Environmental Health - Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Mixed radioactive and organic wastes often are disposed in the shallow subsurface in arid regions. Contamination leaks from disposal facilities result in gaseous and water-borne contaminant transport that is unique and varies from accepted theories of contaminant transport. As a result, there are concerns for management of existing leaks and plans for future waste disposal.
The goal of the investigation is to improve understanding of and methods for characterizing the mechanisms that control subsurface migration and fate of radionuclides and volatile organic chemicals in the unsaturated zones of arid environments. A longer-term goal is to assess the actual versus perceived risks of chronic environmental exposures to mixtures of hazardous compounds on the biological community structure.
The research is done at the field test facility the Amargosa Desert Research Site, Nevada. The research site is located at a disposal facility that buried mixed organic and inorganic radioactive wastes in shallow unlined trenches starting in 1962.
Naturally formed perchlorate falls from the atmosphere and accumulates in the soil of a Nevada desert at rates several times greater than previously thought, according to research by USGS and Texas Tech University scientists published in the Journal of Environmental Quality. The study is the first to document how natural perchlorate is ...
Scientists find that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emanating from a closed low-level radioactive waste landfill can migrate over long distances through the unsaturated zone. ...
Visualizing Potential Contamination Pathways in the Subsurface, USGS scientists developed non-invasive methods to identify potential pathways, such as faults, fractures, and gravel beds. ...
Access to publications from this investigation.
A collection of photos illustrating this investigation's activities.
The ADRS research team maintains its own home page that contains additional information about the ADRS.