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Experiments have been conducted by the Basalt Waste Isolation Project (BWIP) to assess changes in solution chemistry in the near-field environment of a nuclear waste repository in basalt. These Dickson autoclave experiments were carried out using Grande Ronde basalt ± bentonite and synthetic groundwater or deionized water at 300°C, 30 MPa, and solution-to-solid mass ratio of 10 for up to two years. Groundwater solution changes during reaction of the basalt and basalt/bentonite included initial decreases in pH and sodium concentration presumably due to smectite formation. This initial trend subsequently reversed in the basalt system with pH rising to ca. 7.5 and sodium increasing to the starting value. Steady state pH values for the basalt/bentonite system were ca. 6.4. The basalt + deionized water test exhibited a constant rise in pH to ca. 7.9 and release of sodium to solution in response to basalt dissolution. Slightly oxidizing conditions characterized the early part of all of the experiments followed by a decrease in fO2 to 10−31 to 10−32 These results are consistent with other work at similar and lower temperatures, suggesting that the packing material will react in the waste package environment to produce slightly alkaline, reducing conditions.
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