Accidental releases of contaminants resulting from the operation of the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration's nuclear-processing and recovery plant located on Rocky Flats will move at different rates through -different parts of the hydrologic system. Rates of movement are dependent upon the magnitude of the accidental release and the hydrologic conditions at the time of the release. For example, during wet periods, a contaminant resulting from a 5,000-gallon (19,000-1itre) release on the land surface would enter the ground-water system in about 2 to 12 hours. Ground-water flow in the Rocky Flats Alluvium might move the contaminant eastward at a rate of about 3 to 11 feet (0.9 to 3.4 metres) per day, if it remains dissolved. Maximum time to a point of discharge would be about 3 years; minimum time could be a few days. A contaminant entering a stream would then move at a rate of about 60 feet (18 metres) per minute under pool-and-riffle conditions. The rate of movement might be about 420 feet (128 metres) per minute under open-channel-flow conditions following intense thunderstorms.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology of a nuclear-processing plant site, Rocky Flats, Jefferson County, Colorado