Contact: Mona S.Rowe,(516) 282-2345
Diane Greenberg, (516) 282-2347
Upton, NY -- The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has published its 1994 Site Environmental Report. The report presents the results of the Laboratory's environmental monitoring program for 1994 and provides an assessment of BNL's impact on the environment.
BNL operations result in chemical and radioactive emissions to the environment. The Laboratory recognizes that any level of emissions are of concern to Long Islanders mainly because the Island draws its drinking water from an underlying aquifer.
Since BNL's establishment in 1947, the Laboratory has gradually reduced its level of emissions to the environment. While present emissions are low, however, BNL is working to reduce them even further.
Environmental monitoring serves as a check on the Laboratory's operations. To begin with, BNL must comply with applicable environmental standards or state and federal permits. Also, given BNL's commitment to further reduce its emissions, the Laboratory needs a continuous assessment of its impact on the environment.
The BNL Site Environmental Report summarizes data for measurements of chemical and radionuclides in the air, surface water, groundwater, soil, fish and vegetation around the Laboratory site.
The report is being distributed to the following regulatory organizations: the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Department of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. To receive a copy, contact BNL's Public Affairs Office at (516) 282-2345, or write to Brookhaven National Laboratory, Public Affairs Office, Building 134, P.O. Box 5000, Upton, New York 11973-5000.
Brookhaven National Laboratory is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by Associated Universities, Inc. Approximately 3,200 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff are employed at the site to conduct basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies.
The Laboratory is located close to the geographic center of Suffolk County and encompasses about 5,300 acres. Only 1,700 acres of this property have been developed to accommodate the 360 buildings and facilities that sit on the central campus; the rest of the site is composed of undisturbed woodlands.
BNL uses about 4 million gallons of groundwater each day to meet potable water plus heating and cooling requirements. The Laboratory has a water treatment plant and a sewage treatment plant.
Like most eastern seaboard areas, the Laboratory is a well-ventilated site. The prevailing ground-level winds are from the southwest during the summer, from the northwest during the winter, and about equally from these two directions during the spring and fall. The Laboratory receives about 48 inches of rain each year; about half of this rainfall is absorbed into the ground to replenish groundwater and the other half is lost to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.
Groundwater flow in the vicinity of BNL is controlled by many factors. In general, however, groundwater in the northeast and northwest sections of the site flows towards the Peconic River. On the western portion of the site, groundwater tends to flow towards the south and the Carmans River. Along the southern and southeastern sections of the site, the groundwater flow tends to be towards the south to southeast and the Forge River.
Airborne Releases -- Most of the airborne radioactive effluents at BNL originate from the Laboratory's two research nuclear reactors and from a facility where radioisotopes are made for medical research. In 1994, the predominant radionuclides released were argon-41, oxygen-15 and tritium.
Liquid Discharges --Liquid discharges from Laboratory operations are released to the environment either as surface-water releases to the Peconic River through the sewage treatment plant or as direct releases from certain facilities to one of seven recharge basins on the property. Discharges to the sewage treatment plant are monitored daily, while discharges to the recharge basins are monitored every three months. All are subject to the requirements specified in a New York State permit for the site.
Radioactive discharges from the sewage treatment plant to the Peconic River met all limits of New York State. The principle radionuclide released to the Peconic was tritium.
Liquid effluent discharged to the seven on-site recharge basins contained only trace quantities of radioactivity that were all small fractions of the applicable standards.
Groundwater -- Groundwater is monitored for radiological and non-radiological parameters on site and off site.
One location on the site that shows radiological levels in exceedance of the New York State Drinking Water Standard is the Laboratory's facility for handling hazardous waste - an isolated 12-acre, fenced-in site in the southeast corner of the BNL property. This area is subject to restoration under Superfund regulations.
Nonradiological sampling showed metals and volatile organic compounds exceeding drinking water standards in a number of locations, which were generally traceable to known spills or to chemical waste storage and former disposal areas.
As part of a cooperative program with Suffolk County Department of Health Services, 26 off-site private potable wells were sampled for radionuclides in 1994. Detectable quantities of tritium were found in four of the private wells, with the highest concentration at 8.5% of the drinking water standard.
Fish, Soil and Vegetation -- In collaboration with the Fisheries Division of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, BNL has an ongoing program to collect fish from the Peconic River and surrounding fresh water bodies. The fish are analyzed for radioactivity to determine impact of liquid discharges to the Peconic River. Based on the sampling for 1994, a person who ate a year's total of 15 pounds of fish from the Peconic would receive an estimated dose of 8/10ths of a millirem (a millirem is a unit of radiation dose). This dose would be in addition to the internal dose of about 40 millirem that an individual receives annually from naturally occurring radionuclides in foods.
Soil and vegetation in local farms around the Laboratory site were sampled in June 1994 as part of a cooperative program between BNL and the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. No radionuclides attributable to BNL operations were detected in any of the samples.
Summary -- In summary, for the year 1994, the projected impact from BNL's operations is a radiation dose of 1 millirem. This dose is calculated for a hypothetical person living at the site boundary, eating fish from the Peconic River and drinking well water from the area. The 1 millirem dose from BNL operations is in addition to the background radiation dose that an individual receives on Long Island from naturally occurring radioactive materials in cosmic rays (24 millirems), present in the earth (36 millirems), in food and water (40 millirems), and possibly from radon (U.S. average is 200 millirems).