U.S. Department of Energy officials have released a new plan to address mercury contamination at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee and Savannah River Site in South Carolina. It advocates for research and the development of technologies that could resolve key technical uncertainties with mercury in environmental remediation, the deactivation and decommissioning of facilities, and processing waste in tanks.
The Oak Ridge Reservation and Savannah River Site both used mercury in industrial-scale processes. At the Oak Ridge Reservation, large quantities of mercury were used at the Y-12 National Security Complex from the early 1950s until the early 1960s. During the peak period of operations, according to estimates from the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM, 700,000 pounds of a total 20 million pounds of mercury that were used were released into the surrounding environment.
Ongoing mercury abatement and remediation efforts at Y-12 that began in the 1980s have decreased overall mercury releases to the environment, the DOE Office of Environmental Management, or EM, said in a May 31 newsletter.
But elevated concentrations remain in certain water, soil, and facilities, federal officials said. [Read more…]