Surface Water Remediation

The Challenge of Surface Water Remediation

Water Policy Boundary

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) has been enriching uranium for over 6 decades.  Previously, from 1943 to 1945, the site housed the Kentucky Ordinance Works (KOW), a World War II ammunition plant.  

The PGDP lies within approximately 740 fenced acreage, 3 miles south of the Ohio River.  The property surrounding the plant is either owned or leased by the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife for the Western Kentucky Wildlife Management Area (WKWMA).  

Due to the extensive operation, the PGDP discharges storm water runoff and treated wastewater to both the Little Bayou and Bayou Creeks.  Effluent from the PGDP is a major source of flow for these creeks.  Both creeks flow into a northerly direction.  Little Bayou is a cotributory to the Bayou creek and the Bayou creek runs through the WKWMA and private, mostly agricultural property before discharging into the Ohio River.

Legacy contaminated runoff, metal in processed wastewater, surface water runoff, and groundwater infiltration attributed to processing and storage activities are the predominate health concern of the creeks.  Contaminated groundwater infiltration has been detected in Bayou creek north of the PGDP toward the Ohio River; see the Groundwater and Hydrogeology project for more information.

In order to further address the issue of a pollutant allowable limit, pollutant source, pollutant concentrations, pollutant migration, and to study possible scenarios, a hydrologic characterization model needed to be constructed.  Therefore monitoring, documenting, recording and collecting present and historic data was required, such as:

predominant soil series
  • PGDP effluent, amount and content
  • stream sampling
  • surface runoff
  • stream flows
  • stream slopes
  • hydrology & erosion
  • ground elevations
  • stream discharge, amount and content
  • precipitation history
  • soil permeability
  • soil erodibility


  • Prevent human exposure to contaminated sediments presenting an unacceptable risk to on-site workers and off-site recreational users of surface water
  • Prevent or minimize further off-site migration of contaminated sediments and surface water
  • Reduce, control, or minimize contaminant sources contributing to sediment and surface water contamination
  • Evaluate and select long-term solutions for off-site surface water contamination to protect recreational users and ecological receptors