An investigation of shallow ground-water quality near East Fork Poplar Creek, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4219




Alluvial soils of the flood plain of East Fork Poplar Creek in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, are contaminated with mercury and other metals, organic compounds, and radio-nuclides originating from the Y-12 Plant, a nuclear-processing facility located within the U.S. Department of Energy 's Oak Ridge Reservation. Observation wells were installed in the shallow aquifer of the flood plain, and water quality samples were collected to determine if contaminants are present in the shallow groundwater. Groundwater in the shallow aquifer occurs under water-table conditions. Recharge is primarily from precipitation and discharge is to East Fork Poplar Creek. Groundwater levels fluctuate seasonally in response to variations in recharge and evapotranspiration. During extremely dry periods, the water table drops below the base of the shallow aquifer in some flood-plain areas. Contaminants found in water samples from several of the wells in concentrations which equaled or exceeded drinking-water standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are antimony, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, phenols, and strontium-90. Total and dissolved uranium concentrations exceeded the analytical detection limit in nearly 70% of the wells in the flood plain. The results of water quality determinations demonstrate that elevated concentrations of most trace metals (and possibly organic compounds and radionuclides) were caused by contaminated sediments in the samples. The presence of contaminated sediment in samples is suspected to be the result of borehole contamination during well installation. (USGS)

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An investigation of shallow ground-water quality near East Fork Poplar Creek, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey ; Copies available from U.S. Geological Survey Books and Open-File Reports Section,
v, 49 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.