Published: November 1999
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the availability of a document relating to the environmental restoration activities at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). The Operable Unit V Feasibility Study Report (FS Report) is available for review at the libraries listed below. The Executive Summary of the FS Report is also available electronically on the world wide web at http://www.oer.dir.bnl.gov/ou5doc.html.
A feasibility study has several components. In a feasibility study, a number of cleanup alternatives are developed and screened for advantages, disadvantages and overall feasibility. The limited number of alternatives that remain after the initial screening are then analyzed in detail.
The Operable Unit V FS Report primarily addresses contaminated soils and sediments from the Peconic River and BNL's sewage treatment plant. As determined in the Operable Unit V Remedial Investigation, the principal contaminants of concern are heavy metals, primarily mercury, silver and copper. Other contaminants, generally located in the same areas as the heavy metals, include low levels of radionuclides (primarily cesium-137) and chemicals such as PCBs and DDD (a product of DDT degradation). These materials have been found on Lab property, both at the Lab's sewage treatment plant and on-site Peconic River sediments.
An investigation of on and off-site Peconic River sediments and soils was conducted in the spring of 1999 to determine the presence or absence of plutonium and related radionuclides and to assess the potential risk to human health. The results of this additional investigation are described in the Plutonium Contamination Characterization and Radiological Dose and Risk Assessment Report. These results show that plutonium and other radionuclides exist in the Peconic River at levels well below those that would pose a risk to the public's health or aquatic life. Levels of heavy metals and PCBs in Peconic River sediments will define any areas requiring cleanup.
Low levels of volatile organic compounds, primarily trichloroethene, were detected in the groundwater both on and off site. The highest level found on site was 32 parts per billion (ppb). Off-site levels are slightly greater than the drinking water standard of 5 ppb. Homes and businesses in the Operable Unit V area were provided public water in 1997, eliminating any possible exposure to groundwater contaminants. Groundwater in the area will be monitored to ensure that the contamination remains in the areas predicted by groundwater modeling.
Tritium was also found in the groundwater of Operable Unit V. Levels of tritium are one-tenth of the drinking water standard, therefore, no treatment is necessary.
The FS Report describes and evaluates cleanup alternatives. Five alternatives for contaminated Peconic River sediments were evaluated in detail using seven U.S. Environmental Protection Agency criteria. These cleanup alternatives included one or more of the following elements: excavation and drying of contaminated sediments; off-site disposal; beneficial reuse of sediments; phytoremediation treatment; use of barriers to prevent sediments from travelling off site; and monitoring.
Alternative 1, taking no action other than monitoring, is required to be evaluated for comparison with the other alternatives. Alternatives 2-5 all require excavation of sediments that have levels of contamination above cleanup goals. In Alternatives 2 and 3, sediments would be dried and disposed of off site. Alternative 4 would involve storing the sediments for later reuse, although potential uses have not yet been identified. Alternative 5 would treat the excavated sediments by growing plant crops in them to absorb contaminants (phytoremediation). These crops would be harvested and disposed of off site. In alternatives 2-5, the wetlands affected by the excavation would be restored.
BNL reviewed four alternatives for addressing soil contamination at the Lab's sewage treatment plant. All of the alternatives would excavate contaminated soils and ship them to a licensed off-site disposal facility. Excavated areas would be backfilled with clean soil and regraded. The alternatives vary in the cleanup levels for the contaminants of concern (mercury and cesium-137).
The preferred remedy for Operable Unit V will be detailed in the Operable Unit V Proposed Plan, which is scheduled to be made available to the public in late November 1999. The public will be able to comment on this plan during the public comment period. After considering all comments received, a final remediation decision will be made by DOE, with the concurrence of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. This decision will be documented in the Operable Unit V Record of Decision. Following the signing of the Record of Decision, the selected remedy will be designed and implemented.
Located in Upton, N.Y., BNL is classified as an Inactive Hazardous Waste Site by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. BNL is on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency'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 V Feasibility Study Report 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