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UNITED STATES MILITARY SOURCE POINTS
U.S. Military: General Bibliography
United States Department of Energy. (June 1996). The
1996 baseline environmental management report (BEMR). Vol. 1-3. Office
of Strategic Planning and Analysis, Office of Environmental Management,
U.S. DOE, Washington, D.C.
Albright, D., et. al. (1992). Facing reality: the future
of the U. S. nuclear weapons complex. Ed. Peter Gray. Tides Foundation,
A comprehensive survey of the major US military source
points of radioactive contamination now under the supervision of the Environmental
Management activities of the Department of Energy as required by the 1995
National Defense Authorization Act as well as other remedial action programs
including the CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation
and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund).
This unpagenated three volume report is approximately
1000 pages and is the most inclusive summary of weapons production source
points of radioactive contamination available from the US government. The
emphasis of this publication is on the annual and total costs for 3 groups
of activities: nuclear material and facilities stabilization, environmental
restoration, and waste management.
This report includes excellent summaries of sites being
remediated under the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978
(UMTRA) as well as the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program
(FUSRAP) 1974. This component of the BEMR addresses those source points
resulting from the mining, milling, and processing of uranium prior to
weapons production which had the greatest impact on the Native American
communities of the American Southwest. This 3 volume report is an excellent
starting point for persons interested in documenting the environmental
impact of this particular component of the arms race. Table 4.1 in Vol.
1 (pg. 4-12 to 4-14) provides a complete list of DOE environmental management
sites in a state by state listing that also includes base case life cycle
cost estimates. A total of 108 sites, all potential source points for the
release of anthropogenic radioactivity, are listed in the BEMR report and
carry life cycle remediation cost estimates of $226,950,000,000.
"Based on definitions contained in regulations, waste
is divided into categories that include high-level, transuranic, mixed
transuranic, low-level, low-level mixed, uranium mill tailings, hazardous,
sanitary, and special case waste." (Vol. 1, pg. 2-4). Mention of greater
than class C wastes (reactor vessel components, highly contaminated resins,
etc.) is avoided.
It is important that this report be evaluated hand in
hand with the latest DOE Integrated Database Report (US Spent Nuclear Fuel
And Radioactive Waste Inventories, Projections and Characteristics), referred
to as IDB in the following comments. High-level waste inventories in the
IDB are noted as of Dec. 31, 1994 at 958.8 million curies at only 4 specific
locations: Savannah River, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Hanford
and the former West Valley, New York reprocessing site. In view of the
missing inventories of spent fuel and high-level waste discussed elsewhere
in this section of RADNET, it is essential that the following footnote
on page 15 in the IDB be noted by anyone concerned about the environmental
remediation of source points of radioactive contamination documented in
this report: "DOE IS UNDERTAKING SEVERAL INITIATIVES TO BETTER DEFINE THE
VOLUMES AND TYPES OF WASTES CURRENTLY IN STORAGE AT ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION
SITES AND THOSE WHICH MAY BE GENERATED DURING FUTURE REMEDIATION ACTIVITIES
ACROSS THE ENTIRE DOE COMPLEX. THIS INFORMATION, WHICH SHOULD BECOME AVAILABLE
IN A FEW YEARS, WILL BE INCLUDED IN FUTURE REVISIONS OF THIS REPORT." (pg.
15). This means that the inventories of high-level waste (958.8 x 106Ci),
transuranic wastes (2.67 x 106Ci), and low-level waste (23.5
x 106Ci) listed in the IBD DO NOT INCLUDE THE HUGE VOLUMES OF
UNCONTAINED WASTES OF EVERY DESCRIPTION GENERATED AND DISCHARGED at the
many DOE environmental restoration sites listed in this publication.
While the IDB provides a preliminary summary of the amounts
(in curies as well as volume, mass and thermal power) of contained
high-level wastes and buried transuranic and low-level waste excluding
uncontained wastes discharged from these DOE EM sites, the baseline Environmental
Management Report contains no inventory of the radioactive content
(in curies) of any wastes being treated at any of the sites in the DOE
With respect to contained high-level wastes the
BEMR makes this comment: "Based on regulatory requirements, liquid high-level
waste must be converted to a durable, stable, solid form for disposal.
The preferred treatment for most high-level waste is vitrification (that
is, mixing liquid high-level waste with glass frit and heating to create
glass that is solidified inside steel canisters). A vitrification facility
at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina recently began operations,
and a facility at the West Valley Demonstration Project in western New
York plans to begin operating in 1996." (Vol. 1, pg. 2-5).
A summary of sites included in the BEMR is located in
Vol. 1, Fig. 3.1, pages 3.6-3.7, and is slightly different from the listing
in Table 4.1. Figure 3.1 lists 150 sites including 3 main catagories: 1.
individually reported sites: 107 including 5 sites with no contamination.
2. aggregated sites: 17, included in the cost estimates of other sites.
3. completed sites: 26.
