(Initial Distribution: August 1996; updated: October 1996)
The Remedial Investigation and Risk Assessment (RI/RA) for soil and groundwater contamination in areas of the southeastern portion of BNL is now available for public review and comment.
What are the findings of the investigation?
Based on previous groundwater investigations, the principal groundwater contaminants from the Hazardous Waster Management Facility (HWMF) include trichloroethane, trichloroethene and dichloroethane. Strontium-90 has been detected in the groundwater above drinking water standards near the HWMF, but it has not been detected in the groundwater off-site. These findings are contained in the Operable Unit I Groundwater Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis.
The results of the new soil investigation indicate that radionuclides cesium-137 and strontium-90 have been detected in soils at the HWMF. Mercury has also been detected in soils around the area where an underground tank at the HWMF was removed in 1995. The chemicals trichloroethane, trichloroethene and dichloroethane were found only in trace amounts, indicating that soils are no longer acting as a source of contamination.
Ethylene dibromide, a pesticide believed to have been used at the Biology Fields in the 1960s and 1970s, has been detected in groundwater both on-site and off-site. Tritium below drinking standards has been detected off-site. It has also been detected near the HWMF above drinking water standards.
What has been done or will be done?
Several activities are already underway to address the contamination. One of the landfill areas used from 1967 through 1990 has been capped. An older landfill area, used from 1947 to 1966, is currently having a cap installed. Options for remediation of chemical/animal/glass holes, part of the older landfill area, are being reviewed.
The Laboratory is accelerating efforts to focus on possible remediation alternatives for the ethylene dibromide contamination (southeastern area) and a public meeting will be held in the fall to propose a remedial action for the area. Also, a pump-and-treat system is scheduled to begin operation on the south boundary (downgradient of the Current Landfill) by the end of 1996.
What are the risks?
Risk assessments assume that no remediation actions are undertaken and assess current and future risks from the contamination. The risk assessment done for this area and provided in the report included chemical risk, radiological risks and ecological risks.
A chemical risk assessment was performed for various types of exposure to soil and groundwater for workers and hypothetical residents. Lead and mercury in soil at the HWMF and the Ash Pit could pose a health risk if the soil on-site was injested. If people lived at the contaminated location on-site, drinking groundwater could be a potential health risk.
Radiological risk assessments were performed for:
Access to the HWMF is restricted to control exposure risk for site employees. Radionuclides outside the HWMF include tritium, strontium-90, cesium-137 and thorium-232. Elevated levels of thorium were found in the Ash Pit and pose a potential risk for future residents, if exposed to the maximum concentrations found.
Ecological risks were also evaluated, and in the areas where surface or sediment contamination is present, risks exist to the tiger slamander, a New York State endangered species that breed in these wetlands. A supplemental ecological risk analysis is expected to be completed in the fall of 1996.
Operable Unit I/VI is an administrative name given to about 1,300 acres of Brookhaven National Laboratory's mostly wooded southeastern area.
About 40 acres of this area have historically been used as a waste handling area for the Lab, including several landfills and disposal areas (now-closed) and the Hazardous Waste Management Facility.
BNL is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory that in 1980 was placed on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's "Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites" list. In 1989, BNL was included on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "National Priorities List" for cleanup. BNL was placed on these lists because of the environmental effects of past practices, some of which could pose a threat to Long Island's sole source aquifer.
The cleanup of BNL is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, under what is known as the Interagency Agreement.
Contacts and Libraries
For more information about the Operable Unit I/VI RI/RA, contact:
John Carter or Mary Dernbach
Community Relations Coordinators
Environmental Restoration Division
Brookhaven National Laboratory
516-344-5195 or -6336
For more information about the role of the U.S. Department of Energy in this project, contact:
U.S. Department of Energy
For more information about the role of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in this project, contact:
Mary Logan, Project Manager
For more information about the role of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in this project, contact:
Joshua Epstein, Citizen Participation Specialist
Direct written comments to:
Dr. Carson Nealy, Manager
U.S. Department of Energy-Brookhaven Group
Upton NY 11973-5000
Copies of the RI/RA are available for review at the reference desks at:
BNL Research Library
Upton, New York 11973
Longwood Public Library
800 Middle Country Road
Middle Island, New York 11953
Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library
301 William Floyd Parkway
Shirley, New York 11967
U.S. EPA, Region II Library
Administrative Records Room
290 Broadway, 18th Floor
New York, New York 10007
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