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Providing environmentally acceptable and safe residuals handling and disposal method is essential when treating radioactive contaminants such as radium, uranium, and radon from drinking water. A new radionuclides rule was recently enacted and in the near future a new radon MCL will become promulgated. These new rules will require many water systems to install sophisticated treatment systems to meet the drinking water standards. Trace amounts of radioactive substances may be removed and concentrated in the residuals stream in these processes. The concentrations in the residuals streams may pose a concern with environmental regulations and worker safety issues due to radiation exposure. Additionally, many water treatment processes that were not designed to remove radioactive contaminants achieve incidental reductions of such contaminants; these include conventional treatment, IX, lime softening, membranes, and GAC. Aeration systems designed to remove volatile organic contaminants will also incidentally remove radon. Concerns over environmental compliance and worker safety exist for these facilities as well.

This paper discusses the key findings from American Water Works Association Research Foundation (AwwaRF) project 2695, Management of the Disposal of Radioactive Residuals from Drinking Water Treatment, particularly with respect to radium removal. For each of the major radium removal technologies that are either in use or anticipated to be in use for treating radionuclides, flow chart guidance was developed to assist utilities in developing optimal disposal methods for these residuals. Additionally, incidental removal radionuclides that may pose disposal concerns are also addressed. In general, the research conducted under this project indicated that were no significant disposal issues or concerns associated with these residuals, and it was recommended that utilities take sufficient precautionary steps to document their practices.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-01-01

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