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Maxey Flats, Kentucky

Six month study of radiation concentrations and transport mechanisms at the Maxey Flats area of Fleming County, Kentucky. (1974). Louisville, KY: Kentucky Department for Human Resources, Bureau for Health Services, Office of Consumer Health Protection, Radiation and Product Safety Branch.

Moab, Utah

Moab, Utah is a typical uranium mill tailings plume source point, one of hundreds of sites like this. It has been in the news because of possible leaking into groundwater.

"This uranium mill, which operated from 1956 until 1984, was purchased by Atlas [Corp.] in 1962. Atlas completed demolition and disposal of the mill facilities in 1996. Under Atlas's proposed plan to cap the mill tailings pile in place, the pile will be recontoured and covered with earthen material and rock to control radon emanations and prevent erosion." (PRNewswire, Denver, March 11, from Yahoo on the World Wide Web).

"In a draft environmental impact statement released in January [1997], the federal agency [NRC] says reclaiming the tailings mountain on site - as the mining company has proposed - is the best option. But simply capping 130 acres of radioactive debris with earth and rock doesn't sit well with Grand County Councilman Bill Hedden. He, along with the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the state of Utah, wants the sandy tailings moved away from the river. 'It's 11 million tons of really nasty junk and it's going right in the groundwater,' Hedden says. The nuclear agency says moving the pile will cost up to 10 times more than capping it." (High Country News, March 18, 1996).

Clifford, F. (April 20, 1997). Leaking nuclear waste imperils Colorado River; pollution: U.S. Agency plans to cap 130-acre mound that lies near popular wilderness recreation area. Los Angeles Times. Part A, pg. 1.

Mound Laboratory, Miamisburg, Ohio 

Alberts, J.J., Bobula III, C.M. and Farrar, D.T. A comparison of the distribution of industrially released 238Pu and fallout 239,240Pu in temperate, Northern United States soils. Journal of Environmental Quality, 9, 4, 592-596.

Midwest Fuel Recovery Plant (MFRP), Morris, Illinois 

More information is sought about this fuel reprocessing facility.
Nevada Test Site

The Nevada Test Site (NTS) is located approximately 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, and it, along with the Tonopah Test Range, are situated approximately 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, California. It was the scene of 100 atmospheric and 828 underground nuclear tests lasting from 1951 to 1992 (United States Nuclear Tests [DOE/NV-209 (Rev. 14) December 1994, pg. viii]). In August 1996 a final Environmental Impact Statement was completed for the NTS (NTS/EIS) and on December 13, 1996 the Record of Decision (ROD) for the NTS/EIS was published in the Federal Register (61 FR 65551). The decision allowed for the expanded use of the test site and leaves the option open to resume underground nuclear testing. The sites' primary mission continues to be associated with nuclear weapons issues.

U.S. Department of Energy. (January 1, 1998). Drawing Back the Curtain of Secrecy: Restricted Data Declassification Decisions, 1946 to the Present (RDD-4). Office of Declassification, U.S. Department of Energy. Washington, D.C.
  Benjamin, T.M. (1995). Memorandum from T.M. Benjamin to M. Pankratz: Selected NTS Underground Inventory Data, June 23, 1995.

Goishi, W., Esser, B.K., Meadows, J.W., Naboodiri, N., Smith, D.K., Wild, J.F., Bowen, S.M., Baca, P.L., Olivas, L.F., Geoffrion, C.G., Thompson, J.L. and Miller, C.M. (1995). Total radionuclide inventory associated with underground nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site, 1955-1992 (U). LA-CP-94-0222. Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Honeyman, B.D. (January 7, 1999). Geochemistry: Colloidal culprits in contamination. Nature. 397(6714). pg. 23.

Kersting, A.B. et. al. (May 1998). Migration of plutonium in groundwater at the Nevada Test Site. In:  Smith, D.K. et. al. Hydrologic resources management program and underground test area operable unit:  FY1997 progress report. UCRL-ID-130792. Technical Information Department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA. pg. 76-92.

U.S. Department of Energy. (August 1996). Final environmental impact statement for the Nevada Test Site and off-site locations in the state of Nevada. (DOE/EIS-0243). Environmental Management, Nevada Operations Office, U.S. DOE, North Las Vegas, NV 89030-4134. Vol. 1. Chapters 1-9.