The most interesting information contained in this report
is summarized in Vol. 1, Table 3.1, page 3.9, "Examples Of Environmental
Media Activities Excluded From The Base Case". A whole series of locations
are listed for which "no feasible remediation approach is available" or
for which "no feasible remedy without causing collateral ecological damage"
are available. These include the Columbia River and the Hanford Reach at
Hanford, White Oak Creek and other locations at Oak Ridge including the
"deep hydrofracture grout sheet", Savannah River Plant lakes, swamps and
ponds, the Great Miami River at the Fernald, Ohio plant, the Snake River
plain aquifer at INEL, assorted Rocky Flats sites, the underground test
areas at the Nevada test site, and the chemical waste landfill ground water
at the Sandia National Laboratory, New Mexico.
In a letter accompanying the receipt of these 3 volumes
at the RADNET office December 9, 1996 and responding to RADNET inquiry
about deep-well injection of high-level waste, the DOE responded "I would
like to emphasize that the Department has never injected high-level radioactive
waste resulting from weapons manufacturing or reprocessing of spent nuclear
fuel. ... There are several sites where low-level and hazardous liquid
wastes were injected as a method of isolated disposal. These are at Test
Area North at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory in Idaho Falls,
Idaho, the Hydrofracturing Facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in
Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and 200 area reverse wells at the Hanford Reservation
in Richland, Washington. ... In addition to the deep-well injection sites
as source points, several sites had shallow burial, seepage basins, or
spray irrigation methods of disposal." William E. Wisenbaker, Director,
Office of Program Integration, Environmental Restoration.
It is the contention of RADNET that, the differential
between the high-level waste derived from low burn-up spent fuel for weapons
production versus that derived from high burn-up spent fuel for commercial
nuclear electricity production not withstanding, there is a discrepancy
in the IDB such that it appears that +/- 4 billion curies of high-level
waste are unaccounted for. The BEMR provides clear evidence of many potential
locations for the uncontained release of these missing wastes; if Mr. Wisenbaker
is correct and no deep well injection of high-level wastes occurred, it
would seem clear that the great majority of the curic inventories of the
missing high-level waste can be accounted for by their dilution and subsequent
reclassification as low-level wastes prior to deep well injection or other
The IDB lists DOE cumulative stored and/or disposed low-level
wastes at 23.5 million curies for all locations except uranium mill tailing
sites (and environmental restoration program wastes). A typical commercial
nuclear reactor contains +/- 4 million curies of greater than class C wastes
(GTCC) and +/- 100,000 curies of low-level waste. Comparing these figures
with the total acknowledged inventories of low-level wastes in the IDB
indicates that the curic inventories of uncontained "low-level" wastes,
including reprocessed and recategorized high-level wastes, must be in the
billions of curies even though the Baseline Environmental Monitoring Report
contains not one specific citation of the inventory of anthropogenic radioactivity
at any of the 150 sites in the DOE Environmental Management Program.
"Virtually all of the 10,500 potential release sites have
been at least partially characterized, approximately 46 percent have been
fully characterized and regulatory decisions have been made for substantially
fewer sites." (Vol. 1, pg. 3-13).
Table 4.1, Vol. 1 contains base case life cycle cost estimates
by state and site, with a total cost estimate of $226,950,000,000 for the
environmental management program. The five highest cost sites are: Hanford:
50.2 billion; Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL): 18.6 billion;
Oak Ridge Reservation: 25.1 billion; Rocky Flats: 17.3 billion; and the
Savannah River site: 48.8 billion. These estimates include on site (contained)
high-level waste management, but not off site geological depository costs
for either Yucca Mountain, Nevada or the WIPP in New Mexico. A further
breakdown of cost estimates is in Vol. 1, Fig. 4.7 as well as in charts
throughout the report for each remediation site.
It should be noted the 1996 cost estimates contained in
this report are much lower than the 1995 estimates for reasons explained
in Vol. 1, Sec. 5.3. In fact, the prime emphasis of this report is the
often fluctuating costs of the environmental management program, and not
the variety or amounts of the contamination being remediated. Assumed remedial
strategies for a variety of remediation scenarios are listed in Vol. 1,
Table 6.2, pg. 6.8. "This analysis does not account for any costs incurred
by the civilian radioactive waste management program." (Vol. 1, pg. 6-20).
Vol. 1, Appendix B, contains a summary of sources of contamination
including the following: uranium mining and milling; uranium enrichment;
fuel and target fabrication; reactor irradiation; chemical separation;
fabrication of weapons components; fabrication of non-nuclear weapons components;
weapons assembly, disassembly, and maintenance; and research, development,
and testing." Volumes 2 and 3 of the BEMR are site specific summaries of
environmental restoration activities to which Vol. 1 is the general introduction.
The following quotation best summarizes the enigma of
missing US military high-level wastes. "The fission products and uranium
and plutonium from spent fuel were reprocessed at chemical separation facilities
in the States of Washington, Idaho, and South Carolina. This step in the
production process generated approximately 385 million liters (100 million
gallons) of highly radioactive and hazardous chemical waste. Some of this
waste was discharged directly into the ground or stored in underground
storage tanks. Some of the waste in underground storage subsequently leaked.
This waste represents the vast majority of the radioactivity for which
the Environmental Management program has responsibility. Many of the radioactive
elements in this waste are long-lived and will pose risks to human health
and the environment for tens of thousands of years. Contaminated facilities
also have resulted from chemical separation." (Vol. 1, pg. B-3). In view
of this quotation, is William Wisenbaker correct in his assertion that
the department has never used deep well injection to dispose of high-level
radioactive wastes resulting from weapons manufacturing or reprocessing
of spent fuel?
