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Title: HANFORD GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION

Abstract

By 1990 nearly 50 years of producing plutonium put approximately 1.70E + 12 liters (450 billion gallons) of liquid wastes into the soil of the 1,518-square kilometer (586-square mile) Hanford Site in southeast Washington State. The liquid releases consisted of chemicals used in laboratory experiments, manufacturing and rinsing uranium fuel, dissolving that fuel after irradiation in Hanford's nuclear reactors, and in liquefying plutonium scraps needed to feed other plutonium-processing operations. Chemicals were also added to the water used to cool Hanford's reactors to prevent corrosion in the reactor tubes. In addition, water and acid rinses were used to clean plutonium deposits from piping in Hanford's large radiochemical facilities. All of these chemicals became contaminated with radionuclides. As Hanford raced to help win World War II, and then raced to produce materials for the Cold War, these radioactive liquid wastes were released to the Site's sandy soils. Early scientific experiments seemed to show that the most highly radioactive components of these liquids would bind to the soil just below the surface of the land, thus posing no threat to groundwater. Other experiments predicted that the water containing most radionuclides would take hundreds of years to seep into groundwater, decaying (or losing)more » most of its radioactivity before reaching the groundwater or subsequently flowing into the Columbia River, although it was known that some contaminants like tritium would move quickly. Evidence today, however, shows that many contaminants have reached the Site's groundwater and the Columbia River, with more on its way. Over 259 square kilometers (100 square miles) of groundwater at Hanford have contaminant levels above drinking-water standards. Also key to successfully cleaning up the Site is providing information resources and public-involvement opportunities to Hanford's stakeholders. This large, passionate, diverse, and geographically dispersed community is united in its desire to protect the Columbia River and have a voice in Hanford's future. This paper presents the challenges, and then discusses the progress and efforts underway to reduce the risk posed by contaminated groundwater at Hanford. While Hanford groundwater is not a source of drinking water on or off the Site, there are possible near-shore impacts where it flows into the Columbia River. Therefore, this remediation is critical to the overall efforts to clean up the Site, as well as protect a natural resource.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Hanford Site (HNF), Richland, WA
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE - Office of Environmental Management (EM)
OSTI Identifier:
875793
Report Number(s):
DOE-0310-FP Rev 0
TRN: US200603%%289
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC06-96RL13200
Resource Type:
Conference
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM'06 CONFERENCE 02/26/2006 THRU 03/02/2006 TUCSON, AZ
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; CLEANING; COLUMBIA RIVER; CORROSION; DRINKING WATER; IRRADIATION; LIQUEFACTION; LIQUID WASTES; MANUFACTURING; PLUTONIUM; RADIOACTIVITY; RADIOISOTOPES; REACTORS; SOILS; TRITIUM; URANIUM

Citation Formats

CHARBONEAU, B, THOMPSON, M, WILDE, R., FORD, B., and GERBER, M.S. HANFORD GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION. United States: N. p., 2006. Web.
CHARBONEAU, B, THOMPSON, M, WILDE, R., FORD, B., & GERBER, M.S. HANFORD GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION. United States.
CHARBONEAU, B, THOMPSON, M, WILDE, R., FORD, B., and GERBER, M.S. Wed . "HANFORD GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION". United States. doi:. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/875793.
@article{osti_875793,
title = {HANFORD GROUNDWATER REMEDIATION},
author = {CHARBONEAU, B and THOMPSON, M and WILDE, R. and FORD, B. and GERBER, M.S.},
abstractNote = {By 1990 nearly 50 years of producing plutonium put approximately 1.70E + 12 liters (450 billion gallons) of liquid wastes into the soil of the 1,518-square kilometer (586-square mile) Hanford Site in southeast Washington State. The liquid releases consisted of chemicals used in laboratory experiments, manufacturing and rinsing uranium fuel, dissolving that fuel after irradiation in Hanford's nuclear reactors, and in liquefying plutonium scraps needed to feed other plutonium-processing operations. Chemicals were also added to the water used to cool Hanford's reactors to prevent corrosion in the reactor tubes. In addition, water and acid rinses were used to clean plutonium deposits from piping in Hanford's large radiochemical facilities. All of these chemicals became contaminated with radionuclides. As Hanford raced to help win World War II, and then raced to produce materials for the Cold War, these radioactive liquid wastes were released to the Site's sandy soils. Early scientific experiments seemed to show that the most highly radioactive components of these liquids would bind to the soil just below the surface of the land, thus posing no threat to groundwater. Other experiments predicted that the water containing most radionuclides would take hundreds of years to seep into groundwater, decaying (or losing) most of its radioactivity before reaching the groundwater or subsequently flowing into the Columbia River, although it was known that some contaminants like tritium would move quickly. Evidence today, however, shows that many contaminants have reached the Site's groundwater and the Columbia River, with more on its way. Over 259 square kilometers (100 square miles) of groundwater at Hanford have contaminant levels above drinking-water standards. Also key to successfully cleaning up the Site is providing information resources and public-involvement opportunities to Hanford's stakeholders. This large, passionate, diverse, and geographically dispersed community is united in its desire to protect the Columbia River and have a voice in Hanford's future. This paper presents the challenges, and then discusses the progress and efforts underway to reduce the risk posed by contaminated groundwater at Hanford. While Hanford groundwater is not a source of drinking water on or off the Site, there are possible near-shore impacts where it flows into the Columbia River. Therefore, this remediation is critical to the overall efforts to clean up the Site, as well as protect a natural resource.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Wed Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2006},
month = {Wed Feb 01 00:00:00 EST 2006}
}

