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Statement to Correct Earlier Deer Sample Report From Brookhaven National Laboratory

May 7, 2002

In February, Brookhaven National Laboratory reported that elevated levels of cesium-137 had been seen in a deer struck and killed by an automobile along William Floyd Parkway, on the Laboratory’s western border. Multiple tests at Brookhaven's own analytical lab showed that the deer sample contained about 21 picocuries per gram of cesium-137, nearly double the highest level ever measured as part of Brookhaven’s environmental surveillance program. Further testing by the New York State Department of Health and by Brookhaven's on-site lab have now proved this value to be wrong. The correct value is approximately 8 picocuries per gram, which is comparable to the highest levels seen in the past. (A picocurie, or one-trillionth of a curie, is a unit of radiation.)

Since 1992, Brookhaven has taken samples from approximately 120 deer killed by automobiles on and around the site and tested them for cesium-137, a radioactive element found in soils in some areas of the site targeted for cleanup. The average level seen over the past several years in samples taken from on-site deer has been in the range of 2 to 3 picocuries per gram.

Brookhaven Lab recognizes that certain environmental contaminants can accumulate in deer through ingestion of plant materials. Many areas of the site have already been cleaned up to help address this concern.


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.