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Environmental Sustainability Division

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Vadose Zone Transport Field Studies

The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Hanford Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative has funded research to reduce uncertainties associated with vadose zone transport processes beneath waste sites at DOE's Hanford Site. The Vadose Zone Transport Field Study (VZTFS) is an S&T activity with an objective of providing a systematic set of field tests to assess contaminant plume migration in the Hanford vadose zone. A second objective is to assess advanced characterization tools for vadose zone plume detection with emphasis on minimally intrusive geophysical tools and those that take advantage of the existing infrastructure of steel-cased wells using tomography and related methods.

Vadose Zone Hydrologic Characterization

DOE, through its Office of Science and Technology, Subsurface Contamination Focus Area has funded research activities related testing and deployment of vadose zone instrumentation. Studies at the Hanford Site include development and deployment of advanced tensiometers, water flux meters and other vadose-zone instruments (e.g., water content and soil water pressure sensors and solution samplers). Activities related to the deployment of advanced tensiometers at the Hanford Site and the development and deployment of a water-flux meter for monitoring waste site drainage are described in links on this web page. Examples are also provided of active data retrieval for soil-water-balance parameters (precipitation, water storage, drainage) from the Hanford 300 N Vadose Zone Field Site, where over 20 years of data have been collected.

In FY 2001, the purpose of the Tank Leak Detection Demonstration (TLDD) project supported system designs for leak detection, monitoring and mitigation. Five geophysical technologies, previously tested for plume migration (under the VZTFS work), have been selected for testing the proof-of-concept for tank leaks in the Hanford vadose zone. For more information on the specific technologies, test plans, and contractor reports that support the TLDD project.

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