The release and migration of the fission products cesium, europium and technetium, the actinides plutonium, americium and curium, and the activation product cobalt from spent nuclear fuel pellets in highly compacted bentonite clay has been measured after contact times of 101 and 386 days. Experiments at longer contact times are in progress. In some cases small amounts (0.5–1%) of powdered copper or iron metal, or vivianite (Fe3(PO4)2) have been mixed with the bentonite clay.
The results indicate as expected a high mobility of cesium. The actinides have a very low mobility. After 386 days, plutonium has diffused less than 0.5 mm away from the fuel, while americium and curium appear to be somewhat more mobile. The behaviour of europium is similar to that of trivalent actinides. Very little technetium has been leached from all samples. Cobalt shows a strong retention in pure bentonite as well as in the presence of vivianite, while the mobility is much larger when iron or copper is added.