Monitoring the Cleanup
Once the environmental cleanup projects were completed – such as removing and disposing of contaminated tanks and soils, lining and covering landfills, and installing groundwater treatment systems – the projects are turned over to the Lab’s Groundwater Protection Group (GPG). This organization is responsible for long-term surveillance, monitoring, maintenance, operating, reporting, and community involvement activities. They make certain that the cleanup has been and continues to be effective, and that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act environmental cleanup activities at Brookhaven National Laboratory comply with the Record of Decision (ROD) for each project. (A ROD documents the selected remedies that were agreed to by the Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.)
Projects currently being monitored by GPG include groundwater and soils projects, the Peconic River, the BGRR, and the HFBR. Land use and institutional controls identified for these projects are also monitored and inspected to assure compliance with the selected remedies in the RODs. The monitoring results are made available to the regulators during monthly teleconference calls, in presentations to the Community Advisory Council during their monthly meetings, and to the community in the annual Site Environmental and Groundwater Reports.
Site-wide reviews will be conducted, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), every five years to determine if the remedies for the cleanup remain in accordance with the Record of Decision documents.
In 2006, the Department of Energy and the Lab conducted the first comprehensive Five-Year Review for cleanup work performed at the Brookhaven Lab site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concurred that the remedies selected and implemented to date, as reported in the Five-Year Review, were protective of human health and the environment.
The second Five-Year Review was completed in 2011. The review covered remediation of groundwater contamination on and off of BNL property, excavation and disposal of contaminated soils and Peconic River sediments, removal of above- and below-ground storage tanks, capping of landfills, decommissioning activities and long-term surveillance and maintenance at the former Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR) and High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR). Land-use restrictions and institutional controls are in place to ensure that any residual contamination left in place is not dispersed and does not adversely affect human health or the environment.
To learn more about the Five-Year Review visit: www.bnl.gov/gpg/5-year_review.asp.