Discipline: Ecology Environmental and Earth Sciences
Subcategory: Geosciences and Earth Sciences
Alexander Torres - Texas Southern University
Co-Author(s): Maruthi Bhaskar
Bear Creek, a small stream that flows approximately 12.9 km, originated inside the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), Tennessee, is contaminated by toxins from waste management and disposal activities associated with the Y-12 National Security complex (NSC). Since the early 1940s, Mercury (Hg) waste was generated from Uranium and Plutonium processing at Y-12 which contributed to the contamination of soil, surface and ground water resources. The Hg was the major element used in the enrichment process and at that time it was not considered a hazardous material, so due to the waste management approaches utilized, large amounts of Hg was introduced into the surrounding environment along with many other radioactive substances and chemicals throughout the years. The objective of this research was to analyze historical mercury contamination and bioaccumulation trends in various fish in Bear Creek data that was collected over the last 30 years. The historical data of Bear Creek was downloaded from Oak Ridge Environmental Information System (OREIS) database. OREIS, a data management system was designed to meet environmental data management, analysis, storage, and dissemination needs to comply with federal and state regulatory agreements for the DOE’s facilities operated by various contractors. The long term datasets were then analyzed in Microsoft Excel, spreadsheet software, according to the fish species, sampling location and date of collection. The data was then plotted into graphs to identify the trends in bioaccumulation of contaminates at various sites. Of the four fish examined in Bear Creek, only Redbreast sunfish and Rock bass showed significant accumulation of Hg and Methyl Hg while the Creek Chub and Central stone roller showed lower concentrations. The Redbreast sunfish and Rock bass showed Hg levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guideline of 0.3 ppm of Hg for multiple years. A geospatial database of Hg accumulation in Bear Creek is currently being developed, with focus on the effectiveness of remedial actions against Hg in Bear Creek.
Funder Acknowledgement(s): I would like to thank Oak Ridge National lab for facilitating the research. I would also like to thank my ORNL host Mark Bevelhimer. This research was primarily supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the Texas Southern University (TSU) under the award number HRD-1400962
Faculty Advisor: Maruthi Sridhar B. Bhaskar,