Rare Earth Elements Around the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, UAE

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Natural Resources Research


© 2020, International Association for Mathematical Geosciences. Rare earth element (REE) contamination has major consequences for the environment and humans. Some forms of REEs have more serious environmental impacts than others. It is thus crucial to monitor their levels in areas where they are expected to be released. Concentrations of 13 REEs (La, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, and Lu) around the Barakah nuclear power plant (NPP) area, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), were measured. Shore, soil, and marine samples were collected. REE concentrations were measured using inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy. On average, REE concentrations were highest in the soil samples, followed by the marine samples and then the shore samples. La and Nd were the most abundant REEs in the soil, marine, and shore. The average (La/Yb)n ratios for shore, soil, and marine samples were 8.96, 9.75, and 9.39, respectively. The REE concentrations were strongly positively correlated with Al2O3 values, suggesting low mobility of the REEs in the Barakah NPP area. Light REEs (LREEs) were more enriched than heavy REEs (HREEs). The shore samples have minor enrichments in La and Tm. Otherwise, based on enrichment factors that do not exceed 1.2 and geoaccumulation indices that were all below zero, the Barakah NPP area was considered uncontaminated with REEs. This area was not polluted according to the pollution load indices (0.67, 0.52, and 0.17 for shore, soil, and marine sediments, respectively). The spatial distribution maps show the highest concentrations of REEs in the south area of the Barakah NPP. Overall, the Barakah NPP area does not have any alarming REE concentrations, and the baseline values were provided as a reference for future comparisons.

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