Liquid Effluents

LLRW is produced from the clean-up of drainings and cooling water at nuclear power plants, manufacturing sites, and R&D laboratories where radioactive materials are handled. These low-activity wastes are usually treated to remove most radionuclides, then discharged to the environment. Low-activity wastes can be collected and mixed for a more uniform effluent or segregated to utilize specific treatments for the individual components. If the first approach is utilized, the usual wastewater treatments of flocculation, precipitation, absorption, filtration, and ion exchange can be adapted to radioactive wastes (Table 11.26.11). Provisions must be made for water discharging and for drying, compacting, and disposing of the solids produced. Presently, solids are sent to a LLRW disposal site. Radium removal, covered in the section on mining and milling, is a good example of a specific treatment process.

If the total solids content of the contaminated water is low, if the volume is small, or if a final polishing of effluents is necessary, ion exchange may be a suitable treatment method. At nuclear power plants, ion exchange, filtration, evaporation, and reverse osmosis are the major processes used for contaminated water treatment (Figure 11.26.3).

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