Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tracking A Legacy Of Waste In The West Siberian Basin

Date:
December 7, 1998
Source:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Summary:
Fifty years ago in the West Siberian Basin, Russian scientists began discharging liquid radioactive waste to rivers and reservoirs and injecting waste into the groundwater. Scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory now are leading the United States' contribution to the joint contaminant transport modeling project. Findings are expected to influence remediation strategies at the three Russian sites.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Though the Cold War has ended, its legacy lives on in Russia's West Siberian Basin as radioactivewaste from nuclear weapons material production travels in the groundwater and may be threatening the health of humans andthe ecosystem there.

Related Articles


Fifty years ago, Russian scientists began discharging this liquid radioactive waste into nearby rivers and open reservoirs. Abouta decade later, they also began injecting radioactive waste into what they believed were very slow moving fields of groundwaterin the West Siberian Basin, located in central Russia.

The practice of discharging into open reservoirs continued until the early 1990s. Over time, Russian scientists discovered wastehad migrated in the aquifer underlying one reprocessing site to a nearby stream and could threaten the drinking water ofresidents.

In 1990, Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy, MINATOM, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the U.S. Departmentof Energy in the areas of environmental restoration and waste management and agreed to jointly study how radioactive wastetravels in groundwater. Scientists from DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory were chosen to lead the U.S. portion ofthe contaminant transport modeling project as part of the agreement.

Pacific Northwest scientists are investigating the West Siberian Basin's hydrogeology - how water moves under the ground'ssurface - to better track and predict the future path of radioactive waste. Research is focused on waste storage and disposal atthree former plutonium production sites in the basin - Mayak, Tomsk and Krasnoyarsk. The laboratory's scientists are using thesame computer model they apply at DOE's Hanford site in Washington state to simulate flow of radionuclides in groundwater.

"This research is the best chance to learn how large concentrations of man-made radionuclides travel in a natural setting, overlong distances and over a long period of time," said Mike Foley, principal investigator for Pacific Northwest. "To date, existinggroundwater models have been based on small-scale lab tests and observations of low-concentration, naturally occurringradionuclides."

After the models are developed, Pacific Northwest scientists will estimate how the contaminants have moved over time andestimate their future path. The models will help improve understanding of how radioactive wastes react with the rocks as theyare transported by groundwater.

The findings are expected to influence remediation strategies at the three Russian sites.

Since 1992, Pacific Northwest scientists have modeled the hydrogeology of the West Siberian Basin and of Mayak using datafrom groundwater studies provided by Russia. West Siberia is the largest basin and region of low relief on earth. Next, it isproposed that the scientists will model the Tomsk site and, possibly, Krasnoyarsk.

"We need to know the chemistry of how radioactive plumes move below the surface," Foley said. "That knowledge could beapplied to landfills, tank spills and future waste storage issues in the United States. We have to be able to predict the risk ofcontaminant migration in order to properly clean it up."

Pacific Northwest and Russian scientists have worked together closely. They bring complementary site characterization,contaminant sampling and modeling expertise to bear on the common problem of better understanding the migration ofradioactive wastes in groundwater systems.

"We're both trying to take advantage of each other's knowledge and resources," said Charlie Cole, Pacific Northwest scientist.

DOE's Office of Environmental Management has funded this project at Pacific Northwest with about $3.3 million since 1992.

Pacific Northwest is one of DOE's nine multiprogram national laboratories and conducts research in areas of environment,energy, health sciences and national security. Battelle, based in Columbus, Ohio, has operated Pacific Northwest since 1965.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Tracking A Legacy Of Waste In The West Siberian Basin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204131112.htm>.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (1998, December 7). Tracking A Legacy Of Waste In The West Siberian Basin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204131112.htm
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. "Tracking A Legacy Of Waste In The West Siberian Basin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981204131112.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Science News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins