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Hanford Groundwater Contamination Areas Shrink as EM Exceeds Cleanup Goals

June 26, 2013 - 12:00pm

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The 200 West Pump and Treat System is Hanford’s largest facility for treating contaminated groundwater.

The 200 West Pump and Treat System is Hanford’s largest facility for treating contaminated groundwater.

A graphic showing the 200 West Pump and Treat plumes and well network.

A graphic showing the 200 West Pump and Treat plumes and well network.

The 200 West Pump and Treat System is Hanford’s largest facility for treating contaminated groundwater.
A graphic showing the 200 West Pump and Treat plumes and well network.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers supporting groundwater cleanup for EM’s Richland Operations Office at the Hanford site have exceeded a fiscal year goal to remove 3,500 pounds of carbon tetrachloride from groundwater under the center of the site.

EM-funded contractor, CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M HILL), is responsible for monitoring groundwater and removing contamination from it. As of June 1, CH2M HILL removed 4,300 pounds of carbon tetrachloride.

An area of groundwater contamination called a plume covers a 4-square-mile area under the center of the site, equivalent in size to 1,900 football fields. The plume contains eight contaminants of concern, including the chemical carbon tetrachloride, a solvent used in plutonium production processes.

The plume resulted from liquid waste releases from the Plutonium Finishing Plant beginning in the 1940s. The plant produced nearly two-thirds of the nation’s supply of plutonium during the Cold War. Contaminated liquids from the plant were discharged to underground disposal structures called cribs and trenches. When plutonium production ceased in the late 1980s, the contamination migrated deep into the ground and to groundwater.

The 200 West Pump and Treat System, Hanford’s largest facility for treating contaminated groundwater, began operating in 2012 and uses a network of wells and treatment technologies to remove the contamination and shrink the plumes.

DOE and CH2M HILL are reducing the concentration of carbon tetrachloride through treatment and containing the plume to keep it from moving toward the Columbia River by using wells to inject treated water near the outside edge of the area of contamination.

“The work is helping DOE keep the contamination in the center of the site and prevent the contamination from moving toward the Columbia River, which is seven miles away,”  CH2M HILL Vice President of Soil and Groundwater Remediation Bob Popielarczyk said.

EM and CH2M HILL are working to remove contamination from Hanford groundwater, treating more than 1 billion gallons per year. To learn more about groundwater treatment at the Hanford Site, including videos and photos, click here and here.

 

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