Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor - CERCLA Decision Making
In 1989, Brookhaven National Laboratory was listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the National Priorities List of sites to be remediated. For this reason, environmental remediation at BNL is carried out under the requirements of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). All remediation work is conducted under the framework of an Interagency Agreement among the U.S. Department of Energy, the EPA, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) which was signed in 1992.
The BGRR is Area of Concern 9 (AOC 9) and includes the following sub-AOCs: 9A, Canal; 9B, Underground Ductwork; 9C, Spill Sites; and 9D, Pile Fan Sump. The Department of Energy (DOE) followed the CERCLA framework - characterization and preparation of a Feasibility Study and Proposed Remedial Action Plan - for the decommissioning of the BGRR. Upon the selection of the proposed remedy and issuance of the Proposed Remedial Action Plan, a final remedy, which is protective of human health and the environment, was selected by DOE with approval from EPA and the concurrence of NYSDEC. The final remedy was documented under CERCLA in a Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD, finalized in March 2005, includes DOE's responses to community comments in a Responsiveness Summary.
CERCLA is the federal law that establishes a program to identify, evaluate, and remediate sites where hazardous substances may have been released, leaked, poured, spilled, or dumped into the environment.
National Priorities List is a formal listing of the sites that have been identified for possible cleanup. Sites are ranked by the EPA based on their potential for affecting human health and the environment.
An Area of Concern is an area where releases of hazardous substances may have occurred or a location where there has been a release or threat of a release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant (including radionuclides).
Feasibility Study (FS) is a process for developing, evaluating, and comparing remedial alternatives, using data gathered during site characterization. An FS defines the objectives of the remedial action and analyzes in detail the remedial action alternatives.
The Proposed Remedial Action Plan (PRAP) summarizes the remedial alternatives presented in the analysis of the FS and identifies the preferred alternative and the rationale for selecting the preferred alternative.
A Record of Decision (ROD) documents the final remedy selected for the sites, and includes a responsiveness summary, which addresses comments received on the Proposed Plan during the public comment period. When the ROD is finalized, remedial design and remedial action begin.
A Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) Work Plan describes the final remedial design and establishes a schedule of planned actions to implement the final remedy documented in the ROD. It also includes a Quality Assurance/Quality Control Plan and a Contingency Plan.
The Administrative Record contains the documents, including technical reports, which form the basis for selection of a final remedy and acts as a vehicle for public participation. Decisions about the decommissioning of the BGRR are guided by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). More text here with a status update.
Last Modified: October 21, 2009
Please forward all questions about this site to: John Burke