New Field Site at Hanford for Studies of Uranium Transport and Biogeochemistry in Groundwater


A team of DOE Office of Science-supported researchers at PNNL with collaborators from the USGS, INL, LBNL, LANL, and four universities have installed a one-of-a-kind field experimental facility at the Hanford site to study the reactive transport behavior of uranium in a long contaminated groundwater aquifer.  This site is representative of contaminated sites in Hanford’s Columbia River corridor. The movement of water in the contaminated aquifer is complex because of close hydrologic coupling with the nearby Columbia River. The behavior of uranium at the site has defied scientific explanation for over ten years, preventing development of an effective remediation strategy to reduce discharges to the Columbia River. The experimental facility is heavily instrumented to characterize and monitor the physical, chemical, biological processes that are thought to control uranium transport at the site. The experimental site will allow scientists to evaluate fundamental field-scale scientific hypotheses on physical, hydrologic, chemical, and biologic factors and processes that control uranium concentrations in site pore- and groundwaters under different hydrologic conditions.