Environmental applications of stable xenon and radioxenon monitoring

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Abstract

Characterization of transuranic waste is needed for decisions about waste site remediation. Soil-gas sampling for xenon isotopes can be used to define the locations of spent fuel and transuranic waste. Radioxenon in the subsurface is characteristic of transuranic waste and can be measured with extreme sensitivity using large-volume soil-gas samples. Measurements at the Hanford Site showed 133Xe and 135Xe levels indicative of 240Pu spontaneous fission. Stable xenon isotopic ratios from fission are distinct from atmospheric xenon background. Neutron capture by 135Xe produces an excess of 136Xe in reactor-produced xenon, providing a means of distinguishing spent fuel from separated transuranic material.

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