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Recovery Act Funds Expand Groundwater Treatment at Hanford Site: Contractor CH2M HILL drills record number of wells

May 26, 2011 - 12:00pm


RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers at the Hanford Site have surpassed goals for drilling wells to detect and remove contamination from groundwater. The groundwater was contaminated by radioactive waste and chemicals generated during decades of producing plutonium for the Cold War at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington State.

The Department of Energy (DOE) had set a goal for its contractor, CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, to drill 265 wells by October with funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. CH2M HILL and its subcontractors have completed the work four months ahead of schedule and under budget. The Department used the remaining funds to drill nearly 40 additional wells.

The wells support efforts to detect, monitor and treat groundwater. The wells will support two additional facilities that are being built with Recovery Act funds to treat groundwater by pumping the water from the ground, removing contaminants, and returning clean water to the aquifer. The Hanford Site is increasing its treatment capacity from 30 million gallons per month in 2009 to more than 150 million gallons per month by 2012.

“Crews normally drill 50-60 groundwater wells per year at the site. Thanks to Recovery Act funding, our contractor drilled about 300 wells in two years, significantly expanding our capability to remove groundwater contamination,” said Briant Charboneau, Federal Project Director, DOE Richland Operations Office.

Groundwater at the Hanford Site is not a source of public drinking water. Production activities at the site from the 1940s to the late 1980s resulted in discharging approximately 450 billion gallons of contaminated liquids to soil disposal sites. The Department of Energy’s goal is to restore groundwater to its highest beneficial use, either drinking water standards or stricter aquatic standards near the Columbia River, which flows through the site.

Subcontractors to CH2M HILL on the project are Layne Christensen Company; Blue Star Enterprises Northwest, Inc.; Stillwater, LLC; Boart Longyear Company; Carpenter Drilling; Cascade Drilling, LP; EnergySolutions Government Group, Inc.; and Scout Ind, LLC.

Note: Photos are available on Hanford’s website at