Cochran, T.B., Arkin, W.M. and Hoenig, M.M. (1984).
weapons databook, Vol. I: U.S. nuclear forces and capabilities. Natural
Resources Defense Council, Inc., Ballinger Publishing Co., Cambridge, MA.
Cochran, T.B., Arkin, W.M., Norris, R.S. and Hoenig, M.M.
(1987). Nuclear Weapons Databook: Vol. III, U.S. Nuclear Warhead Facility
Profiles. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., Ballinger Publishing
Co., Cambridge, MA.
Everything you ever wanted to know about nuclear weapons
production and the types and quantities of warheads produced between 1945
1967 represented the peak year in weapons production with
an inventory of 32,000 warheads, which include everything from inter-continental
ballistic missiles to small 155 mm guns, from naval nuclear weapons to
army demolition munitions and earth penetration weapons.
Chapter 2 is a useful nuclear weapons primer describing
fission weapons, their design, chain reactions and critical mass, as well
as fusion weapons including thermonuclear weapon design.
Chapter 3 gives detailed information about the U.S. nuclear
weapons stockpile; the remaining chapters elaborate on the use of nuclear
weapons by all components of the armed forces.
This text contains no specific data about nuclear waste
source point inventories, but does contain enough data to verify the DOE/DOD
figures about plutonium production for the nuclear weapons programs (The
average nuclear weapon contains 3 kg of plutonium, with some smaller weapons
containing much less and some larger weapons containing much more. The
DOE/DOD produced a total of ~111 metric tons of plutonium (111,000 kg)
for 30-40,000 warheads between 1944 and 1995. (Some recycling of plutonium
took place during the weapons production years).
The most interesting aspect of this report for RADNET
is the continual references to the Los Alamos National Laboratory as that
location playing the greatest role in the production of nuclear warheads
once the plutonium used in these warheads was fabricated at the government
reactors in Hanford, WA, Savannah River Plant in South Carolina, and at
the Rocky Flats Colorado facility. For more information about Los Alamos
as a source point of anthropogenic radioactivity see the citations under
Los Alamos in this section of RADNET under Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (April 14, 1994).
storage safety at major Department of Energy facilities. DNFSB/TECH-1.
DNFSB, Washington, DC.
An excellent profile of the operating parameters, equipment,
personnel, and funding of all the U.S. weapons production facilities.
General information of every description pertaining to
these weapon production facilities.
Some interesting aerial photographs of the Savannah River
Plant and elsewhere.
See Table 8 for a complete range of operating characteristics
of the Savannah River reactors (R, P, L, K, C), pg. 106, or see Table 12,
pg. 109, for information on "Fuel Composition and Burnup for Current Assemblies".
This report contains no information on radioactive waste
inventories produced at these facilities and expressed in curies or becquerels.
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (November 1998).
to Congress on the role of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
regarding regulation of DOE's defense nuclear facilities. DNFSB, Washington,
"The great majority of the plutonium in the shut-down plants--Rocky
Flats, Hanford, and Savannah River--is stored in conditions that are not
safe for the long term. Most liquids remain in the same tanks and bottles
where they happened to be located when the shutdown orders came. ... Most
of the plutonium in the shut-down plants has been declared by DOE to be
surplus, but virtually none of it has been readied for permanent disposal
or long-term storage. Some is in forms that are difficult to store safely
even for short periods. The general conclusions are:" (Section I).
"A. With careful preparation and packaging, plutonium metal and stabilized
plutonium oxide can be stored safely over periods as long as a few decades.
The draft DOE standard on storage of plutonium metal and oxide is a good
guide to established storage practice for metal and oxide." (Section I).
"B. Most plutonium materials other than metal and oxide are not suitable
for long-term storage, and there are significant quantities of such materials
at all four sites." (Section I).
"C. The high-concentration plutonium solutions and reactive plutonium
scrap stored at Rocky Flats pose the most severe and immediate safety risk
of any stored plutonium in the DOE Weapons Complex (Complex). DOE is generally
aware of the danger at Rocky Flats, but has done little so far to correct
it." (Section I).
"D. Much of the plutonium at Hanford and Savannah River is reasonably
safe for short-term storage, but DOE is rapidly foreclosing plutonium processing
options at those sites. If that trend continues, Hanford and Savannah River
may develop some of the same safety problems as Rocky Flats." (Section
The summary of the very dangerous situation at Rocky Flats in this report
has been posted under Rocky Flats
in Part 5 of this section of RADNET.
"Aside from irradiated fuel, almost all of Hanford's plutonium inventory
is in the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP). There are more than 3,000 containers
of plutonium oxides, 370 metal items, somewhat more than one thousand containers
of plutonium scrap, and about 250 bottles of plutonium solution." (Section
"LANL stores a wide variety of plutonium materials, mostly in Technical
Area (TA)-55. LANL has around a thousand containers of plutonium oxides
and other compounds. They also have close to a thousand metal plutonium
items, most of them high-purity ingots originally intended for shipment
to Rocky Flats." (Section II-C).
"There are about 1200 containers of pyrochemical salt scrap, and a few
hundred containers of miscellaneous scrap. LANL has active capabilities
for processing nearly all forms of plutonium scrap and, with the exception
of salts, has generally not allowed a large backlog to accumulate." (Section
II-C). "LANL has the only general purpose plutonium processing capability
in the Complex that is fully operational at this time." (Section IV-B).
"SRS has a large quantity of plutonium solution in storage, far more
than any other site. There are about 380,000 liters stored in eighteen
tanks in F-Canyon and two tanks in H-Canyon (compared to around 20,000
liters at Rocky Flats and no more than 3,000 liters at Hanford). SRS has
a significant amount of Pu-238, Pu-242, Am-243, and Cm-244 stored in solution
form as well. Solution is not a suitable form for long-term, plutonium
storage because of the strong potential for leakage and corrosion, and
because of the difficulty (due to radiolysis and evaporation) of controlling
solution chemistry sufficiently to prevent precipitation or polymerization."
This is the definitive DNFSB report on plutonium-239 safety and storage
issues and includes a detailed overview of the chemistry, storage, processing
and handling challenges of this legacy of the Cold War. This report can
be downloaded in its entirety from URL http://www.dnfsb.gov/techrpts/tech-1.html.
If the situation is as dangerous as described at RFETS, consider the
challenges, hazards and dangers posed by unsafe plutonium storage conditions
in the former Soviet Union.
Energy Research and Development Agency. (1977). Report
on strategic special nuclear material inventory differences. Report
No. ERDA, 77-68. Energy Research and Development Agency, Washington D.C.
A review and self-critique by the DNFSB of its history and policies
as well as a statement of why it rejects NRC environmental oversight of
DOE weapons production facilities.
Fioravanti, M. and Makhijani, A. (1997). Containing
the cold war mess. Institute for Energy and Environmental Research,
Takoma Park, Maryland.
This report provides information regarding some missing
radioactive wastes, but only deals with tiny amounts of missing weapons
Kimball, D., Siegel, L. and Tyler, P. (May, 1993).
the map: a survey of military pollution sites in the United States.
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington, D.C. and Military Toxics
Project, Litchfield, Maine.
"More than half-a-century of nuclear weapons production in the United
States has created tens of millions of cubic meters of long-lived radioactive
waste, decommissioning problems associated with thousands of contaminated
facilities, and environmental problems involving contaminated land and
water. ...the neglect and mismanagement of radioactive and toxic wastes
has created problems that are far more costly than they might have been;
some appear to be intractable with current technology." (Summary).
The main findings listed in the summary section of the report are:
1. Nuclear weapons production and associated activities have created
tens of millions of cubic meters of dangerous wastes and roughly two billion
cubic meters of contaminated soil and water.
2. Since 1989, DOE has made considerable progress in characterizing
many of the crucial problems of environmental remediation and waste management
in the nuclear weapons complex, but much remains to be done.
3. DOE is proceeding with the most expensive environmental program in
history without national remediation standards to govern and guide the
4. Despite about $40 billion dollars in expenditures since 1989, DOE
does not have a sound direction, plan, priorities, or implementation strategy
for dealing with the remediation and waste management problems. Institutional
factors are the single most crucial element in DOE's failure to achieve
a sound direction.
5. The U.S. waste classification system is an unsound basis for implementing
waste management or environmental remediation decisions.
6. DOE is not holding contractors sufficiently accountable for project
mismanagement and poor technical decisions.
7. A number of problems cannot be satisfactorily solved with presently
available technology. Sound research and development and careful project
planning will be needed over a long period.
Detailed recommendations include findings from three special case studies.
Parts of this report are available from the IEER
Internet Website at URL: http://www.ieer.org/ieer/reports/cleanup/index.html
Makhijani, A. and Fioravanti, M. (January 1999). Cleaning
up the Cold War mess. Science for Democratic Action. IEER. 7(2).
National Academy of Sciences. (1994). Management
and disposition of excess weapons plutonium. Committee on International
Security and Arms Control. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
National Research Council. (1987). Safety issues
at defense production reactors. National Academy of Sciences, Washington,
U. S. Congress, OTA (Office of Technology Assessment).
(February, 1991). Complex Cleanup: The environmental legacy of nuclear
weapons production. OTA-O-484. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington,
U.S. Department of Energy. (April, 1994). Committed
to results: DOE's Environmental Management Program: An introduction.
DOE/EM-0152P. DOE, Office of Environmental Restoration, Washington, D.C.
The report that opened the Pandora's box of environmental remediation
issues at DOE's weapons productions facilities.
One of the most important reports ever issued by a government office
or agency. The OTA (Office of Technology Assessment) has recently been
discontinued due to budget cutbacks; a vivid illustration of the inevitable
destiny of those messengers who bear ill tidings.
"The waste and contamination problems at the DOE Weapons Complex are
serious and complicated, and many public concerns about potential health
and environmental impacts have not yet been addressed." (Box A, pg. 7).
"The environmental program now underway at the Weapons Complex is in
the very early stages, and little actual cleanup has been done. It may
be impossible with current technology to remove contaminants from many
groundwater plumes and deeply buried soils within reasonable bounds of
time and cost. Many sites may never be returned to a condition suitable
for unrestricted public access." (Box A, pg. 7).
"Despite DOE statements about the lack of imminent off-site health threats
due to the contamination, possible public health effects have not been
investigated adequately. The current regulatory process is not sufficient
to effectively identify urgent health-based remediation needs or to comprehensively
evaluate possible public health impacts." (Box A, pg. 7).
