Quest for the Perfect Cap

by N. Richard Wing, P.E., Westinghouse Hanford Co., Richland, Wash.,
Glendon W. Gee, Sr. Staff Scientist; Pacific Northwest Laboratory, Richland, Wash.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 10, Pg. 38-41

Document Type: Feature article


Exhuming and treating wastes may not always be the most effective way to remediate a site. In some cases, in-place disposal with a protective cap offers the best protection for human health and the environment. This is especially true of Department of Energy (DOE) sites where radioactive wastes may be better left undisturbed. Yet in-place disposal requires a protective covering that can guarantee isolation of the wastes for centuries. No proven long-term barrier currently exists, but a recently constructed 5 acre prototype barrier may be just a cap. Since 1985, a team of engineers and scientists on the Hanford site permanent Isolation Surface Barrier Development Program have been working to create a cover that could isolate wastes at DOE's Hanford site near Richland, Wash. for 1,000 years. At Hanford, a cap is needed to isolate single-shell tank wastes, transuranic-contaminated soil sites and sites where transuranic solid wastes are buried. The development team includes engineers and scientists from Westinghouse Hanford Co. and the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, both of Richland. They will monitor the cap over the next 3 to 5 years.

Subject Headings: Waste sites | Public health and safety | Solid wastes | Waste treatment | Remediation | Radioactive wastes | Waste disposal | Solid mechanics

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