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The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) Paul M. Bertsch Director

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Presentation on theme: "The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) Paul M. Bertsch Director"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) Paul M. Bertsch Director

2 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) History  Founded by Eugene P. Odum of the University of Georgia in 1951 with AEC funding.  Historical and recent research focus: Baseline ecological studies Radiation effects Thermal ecology Fate and effects of environmental contaminants Ecological risk assessment Environmental remediation and restoration Ecotoxicology Biogeochemistry  UGA has operated SREL continuously for 50 years M&O contract SREL founded 2003 Office of Science Funding 1985–2002: SRS funding 1951–1990: funding from Office of Science 1996 Coop. Agreement

3 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL Location: Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC

4 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL Mission and Vision Mission: To provide an independent evaluation of the ecological effects of Savannah River Site operations through a program of ecological research, education, and outreach. Vision: SREL will be recognized internationally for integrated multidisciplinary research in the ecological and environmental sciences.

5 Implementation  An integrated multidisciplinary program of field and laboratory research conducted largely on the SRS and published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. >2,600 publications to date >55 books to date  Education and research training for undergraduate and graduate students ~ 300 theses and dissertations >600 undergraduate research participants  Service to the community through environmental outreach activities. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

6 SREL Administration and Staffing ~150 people are currently employed by SREL ** ** Includes personnel funded on external grants  SREL is a Research Unit of The University of Georgia.  SREL Director reports to: UGA Vice President for Research DOE OBER-ERSD SRS Assistant Manager for Environmental Programs, Science and Technology  SREL faculty are evaluated according to UGA’s tripartite mission of teaching, research, and service. management &

7 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory UGA Investment in SREL  Seven faculty hold 0.51 EFT tenure track appointments with UGA.  UGA charges an overhead rate of 11%.  SREL receives state funds from UGA to purchase vehicles, instrumentation, equipment, and student support.  UGA conference center.

8  Research contributing to: Understanding ecological processes and principles Ecological risk assessments Understanding the fate and effects of environmental contaminants Enhancing environmental remediation and restoration activities  Communicating this knowledge to the scientific community, SRS contractors, and the general public. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL Responsibilities Under the Cooperative Agreement (CA)

9 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory Other Responsibilities under the CA  Conduct public outreach and communication programs focused on SRS environments and SREL research.  Maintain ecological data for use by others.  Promote SRS as a National Environmental Research Park (NERP) and oversee the 30 DOE Research Set-Aside Areas (~5,700 ha).  Serve as a resource for scientific expertise and environmental research opportunities on the SRS.  Work closely with SRS personnel in making decisions on land and facilities management.  Operate and maintain SREL facilities safely and securely (~100,000 ft 2 at 4 locations).

10 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL’s Basic Ecological Studies…  Have generated long-term databases that contribute to understanding how and why ecosystems change under natural and disturbed conditions.  Provide benchmark information for assessing impacts of disturbance and contamination, and the efficacy of environmental remediation activities.  Contribute site-specific information for use in ecological risk assessments, which reduces uncertainties in estimating risk and potentially the costs of remediation.  Are recognized by numerous federal agencies and private organizations for their value.

11 An Integrated Approach sediment geochemistry detritivores aqueous phase speciation solid phase speciation plants microbes detritus detritivores aquatic habitats higher trophic levels insectivores herbivores omnivores carnivores

12 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL’s research integrating molecular environmental science (MES), molecular biology, and ecological processes has…  Employed novel analytical methods Synchrotron-based and other in situ spectroscopic methods Hyphenated techniques for chemical speciation DNA analyses GIS/spatial informatics Ni U Ca Fe DGGE of PCR-amplified 16s rRNA gene fragments of Ni-resistant isolates and microbial communities from contaminated samples. 40% 60% ABCDEF SXRF and XANES characterization of SP1Z1 thin-section. Habitat- based model of hog distribution on SRS.

13 SREL’s research integrating molecular environmental science (MES), molecular biology, and ecological processes has…  Developed novel conceptual approaches Integration across scales (molecular to landscape) Defining appropriate endpoints for risk assessment Population level effects (vs. individual) incorporating life history, behavior, and evolutionary biology Models that reduce the uncertainty associated with ecological and human health risk calculations Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

14 SREL’s Integration into Savannah River Site Operations  SREL maintains long-term ecological research programs on the SRS: Threatened and Endangered species Wetlands and riparian zones, including a major focus on wetland restoration Fauna and flora of the SRS Fate and effects of contaminants in the environment  Outreach and communication with other site personnel and the public.  Task-funded research that facilitates the environmental remediation and closure missions of the site.  SREL serves as a conduit for researchers from around the world to conduct research on the SRS.

