Berkeley Lab Contracted to Decontaminate Airforce Base

Berkeley Lab Contracted to Decontaminate Airforce Base

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with two other organizations, were awarded an $869,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to assist in the cleanup of an airforce base.

The Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program granted funds to the lab to monitor contamination at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming using geophysical imaging technology.

The base was once used to manufacture military equipment. The chlorine solvents and other chemicals used in cleaning this equipment were allowed to drain into the soil and groundwater, leading to contamination, said Robert Kelley, vice president of technology development at Regenesis, another organization involved in the project.

Regenesis hopes to reduce contamination at the air base site by injecting Hydrogen Release Compound into the groundwater. The organization aims to reduce contamination to 20 parts-per-billion, a level which would no longer be harmful to humans, Kelley said.

Kelley said the compound has been successful in past clean-ups.

"Ultimately, we've been able to reduce contaminants by 100 percent at many sites," he said.

The lab will use its geophysical imaging technology to track the location and impact of the compound after it is injected, said Susan Hubbard, a staff scientist at the lab and head of the environmental remediation program.

While previous technologies involved drilling holes in the ground and taking water samples to assess the content of the water and soil, the lab's imaging methods are noninvasive.

Hubbard cited this as a particular advantage, as drilling holes would alter the environment under observation, potentially leading to skewed data.

Progress on the study will be published next month in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.

The lab has previously received funding from the Department of Defense for its projects, said Anne Andrews, program manager for munitions at the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program for the Department of Defense.

Recently, funding was granted for another project at the air base in which the lab will use electromagnetic imaging technology to distinguish between scrap metal and unexploded ammunition in the ground, Andrews said.


Contact Valerie Woolard at [email protected]

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