RICHLAND, Wash. -- A new technique developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory may be able to remove deadly contaminants from groundwater more easily and less expensively.
Pacific Northwest researchers have created In-Situ Redox Manipulation, or ISRM, to remediate contaminated groundwater at up to 60 percent savings over 10 years when compared to current remediation methods. Potential application sites include military bases, petroleum and chemical plants and weapon production facilities.
ISRM could address the growing concern surrounding chromate -- a contaminant found near metal-plating production sites, automobile production plants and military bases. Chromate can be toxic to fish and humans above certain levels.
In one example, chromate has leaked into the groundwater and aquifer at the Hanford Site in Washington state, where plutonium was produced from 1943 to 1989 for use in building America's nuclear weapons. DOE and its predecessor agencies used chromate to inhibit corrosion of aluminum fuel elements in nuclear reactors. It has been detected at Hanford along the rivershore and in groundwater headed toward the Columbia River.
Field tests conducted at Hanford indicate ISRM can remove chromate from the groundwater to levels below drinking water standards and water quality standards for aquatic life.
"After testing, chromate levels dropped below detection near the testing wells and we expect to see the same results in the river," said John Fruchter, Pacific Northwest's principal investigator. Researchers also expect ISRM to be effective in removing technetium and chlorinated solvents, such as trichloroethylene and uranium.
R&D Magazine recently honored the ISRM technology as one of the 100 most
significant innovations of 1997. DOE has supported the project with about $4
million since its initial development in 1993. The project could receive an
Contact: Staci West
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory