Use of Reclamation Facility Concrete Decontamination Pad Halted
The former Reclamation Facility, known as Building 650 or the Hot Laundry, was constructed for the decontamination of radioactively contaminated clothing and heavy equipment. The facility was designed to perform decontamination operations both inside and outside the building. The operation of Building 650 dates back to at least 1959. In 1962, records show that two 2,000 gallon underground storage tanks (USTs) were installed and in 1972 two 3,000 gallon USTs were added.
Radioactively contaminated laundry was cleaned with dedicated equipment and the residual wash water drained into two of the USTs. The contents of the tanks was designated as D-waste, which is defined by BNL as waste with a gross beta activity greater than 90 pico curies/milliliter.
The waste water was pumped from the tanks three times a year and taken to the Waste Concentration Facility by a tanker truck. Typically, however, the water was determined to be clean enough to be routed to the remaining USTs that were designated for F-waste (waste with a gross beta activity less than 90 pCi/ml). The contents of these tanks were emptied approximately twice a year and discharged to the Sewage Treatment Plant.
Building 650 also served as a decontamination facility for radioactively contaminated equipment. The equipment was steam cleaned on a 30-foot by 30-foot concrete pad on the north side of the building. The decontamination pad was in use by 1959, however, the date of its initial operation is not known. The contaminated water from the steam cleaning operation collected in a drain in the middle of the sloping concrete pad known as the Building 650 Sump. It was believed that this waste water, depending on its level of contamination, was then either drained into the USTs, or discharged into BNLs sewer system.
In 1969, five curies of tritium were released from the Building 650 decontamination waste pad into what was believed to be BNL's sanitary sewer system. When the tritium was not detected at the Sewage Treatment Plant, it was discovered through a subsequent investigation that the drainage pipe from the sump was connected to a storm sewer line that discharged into a wooded depression 800 feet away. The practice of decontaminating radioactively contaminated equipment on the concrete pad was halted and the depression became known as the Building 650 Sump Outfall Area. The radionuclides of concern that were found at the sump outfall included Cesium-137, Strontium-90, and Plutonium-239. The Sump Outfall Area was cleaned up in 2002.
After use of the concrete pad was halted in 1969, use of the facility as the hot laundry continued until 1990. It was reported in 1983 that six drums of sludge were removed from the USTs. The facility continued to be used for routine laundry until the late 1990s. The building was then used briefly for Laboratory paper-shredding operations before being abandoned. The building was declared surplus and evaluated in May 2007 to ensure that all environment, safety, and health requirements were satisfied while it awaits demolition.
Description of Removal Actions
During the summer of 1994, the four USTs which were included under Area of Concern (AOC) 12, were removed under Removal Action II, the UST Removal Action. The removal was included under the Lab's program to comply with Suffolk County Sanitary Code - Article 12.
In 1995, as part of the OU IV Interim Remedy Plan, the Building 650 outfall was fenced to exclude pedestrian traffic, and a network of 21 thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) were installed to monitor gamma radiation exposure levels in the area. The sump and outfall were further evaluated under the Operable Unit I Feasibility Study. Excavation and off-site disposal of the contaminated soil was selected as the remedial alternative. Removal of the soils, concrete, asphalt, and storm piping was completed between March and June 2002 under the Building 650 Sump and Outfall project (Area of Concern (AOC) 6).
More than 140 attendees participated in the public meeting on the OU IV Proposed Remedial Action Plan held in December 1995. A public comment period for the review of the Proposed Plan and the Feasibility Study Report ran from November 22, 1995 through January 10, 1996. Copies of the proposed plan and other information were distributed at the meeting and copies of the plan were provided at the EPA Records Room and three local libraries.
Prior to the 1995 meeting community participation activities for OU IV included a public comment period held on the OU IV Remedial Investigation / Feasibility Study Work Plan in 1992, a Pubic Notice was published and a mailing to stakeholders was sent out on the completed Engineering Evaluation Report and Action Memorandum for the soil Interim Removal Action in 1994, and a public notice was published and comment period held on the Remedial Investigation / Risk Assessment Report in January 1995. In January 1996, a Community Forum was established to provide a mechanism for community residents to express their views and concerns to BNL staff.
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