Treatment Resin Reduces Costs, Materials in Hanford Groundwater Cleanup

<p>Ion exchange resin</p>

Ion exchange resin

RICHLAND, Wash. – U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company is using a treatment material that has delivered more than $6 million in cost savings to date and is delivering more than $3 million in annual cost savings and efficiencies in treatment of contaminated groundwater near the Columbia River at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state.

The material, an ion exchange resin, is used in groundwater treatment systems to strip contaminants from the water—in this case, hexavalent chromium—before it is pumped back into the ground. The systems are treating contamination that resulted from the operation of Hanford’s plutonium production reactors during the Cold War.

In comparison to the previous resin used in treatment systems, the new resin can hold more contamination, lasts longer, and does not have to be replaced as often. Each replacement costs approximately $10,000, and CH2M HILL estimates more than 600 resin changes have been avoided in the last 2.5 years in groundwater treatment facilities along the Columbia River. An additional benefit is the resin can be disposed of onsite at Hanford’s engineered landfill, which eliminates costs and worker hazards associated with preparation and shipment of the resin to an offsite facility.

After the resin was installed in two recently constructed treatment facilities, three additional treatment facilities were retrofitted with the newer, more efficient material. In addition to delivering cost savings, the change in resin also allows for higher treatment capacity through the existing equipment; treatment capacity was increased at one of the treatment facilities by 40 percent.

Since groundwater treatment began in the 1990s, Hanford contractors have treated a total of 7.6 billion gallons of groundwater and removed 45 tons of contaminants, including 5,600 pounds of hexavalent chromium.