Debris Pile Fire

March 2000

Background

Following excavation of the Chemical/Animal Pits in 1997, some of the debris was stockpiled for later disposal. In November 1999, BNL began transporting the material, by rail, to a licensed disposal facility in Utah.

History

On March 11, 2000, a smoldering fire broke out in one of the debris piles. The fire was located in an open area in the southeastern portion of BNL. The debris consisted primarily of soil, with small amounts of metal, glass, and wood. Airborne and surface measurements of radiation levels were taken during and after the fire because the soils in the pile contained low levels of radioactivity. The measurements all showed normal background levels. Investigators determined that the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion of straw that had gotten mixed with the soil and debris.