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Building 134
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000
phone 631 344-2345
fax 631 344-3368
www.bnl.gov

managed for the U.S. Department of Energy
by Brookhaven Science Associates, a company
founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle

News Release

Number: 03-82
Released: November 13, 2003
Contact: Peter Genzer, 631 344 3174 or Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056

Brookhaven Lab Releases 2002 Environmental Report

UPTON, NY – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has issued its 2002 Site Environmental Report. Report highlights include the Lab’s continued expansion of pollution prevention initiatives, re-certification of its environmental management system, and reduced environmental effluents and emissions. The document can be found on the Internet at http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/SER/2002_SER.html 

The Site Environmental Report is prepared annually to summarize the status of the Laboratory’s environmental programs and performance, including steady progress toward cleaning up the site and fully integrating environmental stewardship into all facets of the Laboratory’s mission. These cleanup and integration efforts are major commitments for Brookhaven, one of ten national laboratories owned and funded by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Brookhaven maintains a comprehensive environmental monitoring program to ensure protection of human health and the environment. This program monitors potential pathways of exposure, measures potential environmental impacts from Laboratory operations, and provides data to evaluate compliance with applicable regulatory and permit limits. Environmental program highlights from 2002 include the following:

  • Brookhaven continued implementing pollution prevention programs, recycling programs, and conservation initiatives. In 2002 alone, these efforts saved nearly $1.5 million and supported the recycling or reuse of more than two million pounds of industrial materials. Brookhaven was also one of five organizations named “Environmental Facility of the Year” by Environmental Protection magazine. The magazine noted that the winners “used innovative approaches to protect the environment.”
  • In June 2002, an environmental management system surveillance audit determined that Brookhaven remains in conformance with the globally recognized ISO 14001 standard. ISO 14001 requires an organization to identify potential environmental impacts and establish controls needed to minimize impacts, to monitor and communicate environmental performance, and to establish a formal process for continually improving the system. In July 2001 the Laboratory became the first Long Island-based operation and the first DOE Office of Science facility to achieve this accreditation.
  • In 2002, the dose to a hypothetical member of the public exposed to the maximum level of radiation due to Laboratory air emissions was 0.09 millirem (mrem), or less than 0.04 percent of the average annual natural background level of radiation (approximately 300 mrem on Long Island) and well below the 10-mrem limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. This dose is calculated for a hypothetical individual residing at the Laboratory boundary 24 hours a day for the entire year. The EPA regulates Brookhaven’s radiological air emissions.
  • Monitoring showed that deer and fish on and near the site still contain low levels of Brookhaven-related radionuclides. The calculated maximum hypothetical radiation doses for a person eating locally caught deer and fish were estimated at 2.2 mrem and 0.25 mrem, respectively. The annual dose from deer meat is based on a consumption estimate of 64 pounds per person, and the dose due to fish is based on a consumption estimate of 15 pounds per person. Hunting is not allowed on the Brookhaven site, and a 1999 report from the N.Y. State Department of Health (NYSDOH) concluded that no restrictions on hunting or consumption of deer taken near the Laboratory were needed. NYSDOH has also evaluated data on Peconic River fish and concluded that the existing general fish advisory for all New York State ponds and rivers, including the Peconic, is sufficient. This general advisory is to protect residents from eating large amounts of fish that have not been tested or may contain unidentified contaminants, and recommends that no more than one meal (1/2 pound) per week of fish should be consumed from any freshwater location in the state.
  • In 2002,waste water discharges from the Laboratory’s sewage treatment plant, a discharge point regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), complied with state permit limits in greater than 99 percent of the samples taken. The two exceptions involved the fecal coliform level in one sample and the rate of removal of organic matter not meeting minimum standards in another. In terms of radiological releases, the total amount of tritium released through the sewage treatment plant was the lowest since routine monitoring began in 1966. During 2002, the average tritium concentration was 75 picocuries per liter, or less than one half of one percent of the EPA drinking water standard of 20,000 picocuries per liter (a picocurie is a measurement of radioactivity equivalent to one-trillionth of a curie). For surface-water samples, all water-quality measurements were consistent with off-site control locations (areas not influenced by Brookhaven operations).
  • Areas of the Laboratory site where past activities have caused groundwater, soil, and sediment contamination continued to undergo monitoring and cleanup in 2002. Program highlights included a successful pilot project to remove contaminated sediment from an on-site portion of the Peconic River. In addition, the Lab’s seven on- and off-site groundwater treatment systems cleaned more than 1 billion gallons of water and removed more than 720 pounds of chemical contaminants from the aquifer. Since 1997, more than 3,600 pounds of chemicals have been removed. Nine new groundwater systems are in design or construction phase, and all will be operational by 2005. Environmental restoration at the Laboratory is conducted under the oversight of NYSDEC, EPA, and the Department of Energy, in cooperation with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.
  • Several grants were awarded in 2002 to support research in Brookhaven’s 530-acre Upton Ecological and Research Reserve. The reserve, which makes up 10 percent of the Laboratory’s property and is located within the core preservation area of the Pine Barrens, protects a unique ecosystem of forests and wetlands that provides a habitat for plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. DOE is funding the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services with $200,000 a year to conduct research and resource management programs for the conservation, enhancement, and restoration of wildlife and habitat in the Upton reserve. In 2002, this funding helped support activities in outreach, conservation, and habitat protection, as well as four research grants (for more information, see http://www.bnl.gov/esd/reserve ).

Brookhaven has published site environmental reports each year from 1962 to 1966 and from 1971 to 2002. Summary reports for the years 1947 to 1961 and 1967 to 1970 are also available. Data summarized in the 2002 report were obtained through testing performed by state-certified Brookhaven Lab or independent laboratories, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, NYSDOH, and NYSDEC. To obtain copies of a summary booklet and an accompanying CD containing the full report, call (631) 344-3711 or visit a public library near Brookhaven.