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On Air Staff and WPM Interns
Thu August 2, 2012
More groundwater testing for uranium-contaminated Riverton site
The U.S. Department of Energy will run additional groundwater tests at a Riverton site contaminated with uranium. The Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act site was contaminated after hosting a uranium mill there in the 1960’s.
After tailings were removed from the Riverton site, the DOE recommended that nature be permitted to flush the uranium out of the system, and the DOE would monitor progress by testing at established wells. However, the model used to assess progress did not take into account events like big storms, and a flood in June, 2010 caused spikes in uranium levels. DOE’s April Gil says the new testing, which will be a onetime event, will help update the model.
“We wanted to very precisely understand the contamination, where it is under the site, and how quickly it's moving,” says Gil.
Gil said that if the testing reveals something significant, the DOE may have to reconsider the natural flushing approach it uses as a management strategy. Meanwhile, Gil says that regular bi-annual testing has also been increased to three times a year due to concerns from stakeholders.