U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Microbes Limit Technetium Movement in Groundwater
Published: March 03, 2011
Posted: April 07, 2011

A legacy of DOE's former weapons production activities is the contamination of groundwater by radionuclides such as technetium (Tc). Tc-99 found in Hanford site groundwater is a mobile and long-lived fission product whose mobility can be retarded by subsurface minerals containing reduced or ferrous iron. Scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have now found that several species of microbes can increase the amount of reduced iron in the subsurface as part of their metabolic processes and that this additional reduced iron significantly reduces the mobility of Tc. Using a variety of instruments available at the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory and the Advanced Photon Source, DOE scientific user facilities at PNNL and Argonne National Laboratory, respectively, the team found that Tc was 10 times less soluble when it came in contact with microbially generated reduced iron. This research provides a basis for a conceptual approach to limit the movement of Tc in groundwater at DOE sites.

Reference: Plymale, A. E., J. K. Fredrickson, J. M. Zachara, A. C. Dohnalkova, S. M. Heald, D. A. Moore, D. W. Kennedy, M. J. Marshall, C. Wang, C. T. Resch, and P. Nachimuthu. 2011. Environmental Science and Technology 45, 951-7.

Contact: Robert T. Anderson, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5549, Paul E. Bayer, SC-23.1, (301) 903-5324
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: DOE Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Aug 24, 2019
New Approach for Studying How Microbes Influence Their Environment
A diverse group of scientists suggests a common framework and targeting of known microbial processes [more...]

Aug 08, 2019
Nutrient-Hungry Peatland Microbes Reduce Carbon Loss Under Warmer Conditions
Enzyme production in peatlands reduces carbon lost to respiration under future high temperatures. [more...]

Aug 05, 2019
Amazon Forest Response to CO2 Fertilization Dependent on Plant Phosphorus Acquisition
AmazonFACE Model Intercomparison. The Science Plant growth is dependent on the availabi [more...]

Jul 29, 2019
A Slippery Slope: Soil Carbon Destabilization
Carbon gain or loss depends on the balance between competing biological, chemical, and physical reac [more...]

Jul 15, 2019
Field Evaluation of Gas Analyzers for Measuring Ecosystem Fluxes
How gas analyzer type and correction method impact measured fluxes. The Science A side- [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)