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Title: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater

Abstract

The groundwater flow system in the Culebra Dolomite Member (Culebra) of the Permian Rustler Formation is a potential radionuclide release pathway from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the only deep geological repository for transuranic waste in the United States. We did not expect that early conceptual models of the Culebra, groundwater levels would fluctuate markedly, except in response to long-term climatic changes, with response times on the order of hundreds to thousands of years. Recent groundwater pressures measured in monitoring wells record more than 25 m of drawdown. The fluctuations are attributed to pumping activities at a privately-owned well that may be associated with the demand of the Permian Basin hydrocarbon industry for water. Furthermore, the unprecedented magnitude of drawdown provides an opportunity to quantitatively assess the influence of unplanned anthropogenic forcings near the WIPP. Spatially variable realizations of Culebra saturated hydraulic conductivity and storativity were used to develop groundwater flow models to estimate a pumping rate for the private well and investigate its effect on advective transport. Simulated drawdown shows reasonable agreement with observations (average Model Efficiency coefficient = 0.7). Steepened hydraulic gradients associated with the pumping reduce estimates of conservative particle travel times across the domain bymore » one-half and shift the intersection of the average particle track with the compliance boundary by more than two kilometers. Finally, the value of the transient simulations conducted for this study lie in their ability to (i) improve understanding of the Culebra groundwater flow system and (ii) challenge the notion of time-invariant land use in the vicinity of the WIPP.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Carlsbad, NM (United States); U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO (United States)
  2. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  3. U.S. Dept. of Energy, Carlsbad, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA); USDOE Office of Environmental Management (EM)
OSTI Identifier:
1356862
Report Number(s):
SAND2017-4624J
Journal ID: ISSN 0885-6087; 652966
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC04-94AL85000
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Hydrological Processes
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 31; Journal Issue: 14; Journal ID: ISSN 0885-6087
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 12 MANAGEMENT OF RADIOACTIVE AND NON-RADIOACTIVE WASTES FROM NUCLEAR FACILITIES

Citation Formats

Thomas, Matthew A., Kuhlman, Kristopher L., and Ward, Anderson L. Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/hyp.11214.
Thomas, Matthew A., Kuhlman, Kristopher L., & Ward, Anderson L. Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater. United States. doi:10.1002/hyp.11214.
Thomas, Matthew A., Kuhlman, Kristopher L., and Ward, Anderson L. Tue . "Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater". United States. doi:10.1002/hyp.11214. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1356862.
@article{osti_1356862,
title = {Anthropogenic influences on groundwater in the vicinity of a long-lived radioactive waste repository: Anthropogenic influences on groundwater},
author = {Thomas, Matthew A. and Kuhlman, Kristopher L. and Ward, Anderson L.},
abstractNote = {The groundwater flow system in the Culebra Dolomite Member (Culebra) of the Permian Rustler Formation is a potential radionuclide release pathway from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the only deep geological repository for transuranic waste in the United States. We did not expect that early conceptual models of the Culebra, groundwater levels would fluctuate markedly, except in response to long-term climatic changes, with response times on the order of hundreds to thousands of years. Recent groundwater pressures measured in monitoring wells record more than 25 m of drawdown. The fluctuations are attributed to pumping activities at a privately-owned well that may be associated with the demand of the Permian Basin hydrocarbon industry for water. Furthermore, the unprecedented magnitude of drawdown provides an opportunity to quantitatively assess the influence of unplanned anthropogenic forcings near the WIPP. Spatially variable realizations of Culebra saturated hydraulic conductivity and storativity were used to develop groundwater flow models to estimate a pumping rate for the private well and investigate its effect on advective transport. Simulated drawdown shows reasonable agreement with observations (average Model Efficiency coefficient = 0.7). Steepened hydraulic gradients associated with the pumping reduce estimates of conservative particle travel times across the domain by one-half and shift the intersection of the average particle track with the compliance boundary by more than two kilometers. Finally, the value of the transient simulations conducted for this study lie in their ability to (i) improve understanding of the Culebra groundwater flow system and (ii) challenge the notion of time-invariant land use in the vicinity of the WIPP.},
doi = {10.1002/hyp.11214},
journal = {Hydrological Processes},
number = 14,
volume = 31,
place = {United States},
year = {Tue Apr 25 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Tue Apr 25 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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