Discussions in the NTS/EIS, regarding the Benjamin memo, indicate that the data is a list of the "...remaining radionuclide inventory in, or within, 100 m (328 ft) of the water table (as of January 1994..." It goes on to explain that this subset of tests represents approximately 38% of the underground nuclear tests that were performed at the NTS (pg. 4-84 and 4-85).

By assuming the data in this subset was representative of the radionuclides deposited by the full set of underground nuclear tests, a rough estimate was calculated for the total radionuclides remaining as of January 1, 1994. The results follow.

Curies remaining as of
January 1, 1994
(scaled data)
239Pu *
* Mass of 239Pu = 2,010 kg 
= ~ 2 metric tons.

The NTS/EIS contains an estimate of the total NTS inventory as of January 1, 1994. This figure is 3.0E+08 Ci. This figure compares favorably with the independently derived value for tritium, shown above.

The above inventory resides in millions of tons of buried rock and water. None of it appears in the DOE's Waste Management Integrated Data Base Report--1995, nor is this material scheduled for removal or treatment within the DOE's Environmental Restoration program.

The figures shown in the above table were scaled from the radionuclide data provided in the Benjamin memo. An independent NTS researcher requested the recently declassified data and then utilized it to estimate the total source term of buried nuclear test debris at the Nevada Test Site. The researcher, Vernon Brechin, can be contacted at vbrechin@igc.apc.org.

U.S. Department of Energy. Final programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for stockpile stewardship and management-September 1996. DOE-EIS-0236. Reconfiguration Group, Office of Technical and Environmental Support, Defense Programs, DP-45, U.S. DOE, Washington, DC.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee 

The Oak Ridge site is one of the most contaminated locations among the many weapons production sites being remediated by the Dept. of Energy. The 1996 DOE Baseline Environmental Management Report (BEMR) subdivides the Oak Ridge site into six sections including reservation off site sources, the laboratory grounds themselves, the K-25 site (this facility produced enriched uranium for weapons production, 1945-1987), and the Y12 plant (site of an electromagnetic process to separate uranium isotopes). The BEMR summary of Oak Ridge remediation sites runs to 130 pages of descriptions of contaminated buildings and waste disposal areas; a lifetime of research could be spent on this one military source point without a complete understanding of the impact of the activities carried out at this location. ORNL was the site of the controversial deep well injection of radioactive waste at the hydrofracturing facility at this location. Life cycle remediation costs are estimated in excess of 25 billion dollars in the BEMR, (Vol. 3, pg. Tennessee 2) excluding geological disposal and any future costs resulting from waste disposed in a manner that "no feasible remediation approach [is] available." (BEMR, Vol. 1, pg. 3.9). A recent report issued by the Dept. of Energy (Jan. 15, 1997) as a component of current declassification efforts, indicates the Oak Ridge complex is one of 22 sites where the storage of highly enriched uranium "could result in the exposure of workers or the public to radiation." Out of 250 tons of highly enriched uranium, three fourths of it is at the Oak Ridge Complex (Associated Press, Jan. 15, 1997). Very little additional information is available about the on site inventories of radioactive wastes at the Oak Ridge facilities, which remain, along with Los Alamos, SRP, and Pantex, among the most active weapons production and research facilities in the United States. Important source points at Oak Ridge include the K25 plant which was constructed beginning in 1943 and was the first diffusion facility for large scale separation of 235U for nuclear weapons production, and the Y12 plant which used an electro-magnetic process to separate uranium isotopes. Extensive contamination at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory grounds, which are separated from these two plants, has also occurred since its establishment in 1943. Environmental restoration activities at the Oak Ridge facilities are so complicated that the description of these activities in the BEMR report takes up a total of 128 pages. Total life cycle environmental remediation for the entire complex of facilities at Oak Ridge are $25,137,392,000 including over 6 billion for the Y12 plant and over 7 billion for the K25 site as well as over 9 billion for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory itself. ORNL is also the site of a recently constructed TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) incinerator which is now accepting mixed wastes for incineration from a variety of DOE facilities. The mixed wastes being burned in this controversial incinerator include some ORNL wastes contaminated by a huge mercury spill at ORNL which began in the 1950's and continued for over a decade, as well as wastes from off-site facilities also contaminated with mercury and heavy metals. The Oak Ridge Reservation is another example of a plume source point where the effluents include not only radioactive wastes, but also VOC's and heavy metals. The following descriptions and quotations pertaining to ORNL facilities are taken from the 1996 Baseline Environmental Management Report (BEMR) unless otherwise indicated.


OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY: OAK RIDGE Y-12 PLANT: Boyns, P.K. (June 1, 1980). An aerial radiological survey of the Oak Ridge Reservation. Doc. No. EGG-10282-1001; EGG102821001. Accession No. ORF01419. Never classified. Opennet entry date: 05/21/1996. EG&G - Las Vegas Area Operations. 31 pp. Carrigan, P.H., Jr. (1969). Inventory of Radionuclides in Bottom Sediment of the Clinch River, Eastern Tennessee. U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 433-I. U.S. Geological Survey, Washington, D.C. ChemRisk. (June 1993). Identification of important environmental pathways for materials released from the Oak Ridge Reservation. Draft report of project tasks 3 and 4 prepared for the Tennessee Department of Health Division of Environmental Epidemiology. McLaren/Hart Environmental Engineering, Alameda, CA.

Cletcher, J.W. (July-September 1996). Reactor shutdown experience. Nuclear Safety: Technical Progress Journal. 37(3). pg. 234-236.

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (September 27, 1994). Y-12 Plant Conduct of Operations. Recommendation 94-4 to the Secretary of Energy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2286a(5) Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

Garten, C.T., Bondietti, E.A. and Walker, R.L. (1981). Comparative uptake of uranium, thorium, and plutonium by biota inhabiting a contaminated Tennessee floodplain. J. Environ. Qual. 10(2). 207-210. Garten, C.T. (1990). Dispersal of radioactivity by wildlife from contaminated sites in a forested landscape. J. Environ. Radioactivity. 29(2). 137-156.
1987-89 White Oak Lake Mallards: breast muscle average 137Cs 700 Bq/kg (19,900 PCi/kg) 
King, L. and McCarley, W. (February 1, 1961). Plutonium release incident of November 20, 1959. ORNL-2989. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

King, A.L., Smyre, J.L. and Evers, T.K. (February 1995). Strategic Environmental Research and Development Project FY 1994: Assessing national remote sensing technologies for use in US Department of Energy Environmental Restoration Activities, Oak Ridge Solid Waste Storage Area 4 case study. Report no. ORNL/TM--12926. NTIS order no. DE95008962. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN. 12 pp.

Marietta, M. (December 1990). The ultimate disposition of depleted uranium. DE91-006414, K/ETO-44. Martin Marietta Energy Systems, Inc., U. S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (May 1960). Radioisotopes: Special materials and services: Catalog and price list. 3rd Revision 5-60. ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN.

Stow, S.H. (July - September 1996). Attitudes and practices regarding disposal of liquid nuclear waste at Clinton Laboratories in the very early years: A historical analysis. Nuclear Safety: Technical Progress Journal. 37(3). pg. 181-202. Turner, R., Kamp, G., Bogle, M., Switek, J. and McElhaney, R. (June 1985). Sources and discharges of mercury in drainage waters at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant. Y/TS-90. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Tuttle, M. and Pace, P. (1996). The ORNL Basemapping and Imagery Project: data collection, processing and dissemination. Report no. CONF-9603148--1. NTIS order no. DE96008802. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN. 10 pp.

U. S. Department of Energy. (November 1987). Environmental survey preliminary report, Y-12 Plant, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. U.S. DOE, Washington, D.C.

U. S. Department of Energy. (October 1992). Oak Ridge Reservation environmental report for 1991: Volume 1: narrative, summary, and conclusions. ES/ESH-22/V1. U. S. DOE, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

U. S. Department of Energy. (January 15, 1993). Environmental restoration and waste management Site-Specific Plan for the Oak Ridge Reservation; FY 1993. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

U. S. Department of Energy. (September 1994). Fiscal year 1993 well plugging and abandonment program summary report Y-12 Plant, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Report no. Y/SUB--94-99069C(Y13)/2. NTIS order no. DE956009187. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN. 459 pp. U. S. Department of Energy. (May 1998). Comprehensive Integrated Planning: A Process for the Oak Ridge Reservation, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. ORNL/M-6545. Prepared by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation and Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. for the U.S. DOE.

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