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Title: Innovative Strategy For Long Term Monitoring Of Metal And Radionuclide Plumes

Many government and private industry sites that were once contaminated with radioactive and chemical wastes cannot be cleaned up enough to permit unrestricted human access. The sites will require long term management, in some cases indefinitely, leaving site owners with the challenge of protecting human health and environmental quality at these "legacy" sites. Long-term monitoring of groundwater contamination is one of the largest projected costs in the life cycle of environmental management at the Savannah River Site, the larger DOE complex, and many large federal and private sites. There is a need to optimize the performance and manage the cost of long term surveillance and monitoring at their sites. Currently, SRNL is initiating a pilot field test using alternative protocols for long term monitoring of metals and radionuclides. A key component of the approach is that monitoring efforts are focused on measurement of low cost metrics related to hydrologic and chemical conditions that control contaminant migration. The strategy combines careful monitoring of hydrologic boundary conditions with measurement of master variables such as chemical surrogates along with a smaller number of standard well analyses. In plumes contaminated with metals, master variables control the chemistry of the groundwater system, and include redoxmore » variables (ORP, DO, chemicals), pH, specific conductivity, biological community (breakdown/decay products), and temperature. Significant changes in these variables will result in conditions whereby the plume may not be stable and therefore can be used to predict possible plume migration. Conversely, concentration measurements for all types of contaminants in groundwater are a lagging indicator plume movement - major changes contaminant concentrations indicate that contamination has migrated. An approach based on measurement of master variables and explicit monitoring of hydrologic boundary conditions combined with traditional metrics should lead to improved monitoring while simultaneously reducing costs. This paradigm is being tested at the SRS F-Area where an innovative passive remedial system is being monitored and evaluated over the long term prior to traditional regulatory closure. Contaminants being addressed at this site are uranium, strontium-90, iodine-129, and tritium. We believe that the proposed strategies will be more effective in early identification of potential risks; these strategies will also be cost effective because controlling variables are relatively simple to measure. These variables also directly reflect the evolution of the plume through time, so that the monitoring strategy can be modified as the plume 'ages'. This transformational long-term monitoring paradigm will generate large cost savings to DOE, other federal agencies and industry and will provide improved performance and leading indicators of environmental management performance.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US1400298
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Resource Relation:
Conference: WM2014 Conference, Phoenix, Arizona (United States), 2-6 Mar 2014
Research Org:
Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE (United States)
Country of Publication:
United States