Part of This Section | Top of This Section
| Next Section |
This is the largest U.S. facility for recycling plutonium
from obsolete nuclear weapons; the DOD reports that the Pantex facility,
as well as nuclear weapons in the field, have an inventory of 66 metric
tons of 239Pu, but does not otherwise differentiate between
the exact amount of plutonium at Pantex and the amount of plutonium in
nuclear weapons at U.S. military bases throughout the world.
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (November
25, 1997). Review of the safety of storing plutonium pits at the Pantex
Plant. DNFSB, Washington, D.C.
Mullican, W., Fryar, A. and Johns, N. (1993). Milestone
report: the aerial extent and hydraulic continuity of perched ground water
in the vicinity of the Pantex Plant. Bureau of Economic Geology, University
of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas.
"DOE is currently using a new container design for some pits, developing
another, less expensive container for the remaining pits, and making preparations
to move thousands of pits to different storage facilities at Pantex. These
efforts are not well integrated." (pg. iv).
"The lack of authorization basis controls for the storage of these pits
renders at least three temperature-sensitive designs vulnerable to cladding
failure" (pg. iv).
"The relatively new surveillance program for pits stored at Pantex does
not appear to be sampling the pits at a rapid enough rate to characterize
in a timely manner the real potential for corrosion of the stored pits.
Only about 30 pits per year are inspected, even though more than 10,000
pits of various designs are stored at Pantex. the resolution of corrosion
and packaging issues is hindered further by the lack of a formal project
to improve understanding of pit cladding corrosion and identify corrective
actions that may be required." (pg. iv).
The Rocky Flats Environmental Technology site was built
in 1951; it's primary commission was to build nuclear weapons components.
Additional plant missions included plutonium recovering and reprocessing
and waste management. Production activities included metal fabrication
and assembly and chemical recovery and purification of transuranic radionuclides.
As a result of weapons production activities, large quantities of 239Pu
were released to the environment not only from normal operating activities
(stack releases), but also from chronic releases from leaking drums of
contaminated cutting oil (1958-1968), as well as from a series of fires
that occurred at the plant during the late 1960's. Additional significant
quantities of plutonium have accumulated within a variety of buildings
in air ducts (+500 kg 239Pu) and other locations which were
formerly used to fabricate nuclear weapons. The DOE BEMR lists the current
inventory of plutonium at 12.9 metric tons in nearly 15,000 items, and
6.7 metric tons of highly enriched uranium in nuclear weapons parts, materials,
processed residues and wastes. "Much of this material has been stored in
temporary packaging since 1989 when production operations involving radioactive
materials were suspended. Approximately 30,000 liters of plutonium solutions
and 2,700 liters of highly enriched uranium acid solution are stored in
tanks that were not designed for long term storage." (BEMR, Vol. 2, pg.
Colorado 21). Total life cycle remediation costs are estimated at $17,319,000,000
in the BEMR. RADNET considers this estimate extremely liberal (i.e. low).
Due to the location of this facility adjacent to a rapidly growing population
area (Denver), unfavorable climatic characteristics of this site (desiccated,
subject to very high wind; most population is downwind from the site),
and because of the chronic release of plutonium to the environment during
the years of operation of this facility, this site is probably the most
dangerous among all the DOE weapons production facilities (accidents-in-progress).
An extensive series environmental compliance reports and assessments can
be accessed via RAD 13: 2-D: see Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site,
as well as BEMR links. The Radiation Control Division of the Colorado Dept.
of Public Health and the Environment also has extensive information about
this source point and may be accessed through either of these links.
An April 14, 1994, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety
Board report Plutonium storage safety at major department of Energy
facilities cited and reviewed in the General Bibliography at the beginning
of this section (5) includes the following description of the situation
"Not counting encapsulated weapon components, Rocky Flats has several
thousand containers of plutonium metal, compounds, and mixtures. They have
a significant quantity of plutonium solution stored in tanks and bottles.
They have thousands of containers of scrap of various kinds (called 'residue'
at Rocky Flats). The great majority of the inventory is either not in forms
suitable for long-term storage or is not packaged correctly for long-term
Albright, D. and Schonbeck, N. (1993). Report of the
incident investigation subcommittee -- Incident: 1957 fire in Building
771. Submitted to the State of Colorado, 26 May 1993.
"Plutonium metal corrodes fairly rapidly in the presence of air or
water vapor. It corrodes very rapidly in the presence of hydrogen to form
pyrophoric plutonium hydride.3,4 Some metal items stored at Rocky Flats
may be in direct contact with plastic bags, an unsafe situation for storage
periods extending beyond a few weeks or months. A plastic bag in direct
contact with plutonium is subject to rapid radiolysis, which generates
hydrogen gas and weakens the bag at the same time. Hydrogen gas will react
rapidly with the plutonium metal to generate plutonium hydride. As long
as there is free oxygen in the container, hydride will react with it to
form oxides. When the free oxygen is depleted, hydride will start to accumulate.
The weakened bag is likely to eventually break open and admit air; it is
particularly likely to do so when it is handled, but it may do so spontaneously.
Either way, there will be an exothermic reaction as the hydride oxidizes,
possibly sparking and flaming, and the risk of a larger fire if combustibles
are nearby. Other possible adverse chemical evolutions involving plutonium
metal and plastic are discussed in Appendix B.
A great deal of plutonium scrap, some containing high concentrations
of both plutonium and americium, was also packaged without adequate consideration
of long-term chemical and radiological effects. Some scrap was packaged
directly in plastic bags or cartons, creating the possibility of high hydrogen
generation rates, with the same adverse implications as apply to plutonium
metal. (A considerable fraction of the plutonium in the scrap is in the
form of metal, so some of the chemical issues are similar.) Many scrap
packages are poorly vented. Hydrogen generation in poorly vented containers
can create a fire hazard from the hydrogen itself, and can lead to the
accumulation of pyrophoric forms of plutonium. Any mishap that results
in the sudden introduction of air into such a container (a handling accident,
for example, or corrosion of a container wall) could cause a fire or small
explosion. the scrap situation is complicated by the fact that the exact
chemical composition and packaging arrangements are not known in many cases.
there are thousands of scrap containers, mostly 55-gallon and 10-gallon
drums, stored in several different buildings. They are generally located
in operating areas.
There are approximately 11,000 liters of plutonium solutions stored
at Rocky Flats. There are twenty-four tanks of solution in Building 771
alone, with plutonium concentrations as high as 140 grams/liter. There
are additional tanks in Building 371, plus several hundred plastic bottles
of plutonium solution stored in six different buildings, plus an estimated
9,000 liters of plutonium-contaminated liquid in process piping and tank
heels. There have been dozens of leaks from the tanks since the 1989 shutdown.
One of the most serious was the July 1993 rupture of an overhead oxalic
acid line, which sprayed plutonium-contaminated liquid over a radius of
6-7 meters. Most of the tanks and process piping are in routinely occupied
areas, although no one was injured by the July pipe rupture. The solutions
are not well characterized. No samples have been taken from any of the
tanks since 1989. Some of the tanks are not geometrically safe, and their
Raschig rings have not been inspected since 1989. The accumulation of plutonium
polymer, the extent of plutonium precipitation, and the severity of tank
wall corrosion are all essentially unknown. The DNFSB staff considers DOE's
plans for dealing with these problems greatly inadequate." (Section II-A).
