KENNEWICK, Wash. – Construction has been completed on a $24 million plant to treat contaminated ground water near Hanford’s former H Reactor near the Columbia River.
CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. could start operating the pump and treatment plant in late summer after construction and operating reviews are completed.
The plant will pump contaminated water out of the ground, treat it to remove hexavalent chromium and then reinject the clean water into the ground. The clean water also forms a barrier that helps prevent contaminated ground water from reaching the Columbia River.
The plant near H Reactor is expected to treat 30 million gallons of water a month.
It’s the third pump and treat project undertaken by DOE in recent years to meet a legally binding Tri-Party Agreement deadline to contain chromium along the Columbia River next year.
Already, it has expanded pump and treatment operations upriver near the K Reactors in 2009 and around the first of this year began operating a new pump and treat plant near the D and DR reactors.
Chromium was added to cooling water at Hanford’s plutonium-production reactors to prevent corrosion. The water with the chromium then was discharged into the soil and more of it leaked from piping, staining the soil bright yellow and contaminating ground water.
It can cause cancer in humans and particularly is toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
The new plant near H Reactor is a near twin of the new one near the D and DR reactors.
Together, they will treat a plume of contamination that has spread between the two reactor areas.
Both plants use a new type of resin in an ion exchange process to clean water to drinking water standards that could save an estimated $20 million during the lifetime of each plant. The resin lasts three to four times as long as the resin that has been used at Hanford, reducing purchasing costs and the costs to change out the resin.
Federal economic stimulus money was used to build the treatment plant near the D and DR reactors, but DOE Hanford annual budget money paid for construction of the new plant hear H Reactor.