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Environ Pollut. 2011 Jan;159(1):219-228. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2010.09.009.

History of mercury use and environmental contamination at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.

Author information

1
Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, P.O. Box 2008, MS 6038, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6038, USA. Electronic address: brookssc@ornl.gov.
2
Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, P.O. Box 2008, MS 6038, Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6038, USA.

Abstract

Between 1950 and 1963 approximately 11 million kilograms of mercury (Hg) were used at the Oak Ridge Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12 NSC) for lithium isotope separation processes. About 3% of the Hg was lost to the air, soil and rock under facilities, and East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC) which originates in the plant site. Smaller amounts of Hg were used at other Oak Ridge facilities with similar results. Although the primary Hg discharges from Y-12 NSC stopped in 1963, small amounts of Hg continue to be released into the creek from point sources and diffuse contaminated soil and groundwater sources within Y-12 NSC. Mercury concentration in EFPC has decreased 85% from ∼2000 ng/L in the 1980s. In general, methylmercury concentrations in water and in fish have not declined in response to improvements in water quality and exhibit trends of increasing concentration in some cases.

PMID:
20889247
DOI:
10.1016/j.envpol.2010.09.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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