"The continuing storage of plutonium solutions in tanks and piping
is one of the most severe hazards at Rocky Flats or anywhere in the Complex.
The connections in the tanks and piping are already leaking. Criticality
safety is increasingly difficult to guarantee. The Raschig rings in the
non-geometrically favorable tanks, which are supposed to be inspected every
year, have not been inspected for several years. The systems required for
moving liquids have not been operational for several years and thus mixing
of the liquids for proper sampling or concentration control can not be
carried out. The tanks are in occupied areas; a criticality incident could
cause fatalities. These liquids should be processed to a stable solid form
as a very high priority item.
There are so many types of solid materials that might not be stable
in their present storage form or packaging that it is difficult to choose
the single most hazardous category. Salt residues are a major concern and
should be repackaged to eliminate as much plastic material as possible.
A second category of materials that should receive attention are the combustibles
that may be nitrated." (Section III-A).
Arthur, W.J. and Alldredge, A.W. (1982). Importance
of plutonium contamination on vegetation surfaces at Rocky flats, Colorado.
Exp. Bot. 22. 33-38.
Boyns, P.K. and Stuart, T.P. (September 1, 1982). An
aerial radiological survey of the United States Department of Energy's
Rocky Flats plant date of survey: August 1981. Doc. No. EGG11831771.
Accession No. NV0039776. Never classified. Opennet entry date: 08/26/1994.
EG&G - Las Vegas Area Operations. pp. 27.
Cobb, J.C., et. al. (1982). Plutonium burdens in
people living around the Rocky Flats Plant. EPA-600/4-82-069. National
Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA.
Colorado Committee for Environmental Information Subcommittee
on Rocky Flats. (1970). Report on the Dow Rocky Flats fire: Implications
of plutonium releases to the public health and safety. Colorado Committee
for Environmental Information Subcommittee on Rocky Flats, Boulder, CO.
||Rocky Flats, CO
||13,500 d.p.m./kg (225 Bq/kg)
Coyle, D. et. al. (1988). Deadly defense: military
radioactive landfills. Radioactive Waste Campaign, New York, N.Y.
Global fallout: range of five samples from the Colorado
Eastern Slope: 0.434-0.903 Bq/kg (26-56 d.p.m./kg).
The plutonium fire of May 11, 1969 released a significant
amount of 239Pu to the environment (plus 10 Ci?); this enhanced
deposition levels from previous airborne releases from Rocky Flats.
Crump, K.S., Ng, T-H. and Cuddihy, R.G. (1987). Cancer
incidence patterns in the Denver metropolitan area in relation to the Rocky
Flats plant. American J. of Epidemiology. 126(1). pg. 127-135.
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (April 28,
1994). Trip report on ventilation/filtration systems in Buildings 559
and 707 at the Rocky Flats Plant. Memorandum for G.W. Cunningham, Technical
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (October 5, 1994).
Flats - Condition of facilities for plutonium residue processing. Memorandum
for G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"The scope of this review included the ventilation/filtration systems
at Buildings 559 and 707."
"Recent failures to meet operational safety requirements (OSR) at Buildings
559 and 707 were reviewed. These failures are more important considering
the unreviewed safety question determination for other buildings at Rocky
Flats where all stages of filtration are not required to be periodically
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (December 29,
1994). Trip report - Trenching at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology
Site. Memorandum for G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
A general overview of the principal buildings, their present condition
and possible future use.
"EG&G presented a long list of obstacles to processing of plutonium
residues including: National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) documentation,
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), safety assessments,
procedures, training, waste disposal limits, need for substantial line
item funding, administrative dose guidance of 750 mrem/year, plutonium
in the ducts, shrinking access zones, and seeking DNFSB approvals."
"The staff believes that the only substantive issues that need to be
resolved are: plutonium in the ducts, need for dose reduction/ALARA for
salt processing, building seismic capability for longer term operation,
waste minimization, and working smarter to develop criticality limits for
each evolution. This latter issue was identified by EG&G as a real
time restraint, whereby the nuclear safety group needs to re-review all
of the criticality limits for all evolutions. Initially, EG&G needed
980 manhours of work to develop each critically limit; LANL support has
reduced these to about 300 manhours."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (May 25, 1995).
report - Workshop on combustible residues and meeting on residue drum safety,
April 19-20, 1995. Memorandum for G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"This report consolidates the technical issues related to faulting near
Building 371 at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS).
These issues [are] (location of trench, mapping and dating, interpretations,
"It has not been conclusively demonstrated that the inferred fault at
Building 371, with a dislocation of about 40-50 ft., does in fact extend
to within the trench located 1.3 km north of Building 371."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (July 10, 1995).
Flats Environmental Technology Site (RFETS) - Buildings 776/777 and 771
structural integrity concerns. Memorandum for G.W. Cunningham, Technical
"Stabilization of the combustible residues at Rocky Flats is a critical
path meeting the requirements of Board Recommendation 94-1 for processing
of high residues."
"Incineration requires an Environmental Impact Statement and a Clean
Air Act permit, which DOE said would require several years to obtain. Hence,
the purpose of the workshop was to select an alternative to incineration.
DOE RFFO informally favors only venting and repacking for most combustible
residues; this alternative does not, however, satisfy Recommendations."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (December 16,
1996). Review of Deactivation and Decommissioning Plans for Buildings
771 and 779 at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, September 17-19,
1996. Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"Purpose: This trip report documents the review conducted by the Defense
Nuclear Facilities Safety Board's (Board) technical staff and outside expert
of concerns regarding the integrity of Buildings 776/777 and 771."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (July 15, 1996).
and Authorization Basis Review at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology
Site, May 23, 1996. Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"The Board has identified B771 as one of the highest-priority facilities
in the DOE nuclear weapons complex to be deactivated and decommissioned,
because of significant fissile material holdup and contamination from plutonium
processing and research and development activities during a period of nearly
40 years. Many of the processes in B771 involved weapons-grade plutonium
dissolved in strong acid solutions that have leaked from equipment during
the years and contaminated numerous areas of the building. There is a significant
amount of holdup in the production equipment including gloveboxes, ventilation
ducting, and filters, as well as in inaccessible areas. Plutonium holdup
in B771 ductwork alone is estimated to be more than 10 kg. with unknown
quantities in equipment, tanks, and piping." (from cover letter and recommendation
enclosed with report).
