Removal of radionuclides at a waterworks

T. Gäfvert, C. Ellmark, E. Holm

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    A waterworks with an average production rate of 1.3 m3 s−1, providing several large cities in the province of Scania with drinking water has been studied regarding its capacity to remove several natural and anthropogenic radionuclides. The raw water is surface water from lake Bolmen which is transported through an 80 km long tunnel in the bedrock before it enters the waterworks. The method used for purification is a combination of coagulation–flocculation and filtration in sand filters. Two different purification lines are currently in use, one using Al2(SO4)3 as a coagulant and one using FeCl3. After coagulation and flocculation the precipitate is removed and the water is passed through two different sand filters (rapid filtration and slow filtration).

    Water samples were collected at the lake, the inlet to the waterworks, after each of the flocculation basins (Al2(SO4)3 and FeCl3), after rapid filtration and from the municipal distribution network. The samples were analysed with respect to their content of uranium, thorium, polonium, radium, plutonium and caesium. The results show a high removal capacity for uranium (about 85%), thorium (>90%), plutonium (>95%) and polonium (>90% in the coagulation–flocculation process) while caesium, strontium and radium pass through the purification process with almost unchanged activity concentrations. During transportation of the water in the tunnel it was also observed that infiltration of groundwater leads to a change in isotopic ratios and/or activity concentrations for the naturally occurring radionuclides and plutonium.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)105-115
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Waterworks
    • Water treatment
    • Radioactivity
    • Coagulation
    • Flocculation
    • FeCl3
    • Al2(SO4)3


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