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In December 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) mandated a set of more-restrictive maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for certain radionuclides in drinking water (The Radionuclide Rule), which include the following limits.

Radionuclide MCL
Radium-226 + Radium-228 5 pCi/L
Uranium 30 ug/L (ppb)
Gross alpha radiation 15 pCi/L
Beta/photon emitters 4 mrem/yr

These radionuclides are closely related and a comprehensive analysis that includes all these needs to be considered in any project that involves radionuclide treatment. States which had grandfathered data collection programs (primarily for radium) already under way, reached the deadline of the initial compliance monitoring in December 2003. Water providers in those states who haven't solved their radium issues are mostly likely operating under consent compliance decrees. The remaining states with radium issues and those with uranium issues have until December 2007 to complete their compliance monitoring. The start of the first compliance year begins January 2008. In the rush for water providers to come into compliance with the Radionuclide Rule, municipalities are relying on existing technologies such as Ion Exchange, precipitation with Hydrous Manganese Oxide, Reverse Osmosis, and Radium/Uranium-Selective/Absorptive Medias to remove the contaminants. Communities that draw water from radionuclide-contaminated aquifers need to understand the requirements, impacts, and unintended consequences of the radionuclide removal and disposal and the unique differences of each technology with respect residuals generation. Many of these communities are experiencing population growth that will require increased groundwater pumping and dependence on the radionuclide-contaminated aquifers. This paper will review the potential impacts and unintended consequences of disposing of radioactive water treatment residuals resulting from meeting the USEPA mandate. The paper concludes with a brief case study.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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