Nuclear Environmental Research

We study the fundamental biogeochemical, geomicrobiological and mineralogical interactions of radionuclides in natural and engineered environments in the context of: management of the nuclear waste legacy; optimisation of ongoing nuclear plant operations, decommissioning and contaminated land management and contaminant behaviour in natural laboratories.

The Nuclear Environmental Group in SEAES is focused in the Research Centre for Radwaste and Decommissioning and works with colleagues in the Dalton Nuclear Institute , particularly the Centre for Radiochemistry Research  to examine challenges across the nuclear legacy. Work includes:

-          fundamental biogeochemistry of the key fission products and actinides that are problematic in contaminated land and waste disposal environments

-          the biogeochemistry and mineralogy of high pH systems relevant to geological disposal

-          fundamental geomicrobiological studies examining the extent of life in extreme radiological and chemical environments

-          the mechanisms of radionuclide biocycling in pure culture systems

-          radionuclide interactions in contaminated land, geodisposal and operational plant contexts

-          environmental mineralogy and radionuclide interactions

Outputs include the first reports on Tc and Np biocyclingstudies on the biogeochemistry of Pu, work on depleted uranium, and mechanistic studies pointing toward pentavalent U(V) as a transient species in pure culture bioreduction and to incorporation of radionuclides into mineral host phases. Ongoing work includes fundamental studies on stable elements as well as radionuclides, understanding and managing the microbial ecology of nuclear facilities, and a significant body of work on contaminated land related issues including characterisation of radionuclide-mineral interactions as well as remediation of mobile contaminants. Funding for this work is via a range of sources including: NERC (via the BIGRAD Consortium ( and a recently awarded grant (NIMMI)), EPSRC (the DIAMOND and AMASS Consortia), STFC (via the Env-Rad-Net Network Grant), Sellafield Ltd., Areva Mining International, NDA-RWMD and the Royal Society Industrial Fellowship Scheme.

Recent Papers

Alvarez, R. Livens, F.R., Lloyd, J.R., Holt, J.P., Boothman, C., Wincott, P., Handley-Sidhu, S., Keith-Roach. M. & Vaughan, D.J. (2011) Geochemical and Microbial Controls of the Decomposition of Depleted Uranium in the Environment: Experimental Studies using Soil Microorganisms. Geomicrobiol. J. 28:5-6, 457-470

Kimber, R.L., Boothman, C., Purdie, P., Livens, F.R. and Lloyd, J.R. (2012). Biogeochemical behaviour of plutonium during anoxic biostimulation of contaminated sediments. Mineralogical Magazine 76 567-578

Law GTW, Geissler A, Lloyd JR, Livens, FR, Boothman, C, Begg, JDC, Denecke, MA, Rothe, J., Dardenne, K., Burke, IT, Charnock, JM and Morris, K (2010) Geomicrobiological redox cycling of the transuranic element neptunium. Environmental Science and Technology 44 8924-8929 DOI: 10.1021/es101911v 

Law, G.T.W. Geissler, A, Boothman, C., Burke, I.T., Livens, F.R., Lloyd, J.R., Morris, K. (2010). Role of nitrate in conditioning aquifer sediments for technetium bioreduction Environmental Science and Technology, 44, 150–155 DOI 10.1021/es9010866

Lear, G., McBeth, J.M., Boothman, C., Gunning, D., Ellis, B.L., Lawson, R.S., Morris, K., Burke, I.T., Bryan, N.D., Brown, A.P., Livens, F.R. & Lloyd, J.R. (2010). Probing the biogeochemical behavior of technetium using a novel nuclear imaging approach. Environmental Science and Technology 44 156–162 doi 10.1021/es802885r

Thorpe C.L., Lloyd J.R., Law G.T.W., Burke, I.T., Shaw, S, Bryan, N.D. and Morris, K. (2012) Strontium sorption and precipitation behaviour during bioreduction in nitrate impacted sediments Chemical Geology 306 114-122 DOI: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2012.03.001

Williams, K.H., Bargar, J.R., Lloyd, J.R. and Lovley, D.R. (2012) Bioremediation of uranium-contaminated groundwater: a systems approach to subsurface biogeochemistry. Current Opinion in Biotechnology 24 1–9

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