HFBR Pump-and-Treat System Begins Operating

May 1997

On May 12, 1997, a three-well groundwater pump-and-recharge system, that had been constructed on the Princeton Avenue firebreak approximately 3,700 feet downgradient of the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR), began operating. The system captured tritium from the HFBR spent fuel pool leak and ensured that the plume would not migrate off site. The extracted water was pumped 3,000 feet to the north and recharged into the RA V recharge basin.

The selected remedy for the HFBR tritium plume also included implementing monitoring and low-flow extraction of the highest concentrations of tritium to prevent or minimize the plumes growth. Beginning in June 2000 and ending April 2001, low-flow extraction removed 95,000 gallons of tritiated water with concentrations greater than 750,000 pico curies per liter (Drinking water standard is 20,000 pCi/L.). The contaminated water was sent off site for disposal.

The pump-and-recharge system was placed in standby mode during 2000, however, at the request of the Community Advisory Council, contingency triggers were placed in the 2001 OU III Record of Decision (cleanup agreement) at two locations in the path of the tritium plume. In November 2006, a detection of 21,000 pCi/L of tritium triggered the restart of the system and the installation of a fourth extraction well. Based on groundwater modeling, the HFBR tritium plume is expected to reach MCL's with monitored natural attenuation by 2018.

To learn more, see the latest copy of BNL's Annual Groundwater Status Report