"Thousands of containers of waste chemicals are presently being stored
in B771 (more than 5000) and B779 (about 4200). Many of these chemicals
are flammable, explosive, corrosive, and/or toxic. They exist in open or
degraded containers that are inconsistent with safe storage of hazardous
materials as specified in RCRA 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part
265 and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 231 standards. Numerous
excess waste chemicals have been identified, but little effort appears
to have been expended on their disposition; only 300 of 1000 chemicals
in B779 alone have been disposed. Several large tanks of excess nitric
acid and chemical makeup are stored on the second floor of B771. Most chemicals
are managed as radioactive liquids and disposed as mixed waste, unless
laboratory analysis and characterization prove otherwise. Disposition of
the excess chemicals would reduce the clutter and remove the hazards they
pose to workers."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (December 8,
1995). Nuclear and Criticality Safety at Rocky Flats, Trip Report (November
28 - December 1, 1994). Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical
"A significant number of transuranic (TRU) waste drums are stored in
plutonium buildings and waste storage facilities at RFETS. An attendant
safety issue for such storage is the potential for generation of flammable
gases as a result of radiolytic decomposition of the waste forms. The site
had scheduled all these drums to be vented by the end of fiscal year 1995
as part of the site risk reduction program. Although more than 500 drums
remain unvented, venting of the drums was discontinued last year. The Board
believes that venting of TRU waste drums, especially those containing ion
exchange resins or cemented sludge, warrants a priority higher than the
one currently assigned by the Department of Energy."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (December 8,
1995). Rocky Flats Solution Tanks Safety Review - Trip Report (May 23-25,
1995). Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"All the operations in Building 771 and operations involving more than
200 grams of plutonium in other buildings at RFETS have been suspended
following the criticality infraction in Building 771 in September 1994."
"The detailed hazard analysis of Building 371 has identified 12.9 metric
tons of plutonium as the material at risk. Five metric tons of plutonium
is in the form of dispersible powder with the rest as massive metals with
significantly lower respirable release fractions."
"Following the criticality infraction in Building 771 in September 1994,
a root cause analysis, prepared by EG&G, identified several issues
which contributed to the incident. Conduct of operation, training, supervision,
and controls and barriers were identified as contributing factors which
led to the incident. Consequently, all operations in Building 771 and activities
involving more than 200 grams of Pu in other buildings have been curtailed
pending corrective actions."
"...hydrogen generation resulting from radiolysis of acidic solutions
in the tanks was a safety issue. According to LATO calculations, sufficient
hydrogen could be generated in high plutonium concentration tanks to reach
the lower explosive limit (LEL) in about 12 hours if the hydrogen was not
vented. Due to significant consequences of a hydrogen explosion, LATO recommended
that it was 'extremely important that ventilation be maintained on all
solutions in tanks.'"
"Preliminary staff calculation shows that if the tanks were properly
vented, there should have been 1 to 3 percent annual reductions in the
tank level due to evaporation. The tanks levels, however, have been steady
according to the measurements over the last 5 years."
"Westinghouse Savannah River Company (WSRC) has identified similar conditions
in solution tanks at FB Line. WSRC, however, has implemented procedures
to purge the tanks on a frequent basis (at least once a day) in order to
prevent hydrogen generation from reaching the LEL."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (August 14, 1995).
Flats - Status of Plutonium Residue Processing, May 22, 1995. Recommendation
to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"Tank Sampling: As of May 23, 1995, EG&G had sampled nine tanks
in Building 771 out of ten identified as potentially containing high hydrogen
concentrations. Three of the tanks sampled, D550, D931, and D933, contained
approximately 50, 50, and 40 volume percent hydrogen, respectively. These
concentrations are well within the explosive range and 40-50 times higher
than the hydrogen level allowed by Code 69 of the National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA 69)."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (July 21, 1995).
371 and 776 Ventilation at Rocky Flats. Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham,
"Rocky Flats has a total of 106 metric tons of plutonium bearing residues
which [fall] into five major categories: 1) salts, 2) combustibles, 3)
ash, 4) wet/miscella [, 5)] inorganics. These residues contain about 3
weight percent of plutonium and app. one-half of the total residues are
classified as high risk. ... The status of each of these residue categories
(call by EG&G) are presented below."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (July 5, 1995).
Report to Rocky Flats, January 3-6, 1995 - Review of Criticality Safety
and Building 707 Thermal Stabilization Preparations. Recommendation
to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"Building 371. Activities in building 371 were terminated on March 16,
1995, based on numerous deficiencies with the ventilation systems. As of
May 24, 1995, activities have not resumed. The contractor has stated that
'this termination is necessary because the impact of these deficiencies
on the facility's authorization basis in unknown.' The major physical cause
of the termination of operations can be traced to the malfunctioning of
the instrument air system."
"Another important manifestation of the unacceptable level of material
condition of Building 371 is the frequency of alarms received in the Building.
Prior to April 1990 this was running at approximately 500 per day and it
is currently in excess of 2400. An acceptable level has not been established.
At the 500 level, an adequate response to each alarm is beyond the resources
and staffing for the facility."
"In its present configuration, the vast majority (several hundred) of
the instrumentation and controls in the Building 776 control room are out
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (July 5, 1995).
Hydrogen Generation in Rocky Flats Plutonium-Nitric Acid Solution Tanks,
November 28-December 1, 1994. Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical
"Procedures for draining tanks which have solutions with unconfirmed
plutonium concentrations allow the solution to be drained into three 4-liter
bottles for sampling. A 12-liter volume in a single spherical unit with
moderate reflection could possibly pose a criticality concern when the
plutonium concentration is 100 g/liter. Highly concentrated solutions do
exist in Building 771 and could accidentally be drained through valve misalignment.
Limiting the sample volume to 10 liters or requiring physical separation
of the bottles could eliminate any criticality concern even with solutions
at 500 g/liter Pu concentration and fully reflected."
"The observations made by the staff during this trip and the one on
November 28 through December 2, 1994 identify some concerns with the safety
culture of the RFFO and EG&G Safety Engineering groups. It appears
that the safety engineers are more willing to support the activities than
questioning the safety issues related to the activities."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (May 15, 1995).
Waste Management Review at the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site,
January 9-12, 1995. Recommendation to G.W. Cunningham, Technical Director.
"Analysis shows that even though vent lines to the actinide solution
tanks are open, hydrogen and oxygen will accumulate in tank headspaces.
Without headspace sampling, all tanks may be assumed to contain explosive
mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen. ... Even if the tank wall remains intact,
fittings and sight glasses may likely fail, breaching containment. The
analysis indicates that within relatively short times hydrogen gas can
build up to explosive concentrations. Due to the relatively long stagnant
storage of these solutions, a hydrogen detonation in a tank is believed
to be a credible hazard."
"This analysis assesses hydrogen generation in a total of 14 actinide
solution tanks in buildings 371 and 771."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (September 26,
1994). Rocky Flats Plutonium Storage. Recommendation 94-3 to the
Secretary of Energy pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 2286a(5) Atomic Energy Act of
1954, as amended.
"Summary: The RFETS is having a difficult time shipping radioactive
waste off site because many of its waste containers cannot meet certification
requirements for shipment to the Nevada Test Site (NTS). Because its waste
generation rate exceeds its disposal rate, on-site storage capacity remains
a serious issue. The increase in waste volumes resulting from decommissioning
and environmental restoration activities, combined with a weak waste minimization
program, will only worsen the situation in the next few years."
"Background: Low-level waste (LLW) and low-level mixed waste (LLMW)
at the RFETS are stored in buildings and under tents on the 750 and 904
pads. Currently, 80% of the on-site LLW storage capacity of 8000 yd3
is in use, while 98% of the 14,800 yd3 of Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted LLMW storage capacity is in use."
"During FY94, RFETS only made ten LLW shipments to NTS (a shipment can
contain up to 57 yd3 of waste). This is contrasted to Fernald's
600 shipments. In FY95, RFETS anticipate shipping 395 yd3 to
NTS and 168 yd3 to Hanford. However, this is only about half
of their current generation rate of 1065 yd3 per year."
