-Fe2O3-Al2O3-SiO2 phase when other crystalline phases were also present. Ce L3 edge XANES data demonstrated Ce to be present as trivalent species in the slag fraction, irrespective of the waste type. Estimated volume reductions of ca. 80-95% were demonstrated, against a baseline of uncompacted 200 L PCM waste drums. The dissolution behaviour of PCM slag wasteforms was investigated at 50 °C in saturated Ca(OH)2 solution under N2 atmosphere, to simulate the hyperalkaline anoxic environment of a cementitious UK Geological Disposal Facility for Intermediate Level Waste (ILW). These experiments demonstrated the performance of the slag wasteforms to be comparable to that of other vitrified ILW materials considered potentially suitable for geological disposal.