Sunday, 31 May 2015

Can extremophile bacteria process nuclear waste?

University of Manchester discovered an 'extremophile' microorganism in the Peak District, capable of breaking down organic material that is present in nuclear waste, preventing the organic compounds from leaching out key radioactive elements into the environment.
Other studies from the group have shown that land contaminated with  can also be cleaned up by bacteria that convert soluble forms of radionuclides, such as uranium, to insoluble forms that are less hazardous and mobile. However, for this to be useful, a critical question has needed addressing for some time; whether these unusual naturally occurring activities are killed off by radiation associated with the radioactive waste.
"The impact of gamma radiation on sediment microbial processes." Appl. Environ. Microbiol. AEM.00590-15; Accepted manuscript posted online 3 April 2015, DOI: 10.1128/AEM.00590-15
For more on this study, see PhysOrg

Posted by Tim Sandle