Plutonium Contamination of the Environment: What's the Problem?
Over the past 75 years, the global inventory of plutonium on earth has increased by a factor of
approximately 106. A fraction of this plutonium inventory has been released into the environment
and can be identified in sediments, rock and glacial ice. As a result, plutonium
environmental chemistry has gained sincere interest both in the public and scientific
communities. Plutoni um aquatic chemistry, mineral/water interface reactions, interaction
with microbes, as well as its association with particles have been studied to quantify plutonium
mobility in and risk to the environment.
In this presentation, we will review the major plutonium contamination events, discuss
what we have learned regarding its long-term fate in our environment, and provide
examples of site remediation and monitoring efforts. A brief overview of the research at
Glenn T. Seaborg Institute will be provided, as well as research and internship opportunities.