Information Sessions Held on Peconic River Contamination
In response to community concerns over radioactive contamination that had been detected in the Peconic River, BNL sent out a brochure explaining what had been found and where it was found. The brochure also included an invitation for community members to attend information sessions to get more information.
Extensive sampling had been conducted of the river water and sediment with input from the community. The sampling process was observed by community members and split samples were provided to federal, state, and local agencies for independent testing. Sampling of Peconic River sediments on the BNL site revealed mercury in amounts significant enough to require cleanup. Testing off the BNL property showed levels below regulatory agency standards. (Additional sampling in later years would result in the cleanup of sediment in several areas beyond the BNL boundary.)
Low levels of radionuclides, primarily cesium-137 were also found in sediment. While low levels of plutonium were also detected, they were only slightly above background levels and may, or may not have been related to BNL operations. The maximum level observed off-site was 0.15 picocuries per gram. The on-site average was 0.09 pC/g. According to the EPA, plutonium levels below 2.44 pC/g did not require further analysis. It was expected that removal of river sediment to clean up the metals contamination would also remove most of the radionuclide contamination.
The community and employees were encouraged to ask questions and provide input at three information sessions. One session was held on-site at Berkner Hall during lunch hour and two sessions were held off-site at the Riverhead High School and Riverhead Middle School during evening hours.