"Transuranic Waste Management: ... As with LLW, there is a lack of storage
space in both operating and long-term storage facilities. In particular,
there is a lack of vacant floor space as well as a potential conflict of
activities in Building 776. This is the building in which venting and gas
sampling of TRU and TRU-M waste drums takes place; 1150 drums are left
to be vented."
"It should be noted that current cost of disposal at the Nevada Test
Site of low-level waste generated by the RFETS is $10 per ft3
(as compared with an estimated commercial low-level waste disposal cost
of $300 per ft3. This is not much of an incentive to minimize
the waste generation rate."
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (June 4, 1990).
Safety at the Rocky Flats Plant. Recommendation 90-6 to the Secretary
of Energy pursuant to Section 312(5) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954,
"The Board has been informed in briefings by the Department of Energy
(DOE) that Building 371 is considered to be structurally the best on-site
facility for the storage of plutonium, and that steps are therefore scheduled
that in time will move the major part of the Site's plutonium inventory
into storage in this building. As a result, Building 371 will assume a
unique role as the storehouse which contains the largest single accumulation
of plutonium in the DOE complex. It follows that potential health and safety
issues associated with this proposed use of the building also assume very
Dow et. al. (1971 to date). Dow Chemical, Rockwell International,
and EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc., annual environmental monitoring reports
for the Rocky Flats Plant (various titles), produced annually since 1971
by EG&G Rocky Flats, Inc. and its predecessors.
"...that fissile materials have accumulated in certain portions of these
systems. In addition, other more recent physical studies have confirmed
fissile and other undefined debris exist in the ducts."
"As of this time, full characterization of the situation by DOE and
its contractors has not been completed; hence, all specific remediation
measures have not yet been determined."
Hardy, E. and Krey, (1995). P. Comments on "Spatial
analysis of plutonium-239+240 and americium-241 in soils around Rocky Flats,
Colorado," by M.I. Litaor. J. Environ. Qual. 24:506-516. J. Environ.
Qual. 24(6), 1229.
Hardy, E.P., Volchok, H.L., Livingston, H.D. and Burke,
J.C. (1980). Time pattern of off-site plutonium deposition from Rocky Flats
Plant by lake sediment analyses. Environment International, 4,
"He then extends this conclusion to say that if his assessment of the
Pu and Am dispersal patterns is true, there was less public exposure to
these actinides than previously suggested by Johnson in 1981. Since Litaor
did not sample east of Indiana Avenue, this has no validity whatsoever."
Ibrahim, S.A., Webb, S.B. and Whicker, F.W. (1997). Contributions
of Rocky Flats releases to the total plutonium in regional soils. Health
Physics. 72(1). pg. 42-48.
"The 18 nCi 239,240Pu per m2 (665 Bq/m2)
from the Plant that had accumulated in the sediment is reasonable when
compared to soil analyses." (p. 21)
Additional deposition of 8000 pCi/m2 (296 Bq/m2)
attributed to weapons fallout.
Is this is a gross overestimation of actual weapons fallout plutonium
ground deposition, the worldwide cumulative average of which is 50-60 Bq/m2,
or does this reflect the impact of upwind weapons testing in Nevada?
Illsley, C.T. (January 28, 1983). Environmental inventory-updated
information on burial sites at Rocky Flats. Internal Doc. EA-321-83-240.
Rockwell Int., Golden, CO.
"Total 239,240Pu and the 240Pu:239Pu
atom ratio were measured in soil samples from around the Rocky Flats Environmental
Technology Site (RFETS) during 1992-1994." (abstract).
"Concentrations of 239,240Pu within this sample set ranged
from 1.1 Bq kg-1 offsite to 57 Bq kg-1 onsite..."
Johnson, C.J. (1988). Rocky Flats: Death Inc. New
York Times, Dec. 18, 1988.
Jones, R.H., and Zhang, Y. (1996). Spatial and Temporal
Analysis of the Rocky Flats Soil Plutonium Data. Colorado Department
of Public Health and Environment, Radiation Control Division, Denver, CO.
Local health inspector found 44 times more plutonium in
soil near plant than had been reported earlier by the government.
Krey, P.W. and Hardy, E.P. (August 1970). Plutonium
in soil around the Rocky Flats Plant. Report of the U.S. Atomic Energy
Commission. Report No. HASL-235. Health and Safety Laboratory: New York,
An overview of this report is available at Internet URL: http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/cdphe_dir/rc/rchom.html
This report is an attempt to reformat previously reported data collected
not only by the Radiation Control Division, but also contained in other
reports, to update contour mapping of the Rocky Flat's plutonium plume.
The introduction to this report references not only the Krey and Hardy
contour map of 1970 but "other surveys of contamination around Rocky Flats
have also used contour maps, one of the most recent of which was published
in 1993 by M. I. Litaor."
"From 1970 to 1991, the Radiation Control Division performed several
surveys of plutonium contamination in surface soil. The purpose of the
surveys was to find the extent and degree of plutonium contamination in
the vicinity of the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site [RFETS],
formerly the Rocky Flats Plant." (Introduction and overview, pg. 1).
This report is the reformatting of this data into contour maps due to
numerous requests from public interest groups etc.
"Radiation Control Division staff have observed over the years that
the highest measured concentrations were from samples that were taken in
the first few years of the survey." (Introduction and overview, pg. 2).
"The postulated decrease in concentration over time was suggested to
have been due to any number of removal mechanisms, including erosion and
migration to greater depth from the surface." (Introduction and overview,
"The Jones and Zhang study, however, indicates that in fact the concentrations
have not decreased over time, but rather that the measured concentrations
have decreased in successive surveys because the contamination that had
fallen on the surface was being diluted in samples that were collected
to greater depth as the survey technique evolved." (Introduction and overview,
"...THE MAIN REPORT SHOW THE INVESTIGATORS' ESTIMATES OF SURFACE SOIL
CONCENTRATIONS TO A DEPTH OF 1/8"." (Introduction and overview, pg. 2).
Deposition contours of 239Pu deposits ranged from 20 dpm/gm
on the southeasterly side of RFETS to .02 in outlying areas.
Close in sectors (1.5 mi.) exhibited a decrease of plutonium concentrations
over time; e.g. sector 2: 66.84 dpm/gm (66,840 dpm/kg) gradually declining
to 6.57 dpm/gm.
The CDPHE website contains links to a whole series of reports on the
Rocky Flats site, the most important of which will be reviewed and added
to this section of RADNET during 1997.
|Feb 14, 1970
||Rocky Flats, CO
||On site soil
||171,000 d.p.m./kg dry soil (2,850 Bq/kg)
Krey, P. W. (1976). Remote plutonium contamination and
total inventories from Rocky Flats. Health Phys. 30, 209-214.
Soil Samples were collected to a depth of 20 cm at 33 sites extending
as far as 40 miles from the plant site.
Deposition concentrations of 239Pu as high as 2,000 mCi/km2
were found off the plant site: concentrations decreased rapidly with distance
(pg. 1). (weapons testing fallout baseline is 1.5 mCi/km2 )
This report contains a graphic contour map; "the contamination pattern
extends eastward from the plant in the direction of the resultant wind
vector and has virtually no westward component. The pattern is incompatible
with the wind direction on the day of the May 11, 1969 fire. Leaking
barrels of plutonium laden cutting oil stored in the southeast corner of
the plant are the likely source of the contaminant." (pg. 1).
