DOE to treat groundwater at Santa Susana Field Laboratory

November 17, 2020, 12:24PMRadwaste Solutions

In the November 10 Federal Register, the Department of Energy published a record of decision to begin groundwater remediation at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in Ventura County, Calif. The cleanup of groundwater will take place at seven locations within Area IV of the former industrial research and development complex.

Santa Susana’s Area IV contains the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC), which was used for liquid metals research and where 10 nuclear research reactors were built and operated. Under an agreement with the state of California, the DOE is currently removing inactive buildings from the ETEC as part of the site cleanup.

Groundwater cleanup: The DOE will use a combination of active and passive techniques for treating the seven groundwater plumes within Area IV, including pumping and treating contaminated groundwater and monitoring the natural attenuation of contaminants. The contamination is the result of the release of solvents, metals, and radionuclides during years of energy and liquid metals research at the ETEC. The state of California will set the final target levels for the groundwater cleanup.

The DOE said that it will also continue groundwater monitoring at other locations within the Santa Susana Field site to confirm that no contamination is present.

ETEC cleanup: The DOE announced on November 5 that it has demolished the last of 10 buildings at the ETEC’s Radioactive Materials Handling Facility (RMHF). In May, in an effort to reduce the potential risk of the release of hazardous substances due to wildfires or erosion from severe storms, the DOE and the state of California signed a consent order to demolish the 10 DOE-owned buildings at the ETEC. Active cleanup of the RMHF buildings started on July 21.

On November 4, the DOE announced the signing of an amendment to the May 2020 consent order with California to demolish the eight remaining DOE-owned buildings at the ETEC. According to the DOE, the action will fulfill its commitment to complete building demolition at the ETEC.

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