"DOE's stated goal--to clean up all weapons sites within 30 years--is
unfounded because it is not based on meaningful estimates of work to be
done, the level of cleanup to be accomplished, or the availability of technologies
to achieve certain cleanup levels. Neither DOE nor any other agency has
been able to prepare reliable cost estimates for the total cleanup." (Box
A, pg. 7).
Appendix A contains a summary of hazardous substances released to the
environment at 13 of the most important DOE remediation sites.
This 1991 OTA report predates the more comprehensive BEMR issued by
the DOE beginning in 1994 and is the first major government publication
to address the legacy of nuclear weapons production.
Table A-10 in Appendix A provides a summary of the primarily nonradioactive
constituents of the Pinellas Plant plume in Largo, FL. Due to its location
in a highly populated area, the Pinellas plume is among the most dangerous
of all DOE complex plumes due to its proximity above and possibly within
the principle aquifer in Florida, the Floridian Aquifer. The exact nature
and extent of groundwater contamination is not known at this time. (pg.
U.S. Department of Energy. (1994). Drawing back
the curtain of secrecy, restricted data declassification policy, 1946 to
the present. (Report No. RDD-1). DOE, Office of Declassification, Washington
U.S. Department of Energy. (August, 1994). Environmental
Management Fact Sheets. DOE, Office of Environmental Management, Washington,
"This document provides historical perspective on the
sequence of declassification actions performed by the Department of Energy
and its predecessor agencies." (pg. i)
This rather technical report provides lists of information
pertaining to the technology, materials, isotope separation, reactors,
and other information pertaining to previously classified weapons production
This report contains no data whatsoever pertaining to
the wastes generated during the production of nuclear weapons but does
contain this revealing information about plant effluent disposal; "Care
must be taken not to include data which by implication might reveal production
rates or classified processes" (pg. 114); otherwise no other information
is given about the environmental impact of weapons production technologies.
U.S. Department of Energy. (1995). Closing the circle
on the splitting of the atom. DOE, Office of Environmental Management,
This brief publication contains a list of DOE environmental
management sites and provides a good quick introduction to DOE programs
and activities and the legislative acts upon which they are based (Resource
Conservation and Recover Act (RCRA, 1976); The Comprehensive Environmental
Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, 1980); The National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA, 1969)) as well as other statutes which affect DOE's Environmental
While this publication gives only the briefest summary
of site specific environmental management activities, the following quote
pertaining to the Fernald, Ohio Feed Materials Production Center is appropriate
for any of the DOE sites undergoing remediation. "...waste generated as
byproducts of operations at this facility was stored and disposed of on
site. Many of the storage and disposal methods used, although believed
to be safe and efficient at the time, have proved to be neither". (pg.
U.S. Department of Energy. (February, 1995). Environmental
Management 1994: Progress and plans of the environmental management program.
DOE/EM-0228. DOE, Washington, D.C. pp. 104.
This slick publication "describes environmental, safety
and health problems throughout the nuclear weapons complex and what the
DOE is doing to address them." (from the "Forward")
The closest this report comes to providing specific data
about actual levels of waste production is a graph presented (pg. 32) which
shows waste production (one and a quarter inches = one million curies):
"at this scale, this bar would be 100 feet high (as tall as a ten story
building)". The reader is then free to take a ruler, and measure the size
of the boxes in this graph and with this information, and a pencil and
a piece of paper, we find weapons production spent fuel wastes amount to
960,000,000 curies from reactor operation, 1,500,000 Ci from chemical separation,
and a few more million Ci of waste from target and component fabrication
and research development and testing. This chart is one palimpsest among
many in the ritual of aversion about cold war radioactive waste inventories.
Transuranic wastes are listed as slightly over 2,000,000
Ci. Other than this graph, this publication contains no specific data about
waste production inventories.
This publication does contain an interesting list of various
defense and non-defense sites which are the subject of the U.S. DOE Environmental
Management Program (pg. 74), all of which are potential plume source points.
RADNET readers please note that while hundreds of locations
involved in weapons production are now the subject of the U.S. DOE Environmental
Management Program involving remediation of radioactive contamination,
the DOE only lists 4 sites as containing high-level wastes. In reference
to the missing military high-level wastes mentioned in this section of
RADNET, what percentage of the sites listed in this publication undergoing
DOE cleanup efforts contain small additional amounts of missing high-level
This report includes a description of the evolution of
health protection standards for nuclear workers, and includes the following
note about the most recent standard: "1990: The National Academy of Sciences
BIER V report asserts that radiation is almost 9 times as damaging as estimated
in BIER I. Annual doses may no longer exceed 5 rem per year. The International
Commission on Radiation Protection recommends that an average dose of 1-2
rem per year may not be exceeded." (pg. 38)
This report also notes that commercial nuclear power spent
fuel currently exceeds 30,000 MT ... "about ten times the mass stored by
the Energy Department." (pg. 26) For further discussion of the topic of
missing military spent fuel, please refer to Plutonium, the First Fifty
Years reviewed in this section of RADNET.
U.S. Department of Energy. (1995). Nuclear reactors
built, being built, or planned. Report No. DOE/OSTI-8200, Rev. 58.
