After the discovery in the late 1980s of contamination in nearby groundwater wells, EM’s immediate response was to supply clean drinking water to those affected. EM then initiated the design and construction of a pump-and-treat system, which reduces groundwater contaminant concentration as well as mitigates the spread of contamination.
For a quarter century, the pump-and-treat system has been successfully removing groundwater contaminants. The primary contaminant is trichloroethene (TCE), a common industrial degreaser that was used at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) to clean equipment.
Since operation of the pump-and-treat system in the northwest area of the site began in August 1995, followed by an additional system in the northeast area of the site, EM has made great progress in remediating groundwater contamination. To date, a total of approximately 4.4 billion gallons of water have been treated — enough to fill 6,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“For 25 years, operation of the pump-and-treat systems has been essential to EM’s mission at the Paducah Site,” said Jennifer Woodard, the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office’s Paducah Site lead. “We have been very successful at reducing groundwater contamination offsite.”
Starting in 2010, the northwest pump-and-treat system was upgraded to further improve efficiency and to ensure the continued treatment of groundwater contamination. In 2017, the northeast pump-and-treat system was upgraded. As of early 2020, the pump-and-treat systems had removed more than 4,100 gallons of TCE from local groundwater and continue to reduce contamination.
“The continued operations of these systems for 25 years not only represents a milestone in the effectiveness and reliability of the systems and those who maintain them, it’s a demonstration of the commitment that we all have to the cleanup of this site,” said Myrna Redfield, program manager with Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, the prime cleanup contractor at the PGDP. “I remember when this system went online, and I am proud to see the effect it has had on the mission of the site and the impact it has had on site cleanup overall.”