Fact Sheet - Cleanup Options for On- and Off-site Groundwater Contamination
(Initial distribution: August 1998)
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are asking community members for their comments and concerns regarding the Laboratory's draft cleanup options for groundwater contamination. Solvents (also known as volatile organic compounds or VOCs) have migrated from the central area of the Laboratory site to a point just south of Flower Hill Drive in North Shirley, at depths of greater than 200 feet below the land surface. The Lab is also seeking input on draft cleanup options for cleanup of tritium and strontium-90 found in the groundwater beneath BNL.
BNL and DOE are working on cleanup options that would meet three "performance objectives," or goals:
The cleanup options range from relatively non-intrusive actions like continued monitoring and using natural degradation and decay to address the contamination, to more active treatment, which would involve installing cleanup systems both on and off site.
Community input on these options will be used in the selection of alternatives to be evaluated in a feasibility study. A draft proposed cleanup plan will then be submitted to the regulatory agencies overseeing the Lab's cleanup (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation) later this year. Once the plan is approved by the regulatory agencies, the public will be able to provide additional input and learn more about the proposed cleanup alternative.
Interim measures taken
The Laboratory has already taken several actions to begin cleaning up area groundwater while reducing public concerns over potential health effects of the VOCs found in off-site areas. Since January 1996, more than 1,500 area homes and businesses that previously used private well water have been connected to the public water supply. In addition, the Lab has already constructed and is currently operating four groundwater treatment systems that have treated a total of more than 750,000,000 gallons of water to date. A fifth system will be operational by early 1999.
Cleanup Options Identified
BNL and DOE have identified a selection of options we believe are a good starting point for discussions with regulatory agencies and the general public. Over the next several months, BNL will be presenting these cleanup options to regulatory agencies and the public to help reach consensus on a final cleanup plan.
The cleanup options include separate remedies for VOCs, tritium and strontium. Since all the VOC options involve varying levels of treatment system construction and operation in the neighborhoods south of the Lab, public input from these areas is important.
All of the alternatives discussed below also include extensive and ongoing groundwater monitoring.
Volatile organic compound cleanup options include:
1. Constructing and operating groundwater treatment systems in the residential neighborhoods of East Yaphank/North Shirley.
2. Constructing groundwater treatment systems in residential neighborhoods and at the leading edge of the plume (south of Flower Hill Road).
3. Constructing groundwater treatment systems in an unpopulated area on North Street and at the leading edge of the plume (south of Floewr Hill Road).
Options one and two would necessitate some construction of one or more cleanup systems in residential neighborhoods. Differences between the three options include the number of systems constructed and the amount of time the cleanup will take.
Strontium-90 cleanup options include:
1. Constructing extraction and treatment systems to address the most concentrated strontium-90 areas, including the Glass Holes, Pile Fan Sump and Waste Concentration Facility.
2. Using in-place treatment technologies like permeable barriers to trap the strontium and hold it while it naturally decays.
3. Allowing residual strontium-90 in groundwater on-site to naturally decay, continuing groundwater monitoring to ensure drinking water standards for strontium-90 are reached.
Tritium cleanup options include:
1. Installing a low-flow extraction system or carrying out a one-time extraction of the higher concentrations of tritium at the front of the High Flux Beam Reactor.
2. Enhancing monitoring efforts and continuing operation of the current pump-and-recharge system.
3. Shutting down the current pump-and-recharge system and employing natural attenuation and monitoring to ensure drinking water standards are reached.
All of the strontium-90 and tritium alternatives described above are intended to prevent contamination above the drinking water standard from moving off site.
Public Input Important
The final remedies chosen for the contamination could be any one or a combination of the above options, depending on the results of technical evaluations and input received from the public and regulatory agencies like the EPA and DEC. No matter which option is eventually chosen, the Lab will continue its aggressive groundwater monitoring effort to ensure the remedy remains effective over time.
This fall, BNL and DOE staff will be holding a community workshop. Members of the BNL and DOE project team will be on hand to present information about the contamination and proposed cleanup options, and to solicit input from the public.
Information and Contacts
The public is encouraged to review the proposed cleanup options and submit comments. Comments may be mailed to:
U.S. Department of Energy-Brookhaven Group
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973
For more information about this or other Superfund projects at BNL, contact:
Eloise Gmur or Peter Genzer
Environmental Restoration Division
Brookhaven National Laboratory
516-344-6336 or -3174
For information about the role of regulatory agencies in this project, contact:
Community and Goverment Relations Manager
U.S. Department of Energy-Brookhaven Group
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
Reports on the activities of BNL's Environmental Restoration Division are available at the reference desks at area libraries.