Tritium Transport at the Rulison Site, a Nuclear-stimulated Low-permeability Natural Gas Reservoir

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies conducted a program in the 1960s and 1970s that evaluated technology for the nuclear stimulation of low-permeability natural gas reservoirs. The second project in the program, Project Rulison, was located in west-central Colorado. A 40-kiltoton nuclear device was detonated 2,568 m below the land surface in the Williams Fork Formation on September 10, 1969. The natural gas reservoirs in the Williams Fork Formation occur in low permeability, fractured sandstone lenses interbedded with shale. Radionuclides derived from residual fuel products, nuclear reactions, and activation products were generated as a result of ... continued below

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Cooper, C.; Ye, M. & Chapman, J. April 1, 2008.

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies conducted a program in the 1960s and 1970s that evaluated technology for the nuclear stimulation of low-permeability natural gas reservoirs. The second project in the program, Project Rulison, was located in west-central Colorado. A 40-kiltoton nuclear device was detonated 2,568 m below the land surface in the Williams Fork Formation on September 10, 1969. The natural gas reservoirs in the Williams Fork Formation occur in low permeability, fractured sandstone lenses interbedded with shale. Radionuclides derived from residual fuel products, nuclear reactions, and activation products were generated as a result of the detonation. Most of the radionuclides are contained in a cooled, solidified melt glass phase created from vaporized and melted rock that re-condensed after the test. Of the mobile gas-phase radionuclides released, tritium ({sup 3}H or T) migration is of most concern. The other gas-phase radionuclides ({sup 85}Kr, {sup 14}C) were largely removed during production testing in 1969 and 1970 and are no longer present in appreciable amounts. Substantial tritium remained because it is part of the water molecule, which is present in both the gas and liquid (aqueous) phases. The objectives of this work are to calculate the nature and extent of tritium contamination in the subsurface from the Rulison test from the time of the test to present day (2007), and to evaluate tritium migration under natural-gas production conditions to a hypothetical gas production well in the most vulnerable location outside the DOE drilling restriction. The natural-gas production scenario involves a hypothetical production well located 258 m horizontally away from the detonation point, outside the edge of the current drilling exclusion area. The production interval in the hypothetical well is at the same elevation as the nuclear chimney created by the detonation, in order to evaluate the location most vulnerable to tritium migration.

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  • Report No.: DOE/NV/13609-54
  • Report No.: DOE-LM/1521 2007
  • Report No.: 45224
  • Grant Number: AC01-02GJ79491
  • Grant Number: AC52-00NV13609
  • Grant Number: AC52-06NA26383
  • DOI: 10.2172/927481 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 927481
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc897530

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  • April 1, 2008

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

Description Last Updated

  • Jan. 22, 2018, 1:34 p.m.

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Cooper, C.; Ye, M. & Chapman, J. Tritium Transport at the Rulison Site, a Nuclear-stimulated Low-permeability Natural Gas Reservoir, report, April 1, 2008; Nevada. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc897530/: accessed October 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.