Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Molasses May Help Hanford Scientists Convert Dangerous Chemicals

By Anna King

Richland, WA October 2, 2007 4:34 p.m.

Officials at Hanford are cooking up a new plan to stop hazardous chemicals from reaching the Columbia River. The plan involves a tanker truck full of molasses.

The water under the Hanford Nuclear Reservation contains large plumes of dangerous chemicals. One is chromium 6. Scientists have tried pumping and treating the stuff but that’s really expensive.

Now they are trying something new. Molasses.

Turns out the same stuff that’s good for making cookies is also good at growing bacteria. Scientists plan to dump a tanker truck load of the sweet molasses down a well.

Mike Thompson is a hydro-geologist with the U.S. Department of Energy. He says once the molasses eating bacteria dies off...

Mike Thompson: "The decomposition of that biomass will take the oxygen out of the water and when you take the oxygen out of the water you get the geo-chemical reaction that converts the chromium to a safer form."

The $1.5 million molasses project is part of an increased effort by DOE to clean up contaminates heading for the Columbia River.

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