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Environmental Restoration Program

 

The Environmental Restoration Program is responsible for carrying out the cleanup actions outlined in the past 25 records of decision under the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order. The program also ensures institutional controls (such as monitoring, fencing, and other environmental protection measures) are carried out while the DOE’s Idaho Site remains on the National Priorities List of Superfund Sites.  After cleanup actions are complete, the program conducts five-year reviews to ensure protective measures are still effective. The program can also launch environmental investigations of potentially new, previously unidentified sites to properly assess whether those sites pose an unacceptable risk to people or the environment.

A large part of the Environmental Restoration Program’s responsibilities is the protection of the Snake River Plain Aquifer. An active groundwater treatment system is in operation near the former Test Area North where a pump-and-treat system removes contaminants from the aquifer, while another project introduces food-grade whey into the aquifer to encourage microorganisms to “feed” on the solvent constituents present in the groundwater. Another treatment system within the Subsurface Disposal Area of the Radioactive Waste Management Complex uses vapor vacuum extraction technology to draw organic vapors from the ground and destroy them at the surface through catalytic oxidation units. Since 1996, these systems have removed more than 246,000 pounds of solvent vapors from the ground, preventing them from reaching the aquifer.