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Nuclear Waste Program

Groundwater Remediation

Pump & Treat

A pump and treat system pumps contaminated groundwater out of the ground, removes the contaminants, and injects the treated water back into the ground.

In some cases, pump and treat is time consuming and costly, and only addresses certain contaminants. However, there are cases where it is an appropriate solution until better technologies are available.

Apatite Sequestration

Another innovative technology Ecology and USDOE are using is the injection of apatite into the soil to capture strontium-90. Apatite is a mineral that chemically attracts strontium. Scientists call this process “sequestration.” As groundwater moves toward the river, apatite absorbs strontium-90 and prevents it from reaching the river. The apatite binds strontium in place for the decades it takes to decay to harmless levels.

Other Technologies

We continue to search for new technologies to address all of Hanford’s contaminants. The main challenge is to develop methods that are cost-effective and able to meet regulatory standards. The Tri-Party Agreement (TPA), which governs Hanford’s cleanup, requires USDOE to continue to search for new ways to treat groundwater.