DOE, Washington D.C.
"Environmental Restoration is managed as 17 primary projects throughout
the country, subdivided into smaller subprojects. These 850 subprojects
include activities at National Priorities List sites, commonly referred
to as Superfund sites; decontamination and decommissioning projects; Uranium
Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project (UMTRA) sites; and Formerly Utilized
Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) sites." (pg. 5).
"Most sites have insufficient information concerning the distribution
and concentration of uncontained hazardous and radioactive contaminants
present in soil and ground water throughout the Department's weapons complex."
"Many of the current characterization, containment, and treatment technologies
are either ineffective or too costly. Improvements are needed in characterization
and data interpretation methods, containment systems, and in situ treatment
of waste." (pg. 6).
"The Department faces major technical challenges in the management of
low-level radioactively contaminated mixed waste. Several conflicting regulations
and a lack of definitive mixed-waste treatment standards hamper ongoing
activities. In addition disposal capacity for mixed waste is expensive
and severely limited." (pg. 6-7).
"Numerous Department of Energy landfills pose significant remediation
challenges. Some existing landfills have contaminants that are migrating,
therefore requiring interim containment prior to final remediation. Materials
buried in 'retrievable storage' pose another problem -- the need for retrieval
systems that reduce worker exposure and the quantity of secondary waste.
In addition development of in situ methods for both containment and treatment
is a high-priority need." (pg. 7).
"It is not possible to immediately or simultaneously shut down, or decommission,
all of the approximately 21,000 surplus facilities the Department manages
due to the tremendous financial resources needed, health and safety measures
involved, and the economic impact on surrounding communities." (pg. 8).
U.S. Department of Energy. (September, 1996). Ninth
annual report to Congress: Fiscal year 1995 progress in implementing Section
120 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability
Act. DOE, Washington, D.C.
A complete listing of AEC, ERDA, DOE and DOD reactors
including location, type, power, and operating time frames.
U.S. Department of Energy. (1996). Plutonium: The
first 50 years: United States plutonium production, acquisition, and utilization
from 1944 to 1994. DOE, Washington, D.C.
This is a comprehensive report detailing United States
plutonium production, acquisition and utilization from 1944 to 1994, and
combines a summary of previously released data with newly released data
pertaining to plutonium inventories at the Pantex site near Amarillo, Texas
and in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
This report provides the inventory of three types of plutonium:
weapons grade, fuel grade, and power reactor grade, based on the percentage
of 240Pu that is contained in the plutonium. "Weapon grade plutonium
contains less than 7 percent Pu-240. Fuel grade plutonium contains from
7 percent to less than 19 percent Pu-240, and power reactor grade contains
from 19 percent and greater Pu-240.... The U.S. Plutonium inventory is
composed of 85.0 MT of weapon grade, 13.2 MT of fuel grade, and 1.3 MT
of reactor grade." (pg. 17)
This report gives the following inventory of plutonium-239
in stock as of September 1994 in metric tons (MT): Rocky Flats: 12.7; Hanford:
11.0; Argonne National Laboratory-West: 4.0; Los Alamos National Laboratory:
2.7; Savannah River: 2.0; Idaho National Engineering Laboratory: 0.5; Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory: 0.3; Others: 0.2; DOD and Pantex plant:
66.1; Total inventory: 99.5 metric tons (MT; one metric ton = 1000 kg);
Figure 4, pg. 20.
The large inventory of plutonium listing at the Pantex
plant in Texas includes the total of all the plutonium in all U. S. weapons
systems deployed anywhere in the world. National security considerations
prompted the DOE to account for plutonium 239 inventories in weapons in
active service situations in this general category without specifying the
specific locations of atomic weapons not presently being dismantled at
the Pantex site.
A number of observations need to be made about this inventory:
Most of the information used to create this report came
from the Nuclear Materials Management and Safe Guards System (NMMSGS),
the official U.S. nuclear materials accounting system, which tracks all
special nuclear material.
Special nuclear material does not include 238Pu,
"used in general purpose heat sources and radio isotope thermoelectric
generators [RTG's] to produce electricity in spacecraft," nor does it include
"used as target material for the production of other nuclear materials,
and in nuclear physics research." (pg. 17)
This inventory of plutonium for weapons production also
does not include 241Pu, a beta emitter with a half life of 14
years and the ninth most common constituent of LWR spent fuel at 150 days
cooling. 241Pu is produced at a rate of 3,850 Ci per mw/yr;
the annual production of 241Pu from commercial nuclear power
production is: 250,000,000 Ci/yr, with the cumulative total as of Jan.
1, 1991 listed at 2,490,000,000 Ci. See ORNL Integrated Database, pg. 261.
The daughter product of 241Pu is Americium-241.
