- Copyright ©2005. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists/Division of Environmental Geosciences. All rights reserved.
A containment and disposition water management strategy has been implemented at the Savannah River Site to minimize the discharge of tritiated groundwater from the Old Radioactive Waste Burial Ground to Fourmile Branch, a tributary of the Savannah River. This paper presents a general overview of the water management strategy, which includes a two-component (pond and irrigation) system, and a summary of operations and effectiveness for the first 3 yr of operations. Tritiated groundwater seep discharge was impounded by a dam and distributed via irrigation to a 22-ac (8.9-ha) upland forested area comprised of mixed pines (loblolly and slash) and hardwoods (primarily sweetgum and laurel oak). As of March 2004, the system has irrigated approximately 133.2 million L (35.2 million gal) and prevented approximately 1880 Ci of tritium from entering Fourmile Branch via forest evapotranspiration, as well as via pond storage and evaporation. Prior to installation of the containment and disposition strategy, tritium activity in Fourmile Branch downstream of the seep averaged approximately 500 pCi mL−1. Six months after installation, tritium activity averaged approximately 200 pCi mL−1 in Fourmile Branch. After 1 yr of operations, tritium activity averaged below 100 pCi mL−1 in Fourmile Branch, and a range of 100–200 pCi mL−1 tritium activity has been maintained as of March 2004. Complex hydrological factors and operational strategies influence remediation system success. Analyses may assist in developing groundwater management and remediation strategies for future projects at the Savannah River Site and other facilities located on similar landscapes.
Dan Hitchcock is currently the coastal environmental quality specialist for the South Carolina Sea Grant Extension Program in Charleston, South Carolina. His previous postdoctoral experience with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service focused on tritium phytoremediation. Dan has a Ph.D. in biological and agricultural engineering, an M.S. degree in environmental health (both from the University of Georgia), and a B.S. degree in zoology from the University of Tennessee.Christopher D. Barton is an assistant professor of forest hydrology and watershed management in the Department of Forestry at the University of Kentucky. As a research hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service (1999–2003), his research focused on hydrochemical processes associated with the restoration and remediation of disturbed and/or contaminated areas at the U.S. Department of Energy Savannah River Site, South Carolina.
Karin Rebel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, and she is an active participant in the Biogeochemistry Program at Cornell University. She is interested in using spatial dynamic modeling for ecohydrological and biogeochemical research.
Julian Singer is a Ph.D. candidate in agronomy at the University of Georgia. He has a multidisciplinary background, with a B.S. degree in natural resources and an M.S. degree in botany. His research focuses on developing laboratory and field techniques for estimating water and solute transport and the effects of laboratory-scale and field-scale transport parameter estimates on vadose zone modeling.
John C. Seaman is an associate research professor with the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, located on the Savannah River Site and operated for the Department of Energy by the University of Georgia. Seaman received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Texas A&M University in agronomy and soil science, respectively, and his Ph.D. in environmental soil science from the University of Georgia.
J. Dan Strawbridge is currently the assistant manager for engineering and environmental services with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service at the Savannah River Site. He holds a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Mississippi State University and is a registered professional engineer in both Mississippi and South Carolina.
Susan Riha is a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, and is the Charles L. Pack Research Professor of Forest Soils. She is interested in the interaction of plants with their physical environment and in dynamic simulation modeling. She works on both environmental and plant production problems on the state, national, and international levels.
John I. Blake is the assistant manager for research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service at the Savannah River Site. Blake received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington and his M.S. and B.S. degrees from the University of Michigan. He previously worked with various forest industry companies and Auburn University.