Microbial reduction of uranium(VI) in sediments of different lithologies collected from Sellafield

Laura Newsome, Katherine Morris, Divyesh Trivedi, Nick Atherton, Jonathan R. Lloyd
2014 Applied Geochemistry  
The presence of uranium in groundwater at nuclear sites can be controlled by microbial processes. Here we describe the results from stimulating microbial reduction of U(VI) in sediment samples obtained from a nuclear-licensed site in the UK. A variety of different lithology sediments were selected to represent the heterogeneity of the subsurface at a site underlain by glacial outwash deposits and sandstone. The natural sediment microbial communities were stimulated via the addition of an
more » ... /lactate electron donor mix and were monitored for changes in geochemistry and molecular ecology. Most sediments facilitated the removal of 12 ppm U(VI) during the onset of Fe(III)-reducing conditions; this was reflected by an increase in the proportion of known Fe(III)-and U(VI)-reducing species. However U(VI) remained in solution in two sediments and Fe(III)-reducing conditions did not develop. Sequential extractions, addition of an Fe(III)-enrichment culture and most probable number enumerations revealed that a lack of bioavailable iron or low cell numbers of Fe(III)-reducing bacteria may be responsible. These results highlight the potential for stimulation of microbial U(VI)-reduction to be used as a bioremediation strategy at UK nuclear sites, and they emphasise the importance of both site-specific and borehole-specific investigations to be completed prior to implementation.
doi:10.1016/j.apgeochem.2014.09.008 fatcat:662kjsxh4fcvzjkbgnd2vnbz6u