Table 1 (pg. 22) in this report divides the plutonium
inventory into two groups: acquisitions (111.4 metric tons) and removals
(12 metric tons):
|Table 1. Plutonium Material Balance
All data expressed in metric tons of 239Pu
|Government Production Reactors
|Government Nonproduction Reactors
|U.S. Civilian Industry
(excluding plutonium in commercial spent fuel)
|Expended in Wartime and Tests
|Waste (Normal Operating Losses) (NOL)
|Fission and Transmutation
|Decay and Other Removals
|U.S. Civilian Industry
||Classified Transactions & Rounding
3 kg x 26,000 = 78,000 kg plutonium = 78 metric
According to reliable sources at the Natural Resources
Defense Council, this DOE report is an accurate accounting of all the 239Pu
produced for weapons production in the U.S. since 1944, and the data in
this report is compatible with nuclear weapons production listed in the
Weapons Databook produced by the NRDC in 1984, and reviewed above in
this section of RADNET. The NRDC report notes a 1983 nuclear weapons stockpile
of 26,000 nuclear war heads; the rule of thumb of three kilograms of plutonium
for a typical nuclear weapon would indicate that the DOD report does account
for all special nuclear material (plutonium - excluding enriched uranium).
An unknown but sizable amount of plutonium used in the
fabrication of nuclear weapons between 1945 and 1960 has apparently been
recycled into new weapons production; nuclear weapons inventories reached
their peak in 1967 at 32,000 warheads and has been falling since then,
so there is no reason to question the amount of plutonium produced for
weapons production which is reported in this publication.
Section 10.3 of this report discusses waste, defined as
"normal operating losses" (NOL) which occur "when quantities of plutonium,
determined by measurement, or estimated on the basis of measurement, are
intentionally removed from inventory as waste because they are technically
or economically unrecoverable...some examples of waste are discharges to
cribs, tanks, settling ponds or to waste disposal facilities generically
referred to as burial sites." (pg. 55) This report lists Rocky Flats (1.0
MT), the Hanford site (1.1 MT), Los Alamos National Laboratory (0.6 MT)
and the Savannah River site (0.5 MT) as the repositories of the largest
amount of plutonium waste resulting from normal operating losses. This
report goes on to qualify the 3.4 MT figure as actually being 3.9 metric
tons due to a variety of bookkeeping discrepancies that are described in
Appendix B of this report, giving a final figure 3,919 kg of plutonium
in waste inventories. This contrasts with 99.5 metric tons (99,500 kg)
of plutonium in nuclear weapons in active service, awaiting dismantling
at Pantex or in storage as previously listed. This raises the following
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Integrated Data
Base for 1994 (U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel and Waste Inventories, Projections
and Characteristics) lists the following annual and cumulative production
of plutonium-239 in commercial nuclear power spent fuel (This is the same
plutonium isotope the DOD report cited above has been tracking for weapons
production plutonium inventories):
The Integrated Data Base also provides the following
inventories of weapons production high-level waste and transuranic waste:
Annual production of plutonium-239 in 1994: 585,000 curies
Cummulative production of plutonium-239 as of Jan. 1,
1995: 9,000,000 curies
Yearly average annual production of 239Pu for
a model U.S. nuclear power plant: 5,367 Ci/year (585,000 curies divided
by 109 reactors).
The above data for weapons production wastes is too generalized
to compare with the DOD data about 239Pu production contained
in the report Plutonium: The First Fifty Years as no specific data
about weapons production 239Pu is contained within the
Data Base. Weapons production waste inventories contrast sharply with
the huge quantities of spent fuel generated by the commercial nuclear power
Military high-level waste (as of 12/31/94): 958,800,000
Stored transuranic wastes: 1,840,000 Ci
Buried transuranic wastes including potentially contaminated
soil: >830,000 Ci
RADNET readers, please consider the following:
One curie of 239Pu = 16.2 g of 239Pu;
the yearly plutonium-239 production of a model U.S. nuclear power plant
is therefore 86.96 kg per year (5,367 curies x 16.2 g = 86.96 kg)
The DOD report lists plutonium in waste inventory at 3,919
kg (= 242,000 Ci)
The typical U.S. nuclear power plant would therefore create
in forty-five years sufficient spent fuel 239Pu waste to approximately
equal the total of all 239Pu in DOD waste inventories created
Not only does the DOD report not include inventories of
or 242Pu, it is unlikely that 3,919 kilograms (242,000 Ci) is
the actual total of 239Pu waste created in the production of
nuclear weapons, as a model U.S. commercial nuclear reactor has accumulated
82,568 curies of 239Pu as of Jan. 1, 1995 (1,337 kg).
It takes 3 kg of 239Pu to produce an average
size nuclear weapon, therefore sufficient plutonium-239 has accumulated
in the typical U.S. commercial nuclear reactor to produce over 446 nuclear
To produce 446 nuclear weapons, the reactor grade plutonium
would have to be refined into weapons grade plutonium, but nonetheless,
this data is sufficient to emphasize not only the great quantities of plutonium
produced as waste by commercial nuclear reactors, but to illustrate the
probability that weapons production has created large additional quantities
of spent fuel, and other HLW, including wastes containing other plutonium
isotopes which are not accounted for in the DOD report of Plutonium,
the First 50 Years.
THE PLUTONIUM ENIGMA:
U. S. Department of Energy. (July 1998). Followup review
of fissile material assurance in the Department of Energy complex.
EH2PUB/07-98/12SR. Office of Oversight, Office of Environment, Safety and
Health, U.S. DOE, Washington, D.C. http://tis-hq.eh.doe.gov/oversight/follow.html.
