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Radionuclide contamination of stainless steel surfaces occurs during submersion in a spent fuel storage pool. Subsequent release or desorption of these contaminants from a nuclear fuel transportation cask surface under varying environmental conditions occasionally results in the phenomenon known as contamination 'weeping'. Experiments have been conducted to determine the applicability of a chemical ion exchange model to characterise the problem of case contamination and release. Surface charge characteristics of Cr2O3 and stainless steel (304) powders have been measured to determine the potential for ion exchange at metal oxide-aqueous interfaces. The solubility of Co and Cs electrolytes at varying pH and the adsorption characteristics of these ions on Cr2O3 and stainless steel powders in aqueous slurries have been studied. Experiments show that Co ions
do reversibly adsorb on these powder surfaces and more specifically, that adsorption occurs in the nominal pH range (pH=4-6) of a boric acid moderated spent fuel pool. Desorption has been demonstrated to occur at pH<3. Cs+ ions also have been shown to have an affinity for these surfaces although the reversibility of Cs+ bonding by H+ ion exchange has not been fully demonstrated. These results have significant implications for effective decontamination and coating processes used on nuclear fuel transportation casks.