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Nuclear site cleanup efforts paying off for East Idaho aquifer

Scientists say a giant aquifer below an eastern Idaho federal nuclear facility is as free of radioactive contamination and other pollutants as it has been in more than six decades of monitoring but that the water level is at the lowest level ever recorded.

United States Geological Survey scientist Roy Bartholomay says better environmental practices and cleanup work at the 890-square-mile U.S. Department of Energy site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory is paying off.

The U.S. Geological Survey report released earlier this week is based on samples taken over a four-year span from the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer that supplies cities and farms in the region.

Officials say contamination from the federal site built in high-desert sagebrush steppe reached the aquifer through injection wells, unlined pits and accidental spills.

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