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Hanford Exceeds Annual Goal for Cleaning up Groundwater near Columbia River

August 28, 2014 - 12:00pm

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An aerial photo of Hanford’s 100-D Area along the Columbia River, which is served by one of five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are helping shrink areas of contaminated groundwater.

An aerial photo of Hanford’s 100-D Area along the Columbia River, which is served by one of five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are helping shrink areas of contaminated groundwater.

Inside one of Hanford’s five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are treating contaminated groundwater.

Inside one of Hanford’s five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are treating contaminated groundwater.

Nuclear Chemical Operator Mike Fish monitors operations of a pump-and-treat system at the Hanford site.

Nuclear Chemical Operator Mike Fish monitors operations of a pump-and-treat system at the Hanford site.

This graphic shows the area, or plume, of chromium contamination in groundwater near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2009.

This graphic shows the area, or plume, of chromium contamination in groundwater near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2009.

This graphic of the same area near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2013 shows reduced levels of the contaminant in groundwater after pump-and-treat operations significantly increased the amount of groundwater being treated per year.

This graphic of the same area near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2013 shows reduced levels of the contaminant in groundwater after pump-and-treat operations significantly increased the amount of groundwater being treated per year.

An aerial photo of Hanford’s 100-D Area along the Columbia River, which is served by one of five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are helping shrink areas of contaminated groundwater.
Inside one of Hanford’s five pump-and-treat systems along the Columbia River that are treating contaminated groundwater.
Nuclear Chemical Operator Mike Fish monitors operations of a pump-and-treat system at the Hanford site.
This graphic shows the area, or plume, of chromium contamination in groundwater near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2009.
This graphic of the same area near Hanford’s D, DR, and H reactors in 2013 shows reduced levels of the contaminant in groundwater after pump-and-treat operations significantly increased the amount of groundwater being treated per year.

RICHLAND, Wash. – At the Hanford site in southeast Washington state, EM and its contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M HILL) are achieving groundwater cleanup goals ahead of schedule.

   This year, EM exceeded its annual goal for removing hexavalent chromium from groundwater four months ahead of schedule.

   “Our contractor removed more chromium than forecasted this year by pulling more groundwater from the areas of highest contamination,” said EM Richland Operations Office’s Soil and Groundwater Division Director Briant Charboneau. “Having extraction wells in the right place and adding new treatment systems over the past few years has been critical to our success in removing contamination from groundwater and protecting the Columbia River.”

   Between October 2013 and the end of July, workers removed approximately 680 pounds of the contaminant, surpassing EM’s goal to remove approximately 550 pounds by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

   The chromium contamination resulted from intentional and unintentional releases of chemicals in the soil from the site’s plutonium production reactors. Much of the contaminated soil has been removed, and EM is operating treatment facilities along the river to address the remaining chromium contamination in groundwater.

   “Through our workers’ efforts to maintain safe and optimum operations of our treatment technologies, we have been able to surpass EM’s groundwater cleanup goals again this year, and that progress is visible,” said Mark Cherry, CH2M HILL acting vice president of the Soil and Groundwater Remediation Project.

   EM operates five groundwater treatment systems along the Columbia River, supported by a network of approximately 150 wells. Contaminated groundwater is extracted through the wells and transferred to facilities for treatment. The treated water is injected back into the aquifer to help drive the contaminated groundwater toward the extraction wells.

   “We have been able to surpass our goals thanks to running our new and existing treatment facilities at greater capacities, having wells in the right areas, and using our employees’ ideas to find ways to run the systems more efficiently,” said Bill Barrett, CH2M HILL director of operations for the Soil and Groundwater Remediation Project.

   Since the mid-1990s, workers have removed approximately 3,000 pounds of hexavalent chromium from groundwater along the Columbia River.

   Videos about Hanford groundwater treatment capabilities and efficiencies are available here.*

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