Working with Savannah River National Laboratory scientists, SRNS is striving to prevent the remaining iodine-129 from moving into nearby wetlands in large quantities.
Current treatment relies on chemicals, such as silver chloride, and soil to work together to bind the iodine to sub-surface sediment, prior to it reaching the wetlands.
“Once this plume fully enters the marsh, treatment, much less immobilization of the iodine, becomes much more difficult,” Thibault said. “There’s no sediment. We’ve gone from mud-like sediment to working with organic material and the water of the marsh.”
SRNL Geochemist Hansell Gonzalez-Raymat said workers have completed shallow drilling for soil samples in the affected wetlands.
“The data collected from the samples will help us to determine how the iodine will interact with the organic matter and surface water found within SRS wetlands,” he said. “This is part of a larger project within the site’s F Area that is partially funded by the EM Office of Technology Development.”
Thibault said SRNS is working to make the project “passive,” requiring minimal maintenance and use of little to no electrical energy.
“We are looking at the possible use of silver chloride, along with other cleanup technologies, to continue the level of success we’ve experienced in the past. We are confident we’ll protect our wetlands,” he said.