Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Systems tool new resource to aid groundwater cleanup


After almost 50 years of nuclear materials production at the 586-square-mile Hanford Site in southeastern Washington, there are more than 700 waste sites with the potential to release contaminants to the soil and groundwater. These sites vary significantly in their inventories of radioactive and chemical contaminants and potential for contaminants to migrate through the soil to the groundwater and the Columbia River. Understanding which waste sites have the most significant impact and the cumulative effect of all the waste sites is important as decision makers investigate options for cleanup and closure of Hanford.

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a comprehensive new tool that will provide federal and state regulators with some of the critical information they need to help protect people, the environment and the Columbia River.

The System Assessment Capability, or SAC, is an integrated system of computer models and databases that predicts the movement and fate of contaminants through the vadose zone, the groundwater and to the Columbia River. The vadose zone is the soil above the groundwater. SAC also assesses the impact of contaminants on human health, animals and the environment.

Instead of showing each waste site in isolation as has been done in the past, SAC shows each site in context. “It looks at all the waste sites at Hanford in relationship to each other and how they contribute to future impact,” said Bob Bryce, SAC project manager for PNNL. “Using SAC, we can see which waste sites are making the greatest contribution to future impact and clean them up first.”

A 14-member team of scientists in fields ranging from civil engineering to zoology created the two sets of computer models that are at the heart of SAC. One set simulates how contaminants move through the environment. The second set estimates risk and impact from those contaminants.

The environmental model is based on a comprehensive inventory of potential contaminants from Hanford operations as far back as 1944. With information about the quantity and concentration of contaminants at a site, SAC determines how the contaminant will behave. SAC models how the contaminant will discharge to the soil and move to the groundwater, discharge into the groundwater and, finally, enter the Columbia River.

SAC models these types of scenarios based on data about the geology, chemistry and hydrology of the site. It also predicts the consequences of these scenarios on the environment and the impact of various cleanup options. “These capabilities will be an important information source to aid decision makers in prioritizing cleanup of contaminated sites and putting limited funding to best use,” Bryce said.

Scientists have tested the validity of SAC by comparing SAC results to known plume migrations at the Hanford Site over time. Researchers are preparing to conduct a composite analysis of the future impacts of remaining waste at Hanford. The results of this study will be considered as future waste disposal decisions are made at the site. SAC is an integrated part of DOE’s Groundwater Protection Project.

Business inquiries on SAC should be directed to Kathryn Lang at (509) 375-3837. Business inquiries on other PNNL research and technologies should be directed to 1-888-375-PNNL or .

PNNL is a DOE Office of Science research facility and delivers breakthrough science and technology in areas of environment, energy, health, fundamental sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated PNNL for DOE since 1965.

Geoff Harvey | PNNL
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>