Release March 5, 1999
Contact: Peter Genzer (516)
344-3174 or Mona S. Rowe (516)
BNL RELEASES 1997 ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMARY
UPTON, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National
Laboratory (BNL) today issued its Site Environmental Report for
the year 1997. The report presents the results of BNL's environmental
monitoring program and provides an assessment of the Lab's environmental
performance in 1997.
BNL maintains a comprehensive environmental monitoring program.
This program provides early warning of any unexpected environmental
conditions, monitors potential pathways of exposure to the public
and environment, measures potential environmental impacts from
BNL operations, and provides data to demonstrate compliance with
applicable regulatory and permit limits. Highlights of the report
include the following:
- Pollution-prevention and waste minimization efforts continued
to pay dividends at the Laboratory in 1997 by eliminating waste
for several processes, substituting non-hazardous materials for
older industrial processes, and adopting compaction methods to
reduce the volume of metallic bulk waste.
- In 1997, the maximum credible radiation dose due to Laboratory
air emissions was 0.07 millirem (mrem). Using computer modeling,
this dose is calculated for a hypothetical individual residing
at the Laboratory boundary for the entire year. This dose is
equal to 1/140th of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's
standard of 10 mrem for the air pathway. The calculated maximum
credible dose to an individual consuming water from potable wells
containing tritium (just beyond the Laboratory's eastern boundary)
was 0.1 mrem, forty times less than the EPA limit of 4 mrem for
this pathway. Calculated maximum credible doses due to fish
and deer consumption were 0.16 mrem and 9 mrem, respectively.
The dose due to deer consumption is based on a conservative
consumption estimate of 67 pounds per person. The federal dose
limit for members of the public from all man-made exposure pathways
is 100 mrem per year. The average U.S. citizen receives approximately
300 mrem per year from natural background sources of radiation.
- In 1997, BNL's sewage treatment plant (a discharge point
regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)
achieved a compliance rate of greater than 99 percent for liquid
discharges. Compliance exceptions occurred for iron (four times),
ammonia nitrogen (once) and silver (once). Tritium concentrations
in the sewage treatment plant discharge were at their lowest
levels since routine monitoring began in 1966. During 1997,
the average tritium concentration was less than seven percent
of the EPA drinking water standard. For surface water samples,
all water quality measurements were consistent with off-site
control locations and met the N.Y. State drinking water standards.
- BNL performed an extensive characterization of the High Flux
Beam Reactor spent-fuel pool tritium plume in 1997, including
installing more than 100 temporary monitoring wells and analyzing
more than 1,800 groundwater samples. An interim remediation
project was implemented as a precautionary measure to ensure
tritium would not migrate beyond the site boundary at levels
above drinking water standards. Water was removed from the spent-fuel
pool in December 1997, eliminating the source of the tritium.
The plume, which is completely on the BNL property, continues
to be addressed under the Lab's environmental restoration program.
- Other areas of the BNL site where past activities have caused
groundwater, soil and sediment contamination continued to undergo
monitoring and cleanup in 1997 under the federal Superfund program,
which regulates cleanup of more than 1,200 sites nationwide.
Environmental remediation at BNL is conducted in cooperation
with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS),
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC),
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department
BNL has published site environmental reports each year from
1962-1966 and 1971-1997. A summary report for the years 1967-1970
is also available. These reports help identify long-term trends
associated with BNL activities. These trends indicate a steady
reduction of BNL releases to the environment. This effort to
reduce releases is a major commitment of BNL.
Data summarized in the 1997 report were obtained through testing
performed by BNL or independent laboratories, the SCDHS, the New
York State Department of Health and NYSDEC. To obtain a copy
of the report or a summary booklet, call (516) 344-2345 or visit
a library near BNL. The report is also available on the BNL web
site at http://www.bnl.gov.
Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities
available to university, industrial and government personnel for
basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental
sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory
is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit
research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department