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AUTOMATED LEAK DETECTION OF BURIED TANKS USING GEOPHYSICAL METHODS AT THE HANFORD NUCLEAR SITE

Description: At the Hanford Nuclear Site in Washington State, the Department of Energy oversees the containment, treatment, and retrieval of liquid high-level radioactive waste. Much of the waste is stored in single-shelled tanks (SSTs) built between 1943 and 1964. Currently, the waste is being retrieved from the SSTs and transferred into newer double-shelled tanks (DSTs) for temporary storage before final treatment. Monitoring the tanks during the retrieval process is critical to identifying leaks. An electrically-based geophysics monitoring program for leak detection and monitoring (LDM) has been successfully deployed on several SSTs at the Hanford site since 2004. The monitoring program takes advantage of changes in contact resistance that will occur when conductive tank liquid leaks into the soil. During monitoring, electrical current is transmitted on a number of different electrode types (e.g., steel cased wells and surface electrodes) while voltages are measured on all other electrodes, including the tanks. Data acquisition hardware and software allow for continuous real-time monitoring of the received voltages and the leak assessment is conducted through a time-series data analysis. The specific hardware and software combination creates a highly sensitive method of leak detection, complementing existing drywell logging as a means to detect and quantify leaks. Working in an industrial environment such as the Hanford site presents many challenges for electrical monitoring: cathodic protection, grounded electrical infrastructure, lightning strikes, diurnal and seasonal temperature trends, and precipitation, all of which create a complex environment for leak detection. In this discussion we present examples of challenges and solutions to working in the tank farms of the Hanford site.
Date: March 30, 2011
Creator: S, CALENDINE; JS, SCHOFIELD; MT, LEVITT; JB, FINK & DF, RUCKER
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department