15 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL’s Integration into SRS Operations  SREL products have significantly improved remediation and land management activities. GIS-based habitat map GIS-based maps of wildlife receptor species for ER use  SREL peer-reviewed publications are valuable resources for SRS personnel. SREL personnel authored 86% of the original peer- reviewed references in the site document SRS Ecology: Environmental Information Document, the benchmark document used for environmental reports on the SRS  SREL scientists interface with site personnel to influence management decisions.  SREL research provided the science that supported the decision not to drain and remediate the Par Pond reservoir, but rather to repair the dam and retain the reservoir at full pool, saving ~$1 B in clean-up costs (from Waste to Wilderness, R.H. Nelson, 2001)

16 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory On-going Environmental Remediation Research at SREL  In situ immobilization  Bioremediation  Phytoremediation  Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA)  Development of novel methods in risk assessment  Restoration of impacted ecosystems  Development and application of novel methods and applications

17 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL Education Program  Graduate Education Program Almost 300 theses and dissertations have been completed by students from throughout the U.S. and abroad. SREL graduate students have received more than 125 awards from scientific societies and foundations.  Undergraduate Education Program SREL has had NSF funding for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) almost continuously since Over 600 undergraduates representing all 50 states have participated in SREL-sponsored research to date. REU participants have authored more than 140 scientific papers. Since 1995, 80% of SREL REU participants have gone on to pursue careers in science.

18 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL Environmental Outreach Program  Integrates SREL research into presentations for the general public.  Provides hands-on classroom and field experience for students.  Conducts teacher workshops and provides educational materials.  SREL conducted more than 300 talks and 50 workshops in FY02, reaching over 41,000 people.

19 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory SREL’s Role in ERSD  Conducts integrated, multidisciplinary, multi-scale research in areas such as bioremediation, phytoremediation, in situ stabilization, monitored natural attenuation, and environmental restoration.  Develops and applies new analytical methods and conceptual approaches to risk assessment and environmental remediation.  Communicates research results to a diverse audience, including DOE and contractor management, the scientific community, regulators, and the general public.  Can become a model organization within ERSD for how scientific research can be integral to environmental remediation and risk assessment activities.

20 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory “ Ecological risks are better characterized at the Savannah River Site than at any other DOE installation, due in part to the designation of the site as a national environmental research park and the presence of the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.” Groundwater & Soil Cleanup: Improving Management of Persistent Contaminants Published by the National Research Council, National Academy of Sciences

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22 Process for Selecting a Long-term Environmental Field Research Site at the SRS  May 2002 – Teresa Fryberger visits SREL and SRS and expresses interest in potentially establishing an FRS at the SRS.  June to August 2002 – Processes for selecting candidate FRSs. Committee formed to identify candidate sites: WSRC-SRTC, Bechtel-SR, DOE-SR, SREL/UGA. Selection criteria: Contaminants (U, metals, organics, Cs) and concentrations Site availability/regulatory schedules Background characterization data No solution  September 2002 –Presentation to ERSD by WSRC and SREL/UGA on candidate sites Issues relative to surface vs. subsurface site.

23  September 2002 –ERSD strategic planning workshop identified the need to delineate mechanisms and processes controlling contaminant fate and transport in the shallow subsurface/surface environments.  October 2002 –Decision is made to hold an ERSD- sponsored workshop on the Tims Branch system at the SRS.  March 2003 –Workshop entitled “Research Opportunities for Studies of Contaminant Transport in Fluvial Systems at the Tims Branch-Steed Pond System, Savannah River Site” was held. Attended by ~40 scientists from universities and national labs representing a cross section of new and seasoned NABIR and EMSP PIs ~15 participants from DOE and WSRC

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26 Three breakout groups structured around major categories of processes affecting the fate and transport of radionuclides and metals in riparian systems Three breakout groups structured around major categories of processes affecting the fate and transport of radionuclides and metals in riparian systems:  Soil chemistry, geochemistry, and particle surface chemistry  Transport in fluvial and groundwater systems  Bacterial and plant interactions with contaminants Coupled processes!