The May 11, 1969 fire as well as several others (Sept. 11, 1957; 1967)
also released substantial quantities of plutonium in the resulting smoke
plume; while this report does not comment on the smoke plume's source term,
it is likely this component of the Rocky Flat's release plume was dispersed
to far field locations in quantities too small to significantly impact
the deposition patterns documented in the contour map in this report which
resulted from the leaking drums. The same observation may be made about
the stack releases.
"Three mCi/km2 of 239Pu is the lowest contour
readily discernible in the contamination pattern and extends about 8 miles
E and SE of the plant." (pg. 1).
Krey, P.W., Hardy, E.P. and Toonkey, L.E. (1976). The
distribution of plutonium and americium with depth in soil at Rocky Flats.
USERDA Environmental Quarterly Report. HASL-318. U. S. Atomic Energy Commission,
Health and Safety Lab. New York.
Krey, P.W., et. al. (1976). Plutonium and Americium
contamination in Rocky Flats soils - 1973. HASL-304. U.S. Atomic Energy
Commission, New York.
Litaor, M. I., Thompson, M.L., Barth, G.R. and Molzer,
P.C. (1994). Plutonium-239+240 and Americium-241 in soils east of Rocky
Flats, Colorado. J. Environ. Qual. 23(6), 1231-1239.
Litaor, M.I., et al. (1995). Comprehensive appraisal of
in soils around Rocky Flats, Colorado. Health Physics, 69,
"Plutonium 239 + 240 and Am-241 activities in the soils ranged from
164 280 Bq/kg to 0.0037 Bq/kg, decreasing with distance from the source."
(pg. 1231, abstract).
"More than 90% of the Pu-239 + 240 and Am-241 activities were confined
to the upper 12 cm of the soil, regardless of the soil characteristics,
or distance and direction from the source." (pg. 1231, abstract).
"Earthworm activity is probably important in the redistribution of actinides
in the upper 40 cm of many of the soils investigated." (pg. 1231, abstract).
"Past cleanup operations have been limited to the upper 10 to 15 cm
of the soil (Baker, 1982). Earthworms and other soil fauna, however, may
bring Pu-239 + 240 activity that will exceed the 33.3 Bq/kg guideline from
depths > 15 cm. Hence, future cleanups to greater soil depth may be cost
prohibitive because of the greater volume of contaminated soil." (Pg. 1238).
Litaor, M. I. (1995). Reply to comments on "Spatial analysis
of plutonium-239+240 and americium-241 in soils around Rocky Flats, Colorado,"
by M. I. Litaor. J. Environ. Qual. 24:506-516. J. Environ. Qual.
"Plutonium activity reported in the exhaustive data set ranged from
0.03 Bq kg-1 to 407,000 Bq/kg-1 with a mean of 1,443
Bq kg-1..." (p. 923).
Litaor cites several other studies of global fallout plutonium in Colorado
which suggest a large range of plutonium activities "probably due to weather
patterns, surficial soil processes, and land-use practices in the last
30 years, as well as error associated with the various soil sampling techniques
and laboratory methods employed." (pg. 933).
"In the present study, we selected a threshold of 2.96 Bq kg-1
as the uppermost representation of global-fallout plutonium and 1.29 Bq
kg-1 as its mean." (p. 933).
The use of the reporting unit of Bq/kg for denoting plutonium deposition
is extremely misleading; plutonium deposition is usually reported in Bq/m2,
as the depth used for the kg soil samples can vary from researcher to researcher,
and the kg soil samples are taken over a smaller area thereby allowing
more impact from wind erosion processes. Multiple bioregional plutonium
source points further complicate the attempt to pin down the specific contribution
of weapons testing derived plutonium fallout.
It is obvious in this series of reports by Litaor and others that wind
dispersion mechanisms are spreading the RFETS derived plutonium over wide
areas of the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains with the result that
some of the deposition levels documented by the contour maps in theses
reports are declining. One may then incorrectly conclude that earlier reports
of higher levels of plutonium deposition may have been incorrect when in
fact these erosion mechanisms are rapidly and efficiently spreading this
plutonium over wide areas in quantities which cannot be differentiated
from either weapons test derived plutonium or other plume source points
such as Los Alamos National Laboratory. In this desiccated environment,
the efficiency of wind dispersion mechanisms cannot be underestimated.
"A PPRG of 126 Bq kg-1 of 239+240Pu in soil was
computed to meet the stringent requirements of a residential scenario."
Litaor, M. I. (1995). Spatial analysis of plutonium-239+240
and americium-241 in soils around Rocky Flats, Colorado. J. Environ.
Qual. 24, 506-516.
Litaor, M.I. (1995). Uranium isotopes distribution in
soils at the Rocky Flats Plant, Colorado. J. Environ. Qual. 24,
"Soils were sampled from 118 plots ... by compositing 25 evenly spaced
samples..." (pg. 506, abstract).
"Plutonium-239+240 activity ranged from 1.85 to 53 560 Bq/kg with a
mean of 1924 Bq/kg and a standard deviation of 6327 Bq/kg. Americium-241
activity ranged from 0.18 to 9990 Bq/kg with a mean of 321 Bq/kg and a
standard deviation of 1143 Bq/kg." (pg. 506, abstract).
"The isopleth configuration was consistent with the hypothesis that
the dominant dispersal mechanism of Pu-239+240 was wind dispersion from
west to east." (pg. 506, abstract).
"In general, Am-241 is more difficult to measure than Pu-239+240 due
to the elaborate extraction procedure required to separate Am-241 from
lanthanides and Cm. The increase in analytical error resulted in anomaly
of the Am-241/Pu-239+240 ratio." (pg. 515).
"These findings clearly demonstrated that the level of contamination
in surface soils near the eastern boundary of Rocky Flats and the exposure
risk to Pu-239+240 and Am-241 are negligible." (pg. 515).
See Hardy and Krey: comments on this conclusion and their response to
this paper cited above.
Litaor, M.I., Ellerbroek, D., Allen, L., and Dovala, E.
(1995). A comprehensive appraisal of plutonium-239+240 in soils of Colorado.
Phys. 69. 923-935.
"Uranium-234 activity ranged from 25.9 to 92.8 Bq kg-1, U-235
activity ranged from 0.1 to 25.1 Bq kg-1, whereas U-238 activity
ranged from 30.7 kg-1 to 286 Bq kg-1." (pg. 1, abstract).
"Most of the observed activities of U-234 and U-235 were well within
the natural range of U isotopes in soils." (pg. 1, abstract).
"The two soil plots with the highest U-235 activity (Fig. 3) were probably
resulted from surface flow and interflow from the east spray field (see
Fig. 1). The east spray field received large amount of irrigation water
from a series of holding ponds that between 1952 and 1979 received laundry
waste water containing actinides." (pg. 3).
"These results suggest that the impact of RFP on U distribution in surficial
soil is limited. Hence, future remedial activities of U-isotopes in soils
should focus on the directly impacted areas such as the East Trenches,
the former storage site, and the few plots with elevated U activities."
