SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1985

Interactions Between Acidic Solutions and Clay Liners: Permeability and Neutralization


Liner failure, defined as an increase in liner permeability, was not found to be a problem when acidic uranium mill tailings solutions percolated through clay liner materials for periods extending up to three years. Liner materials taken from mill sites in Wyoming decreased in permeability with time in the laboratory columns when permeated with tailings solution. One clay liner decreased in permeability from one half to over two orders of magnitude, depending on the given clay sample and contacting solution. These decreases in permeability were attributed to pore plugging resulting from the precipitation of minerals and solids and to soil particle dispersion.

The clay liner material from Morton Ranch, Wyoming, exhibited a residual buffering capacity that was able to maintain column effluent pH values at higher levels than the influent pH values for extended time (in excess of 30 pore volumes). A likely cause for the elevated pH is the redissolution of iron and aluminum hydrous oxides. Redissolution of iron and aluminum hydrous oxides consumes hydrogen ions.

Author Information

Peterson, SR
Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, WA
Gee, GW
Battelle, Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, WA
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Developed by Committee: D18
Pages: 229–245
DOI: 10.1520/STP34581S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-4939-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-0417-4