27 Summary of Key Research Needs Current Drivers of contaminant Fate and  Current Drivers of contaminant Fate and Transport Transport  Effects of Perturbations  Coupled Processes  Scaling Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

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29 Potential Remediation Strategies and Approaches  Watershed Manipulation  Stabilization  Removal  Monitored Natural Attenuation  Coupled Solutions

30 Major Conclusions /Recommendations for Future ERSD Research Directions  The ERSD program should expand to include research on fate and transport of contaminants in fluvial riparian systems.  The Tims Branch-Steed Pond system represents a good candidate site for research on coupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes controlling the fate and transport of contaminants in highly dynamic fluvial riparian systems.  Potential remediation strategies for contaminants in fluvial riparian systems that would be critical for the successful remediation of these systems were identified.  Integrated multidisciplinary research is needed to increase the understanding of coupled hydro-biogeochemical factors controlling contaminant fate and transport in near surface systems. Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

31 The “suitability” of the TB/SP system as a long-term Field Research Site (FRS)  U-metal contaminated sites are common throughout the U.S.  The pulse release of contaminants and a well- characterized source term provides a near-ideal opportunity to study a number of important processes, including the aging effect and natural attenuation mechanisms in a complex system. These conditions also greatly reduce the uncertainty in applying numerical models to verify/validate coupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes.

32 Savannah River Ecology Laboratory The “suitability” of the TB/SP system (cont.)  Research does not have to start from ground zero because extensive  Research does not have to start from ground zero because extensive background characterization data is already available. he TB-SP system is typical (redox gradients, diverse microbial  The TB-SP system is typical (redox gradients, diverse microbial structure, increased biodiversity, and elevated organic matter concentrations) of riparian zones found in both humid and arid areas.  Site is in a controlled area, limiting human activity and is rich in biodiversity permitting study of transfer contaminants between various trophic levels. The results from this research will  Site is in a controlled area, limiting human activity and is rich in biodiversity permitting study of transfer contaminants between various trophic levels. The results from this research will ultimately be used to reduce the uncertainty associated with ecological and human health risk calculations.

33 Executive Summary Hydrobiogeochemical research in riparian, fluvial, and hyporheic systems represents a unique opportunity to advance science and to accelerate progress toward DOE’s goal of achieving stable, protective, and cost- effective end states.” “ Hydrobiogeochemical research in riparian, fluvial, and hyporheic systems represents a unique opportunity to advance science and to accelerate progress toward DOE’s goal of achieving stable, protective, and cost- effective end states.” “New research challenges and opportunities exist to provide the knowledge-base needed to solve problems related to the remediation and restoration of contaminated riparian corridors “New research challenges and opportunities exist to provide the knowledge-base needed to solve problems related to the remediation and restoration of contaminated riparian corridors” Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

34 Workshop Attendees P. M. Bertsch(SREL/UGA), D. A. Blake(Tulane Univ.), K. Buesseler(Woods Hole), J. Chorover(Univ. Arizona), C. Cooper(INEEL), B. Faison(DOE), T. Fan(UC Davis), A. Felmy(PNNL), S. Fendorf(Stanford), M. Flury(WSU), A.J. Francis(BNL), T. Fryberger(DOE), G. Geesey(INEEL), M. Gilbertson(DOE), M. Heitkamp(WSRC), R. Higashi(UC Davis), B. Honeyman(Colorado School of Mines), J. Hunt(UC Berkeley), J. Icenhower(PNNL), P. Jardine(ORNL), D. Kaplan(WSRC), K. Kemner(ANL), S. Kowall(INEEL), B. Looney(WSRC), D. Lovley(Univ. Mass), J. Miller(Western Carolina Univ.), A. Neal(SREL/UGA), M. Neu(LANL), A. Packman(Northwestern), C. Palmer(INEEL), E. Roden(Univ. Ala.), J. Seaman(UGA), H. Shaw(DOE), C. Sink(DOE), L. Thibodeaux(LSU), M. Thompson(DOE), A. Tompson(LLNL), J. Wan(LBNL), S.Whited(INEEL), J. Zachara(PNNL) and M. Zavarin(LLNL) Savannah River Ecology Laboratory


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