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Title: Perched-Water Analysis Related to Deep Vadose Zone Contaminant Transport and Impact to Groundwater

Perched-water conditions have been observed in the vadose zone above a fine-grained zone that is located just a few meters above the water table beneath the B-complex at the Hanford Site. The perched water, containing elevated concentrations of uranium and technetium-99, is important to consider in evaluating the future flux of contaminated water into the groundwater. A study was conducted to examine the perched-water conditions and quantitatively evaluate 1) factors that control perching behavior, 2) contaminant flux toward groundwater, and, 3) associated groundwater impact. Based on the current vertical transport pathways and large areal extent of the perched system, the evaluation was conducted using a one-dimensional (1-D) analysis. Steady-state scoping calculations showed that the perching-layer hydraulic conductivity is likely to be up to two orders of magnitude less than the base case value obtained from Hanford site literature. Numerical flow and transport simulations provided both steady-state and transient system estimates of water and contaminant behavior and were used to further refine the range of conditions consistent with current observations of perched water height and to provide estimates of future water and contaminant flux to groundwater. With a recharge rate of 6 cm/yr, representative of current disturbed surface conditions, contaminant fluxmore » from the perched water occurs over a time interval of tens of years. However, if the recharge rate is 0.35 cm/yr, representative of returning recharge to pre-Hanford Site levels, the contaminant flux into the groundwater is spread over hundreds of years. It was also demonstrated that removal of perched water by pumping would reduce the flux of water (and associated contaminants) to the groundwater, thereby impacting the long-term rate of contaminant movement to the groundwater.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
4599a; 830403000
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Hydrology, 505:228-239
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
contaminant transport; subsurface flow and transport; tank farms; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory