Office of Environmental Management

Efficiencies Drive Continued Success of Hanford Groundwater Treatment

May 7, 2019

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Hanford workers have installed piping to test a more efficient method for removing residual concentrations of hexavalent chromium from soil and groundwater.
Hanford workers have installed piping to test a more efficient method for removing residual concentrations of hexavalent chromium from soil and groundwater.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Hanford Site groundwater treatment team is making substantial progress in its cleanup mission, according to recent data from EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC).

  • Crews treated 1 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater in the first five months of fiscal 2019, more than halfway to a goal of 1.8 billion for the year.
  • Workers have removed 1 million pounds of nitrate since Hanford’s largest groundwater treatment facility, the 200 West Pump and Treat Facility, began operations in 2012.
  • The site achieved cost savings of about $500,000 from improving efficiencies and modifying equipment at the 200 West Pump and Treat Facility in fiscal 2019, avoiding the cost of replacing equipment.

“We are always seeking more efficient and cost effective ways to improve the performance of our groundwater treatment network, with protection of the Columbia River our ultimate goal,” said Mike Cline, RL project director for the soil and groundwater division.

Recent upgrades to key equipment at Hanford’s largest groundwater treatment facility eliminated the need for replacing equipment, resulting in a cost savings of about $500,000 in fiscal 2019.
Recent upgrades to key equipment at Hanford’s largest groundwater treatment facility eliminated the need for replacing equipment, resulting in a cost savings of about $500,000 in fiscal 2019.

Collectively, efficiency improvements and cost-saving efforts at the 200 West Pump and Treat Facility and the five pump-and-treat systems along the river led the groundwater program to treat more than 2.5 billion gallons in fiscal 2018, at a cost of about 1.31 cents per gallon, the lowest cost per gallon since 2013.

Employees are also making headway removing other groundwater contaminants, including uranium, carbon tetrachloride, and hexavalent chromium.

Workers are preparing a test to address residual concentrations of chromium in the 100 K Area, where pump-and-treat efforts have reduced the area of chromium contamination in groundwater by more than 75 percent since 2010. The test will include saturating the soil with clean water. The goal is to force the residual chromium to groundwater in areas where it can be removed via wells and treated, accelerating the cleanup process, instead of waiting for the contamination to naturally migrate to groundwater. If the process is successful, it could be used elsewhere on the site.

“These accomplishments highlight the many worker-led innovations that continue to drive greater efficiencies in our groundwater treatment systems,” said Bill Barrett, vice president of CHPRC’s soil and groundwater remediation project. “Process improvements have resulted in substantial progress in the removal of contaminants, potentially shortening the timeframe required to meet cleanup goals and resulting in significant cost savings.”

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