SOLUBILITY CHARACTERIZATION OF AIRBORNE URANIUM FROM A URANIUM RECYCLING PLANT

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Abstract

Abstract—

Solubility profiles of uranium dusts in a uranium recycling plant were determined by performing in vitro solubility tests on breathing zone air samples conducted in all process areas of the processing plant. The recycling plant produces high density shields, closed end tubes that are punched and formed from uranium sheet metal, and high-fired uranium oxide, which is used as a catalyst. The recycled uranium is cut and melted in a vacuum furnace, and part of the molten uranium is poured into molds for further processing. Air samples were taken in process areas under normal working conditions. The dissolution rate of the uranium in a simulant solution of extracellular airway lining fluid (Gamble’s solution) was then determined over the next 28 d. Airborne uranium in the oxide section of the plant was found to be highly insoluble with 99% of the uranium having a dissolution half time in excess of 100 d. The solubility of the airborne uranium in other areas of the facility was only slightly more soluble with over 90% of the airborne uranium having dissolution half times in excess of 90 d.

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