Litaor, M.I., Barth, G.R. and Zika, E.M. (July-August,
1996). Fate and transport of Plutonium-239+240 and Americium-241 in the
soil of Rocky Flats, Colorado. J. Environ. Qual. 25.
Litaor, M.I. and Allen, L. (September, 1996). A comprehensive
appraisal of 241Am in soils around Rocky Flats, Colorado. Health
Physics. 71(3). 347-357.
"Approximately 90% of the Pu-239+240 and Am-241 activity in the soils
under study was observed in the upper 12 cm, below which a rapid decrease
of actinide activity occurred (Fig. 3). However, appreciable Pu-239_240
activities were observed at depths of 24 and 36 cm in Pit 5 (1032 and 895
Bq/kg, respectively), and increases in Pu and Am activities were also observed
at 48 and 96 cm in Pit 4 (Fig. 3). These actinide activities are significantly
higher than previously reported for soils at the Site. ... This apparent
discrepancy can be explained by the edaphic factors observed in the study
area. Pit 5 is located on a steep slope (12%) and its upper 48 cm exhibited
a very coarse texture (Table 2). Pits 1 through 5 exhibited high hydraulic
conductivities in the A horizon, and occasionally, in the B horizons (Table
2)." (pg. 4).
"Plutonium-239+240 and Am-241 activities in the soil interstitial water
collected by the ZTS [Zero-Tension Sampler] showed a clear distribution
with depth (Fig. 4). Actinide activities were significantly higher in the
upper 20 cm than in the deeper sampling depths (Table 3)." (pg. 4).
"... Am-241/Pu-239+240 ratios did not increase significantly with depth
... The results indicated that Am-241 does not move faster than Pu-239+240
in the soils of the Site." (pg. 4).
"The actinide activities in the soil interstitial water were completely
uncorrelated with the magnitude of volume flux (r2 = 0.006).
This profound lack of correlation was consistent under all rain simulations."
"This study has also demonstrated that our current understanding of
the edaphic [soil related] factors that control the fate and transport
of actinides in the soil environs is limited." (pg. 6).
Litaor, M.I. and Ibrahim, S.A. (September-October, 1996).
Plutonium association with selected solid phases in soils of Rocky Flats,
Colorado, using sequential extraction technique. J. Environ. Qual. 25.
"Weapons grade plutonium processed at RFETS was reported to have isotopic
composition of 0.04% 238Pu, 93.3% 239Pu, 6% 240Pu,
0.58% 241Pu, and 0.04% 242Pu (Krey and Krajewski
1972; Martell 1975). The initial 241Am activity in the weapons
grade plutonium processed at RFETS did not exceed 10-4% (Krey
et al. 1976). Consequently, nearly all the 241Am activity in
the soil around RFETS resulted from radioactive decay of 241Pu
(t1/2 = 14.4 y) to 241Am." (pg. 347).
"The physicochemical characteristics of 241Am in the environment
are markedly different than those of 239+240Pu. Fowler and Essington
(1974) ascertained that americium is more soluble than plutonium and may
become the radionuclide of prime concern because it has a faster migration
rate in soils. Romney et al. (1985) showed that root uptake of 241Am
by various plants was consistently greater than that of plutonium. 241Am
exhibited a higher solubility than did 238Pu and 239+240Pu,
as observed in rumen contents of cattle grazing on actinide-contaminated
desert vegetation (Barth et al. 1985)." (pg. 347).
"The major finding of this work was that the spatial distribution and
dispersal mechanisms of 241Am were similar to those of 239+240Pu.
The area adjacent to the former storage site is the most significantly
contaminated with 241Am in spite of several soil removal operations
(Barker 1982)." (pg. 356).
This report includes interesting contour maps of 241Am distribution
which illustrate a more easterly rather than southeasterly pattern of RFETS
effluent distribution as suggested by Krey and Hardy (1970).
Liator, M.I., Barth, G., Zika, E.M., Litus, G., Moffitt,
J. and Daniels, H. (1998). The behavior of radionuclides in the soils of
Rocky Flats, Colorado. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity. 38(1).
"Prediction of Pu transport in the soil and vadose zone will be significantly
improved if the Pu distribution and association with the various solid
phases of the soil are well defined." (pg. 1).
"A sequential extraction experiment was conducted to assess the geochemical
association of Pu with selected mineralogical and chemical phases of the
soil. In the surface horizons, Pu-239+240 was primarily associated with
the organic C (45-65%), sesquioxides (20-40%), and the residual fraction
(10-15%). A small portion of Pu-239+240 was associated with soluble (0.09-0.22%),
exchangeable (0.04-0.08%), and carbonates (0.57-07.0%) phases. These results
suggest that under the observed pH and oxic conditions, relatively little
Pu-239+240 is available for geochemically induced transport processes."
"Uncommon hydrogeochemical conditions were observed during the spring
of 1995, which may have facilitated a partial dissolution of sesquioxides
followed by desorption of Pu resulting in increased Pu mobility." (abstract).
"... under ... anoxic conditions, certain bacteria may even dissolve
the insoluble Pu-oxides (Rusin et al., 1994), and may further enhance its
mobility and bioavailability. This hydrogeochemically induced transport
mechanism was not envisioned under any environmental condition or hyudrogeochemical
modeling scenarios (USDOE, 1991)." (pg. 4).
"Plutonium-239+240 activity in the top soil horizons ranged from 3920
to 18 200 Bq kg-1, with mean activity of 8480 Bq kg-1.
The distribution of Pu-239+240 activity in the samples collected from the
five pits showed that >90% of the Pu isotopes is residing in the upper
18 cm of the soil (Table 2). The activity of Pu-239+240 at all locations
decreased with depth to near background levels (i.e., global fallout ~
1.5 Bq kg-1) in the deepest horizons (>1 m)." (pg. 2-3).
Little, C. A. and Whicker, F. W. (1978). Plutonium distribution
in Rocky Flats soil. Health Phys. 34, 451-457.
"The distribution of radionuclides during the monitoring period from
1993 to 1995 suggested that Pu-239 + 240 and Am-241 are largely immobile
in semi-arid soils." (pg. 17).
Little, C. A., Whicker, F. W. and Winsor, T.F. (1980).
Plutonium in a grassland ecosystem at Rocky Flats. J. Environ. Qual.
Love, J. (1994). Rocky Flats soil plutonium survey
from 1970 to 1991, technical status report. Colorado Department of
Poet, S.E. and Martell, E.A. (1972). Plutonium-239
and americium-241 contamination in the Denver area. Health Physics,
Rocky Flats Plant. (1992). Rocky Flats Plant
Site environmental report. RF-ENV-92. Rocky Flats Plant, Golden, CO.
"...the 239Pu contamination in off site areas
just east of the Rocky Flats plant ranges up to hundreds of times that
from nuclear tests." (p. 537)
"Results for soils of known last date disturbance make
it evident that most of the off site Pu accumulated between 1966 and 1969."
"241Am, which grows in from 241Pu
present in the contaminant, now contributes between 3 and 15% as much alpha
activity as 239Pu and ultimately will approach comparable levels."
