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Inorganic ion-exchangers are the preferred media for the treatment of nuclear wastes. Because of this, natural zeolites have received considerable attention as potential highly selective cation exchangers. Reasons for this, based upon the properties of zeolites, are described. This article provides an introduction to the nature and sources of wastes produced by the nuclear industry and reviews the earlier work in the 1950s which investigated the potential of natural zeolites as scavengers of specific radioisotopes from aqueous waste streams. Comprehensive coverage is given to the type and sources of the zeolites used as well as the range of radioisotopes investigated. Examples of industrial plants using natural zeolites to treat various wastes are given. Their future potential as barrier and back-fill or overpack materials is cited.

Cases where these materials have been used successfully to clean up after nuclear accidents are documented (including Chernobyl and Three Mile Island) with a discussion of the compatibility of zeolites to ceramic and cementitious waste forms, coupled with their safe disposal.

The scavenging of fall-out products from living hosts, including man, is described, together with the influence of zeolite amendments to soils and growth media.

Finally work in which zeolites have been studied as sorbents for gaseous emissions from nuclear plant is commented on briefly.

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