Published: July 2000
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of a document titled the Operable Unit III Record of Decision. The document is available for review at the libraries listed below, and will be placed online at http://www.oer.dir.bnl.gov.
The Record of Decision (ROD) presents the selected remedial actions for Operable Unit III, which addresses plumes of groundwater contamination emanating from Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). It also serves as documentation for the final remedy for removal actions that either have been completed or are ongoing. These remedial actions have been jointly agreed to by DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the concurrence of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The ROD also contains a Responsiveness Summary, which documents public comments on the proposed remedial actions and DOE responses to those comments.
Remedies have been selected to address groundwater contamination by volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tritium, and strontium-90.
For VOCs in the Upper Glacial aquifer, the selected remedy has changed slightly from the originally proposed remedy. The remedy now includes on-site treatment at the Lab's southwestern boundary to address low levels of VOCs in the western part of the plume.
The selected remedy also includes all elements of the originally proposed remedy: operation of existing on-site and off-site treatment systems, as well as the installation of new treatment systems on the Lab site at Middle Road, and off site at the LIPA right-of-way, North Street, the Brookhaven Airport, downgradient of North Street East, and the eastern portion of the industrial park just south of the Lab. The remedy also includes a source removal system using recirculation wells with air stripping treatment on site near Building 96.
BNL is undertaking additional characterization of the Magothy aquifer contamination. After this characterization has been completed, DOE, EPA and DEC will evaluate the need for a remedy for the Magothy. If a remedy is deemed necessary, either the ROD will be modified or another decision document will establish the selected action. The public will be given an opportunity to review and comment.
For on-site tritium, the selected remedy is a modification of the originally proposed remedy, as explained below.
After an evaluation period of up to one year following the ROD approval, the existing tritium pump-and-recharge system at the Lab on Princeton Avenue will be placed on standby and later operated as needed.
A low-flow extraction system is being installed near the High Flux Beam Reactor on Cornell Avenue, in the most concentrated area of tritium contamination. This system will be used to remove groundwater containing the highest concentrations of tritium from the aquifer. The extracted water containing tritium will be transported to a licensed off-site facility for disposal. The system is scheduled to begin operations testing the week of June 26, 2000. Several thousand gallons of groundwater containing tritium will be pumped and transported off-site to a licensed disposal facility.
The originally proposed remedy has been modified to include the installation of a second extraction system on Lab property just south of the Cornell Avenue system, on Temple Place. This system will operate for up to one year as needed. It may operate longer than one year if necessary in order to meet the cleanup objectives. The exact location, operational parameters, and treatment and disposal options for the extracted water will be developed during the remedial design process.
The tritium plume will be extensively monitored to ensure that this remedy is achieving the cleanup objectives.
For on-site strontium-90, the selected remedy is the same as the originally proposed remedy. It involves installing extraction wells and using ion exchange to remove strontium-90 from the extracted water. Residual waste that contains strontium-90 will be transported to a licensed off-site facility for disposal. The clean water will be discharged on the Laboratory site. Details of the specific number of treatment systems and locations needed to meet the cleanup objectives will be determined during the design process.
Before treatment begins, a pilot study will evaluate the effectiveness of groundwater extraction and treatment to remove strontium-90. The final remedy may be modified based on the results of this study.
In addition to the above, several removal actions are being selected as final remedies:
Groundwater monitoring will ensure the effectiveness of this remedy.
The next step in the groundwater cleanup is the detailed planning and design of the remedy, including specific treatment system locations, numbers of wells to be installed and groundwater monitoring requirements. The groundwater cleanup will then proceed according to the design. All groundwater treatment systems are expected to be operational by the year 2006 or earlier.
Located in Upton, N.Y., BNL is classified as an Inactive Hazardous Waste Site by the DEC. BNL is on the EPA's National Priorities List.
For more information, contact:
U.S. Department of Energy
Brookhaven National Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Copies of the Operable Unit III Record of Decision are available for review at:
Longwood Public Library
800 Middle Country Rd
Middle Island, NY
Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Public Library
301 William Floyd Parkway
BNL Research Library
U.S. EPA, Region II Library
New York, NY