Groundwater transport of strontium 90 in a glacial outwash environment

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



As part of the investigation of groundwater contamination at a uranium-scrap recovery plant at Wood River Junction, Rhode Island, laboratory experiments led to the development of a model for predicting the transport of strontium 90 in glacial outwash sediments based on an approximate mechanism for ion exchange. The multicomponent system was simplified to two components by regarding all exchangeable cations other than strontium 90 as a single component. The binary ion-exchange parameter was a function of the variable, total ion concentration. A one-dimensional solute transport model was formulated to evaluate the time necessary for natural groundwater flow to remove the strontium 90 contamination plume from the groundwater system to the Pawcatuck River. The finite difference transport equations were solved sequentially for total ion concentrations, then strontium 90 concentrations. Clay-free quartz and feldspar sands at the study site have little potential for strontium 90 sorption, and high calcium, magnesium, and sodium concentrations compete for the few ion exchange sites. As the total ion concentration plume moves out of the system, ion exchange of strontium 90 increases, reducing the strontium 90 concentration in the groundwater. Cleanout times predicted using the binary ion exchange mechanism were about two thirds of those predicted using a constant distribution coefficient. It is suggested that this type of model can simulate solute transport more realistically in many groundwater systems where the total ion concentration is not constant.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Groundwater transport of strontium 90 in a glacial outwash environment
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/WR022i004p00519
Volume 22
Issue 4
Year Published 1986
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 12 p.
First page 519
Last page 530
Country United States
State Rhode Island
City Wood River Junction