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Hanford Barriers

The main function of a surface barrier is to ensure that buried wastes are contained and protected from environmental and biotic forces. Surface barriers have been identified as a critical component in management of buried wastes and other sources of subsurface contamination. Barrier technology, particularly for long-term deployment, remains largely unproven at the field scale. For this reason, the single greatest research and development need related to the use of surface barrier technology in managing hazardous wastes is to document field performance and case histories.

The Prototype Surface Barrier program was initiated at the Hanford Site in the mid-1980s as a result of recommendations from the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Hanford Defense High-Level, Transuranic, and Tank Wastes. The barrier program was organized to develop the technology for permanent, long-term containment of near-surface radioactive waste. After nearly 10 years of research, a multi-layered earthen barrier was developed, and a prototype barrier was constructed in 1994 over an existing waste site (crib B-57 in the 200 BP1-Operable Unit in the 200 East Area near the BY tank farm). Testing for complete water balance, including accurately measured drainage from cover and sideslopes was started in October 1994 and has been ongoing since that time.

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