Ex and in situ reactivity and sorption of selenium in Opalinus clay in the presence of a selenium reducing microbial community

Nele Bleyen, Joe Small, Kristel Mijnendonckx, Katrien Hendrix, Achim Albrecht, Pierre De Cannière, Maryna Surkova, Charles Wittebroodt, Elie Valcke

Research outputpeer-review


79Se is a critical radionuclide concerning the safety of deep geological disposal of certain radioactive wastes in clay-rich formations. To study the fate of selenium oxyanions in clayey rocks in the presence of a selenium reducing microbial community, in situ tests were performed in the Opalinus Clay at the Mont Terri Rock Laboratory (Switzerland). Furthermore, biotic and abiotic batch tests were performed to assess Se(VI) and Se(IV) reactivity in the presence of Opalinus Clay and/or stainless steel, in order to support the interpretation of the in situ tests. Geochemical modeling was applied to simulate Se(VI) reduction, Se(IV) sorption and solubility, and diffusion processes. This study shows that microbial activity is required to transform Se(VI) into more reduced and sorbing Se species in the Opalinus Clay, while in abiotic conditions, Se(VI) remains unreactive. On the other hand, Se(IV) can be reduced by microorganisms but can also sorb in the presence of clay without microorganisms. In situ microbial reduction of Se oxyanions can occur with electron donors provided by the clay itself. If microorganisms would be active in the clay surrounding a disposal facility, microbial reduction of leached Se could thus contribute to the overall retention of Se in clayey host rocks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11070757
Pages (from-to)1-33
Number of pages33
Issue number757
StatePublished - 13 Jul 2021

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