GEOCHEMICAL MODELING OF F AREA SEEPAGE BASIN COMPOSITION AND VARIABILITY

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From the 1950s through 1989, the F Area Seepage Basins at the Savannah River Site (SRS) received low level radioactive wastes resulting from processing nuclear materials. Discharges of process wastes to the F Area Seepage Basins followed by subsequent mixing processes within the basins and eventual infiltration into the subsurface resulted in contamination of the underlying vadose zone and downgradient groundwater. For simulating contaminant behavior and subsurface transport, a quantitative understanding of the interrelated discharge-mixing-infiltration system along with the resulting chemistry of fluids entering the subsurface is needed. An example of this need emerged as the F Area Seepage Basins ... continued below

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Millings, M.; Denham, M. & Looney, B. May 8, 2012.

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From the 1950s through 1989, the F Area Seepage Basins at the Savannah River Site (SRS) received low level radioactive wastes resulting from processing nuclear materials. Discharges of process wastes to the F Area Seepage Basins followed by subsequent mixing processes within the basins and eventual infiltration into the subsurface resulted in contamination of the underlying vadose zone and downgradient groundwater. For simulating contaminant behavior and subsurface transport, a quantitative understanding of the interrelated discharge-mixing-infiltration system along with the resulting chemistry of fluids entering the subsurface is needed. An example of this need emerged as the F Area Seepage Basins was selected as a key case study demonstration site for the Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management (ASCEM) Program. This modeling evaluation explored the importance of the wide variability in bulk wastewater chemistry as it propagated through the basins. The results are intended to generally improve and refine the conceptualization of infiltration of chemical wastes from seepage basins receiving variable waste streams and to specifically support the ASCEM case study model for the F Area Seepage Basins. Specific goals of this work included: (1) develop a technically-based 'charge-balanced' nominal source term chemistry for water infiltrating into the subsurface during basin operations, (2) estimate the nature of short term and long term variability in infiltrating water to support scenario development for uncertainty quantification (i.e., UQ analysis), (3) identify key geochemical factors that control overall basin water chemistry and the projected variability/stability, and (4) link wastewater chemistry to the subsurface based on monitoring well data. Results from this study provide data and understanding that can be used in further modeling efforts of the F Area groundwater plume. As identified in this study, key geochemical factors affecting basin chemistry and variability included: (1) the nature or chemistry of the waste streams, (2) the open system of the basins, and (3) duration of discharge of the waste stream types. Mixing models of the archetype waste streams indicated that the overall basin system would likely remain acidic much of the time. Only an extended periods of predominantly alkaline waste discharge (e.g., >70% alkaline waste) would dramatically alter the average pH of wastewater entering the basins. Short term and long term variability were evaluated by performing multiple stepwise modeling runs to calculate the oscillation of bulk chemistry in the basins in response to short term variations in waste stream chemistry. Short term (1/2 month and 1 month) oscillations in the waste stream types only affected the chemistry in Basin 1; little variation was observed in Basin 2 and 3. As the largest basin, Basin 3 is considered the primary source to the groundwater. Modeling showed that the fluctuation in chemistry of the waste streams is not directly representative of the source term to the groundwater (i.e. Basin 3). The sequence of receiving basins and the large volume of water in Basin 3 'smooth' or nullify the short term variability in waste stream composition. As part of this study, a technically-based 'charge-balanced' nominal source term chemistry was developed for Basin 3 for a narrow range of pH (2.7 to 3.4). An example is also provided of how these data could be used to quantify uncertainty over the long term variations in waste stream chemistry and hence, Basin 3 chemistry.

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  • Report No.: SRNL-STI-2012-00269
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • DOI: 10.2172/1039986 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1039986
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc839417

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  • May 8, 2012

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 9, 2016, 11:38 p.m.

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Millings, M.; Denham, M. & Looney, B. GEOCHEMICAL MODELING OF F AREA SEEPAGE BASIN COMPOSITION AND VARIABILITY, report, May 8, 2012; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc839417/: accessed May 20, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.