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  • Over 440 km{sup 2} (170 mi{sup 2}) of groundwater beneath the Hanford Site are contaminated by hazardous and radioactive waste, out of which almost half is over state and federal drinking water standards. In addition to the complicated nature of these plumes, remediation is further obscured by limited application of available technologies and hydrogeologic information. This paper briefly describes the processes used by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) in developing a sitewide groundwater remediation strategy for Hanford and its outcome. As an initial approach to sitewide groundwater remediation,more » the strategy is to remediate the major plumes found in the reactor areas (100 Area) adjacent to the Columbia River and contain the major plumes found in the Central Plateau region (200 Area). This approach was based mainly on the qualitative risk, stakeholder`s and tribe`s values, and available technical feasibility. The strategy emphasizes the use of existing treatment and extraction technology for the remediation of groundwater in combination with proposed and existing site infrastructure. This work is being performed in parallel with ongoing risk and other feasibility activities. Under this strategy, innovative technologies being developed are in the areas of dense nonaqueous phase liquid identification and recovery, and problems associated with strontium-90, cesium-137, and plutonium in the vadose zone and groundwater. The final remediation strategy alternatives remain a product of risk assessment, technical feasibility, site use scenario, and cost consideration. In order to develop a strategy for the final cleanup, several issues such as aquifer restoration, natural attenuation, potential contamination of groundwater from the tank farms and from the existing contamination source in the vadose zone must be looked in detail in conjuction with public and stakeholder`s values.« less
  • In 2006, Congress provided funding to the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study new technologies that could be used to treat contamination from the Hanford Site that might impact the Columbia River. The contaminants of concern are primarily metals and radionuclides, which are byproducts of Hanford’s cold war mission to produce plutonium for atomic weapons. The DOE asked Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to consider this problem and develop approaches to address the contamination that threatens the river. DOE identified three high priority sites that had groundwater contamination migrating towards the Columbia river for remediation. The contaminants includedmore » strontium-90, uranium and chromium. Remediation techniques for metals and radionuclides focus primarily on altering the oxidation state of the contaminant chemically or biologically, isolating the contaminants from the environment through adsorption or encapsulation or concentrating the contaminants for removal. A natural systems approach was taken that uses a mass balance concept to frame the problem and determine the most appropriate remedial approach. This approach provides for a scientifically based remedial decision. The technologies selected to address these contaminants included an apatite adsorption barrier coupled with a phytoremediation to address the strontium-90 contamination, injection of polyphosphate into the subsurface to sequester uranium, and a bioremediation approach to reduce chromium contamination in the groundwater. The ability to provide scientifically based approaches is in large part due to work developed under previous DOE Office of Science and Office of Environmental Management projects. For example, the polyphosphate and the bioremediation techniques, were developed by PNNL under the EMSP and NABIR programs. Contaminated groundwater under the Hanford Site poses a potential risk to humans and the Columbia River. These new technologies holds great promise for effectively remediating the residual waste that threatens the environment.« less
  • Nine projects have been recently selected by the US Department of Energy (EM-22) to address groundwater contaminant migration at the Hanford Site. This paper summarizes the background and objectives of these projects. Five of the selected projects are targeted at hexavalent chromium contamination in Hanford 100 Area groundwater. These projects represent an integrated approach towards identifying the source of hexavalent chromium contamination in the Hanford 100-D Area and treating the groundwater contamination. Currently, there is no effective method to stop strontium-90 associated with the riparian zone sediments from leaching into the river. Phytoremediation may be a possible way to treatmore » this contamination. Its use at the 100-N Area will be investigated. Another technology currently being tested for strontium-90 contamination at the 100-N Area involves injection (through wells) of a calcium-citrate-phosphate solution, which will precipitate apatite, a natural calcium-phosphate mineral. Apatite will adsorb the strontium-90, and then incorporate it as part of the apatite structure, isolating the strontium-90 contamination from entering the river. This EM-22 funded apatite project will develop a strategy for infiltrating the apatite solution from ground surface or a shallow trench to provide treatment over the upper portion of the contaminated zone, which is unsaturated during low river stage.« less
  • This paper provides an update on supplemental groundwater remediation technologies to protect the Columbia River at the Hanford Site in Washington State. Major groundwater contaminants at the Hanford Site are described, along with the technologies and remedial activities that will address these environmental challenges.
  • This paper describes dramatic improvements in the safety record of the Soil and Groundwater Remediation Project (SGRP) at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state over the past four years. During a period of enormous growth in project work and scope, contractor Fluor Hanford reduced injuries, accidents, and other safety-related incidents and enhanced a safety culture that earned the SGRP Star Status in the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) in 2007. This paper outlines the complex and multi-faceted work of Fluor Hanford's SGRP and details the steps taken by the project's Field Operations and Safety organizations tomore » improve safety. Holding field safety meetings and walkdowns, broadening safety inspections, organizing employee safety councils, intensively flowing down safety requirements to subcontractors, and adopting other methods to achieve remarkable improvement in safety are discussed. The roles of management, labor and subcontractors are detailed. Finally, SGRP's safety improvements are discussed within the context of overall safety enhancements made by Fluor Hanford in the company's 11 years of managing nuclear waste cleanup at the Hanford Site.« less