In August, cleanup will begin at two Meadow Marsh ponds,
located in the eastern part of the Laboratory. The man-made ponds, used for
sewage treatment experiments in the 1970ís, are being cleaned and
reconstructed to protect an endangered Tiger Salamander population. Traffic
related to remediation/construction is expected to be heavy at times on the
roads near the Meadow Marsh (located in the Biology Fields), and rail spur south
of the western ball-fields. As a
result, employees who use these roads for recreation and exercise are advised to
be especially cautious.
|During a pre-bid meeting, potential bidders inspect the Meadow Marsh ponds scheduled for cleanup. The Meadow Marsh ponds will be remediated and reconstructed as part of the cleanup action.|
In accordance with the Operable Unit I Record of Decision, workers will pump out nearly 55,000 gallons of water from the ponds, remove 240 cubic yards of contaminated sediments along with their degraded liners, and then reconstruct the wetlands by building one lined pond. Sediments above the liners contain elevated levels of metals such as copper, zinc, and aluminum that threaten the Tiger Salamander. The sediment also contains trace levels of Americium-241 and Cobalt-60.
|The easternmost pond|
The Tiger Salamanders use the ponds for a breeding ground
in late winter and early spring. After they lay their eggs, they migrate to
upland areas. As a result, mid-summer marks an ideal
time for cleanup as the salamanders are believed to have left the Meadow Marsh.
But when the Tiger Salamanders return in January, they will discover a new,
upscale habitat--one that is larger, newly vegetated, better lined, and free of
potentially harmful heavy metals.
Tiger Salamanders are native
only to Long Island and have a limited habitat due in part to increasing land
development. Brookhaven National
Laboratory is one of the largest habitats for the salamanders. Of the Labís 26
ponds, 17 have Tiger Salamanders. The western Meadow Marsh pond in particular is
a very productive area; in one year alone, western pond salamanders produced
more than 70 egg masses.
Although the Tiger Salamanders
should have left the Meadow Marsh by the beginning of August, the ponds were
inspected as a precaution at the end of July, prior to the start of any work.
Using dip nets and a siene net, workers combed the two ponds that are known
habitats for the salamanders. Five were found. They were transported to another
known habitat on site.
|In the western Meadow Marsh pond, workers using dip nets attempted to catch any Tiger Salamanders that had not yet left the ponded areas.|
|Using the seine net, workers captured five Tiger Salamanders. They were taken to another existing habitat on site.|
|One of the Tiger Salamanders caught by Kristine Hoffmann, a summer intern from the University of Massachusetts|
Throughout August and September, employees will observe construction-related traffic associated with the cleanup. Several tanker-truckloads of pond water will be hauled on roads from the Meadow Marsh to an offsite disposal facility. Other trucks will transport approximately 25 roll-off containers of sediment along roads from the Meadow Marsh to the rail spur south of the western ball fields. There, the sediment will be loaded into rail gondola cars and transported by way of rail to Envirocare of Utah for disposal, as low-level radioactive waste.
In a second phase of the project, the berm separating the two cleaned ponds will be removed to create one large pond. New soil, a protective liner, and wetland plants will help establish the reconstructed pond. Finally, current plans call for an onsite irrigation well to be the source of fresh water to fill the ponds.