During the operation, maintenance and decommissioning of nuclear power plant radioactive contaminated waste is produced. This waste is stored in an underground repository 60-100 meters below the surface. The metallic portion of this waste comprises mostly carbon and stainless steel. A long-term field exposure showed high corrosion rates, general corrosion up to 29 μm a-1 and localized corrosion even higher. High corrosion rate is possible if microbes produce corrosive products, or alter the local microenvironment to favor corrosion. The bacterial and archaeal composition of biofilm formed on the surface of carbon steel was studied using 16S rRNA gene targeting sequencing, followed by phylogenetic analyses of the microbial community. The functional potential of the microbial communities in biofilm was studied by functional gene targeting quantitative PCR. The corrosion rate was calculated from weight loss measurements and the deposits on the surfaces were analyzed with SEM/EDS and XRD. Our results demonstrate that microbial diversity on the surface of carbon steel and their functionality is vast. Our results suggest that in these nutrient poor conditions the role of methanogenic archaea in corrosive biofilm, in addition to sulphate reducing bacteria, could be greater than previously suspected.
- Methanogenic archaea