Idaho Aquifer Decline Could Hinder Radioactive Monitoring

Jun 29, 2015

Credit inl.gov

Scientists say a continued drop in underground water levels could make it harder to monitor the movement of radioactive contamination in an aquifer below an eastern Idaho nuclear facility.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in a 36-page report released Monday say the Eastern Snake River Plain Aquifer has dropped below two wells and about a dozen more could go dry due to drought.

Scientist Roy Bartholomay says the agency monitors 177 wells within and outside the 890-square-mile U.S. Department of Energy site that sits above the Lake Erie-sized aquifer that supplies much of southern Idaho's water.

Practices in past decades at what is now called the Idaho National Laboratory included pumping radioactive waste underground.

Authorities say the contamination is monitored and isn't a threat to human health.