Cleanup of a hazardous chemical called hexavalent chromium in the groundwater at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeast Washington is going faster than expected.
Hexavalent chromium is the nasty stuff that made Erin Brockovich famous down in California. The chemical was used to inhibit rust in coolant water in Hanford’s reactors. But that water was dumped into the desert, and now the cancer-causer is making its way toward the Columbia River in large groundwater plumes.
The Hanford contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company has made its five pump-and-treat water plants more efficient over the last few years. So the company has removed about 500 pounds of hexavalent chromium already this fiscal year.
“It’s important to the Columbia River, it’s important to the aquatic life that’s in the Columbia River, and it’s a major success,” says spokeswoman Dee Millikin.
Hexavalent chromium is so toxic it only takes about a grain of salt’s worth to contaminate eight gallons of water above federal standards.
On the Web:
Chromium in drinking water - Environmental Protection Agency