Engineers working with the City of Brookfield in Wisconsin have developed a process for cleaning underground wells of potentially unhealthy radium using a solution that includes tonnes of common salt, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The process is based on the theory that deposits of radium molecules can be displaced by saltwater solution and then pumped out of the aquifer and disposed of. Between 50 and 100 wells in the state are expected fail to comply with new radium standards due to come into effect next year.

Brookfield officials and engineering company Ruekert-Mielke hope to test the concept this spring by pumping 600,000 gallons of water and 24 tonnes of salt down an affected well, at a cost of US$25,000. The process would take only a couple of days, and would need to be repeated every five to ten years.

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