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  • 1 Environmental Studies Section, Health Physics Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, 400085 India
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Shallow land burial is routinely used for the disposal of low-level radioactive waste. Natural processes causing leaching of radionuclides can lead to contamination of surrounding ground water and soil by the radionuclides. The comparative leachability of radionuclides U(nat), 226Ra, 228Ra and Th(nat) from the soil of a radioactive waste disposal site, by ground water was evaluated. The probability of leaching was obtained in the following order Ra (≈77%) > U (≈40%) > Th (≈20%). Observed ratios (OR) were calculated to correlate leachability of radionuclides to that of major cations Ca2+ and Mg2+. The leaching of the radionuclides was seen to be dependent on Ca2+ and SO42− leached from the soil. This study provides sitespecific leachability of radionuclides, that can be used as indicator of the tendency for migration or retention in soil. It can play an important role during an unforeseen accident like breach of containment at the waste disposal site leading to contamination of soil and ground water and causing hazard to public via drinking water route.