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April 18, 2014
NNSS Groundwater Program Welcomes Peer Review Team
Recently, an independent peer review team was invited to assess the groundwater characterization program at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). This nationally recognized group of experts, from various external organizations, will examine the computer modeling approach developed to better understand how historic underground nuclear testing in Yucca Flat affected the groundwater.
From April 7th to 11th, 2014, five peer reviewers joined the NNSS groundwater team in Las Vegas to participate in technical briefings, working sessions and a tour of Yucca Flat, which was the site of hundreds of underground nuclear tests from 1951 to 1992. To ensure transparency, two members of the public who are with the Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board also attended and observed the peer review process.
Under review is what’s called the Yucca Flat Flow and Transport Model—a set of representations, including complex subsurface geologic models and mathematical models of groundwater flow and contaminant transport. Years of intensive drilling and data collection went into the making of the model. NNSS scientists use such models to analyze the movement of radioactive contaminants in
Peer reviewers representing the fields of geochemistry, radiochemistry, hydrology, hydrogeology and computer modeling are charged with determining the viability of the Yucca Flat model.
"We’re asking the panel to consider these questions," explained Bill Wilborn, Underground Test Area Task Manager. "Does the model adequately account for uncertainty in the natural system and how contamination may be transported within it? Is it a useful tool to aid in regulatory decision making? Is the model sufficient to move forward to the next stage of our negotiated regulatory process, which is continued model evaluation to build confidence that the model is sufficient? And does the model provide a solid basis for long-term monitoring of the natural system and contaminants?"
The peer reviewers will spend the next few weeks exploring these questions and coming up with recommendations. Their report will be completed in the next few months
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Date Last Modified:
April 23, 2014