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Thu Mar 25, 2021, 05:38 PM

Seventeen years later, these scientists recognized their mistake, and published a correction.

I just love these kinds of guys and gals.

I started writing a piece for here and, as sometimes happens when I start these things, it lead me through some familiar territory into all kinds of cool places I only knew vaguely or not at all.

I was writing about the very interesting actinide radiochemistry of the Nevada Nuclear Weapons test site, and somehow ended up in the Hanford tanks, after drifting through the extinct natural nuclear reactors at Oklo in Africa.


I have always assumed that the aqueous chemistry of technetium was dominated, almost to the point of exclusion, by the highly soluble and mobile pertechnetate ion TcO4-, an analogue of the congener permanganate, but for a long time, people, also laboring under a similar assumption, got a general sense that something was wrong with it, since the technetium in their test waste samples from the Hanford tanks wasn't behaving "as it should."

In 2004, this paper was published: Identification of the Non-Pertechnetate Species in Hanford Waste Tanks, Tc(I)−Carbonyl Complexes (Wayne W. Lukens, David K. Shuh, Norman C. Schroeder, and Kenneth R. Ashley Environmental Science & Technology 2004 38 (1), 229-233)

If you go to the link you'll see this notice highlighting in bright red: Addition/Correction. This paper has been corrected. View the notice.

The notice is dated January 28, 2021.

It reads: "The spectrum of “Tc(V) gluoconate” in Figure 2d is inaccurate. This sample is contaminated with 25–50% pertechnetate as determined by EXAFS and XANES analysis, respectively. The error does not affect the conclusions of the manuscript."

Correction to “Identification of the Non-Pertechnetate Species in Hanford Waste Tanks, Tc(I)–Carbonyl Complexes” (Wayne W. Lukens, David K. Shuh, Norman C. Schroeder, and Kenneth R. Ashley
Environmental Science & Technology 2021 55 (4), 2705-2705)

Probably this realization derived from the work one of the authors did in connection with the group's 2018 and 2020 papers, the latter being one I actually encountered in my literature search:

1. Spectroscopic Characterization of Aqua [fac-Tc(CO)3+ Complexes at High Ionic Strength ] (Sayandev Chatterjee, Gabriel B. Hall, Mark H. Engelhard, Yingge Du, Nancy M. Washton, Wayne W. Lukens, Sungsik Lee, Carolyn I. Pearce, and Tatiana G. Levitskaia Inorganic Chemistry 2018 57 (12), 6903-6912)

2. Identification and Quantification of Technetium Species in Hanford Waste Tank AN-102 (Sayandev Chatterjee, Vanessa E. Holfeltz, Gabriel B. Hall, Isaac E. Johnson, Eric D. Walter, Sungsik Lee, Benjamin Reinhart, Wayne W. Lukens, Nicholas P. Machara, and Tatiana G. Levitskaia, Analytical Chemistry 2020 92 (20), 13961-13970)

This may seem like a very small thing, and in a sense it is, since this is esoterica in the extreme, but then again, we often focus on what people do wrong, and ignore when they are magnificently right, albeit in subtle and even ordinary ways. It may never happen but some day someone may have a need to identify the spectrum technetium gluconate, perhaps in a medical setting, since technetium is an important imaging tool. Dr. Lukens and his team discovered that what they wrote in 2004 was incorrect, and to save anyone any possible pain, they made sure that they labeled their previous work as mistaken.

This is good science, and indeed, good humanity.

It is also notable that advances in knowledge have clarified the issues in this once intractable problem, the Hanford tanks that were filled in a sloppy fashion (often with poor record keeping).

Regrettably, much of this work is dedicated to finding a way to throw this technetium away - there is well over a ton of this element available only as a fission (or accelerator) product in dilute streams in the Hanford tanks - but I'm hoping that before they get to building a garbage dump for it, it occurs to people how beautiful and potentially valuable this magnificent element is, and how it might serve to help humanity solve greater and more important issues than the Hanford tanks have ever been or ever will be.

We shall see.

Have a nice evening.

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Reply Seventeen years later, these scientists recognized their mistake, and published a correction. (Original post)
NNadir Mar 25 OP
cachukis Mar 25 #1

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Thu Mar 25, 2021, 05:48 PM

1. If you pay attention to how your understanding

of science, history, et al, over a lifetime, starts, it's nice how many questions have been answered by watching how the curiosity delivers. Honor lives. It actually feels great to be corrected after gainful attempt to be right. Getting closer to the truth, is after all, one of the sensible goals.

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