Simulating Heterogeneous Infiltration and Contaminant leaching Processes at Chalk River, Ontario

Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Melkamu Alebachew Ali, Andrew M Ireson and Dawn Keim, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
A study is conducted at a waste management area in Chalk River, Ontario to characterize flow and contaminant transport with the aim of contributing to improved hydrogeological risk assessment in the context of waste management. Field monitoring has been performed to gain insights into the unsaturated zone characteristics, moisture dynamics, and contaminant transport rates. The objective is to provide quantitative estimates of surface fluxes (quantification of infiltration and evaporation) and investigations of unsaturated zone processes controlling water infiltration and spatial variability in head distributions and flow rates. One particular issue is to examine the effectiveness of the clayey soil cap installed to prevent infiltration of water into the waste repository and the top sand soil cover above the clayey layer to divert the infiltrated water laterally. The spatial variability in the unsaturated zone properties and associated effects on water flow and contaminant transport observed at the site, have led to a concerted effort to develop improved model of flow and transport based on stochastic concepts. Results obtained through the unsaturated zone model investigations are combined with the hydrogeological and geochemical components and develop predictive tools to assess the long term fate of the contaminants at the waste management site.