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Sept. 24, 2001

Brookhaven Lab Releases 2000 Environmental Report

UPTON, NY – The U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory today issued its 2000 Site Environmental Report. Report highlights include improved environmental management systems, expanded pollution prevention initiatives, and reduced environmental emissions. The document can be found on the Internet at

The Site Environmental Report is prepared annually to summarize the status of the Laboratory’s environmental programs and performance, including steady progress toward cleaning up the site and fully integrating environmental stewardship into all facets of the Laboratory’s mission. These cleanup and integration efforts are major commitments for Brookhaven, one of nine national laboratories owned and funded by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Brookhaven maintains a comprehensive environmental monitoring program to ensure protection of human health and the environment. This program monitors potential pathways of exposure, measures potential environmental impacts from Laboratory operations, and provides data to evaluate compliance with applicable regulatory and permit limits. Environmental program highlights from 2000 include the following:

• Brookhaven continued to better enhance and implement procedures and internal processes to ensure that it operates in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. Brookhaven’s program is consistent with local, state, and federal environmental requirements and with the globally recognized International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 14001 environmental management system standard. By the end of 2000, eight internal Laboratory organizations had been registered under the ISO 14001 standard, and the entire Laboratory received registration in July 2001. In 1999, Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider became the first DOE Office of Science and first Long Island-based facility to achieve this level of recognition.

• Brookhaven continued implementing pollution prevention programs, recycling programs, and conservation initiatives. In 2000 alone, these efforts saved more than $2 million and supported the recycling or reuse of more than 1,683 tons of industrial materials. For example, 330 tons of concrete shielding block were reused on site, saving approximately $1.3 million. The Laboratory also reduced its overall water use by 63.5 million gallons compared to 1999 levels, and used 26 percent less energy per square foot than in 1985.

• The dose to a hypothetical member of the public exposed to the maximum level of radiation due to Laboratory air emissions was 0.18 millirem (mrem) in 2000, less than 0.1 percent of the average annual natural background level of radiation (approximately 300 mrem on Long Island) and well below the 10-mrem limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act. This dose is calculated for a hypothetical individual residing at the Laboratory boundary 24 hours a day for the entire year. Brookhaven’s radiological air emissions are regulated by the EPA and are authorized under the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants.

• Monitoring showed that deer and fish on and near the site still contain low levels of Brookhaven-related radionuclides. Calculated maximum hypothetical radiation doses due to deer and fish consumption were estimated at 2.68 mrem and 0.42 mrem, respectively. The annual dose due to deer meat consumption is based on a conservative consumption estimate of 64 pounds per person, while the dose due to fish consumption is based on a consumption estimate of 15 pounds per person. Hunting is not allowed on the Brookhaven site, and a 1999 report from the N.Y. State Department of Health concluded that no restrictions on hunting or consumption of deer taken near the Laboratory were needed.

• The Laboratory’s sewage treatment plant, a discharge point regulated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) was compliant for liquid discharges during 99 percent of the time in 2000. The exceptions involved metals, primarily zinc and iron, that were detected several times at levels slightly above permit limits. The total amount of tritium released through the sewage treatment plant was the lowest since routine monitoring began in 1966. During 2000, the average tritium concentration was 163 picocuries per liter, or less than 1 percent of the EPA drinking water standard of 20,000 picocuries per liter (a picocurie is a radiation measurement equivalent to one-trillionth of a curie). For surface-water samples, all water-quality measurements were consistent with off-site control locations (areas not influenced by Brookhaven operations).

• Areas of the Laboratory site where past activities have caused groundwater, soil, and sediment contamination continued to undergo monitoring and cleanup in 2000. Program highlights included major steps in the decommissioning of the Laboratory’s graphite reactor, and the excavation and off-site disposal of nearly 5,000 cubic yards of soil and debris contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and radiological materials. In addition, six on- and off-site groundwater treatment systems cleaned more than 1 billion gallons of water and removed more than 700 pounds of chemical contaminants from the aquifer. Environmental restoration at the Laboratory is conducted under the oversight of NYSDEC, EPA, and the Department of Energy, in cooperation with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

Brookhaven has published site environmental reports each year from 1962 to 1966 and from 1971 to 2000. Summary reports for the years 1947 to 1961 and 1967 to 1970 are also available. Data summarized in the 2000 report were obtained through testing performed by certified Brookhaven or independent laboratories, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services, the New York State Department of Health, and NYSDEC. Hard copies of the report are now available. To obtain copies of the report or a summary booklet, call (631) 344-8584 or visit a library near Brookhaven.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.