Strontium-90 at the Hanford Site and its ecological implications
Strontium-90 at the Hanford Site and its ecological implications Strontium-90, a radioactive contaminant from historical operations at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site, enters the Columbia River at several locations associated with former plutonium production reactors at the Site. Strontium-90 is of concern to humans and the environment because of its moderately long half-life (29.1 years), its potential for concentrating in bone tissue, and its relatively high energy of beta decay. Although strontium-90 in the environment is not a new issue for the Hanford Site, recent studies of near-river vegetation along the shoreline near the 100 Areas raised public concern about the possibility of strontium-90-contaminated groundwater reaching the riverbed and fall chinook salmon redds. To address these concerns, DOE asked Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to prepare this report on strontium-90, its distribution in groundwater, how and where it enters the river, and its potential ecological impacts, particularly with respect to fall chinook salmon. The purpose of the report is to characterize groundwater contaminants in the near-shore environment and to assess the potential for ecological impact using salmon embryos, one of the most sensitive ecological indicators for aquatic organisms. Section 2.0 of the report provides background information on strontium-90 at the Hanford Site related to historical operations. more »
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