Seed, J.R., Calkins, K. W., Illsley, C.T., Miner, F.J.
and Owen, J.B. (1971). Committee evaluation of Pu levels in soils within
the surrounding USAEC Installation at Rocky Flats, Colorado. DOW Chemical
Company, RF-INV-1. DOW Chemical Co., Golden, CO.
Terry, R. (1991). Contamination of surface soil
in Colorado by plutonium, 1970-1989: summary and comparison of plutonium
concentration in soil in the Rocky Flats plant vicinity and eastern Colorado.
April 22, 1991, at Annual Technical Meeting, Central Rocky Mountain Chapter/Health
Thomas, R.S. and Ibrahim, S.A. (1995). Plutonium concentrations
in lichens of Rocky Flats environs. Health Physics. 68:3, 311-319.
||Lichen median (same plot)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1974). Radiation
Data and Reports, 15, 9, 549-624.
Correlation of plutonium in lichen showed a direct relationship
to soil concentrations.
Webb, S. B., Stone, J.M., Ibrahim, S.A. and Whicker, F.W.
(1994). The spatial distribution of plutonium in soil near the Rocky
Flats Plant. Colorado State University, Department of Radiological
Health Sciences, Fort Collins, CO.
The Miami levels are typical northern hemisphere concentration
levels as noted in the HASL surveys.
Western Technologies. (1991). Plutonium-238 and
239/240 testing of the surface soil on the Conda, Spicer, and MaKay gravel
lease properties, Rocky Flats west buffer zone. Project 769-OK-007,
Western Aggregates Inc., Boulder, CO.
|Sandia National Laboratories,
An important research and development laboratory located
on 2,828 acres 6.5 miles east of Albuquerque, NM, total BEMR life cycle
facility stabilization, environmental restoration and waste management
costs are estimated at $1,591,074,000.
"The principal contamination sources include firings
conducted over many years to test weapons and weapons components; discharges
of radioactive liquids and hazardous chemicals; oil spills; disposal of
radioactive waste and hazardous chemicals in landfills; rocket launches;
and burning of certain wastes, such as high explosives. The wide range
of contaminated facilities includes reactors, artillery ranges, and scrap
yards." (BEMR pg. New Mexico - 52).
Sandia is the location of 2,331 kg of spent nuclear
fuel, and a possible site for some undocumented historical disposal of
missing military radioactive wastes. Sandia is of most interest, however
as a principal component of DOE efforts to monitor and dispose of existing
radioactive wastes. Sandia is the principle laboratory involved with the
design and construction of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for disposal
of weapons production derived transuranic wastes, as well as the location
of the Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC), which uses sophisticated remote
sensing technologies as a component of nuclear non-proliferation research
and investigation. See especially Sandia derived information pertaining
to the Airborne Multisensor Pod System (AMPS). Also see RAD 4: Definitions
and conversion factors for more information pertaining to AMPS. See RAD
13: RADLINKS: Part II-D, Sandia National Laboratory.
Plant, S. Carolina
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Integrated DataBase
the Savannah River Site (SRS) inventory of high-level waste as of Jan.
1, 1996 at 502,200,000 Ci (See Oak Ridge citation under the subsection,
S. Nuclear Power Plants; also see additional comments on missing
U.S. military (DOE) high-level wastes in part 14 of this section).
The DOE Baseline Environmental Management Report (BEMR) lists total life
cycle remediation costs at $48,769,000,000, another example of DOE's liberal
(i.e. low) estimates for one of the most contaminated weapons production
sites in the world. Not enough data is available to determine whether the
Savannah River site or the Hanford Reservation in Washington is the second
largest nuclear accident-in-progress within the continental United States;
the Rocky Flats site being the most dangerous in terms of the immediate
potential health physics impact.
The Savannah River Site covers 310 sq. miles in west
central South Carolina and is separated from Georgia only by the Savannah
River on its south west side. The DOE BEMR includes an extensive description
of the facilities in this location including area maps.
The Savannah River Technology
Center (SRTC) maintains an Internet Site (see RAD 13: RADLINKS: Part
II D-2: DOE Laboratory Servers).
Alberts, J.J., Halverson, J.E. and Orlandini, K.A. (1986).
The distribution of plutonium, americium and curium isotopes in pond and
stream sediments of the Savannah River Plant, South Carolina, USA. J.
Environ. Radioactivity, 3, 249-271.
The SRTC Site contains important information about environmental remediation
technologies including air stripping, bioremediation, contaminant chemical
identification using fiber optics, remote systems including robotics, SWAMI
(Stored Waste Autonomous Mobile Inspection), vitrification, as well as
all relevant NEPA ( Natural Environmental Policy Act) Environmental Impact
The SRTC Site has links to HOPS, a "ground-up, top-performance large
scale data warehouse engine," including Datadelve, an environmental data
||Savannah River site
||Savannah River site
||Savannah River site
Alvarez, R. and Makhijani, A. (Aug./Sept., 1988). Hidden
legacy of the arms race: Radioactive waste. Technology Review. 42-51.
Comparisons of the elemental and isotopic ratios of the
sediments show that the majority of the sediments studied have been impacted
upon by plant operations...Atom ratios of 240Pu/239Pu
indicate that up to 86% of the Pu in these sediments is derived from plant
operations." (pg. 249).
Carlton, W.H., Murphy, C.E. and Evans, A.G. (1994). Radiocesium
in the Savannah River site environment. Health Physics, 67,
"The Savannah River plant discharges 180,000 gallons of
radioactive and hazardous waste into unlined seepage basins every day."
"The amount of long-lived radionuclides and other toxic
substances that seep from these cement blocks over thousands of years will
far exceed the amount already dumped into the ground." (pg. 50).
Centers for Disease
Control. (February 1999). Savannah River Site (SRS) dose reconstruction.
Radiation Studies Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, CDC,
Atlanta, GA. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/programs/radiation/srs/
||Savannah R. site
||3.5 Ci (130 GBq)
||Savannah R. site
||600 Ci (22,000 GBq)
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. (August 14, 1996).
precipitation system at the Savannah River Site. Recommendation 96-1
to the Secretary of Energy.
"Despite the independence of this study, it has to rely on DOE sources,"
said [Bob] Guild, who has represented former SRS employees in lawsuits.
"The bottom line is the Department of Energy's own record keeping fails
to account for some of their own radiation releases. There is evidence
SRS suppressed some incidents." (Mark Pratt, February 2, 1999, Associated
Median radionuclide releases from the SRS to air and surface water in
curies. (Results, Table I).
Principal Radionuclide Releases to Air
Principal Radionuclide Releases to Surface Water
|Plutonium-238, 239, 240
Editorial note re: 137Cs releases to surface water:
this dose reconstruction project should be given no credibility in view
of the following information: the DOE Integrated Database indicates
domestic commercial light water reactors have produced 2,310,000,000 Ci
of 137Cs as of 1994. US government military weapons production-derived
can be approximated as 1/5th of commercial reactor production. Almost
all military weapons fuel was produced and reprocessed at the Hanford and
Savannah River Reservations. During the reprocessing of fuel and
the extraction of plutonium for weapons production, hundreds of millions
of curies of radiocesium entered the waste stream. Only a small percentage
of this total remains within (leaky) tanks at the Hanford Reservation and
the Savannah River Plant. The above SRS dose reconstruction project
lists only 250 Ci as being released into surface waters: this is
misleading in that the amounts of 137Cs released at SRP via
"french drains," leaky holding ponds and other uncontrolled liquid releases
other than to surface waters is probably in the hundreds of thousands of
curies. These effluents cannot be measured by taking grab samples
from surface water bodies; their concentrations and their pathways are
essentially unknown. No accurate dose reconstruction for these and
many other effluents can ever be known. Similar observations can
be made about all of the data in the above dose reconstruction project.
