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Environmental application of stable xenon and radioxenon monitoring


Characterization of transuranic waste is needed to make decisions about waste site remediation. Soil-gas sampling for xenon isotopes can be used to define the locations of spent fuel and transuranic wastes. Radioxenon in the subsurface is characteristic of transuranic waste and can be measured with extreme sensitivity using large-volume soilgas samples. Measurements at the Hanford Site showed 133Xe and 135Xe levels indicative of 240Pu spontaneous fission. Stable xenon isotopic ratios from fission are distinct from atmospheric xenon background. Neutron capture by 135Xe produces an excess of 136Xe in reactor-produced xenon providing a means of distinguishing spent fuel from separated transuranic materials.

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