Soil & Groundwater Remediation

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The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) manages one of the largest groundwater and soil remediation efforts in the world. The inventory at the EM sites includes 6.5 trillion liters of contaminated groundwater, an amount equal to about four times the daily U.S. water consumption, and 40 million cubic meters of soil and debris contaminated with radionuclides, metals, and organics. EM’s Office of Subsurface Closure is working with EM site managers around the country to help find solutions to their specific technical issues.  At the large sites such as Hanford, Savannah River and Oak Ridge, the Office of Subsurface Closure has conducted research and demonstration projects to test new technologies and remediation approaches.

The primary goal of the Office of Subsurface Closure is to expedite closure of major soil and groundwater sites and waste units. The Office of Subsurface Closure is locating existing technologies to leverage advances in science and engineering; focusing development of new technologies to overcome intractable technical barriers; and providing alternative clean up strategies through the technical assistance program.

Large complex groundwater plumes remain at these EM sites:

  • Hanford (Central Plateau and River Corridor)
  • Savannah River (F-Area and M-Area)
  • Paducah
  • Los Alamos
  • Oak Ridge

Technical Assistance Program

For over two decades, Savannah River National Laboratory has managed a dynamic and efficient national program sponsored by EM that provides teams of technical experts with a broad experience base to recommend strategies to address DOE’s challenging environmental problems when standard approaches have not worked. Industrial facilities typically select traditional approaches (e.g., pump and treat, soil vapor extraction) in the design and implementation of remedial strategies. At some sites, these approaches prove to be too costly, inadequate or ineffective. Alternatively, other sites struggle with implementation of innovative but less well understood approaches. Since 2006, the Technical Assistance Program has focused on providing support across the EM complex. During this time, 25 technical assistance teams have visited 11 EM sites and made recommendations that yielded an estimated cost savings of $100 million, generating a return on investment of 30 to 1 for the program.

Each technical assistance team is:

  • Selected to address a specific technical need;
  • Focuses on identification of key technical risks (known technical issues that could prevent project success) and identification of technical uncertainties (indefinite or unpredictable aspects of a project);
  • Works closely with sites and regulators to develop solutions and strategies that minimize detrimental impacts to the environment, project budgets and schedules; and
  • Develops phased solutions that may combine multiple technologies and recommends specific steps to optimize project implementation and performance.

An important goal of the Technical Assistance Program is to address the specific concerns of regulators and stakeholders and to facilitate acceptance of recommended approaches and solutions. On average, 3-4 technical assistance teams are deployed each year across the DOE Complex to assist DOE site in addressing high priority issues/needs at selected sites.

Soil & Groundwater Remediation News

Oak Ridge Crews Finish Preparing Site for New Mercury Treatment Facility
December 11, 2018
DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of EM (OREM) has completed site preparations necessary to begin construction of the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility.
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Pilot Test Shows Chlorine Effectively Disinfects Hanford Wells
December 4, 2018
Whether it’s minerals in your sprinkler pipes or a buildup of grease in your kitchen drain, the concept and concern are the same.
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Community Leaders Tour 324 Building Mock-up at Hanford
November 13, 2018
Leaders from the communities near the Hanford Site recently visited a mock-up where workers test and train on equipment.
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West Valley Advances Cleanup With Removal of Pump-and-Treat System
November 6, 2018
Workers recently removed a former pump-and-treat system at EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) site, allowing for continued cleanup progress
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Worker-Led Efficiencies Result in Cost Savings for Hanford Groundwater Treatment
October 30, 2018
Worker-driven improvements led crews to treat a record amount of groundwater at the Hanford Site in FY2018 at the lowest cost per gallon in 5 years.
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Hanford Workers Prevent Contaminants From Reaching Groundwater
September 25, 2018
A significant effort at the Hanford Site will reduce the risk of below-ground uranium reaching the Columbia River.
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Pushing the Depth of Understanding on Hanford Soil Contamination
August 28, 2018
EM's ORP and WRPS go to great lengths to learn more about the nature and extent of contamination around and beneath Hanford’s waste storage tanks.
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Workers Install Key Equipment in Hanford Mockup for Hazardous Soil Removal
August 21, 2018
Hanford Site workers added a critical component to a training facility this month to eventually help remove radioactive soil.
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Hanford Workers Meet Groundwater Treatment Goals Early
August 15, 2018
Workers at the Hanford Site met a yearly groundwater-treatment goal nearly two months early, reducing risk to the Columbia River.
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Hanford Crews Prepare to Remove Radioactive Soil Under 324 Building
July 17, 2018
Hanford Site workers continue to prepare to remove highly radioactive soil under a former engineering laboratory.
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Additional Information