During the 45 years of plutonium production at Hanford, waste water was being dumped on or injected into the ground. We oversee the monitoring and cleanup of contaminated water underground, or groundwater, on the Hanford site.
Today at the 580-square-mile Hanford site, the water under 60 square miles is still contaminated beyond safe drinking water limits. We continue to monitor the water and the treatment activities to limit the amount of contamination entering the Columbia River.
The primary contaminants of concern include uranium, technetium-99, iodine-129, tritium, carbon tetrachloride, hexavalent chromium, and strontium-90. Nitrate contamination is also widespread. While plutonium might be present in a few sites at very low levels, it’s not considered a major contaminant.