Friday, August 11, 2006

IDWR accepting comments on groundwater research

Express Staff Writer

Idaho Department of Water Resources is soliciting feedback on a project at Idaho National Laboratory that would inject a substance into the ground to determine if it can immobilize contaminants.

Researchers hope synthetic polymers—a type of non-reactive plastic—will help stabilize contaminants such as strontium at INL's site in eastern Idaho, as well as around the globe.

"This basic research supports environmental remediation efforts at the INL," Carolyn Mascareñas, environmental compliance director, wrote in a letter to IDWR.

The INL is seeking permits for bromide salt injection into nine existing wells as part of the study. Researchers are also seeking approval for two new wells for the purpose of injecting both bromides and polymers, said Bruce Angle, manager of site-wide environmental support at INL.

"The injection is to study the influence of polymers on water transport, and what effect they would have on bromides," he said, as well as "the interaction of polymers with the groundwater, the contaminants and the behavior of polymer itself."

The technique of using polymers to hold on to the bromide salt or contaminant and prevent it from moving could, if successful, be used for cleanup efforts at INL and elsewhere to stem the flow of contaminants in groundwater.

"It's a step-by-step process to test and demonstrate a technique that can be used to handle various contaminants in the ground," said John Walsh, INL spokesman.

Permits from the Idaho Department of Water Resources are required whenever anything is injected into a well.

The IDWR permit could be issued a day, weeks or months after the public comment period ends, depending on the questions that arise during that process.

"When an application is made and during the public comment period, our people are conducting their investigation at the same time," said Mike Keckler, spokesman for Idaho Department of Water Resources. "Sometimes they can approve them a day later. It depends of what sort of questions are raised."

Comments will be taken 30 days from date of publication in the newspaper of record—in this case, the Arco Advertiser. IDWR is awaiting an affidavit of publication, but estimates are that the comment period runs through August.

Send comments regarding the well use application to: Water Director Karl Dreher, Idaho Department of Water Resources, 322 E. Front St., P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0098, or e-mail at

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