Published: May 2000
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 Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer Action Memorandum report is available for review at the libraries listed below.
This Action Memorandum addresses a localized area of soil contamination in the northwestern section of BNL property. This soil contamination originated from operations of the Brookhaven Linac Isotope Producer, or BLIP.
BLIP is a facility that produces radioactive isotopes used in medicine for both research and therapy. BLIP has been in operation since 1972.
Routine BLIP operations generate particles called "neutrons" that pass through the soil beneath the BLIP building. These neutrons may react with atoms already present in the soil to form radioactive elements. As a result, soil located beneath BLIP has become contaminated with several radioactive elements. Most of these elements are very short-lived, and decay in a few days to a few months. However, tritium and sodium-22, both of which have been found in soil and groundwater near BLIP, are longer-lived, having radioactive half-lives of 12.5 and 2.6 years, respectively. Therefore, they have a greater potential to affect groundwater.
Brookhaven Lab has responded to the BLIP contamination in a number of ways. The Lab re-routed rainwater downspouts on the BLIP building and placed an impermeable cap over the BLIP target area to prevent rainwater from draining through contaminated soils and moving radioactive elements into the groundwater. Also, Brookhaven Lab has more thoroughly characterized groundwater in the area by taking additional groundwater samples and by installing additional permanent monitoring wells.
Five cleanup alternatives for soils at BLIP were evaluated. The alternatives included: maintenance of the existing cap, upgrade of the existing cap, in-place containment of soils using cement grout, in-place containment of soils using a colloidal silica grout, and excavation of the contaminated soils. Use of a cement or colloidal silica grout would involve injecting the grout into the ground below the BLIP building to immobilize the soil and contaminants, holding them in place while the radioactive elements decay.
The alternative selected by DOE and BNL is maintenance of the existing cap and in-place containment by injecting a colloidal silica grout. This alternative is preferred for its greater ease of implementation and ability to contain the contaminants in place. Groundwater monitoring will continue, and this remedy will be re-examined if monitoring shows that contaminant levels are increasing.
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
Copies of the BLIP Action Memorandum 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