EM Gets Closer Look at Primary Source of Paducah Groundwater Contamination

For the first time, workers at EM’s Paducah Site are able to closely examine the primary source of off-site groundwater contamination directly underneath the C-400 Cleaning Building.

Previous investigations were limited to activities outside the building. In 2020, Paducah Site deactivation and remediation contractor Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP) completed deactivation of C-400, which involved the removal of equipment and systems no longer needed. This effort paved the way to bring large drilling equipment into the building and drill through the floor into the soil to determine the extent of groundwater contaminant below the structure.

“Being able to expand the investigation to the area beneath the C-400 Cleaning Building helps us to gain a more complete understanding of the full nature and extent of the contamination, all the way down into the aquifer,” said Jennifer Woodard, Paducah Site lead for the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “This knowledge is important to determine a path for future cleanup under the C-400 Complex as well as for groundwater contamination at the site.”

The 350,000-square-foot facility operated from 1952 to 2014. It was used to clean parts and equipment using trichloroethylene, which was a common industrial degreaser discovered contaminating off-site groundwater wells in 1988.

Since investigation fieldwork began in November 2019, EM has installed 18 monitoring wells, and collected more than 325 groundwater samples and more than 2,000 soil samples as part of the ongoing investigation. What EM learns from this investigation will help the cleanup program determine options for future cleanup. EM expects to complete the investigation fieldwork in 2022.

“Deactivation played a pivotal role in DOE’s ability to further evaluate the soils under the C-400 Cleaning Building,” FRNP Program Manager Myrna Redfield said. “We continue the investigation in order to determine future actions that are protective of the environment and the public.”