Environmental Health and Remediation
Prior waste generation activities dating back to the 1940's nuclear weapons mission paired with the impact of contaminants in the environment have resulted in the necessary ability to make critical cleanup decisions. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory develops and delivers science-based and risk-informed solutions to make water, soil, and air cleaner. Our goal is to enable cleanup for complex challenges in waste processing and environmental remediation and stewardship with a depth of expertise and objectivity that promotes public confidence in the country's ability to manage the nuclear legacy and achieve environmental protection.
To achieve this, we are integrating our fundamental science-based understanding with applied research to deliver systems-based solutions. Our approaches enable predictive understanding of system performance for managing and monitoring residual DOE tank waste, waste processing, immobilization and disposal, environmental remediation, restoration, and stewardship (see interactive web feature). Equally important, we facilitate interactions with stakeholders, regulators, and the public by providing scientific and technical understanding necessary to provide solutions and inform the risks, liabilities, and economics of complex cleanup challenges as the nation strives to achieve environmental protection.
The Environmental Health and Remediation focus areas include: Chemical and Nuclear Processing, Subsurface Science and Engineering, Energy-Water Nexus, Radiation Measurements and Irradiation, Climate Change Modeling and Decision Science, Landscape Scale Management and Resilient Coastal Systems.
How might old—really old—glass immobilize radioactive waste at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state? Researchers are seeking answers from walls containing ancient glass in Europe. These walls, known as hillforts, are defense structures that date as far back as the Bronze Age.
Based on results from a recent PNNL study, the DOE now has strong evidence that the heating and cooling system at the Hanford Tank Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant will safely cool the radioactive waste glass produced at its Low-Activity Waste and High-Level Waste Vitrification Facilities. What's more, DOE may be able to boost glass production rates, which in turn could shorten the mission life of the multi-billion dollar plant.
A decades-long study by PNNL and collaborators of a surface cover for isolating underlying waste from intrusion and reducing or stopping the movement of precipitation into the waste beneath shows promising results for use at DOE's Hanford Site.