This paper describes the results of a study to determine the geologic and hydrologic factors that control migration of tritium from a closed, low-level radioactive-waste disposal site. The disposal site, which operated from 1943 to mid1949, contains waste generated by research activities at the world's first nuclear reactors. Tritium has migrated horizontally at least 1,300 feet northward in glacial drift and more than 650 feet in the underlying dolomite. Thin, gently sloping sand layers in an otherwise clayey glacial drift are major conduits for ground-water flow and tritium migration in a perched zone beneath the disposal site. Tritium concentrations in the drift beneath the disposal site exceed 100,000 nanocuries per liter. Regional horizontal joints in the dolomite are enlarged by solution and are the major conduits for ground-water flow and tritium migration in the dolomite. A weathered zone at the top of the dolomite also is a pathway for tritium migration. The maximum measured tritium concentration in the dolomite is 29.4 nanocuries per liter. Fluctuations of tritium concentration in the dolomite are the result of dilution by seasonal recharge from the drift.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Tritium migration from a low-level radioactive-waste disposal site near Chicago, Illinois