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Water 2018, 10(8), 1072; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10081072

Bacterial Productivity in a Ferrocyanide-Contaminated Aquifer at a Nuclear Waste Site

1
Energy and Environment Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), Richard, WA 99354, USA
2
Earth and Biological Sciences Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL), Richard, WA 99354, USA
3
Physical and Computational Sciences Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL); Richard, WA 99354, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 5 August 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 11 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Groundwater Contamination and Remediation)
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Abstract

This study examined potential microbial impacts of cyanide contamination in an aquifer affected by ferrocyanide disposal from nuclear waste processing at the US Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in south-eastern Washington State (USA). We examined bacterial productivity and microbial cell density in groundwater (GW) from wells with varying levels of recent and historical total cyanide concentrations. We used tritiated leucine (3H-Leu) uptake as a proxy for heterotrophic, aerobic bacterial productivity in the GW, and we measured cell density via nucleic acid staining followed by epifluorescence microscopy. Bacterial productivity varied widely, both among wells that had high historical and recent total cyanide (CN) concentrations and among wells that had low total CN values. Standing microbial biomass varied less, and was generally greater than that observed in a similar study of uranium-contaminated hyporheic-zone groundwater at the Hanford Site. Our results showed no correlation between 3H-Leu uptake and recent or historical cyanide concentrations in the wells, consistent with what is known about cyanide toxicity with respect to iron speciation. However, additional sampling of the CN affected groundwater, both in space and time, would be needed to confirm that the CN contamination is not affecting the GW biota. View Full-Text
Keywords: cyanide; ferrocyanide; bacteria; toxicity; groundwater; contamination; Hanford; nuclear waste; tritiated leucine; aquifer cyanide; ferrocyanide; bacteria; toxicity; groundwater; contamination; Hanford; nuclear waste; tritiated leucine; aquifer
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Plymale, A.; Wells, J.; Graham, E.; Qafoku, O.; Brooks, S.; Lee, B. Bacterial Productivity in a Ferrocyanide-Contaminated Aquifer at a Nuclear Waste Site. Water 2018, 10, 1072.

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