A vast majority of Hanford’s remaining in-ground contaminants reside in the vadose zone of the Central Plateau, where reprocessing operations occurred. The vadose zone is comprised of about 75 meters of water-unsaturated sediments above groundwater. If left untreated, these contaminants could reach groundwater and could remain a threat for centuries. Much of this contamination resides deep in the vadose zone, below the effective depth of tradition surface remedy influence. In 2008, the Department of Energy initiated deep vadose zone treatability testing to seek remedies for technetium-99 and uranium contamination. These tests include the application of desiccation for technetium-99 and reactive gas technologies for uranium. To complement these efforts, the Department of Energy has initiated a “defense-in-depth” approach to address the unique challenges for characterization and remediation of the deep vadose zone. This defense-in-depth approach will implement multiple approaches to understand and control contaminant flux from the deep vadose zone to the groundwater. Among these approaches is an increased investment in science and technology solutions to resolve deep vadose zone challenges including characterization, prediction, remediation, and monitoring.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.