This dose reconstruction project may be a laudable attempt to evaluate
impact of SRP operations but it represents a most primitive and, in fact,
nearly stone age attempt to evaluate the health physics impact of emissions
of which no accurate database exists.
Fendley, T.T., Manlove, M.N. and Brisbin, I.L. (1977).
The accumulation and elimination of radiocesium by naturally contaminated
Wood Ducks. Health Physics. 32, 415-422.
"The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Board) has devoted substantial
attention to the planned use of the In-Tank Precipitation (ITP) System
at the Savannah River Site, because of its importance to removal of high-level
radioactive waste from storage tanks at that Site, and because certain
unique hazards are associated with the ITP process."
"The hazards are a consequence of the volatile and flammable organic
compound benzene that is released during the process in amounts that must
not exceed safe limits. The benzene is generated through decomposition
of tetraphenylborate (TPB) compounds. These compounds are added in the
process with the objective to precipitate and remove radioactive cesium
from solution in the waste water destined for the saltstone process."
"The generation of benzene in the waste under treatment in Tank 48 was
unexpectedly rapid. A surprisingly large amount of the benzene remained
captured in the waste, and that benzene was released through action of
mixing pumps in the tank."
Hayes, D.W. (1980). Tritium in the Savannah River estuary
and adjacent marine waters. Report No. IAEA-SM-232/80. International
Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
"Ducks... recaptured after attaining equilibrium concentrations
in the field... [averaged]...16.6 pCi (16,600 pCi/kg) radiocesium/g live
body weight" (pg. 415).
Peak concentrations in recaptured wood ducks exceeded
100,000 pCi/kg live weight.
McLendon, H.R. Soil monitoring for plutonium at the Savannah
River Plant. Health Physics, 28. 347-354.
"... the average tritium concentration in this river is
~5 pCi/ml, whereas other rivers in the southeastern United States of America
average less than 0.5 pCi/ml." (pg. 271).
||Savannah River site
Mohler, H.J., Whicker, F. W. and Hinton, T.G. (1997).
Temporal trends of 137Cs in an abandoned reactor cooling reservoir.
of Environmental Radioactivity. 37(3). pg. 251-268.
Baseline given as 2.0 mCi/km2.
Newman, M.C. and Brisbin, I.L. (1990). Variation of
levels between sexes, body sizes and collection localities of mosquitofish,
holbrooki (Girard 1859), inhabiting a reactor cooling reservoir.
Environ. Radioactivity. 12:2. 131-142.
"A comprehensive resampling study was initiated for the purpose of gaining
insight into 137Cs mobility and retention in Pond B ... The
total measured 137Cs inventory in Pond B decreased from 4.6
x 1011 Bq in 1984 to 2.3 x 1011 Bq in 1994." (pg.
"Concentration ratios for the sediment and biota were very similar for
both studies. A general trend of 137Cs penetration into the
sediment profile and of sediment transport to deeper water was observed."
||Savannah R. cooling reservoir
||Whole body concentration
Pinder, J.E., Alberts, J.J., Bowling, J.W., Nelson, D.M.
and Orlandini, K.A. (1992). The annual cycle of plutonium in the water
column of a warm, monomictic reservoir. J. Environ. Radioactivity.
Concentration factor of this sample was 11,215 (Bq/g dry
/ Bq liter).
"These results suggest that radionuclide whole body concentrations
may vary in unexpected ways between sex or size classes within a given
species and that such differences may also vary within microgeographic
scales." (pg. 131).
"The pond has elevated concentrations of 238Pu
and 239,240Pu in sediments due to releases from former reactor
operations." (pg. 59).
"Pond B is an 87-hectare impoundment constructed in 1961
and used as a cooling reservoir for a nuclear production reactor until
1964. During this period, 5.7 TBq 137Cs, 0.44 TBq 90 Sr and
undocumented quantities of Pu and other actinide elements were released
from the reactor to several aquatic systems including Pond B." (pg. 61).
"Current inventories of Pu in the sediments of Pond B
are approximately 33 MBq 238Pu and 430 MBq 239,240Pu
and are >/= 5 times the inventories expected from global fallout in this
region." (pg. 61).
Straney, D.O., Beaman, B., Brisbin, I.L. and Smith,
M.H. (1975). Radiocesium in birds of the Savannah River Plant. Health
||SRP, Aiken SC
||Kingbird (summer bird)
||Total body burden
||2,992,700 pCi/kg live weight
U.S. Congress. (1989). Nuclear reactor safety
at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Plant. Joint Hearing before
a subcommittee of the Committee on Government Operations House of Representatives
and the Committee on Governmental Affairs United States Senate, Sept. 30,
1988. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
"Significant levels of radiocesium were found in adult
avian communities inhabiting areas near a reactor waste effluent stream
and adjacent to a radioactive waste burial ground." (pg. 341).
"Radiocesium levels found in this study average lower
than those found by Willard (1960)." (pg. 343). (Willard, W.K., 1960,
Science, NY 132, 148 not available for review.).
441 pages of government reporting about unsafe SRP reactors
and not a Bq/m2 or a µBq/m3 in sight.
"Radiation protection rope around the intermediate burial
trenches and the mixed waste facility building had no signs or tags specifying
radiation hazards." (pg. 360).
West Valley is the location of a facility constructed
for the purpose of reprocessing commercial spent fuel. The operation of
this facility resulted in a debacle of major proportions as well as in
the termination of attempts to reprocess spent fuel in the United States.
West Valley is one of the oldest, best known and most thoroughly studied
plume source points in the United States. Articles or research papers discussing
or documenting this plume source point run into the hundreds if not the
thousands over a period of the last three decades. For a concise summary
of this facility see the DOE BEMR, New York. West Valley is currently in
the final stages of a 17 year effort by the DOE to solidify by glassification
600,000 gallons of radioactive waste left over from reprocessing efforts.
Cost estimates for this vitrification program are 1.4 billion dollars for
of 280 ten feet tall by 2 feet in diameter 2.5 ton waste casks which will
be stored on-site indefinitely (until a permanent storage facility is identified
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Integrated Data
Base reports the former fuel reprocessing facility at West Valley,
NY inventory of high-level waste as of Jan. 1, 1996 at 24,700,000 Ci. Extensive
surveys of the West Valley area have been conducted by the New York State
Department of Conservation, one of whose reports is cited in Section 8
U. S. Department of Energy. (1996). Plutonium recovery
from spent fuel reprocessing by nuclear fuel services at West Valley, New
York from 1966 to 1972. U. S. DOE, Washington, D.C.
| Next Part of This Section
| Top of This Section | Next
| Index | Introduction
| Guide | Accidents |
| Radionuclides | Protection
Guidelines | Plumes | Baseline
Data | Dietary Intake | Chernobyl
| Source Points | Maine Yankee
| Links | Bibliography
| Alerts | Sponsor |