Document Details

Investigation of Subsurface Mercury at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant
Subject Terms:
Geophysical Logs; Groundwater; Hyrdrology; Lithologic Logs; Mercury; Soil Borings
Document Location:
DOE INFORMATION CENTER 1 Way, Oak Ridge, TN 37831; Eva Butler; Phone: 865-241-4780; Toll-Free: 800-382-6938, Option 6; FAX: 865-574-3521; Email:
Document Categories:
Health, Safety and Environment\Environmental Effects
Document Type:
Publication Date:
1984 Nov 30
Declassification Status:
Never classified
Document Pages:
Accession Number:
Document Number(s):
Originating Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
OpenNet Entry Date:
1995 Jul 31
Released under Phase II of the Oak Ridge Health Studies Agreement. The report discusses the results of an investigation of the extent and fate of spills and leaks of elemental Mercury at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant. Most of the Mercury was released during the period 1953 to 1963, with much smaller releases continuing over the past 20 years. It is estimated that 428,000 pounds were lost to earth materials in the area. In order to evaluate the fate of the metal in the subsurface, a multiphased well installation and soil boring program was carried out. A phased approach was used to minimize the total number of borings and to concentrate on potential problem areas while still assessing the problem as a whole. The results cover the hydrogeology of the Y-12 Plant, the fate of mercury lossses at the Plant, and an evaluation of general groundwater chemistry and contamination. Mercury analyses of soils and fill indicate that high concentrations of Mercury occur in the shallow soil and fill at several sites wtihin the Plant, but the estimated total quantity located represents only aout 2 percent of the estimated to have been lost to ground. Additional quantities of Mercury may exist in the extensive cavity system underlying much of the Plant. Detection of metallic Mercury in these solution zones was believed at the outset of the study to be unlikely, and none was encountered in this study. Results of Mercury analyses of groundwater indicate that Mercury does not appear to be moving in significant quantities in an aqueous phase. The occurence of elevated Mercury levels mainly in shallow soils and fill and of mainly background levels in groundwater indicate that the metal has been generally immobilized/retained in upper earth materials.

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