Evaluation of U.S. military source points of radioactive
waste must include the following discrepancy: The Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Data Base for 1994 (U.S. Spent Nuclear Fuel and Waste Inventories, Projections
and Characteristics) lists military high-level wastes as 957,900,000
curies as of Jan. 1, 1995, as well as an additional 2,670,000 curies of
transuranic wastes (TRUW) (pg. 15). These wastes are listed primarily as
tank wastes(liquid and solid) at four U.S. locations: Hanford, WA; Idaho
National Engineering Laboratory; the Savannah River site; and the West
Valley, New York former fuel reprocessing facility (24,700,000 Ci is still
at this location). In view of the 30,200,000,000 Ci of spent nuclear fuel
accumulated by the commercial nuclear industry as of Jan. 1, 1996, a question
for the next millennium is: Where are the other billions of curies of
spent nuclear fuel derived liquid high-level wastes which the U.S. military
(Department of Energy) has generated since the production of nuclear weapons
began in 1945?
The ORNL data base only lists tank wastes; what happened
to the millions of curies of high-level wastes discharged to waste ponds
and holding lagoons at Savannah River, Hanford, and elsewhere which are
not currently inside the tanks?
What are the on site inventories of uncontained waste
at other locations not noted in the ORNL data base, for example, in the
canyons near Los Alamos, or at White Oak Canyon at the Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, itself a major dumping site in the early days of weapons production?
The ORNL report clearly notes that it does not include
"inventories of government production reactor spent nuclear fuels that
have been reprocessed in the manufacture of nuclear weapons for national
defense..." (ORNL Data Base, 1994, p. 2); it is highly unlikely that all
produced by government reactors from 1944 to 1994 have been recycled into
weapons grade plutonium without creating more than 3,919 kg of waste as
listed in the DOD report.
Even more revealing is the following discrepancy: commercial
nuclear power plants have created a cumulative total of 145.8 metric tons
of 239Pu as of Jan. 1, 1996, while creating 30,200,000,000 curies
of spent fuel HLW. Military weapons production has produced 111 metric
tons of 239Pu, while producing only 957,900,000 curies of HLW.
Additional hints about the widespread, uncontained disposal
of radioactive wastes of every type and description can be gleaned from
many of the U.S. military source point citations; the question now is what
is the location and what are the quantities of other isotopes characterizing
reprocessed spent fuel including 238Pu, 241Pu and
which have been produced as waste during the production of more than 30,000
nuclear weapons? When will the Department of Energy reconcile the ORNL
Database (IDB) with the report Plutonium: The First 50 Years
issued in February of this year? The necessity for this reconciliation
is noted at the end of the report on page 79: "The Department has formed
a working group to analyze NMMSS, IDB, and other Departmental tracking
systems and to make recommendations on the appropriateness of integrating
the various inventory systems or developing a new tracking system for all
forms of plutonium."
For further comments on this topic see an update
on the Integrated Database posted in 2002.
RADNET browsers with any additional information pertaining
to missing U.S. military (DOE) high-level wastes, including any interesting
National Reconnaissance Office low-orbit satellite surveillance data, please
contact the Center for Biological
This article can be ordered directly from the DOE by calling
U. S. General Accounting Office. (August 1994). Environmental
Cleanup--Better Data Needed for Radioactivity Contaminated Defense Sites.
GAO/NSIAD-94-168. U.S. GAO, Washington, D.C.
The DOE's Integrated DataBase (IDB) Report from 1994 indicates
this study documents as many as 420 DOD locations which "could be contaminated
with radioactive wastes." (IDB, pg. 1). This publication will be reviewed
by RADNET as soon as a full copy is obtained from the DOE.
Chia, Y., and Chiu, J. (1994). Groundwater monitoring
for deep-well injection. Report no. ANL/ES/PP--73641. NTIS order no.
DE94019291. Argonne National Laboratory, IL.
U.S. Department of Energy. (July, 1993). Recommended
management practices for operation and closure of shallow injection wells
at DOE facilities. Report no. ANL/EA/RP--80447. NTIS order no. DE93019531.
Argonne National Laboratory, IL and the Ground Water Protection Council,
Oklahoma City, OK. 143 pp.
"A groundwater monitoring system for detecting waste migration would
not only enhance confidence in the long-term containment of injected waste,
but would also provide early warnings of contamination for prompt responses
to protect underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). Field experiences
in Florida have demonstrated monitoring water quality and fluid pressure
changes in overlying formations is useful in detecting the upward migration
of injected waste." (abstract).
Veil, J.A. and Grunewald, B. (1993). Closure of shallow
underground injection wells. Report no. ANL/EA/CP--79596. NTIS order
no. DE94000445. Argonne National Laboratory, Washington, DC. pp. 11.
"The Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control
(UIC) program to ensure that underground injection of wastes does not endanger
an underground source of drinking water. Under UIC regulations, an injection
well is a hole in the ground, deeper than it is wide, that receives wastes
or other fluid substances. Types of injection wells range from deep cased
wells to shallow sumps, drywells, and drainfields. The report describes
the five classes of UIC wells and summarizes relevant regulations for each
class of wells and for the UIC program." (abstract).
"Shallow injection wells have long been used for disposing liquid wastes.
Some of these wells have received hazardous or radioactive wastes. According
to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, Class IV wells
are those injection wells through which hazardous or radioactive wastes
are injected into or above an underground source of drinking water (USDW).
These wells must be closed." (abstract).
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