Cleaning up environmental impacts from Cold War operations is a main focus of U.S. Department of Energy operations at the Savannah River Site, located in Aiken. When nature helps with the cleanup, tax dollars are saved.
A South Carolina State University research team headed by Dr. John B. Williams, professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences, is playing a vital role in determining nature’s effectiveness in this cleanup, called “natural attenuation.”
DOE and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions announced the new award of a $225,000 contract to S.C. State to continue this work.
S.C. State monitoring data has been called “very valuable” for SRS efforts to document regulatory compliance to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
EPA has endorsed the sampling quality by Williams and views the S.C. State team as an “objective third party” in monitoring environmental progress at SRS, according to an S.C. State release.
S.C. State monitors the natural removal of volatile organic compounds along the plume fringe from a waste site linked to the EPA-designated Superfund program.
An additional benefit of this DOE-S.C. State collaborative effort is the hands-on training received by student interns.
Williams reports that, after the past three summers, five interns have been hired by the same Greenville environmental engineering firm. Other interns have advanced to positions with federal agencies including the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Current interns continue to learn from real-world applications of their classroom training.
Joshua Maxie, a junior nuclear engineering major from Summerville, said, “This work is giving me experience in my desired career field and helps to monitor natural attenuation.”