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Protection of the environment and nearby Columbia River is a key part of Washington River Protection Solutions’ (WRPS) mission to reduce the risk posed by Hanford’s tank waste.
Interim barriers, designed to prevent rain and snow melt from seeping into the soil and driving contaminants closer to the water table have been installed over two tank farms and more are under consideration. The barriers are temporary structures constructed under terms of the Tri-Party Agreement and are among several interim measures taken to improve protection of the groundwater from tank and pipe leaks. The barriers will remain in place until a final closure decision is made regarding the tanks.
Surface Geophysical Exploration
Surface Geophysical Exploration (SGE) is helping to improve WRPS’ understanding of soil contamination beneath Hanford’s underground waste storage tanks so appropriate action can be taken to protect the public. SGE requires no digging. Instead, this technology uses steel probes inserted into the soil over a suspected contaminant plume. The probes are connected to a central data collection system, which passes electrical currents between them. A plume can be identified and its boundaries mapped because soil impacted by waste conducts electrical current differently than dry or uncontaminated soil.
Off-Riser Sampler System
The Off-Riser Sampler improves WRPS’ ability to obtain waste samples from Hanford’s underground storage tanks. Historically, sample collection was restricted to waste materials that could be accessed directly beneath an access pipe installed in the tank dome, meaning material not near a riser was out of reach. With the Off-Riser Sampler, operators can reach around obstacles to collect waste material anywhere in a tank. The remotely operated device is being further enhanced with an on-board camera so operators will not have to rely on separate in-tank cameras to locate the waste and control the device.
Direct Push Technology
Direct Push technology significantly improves the way WRPS obtains data and soil samples of contaminant plumes around and beneath underground storage tanks and other structures. This method uses a hydraulic hammer mounted on a small backhoe to drive a rod into the soil either vertically or at an angle. Monitoring instruments can then be lowered into the rod to obtain data on soil contaminants. The rod can also be equipped with a special device to bring soil samples to the surface for more detailed analysis. Direct push minimizes worker contact with contaminants and has the ability to obtain samples beneath structures, significantly improving data collection in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.