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In addition to the radioactive waste for which the Savannah River Site is famous, there have been tons of potentially toxic heavy metals and thousands of gallons of organic solvents discarded on the Site, much of it in unlined ditches or in constructed depressions called seepage basins. With little containment many of these toxins have reached the groundwater and some have reached Four Mile Branch. The DOE is attempting to monitor the migration of the toxins and to slow their contamination of both the groundwater and the surface water on the Site.
Since the heavy metal contamination on the Site has not received as much attention as the radioactive contamination, the Savannah Riverkeeper has examined the migration of these metals into the mobile biosphere by analyzing heavy metal concentrations in several animal species. Comparisons have been made between animals that have been exposed to waters on the Site with animals from similar habitats but not exposed to the waters from the Site.
Results of these studies indicate that migration of the heavy metals from the Site in animal species is not currently a serious problem. However, the quantity of uncontained metals discarded on the Site and their presence in the groundwater is cause for concern. The Savannah Riverkeeper recommends that monitoring of the waters and the local biosphere be continued indefinitely or until such time as the Site is cleaned up and the metals disposed of properly.
nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons testing, environment, non-governmental organizations, United States Department of Energy, tribal governments, environmental cleanup, radioactive fallout, radioactive waste
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Carl, Frank Ph.D. and Savannah Riverkeeper, "Heavy Metal Migration from the Savannah River Site" (2007). Savannah Riverkeeper. 1.