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INL Site

Executive Summary

None of the radionuclides detected in samples collected during the first quarter of 2017 could be directly linked with INL Site activities.  Levels of detected radionuclides were no different than values measured at other locations across the western United States. All detected radionuclide concentrations were well below standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and regulatory standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for protection of the public. 


This report for the first quarter of 2017 contains results from the Environmental Surveillance, Education, and Research (ESER) Program’s monitoring of the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site’s offsite environment, January 1 through March 31, 2017. All sample types (media) and the sampling schedule followed during 2017 are listed in Appendix A. This report contains results for the following sample types:

    • Air, including particulate air filters, charcoal cartridges, and atmospheric moisture
    • Precipitation
    • Milk

Table E-1 Summary of results for the First Quarter of 2017.

Media

Sample Type

Analysis

Results

Air

Filters

Gross alpha, gross beta

There were some statistical differences in monthly or quarterly gross alpha or gross beta concentrations measured at Distant, Boundary, and INL Site sampling locations, but these appeared to be normal variations in the data. A few differences were also noted in weekly results but no pattern was discernible. No result exceeded the DCS for gross alpha or gross beta activity in air.

Quarterly Composite

Gamma-emitting radionuclides, 90Sr, actinides (americium and plutonium)

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides, 90Sr, or 239/240Pu were detected above 3s uncertainty in any of the first quarter composites. Plutonium-238 was detected in one composite and 241Am was detected in two composites just above the 3s uncertainty level. The results were 0.0045, 0.0046 and 0.0039 percent of the applicable DCSs, respectively.

Charcoal Cartridge

Iodine-131

Iodine-131 was not detected in any of the 26 batches counted during the quarter.

Atmospheric Moisture

Liquid

Tritium

Seven of the eight sample results showed tritium concentrations greater than the 3s uncertainty during the quarter. No sample result exceeded the DCS for tritium in air.

Precipitation

Liquid

Tritium

Fifteen samples were collected. Ten of the results were greater than the 3s uncertainty. All results were within the range previously measured and were consistent with those reported across the region by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Milk

Liquid

Iodine-131, other gamma-emitting radionuclides

Milk was collected at seven locations. No Iodine-131 or other human-made gamma emitting radionuclides were detected.

Large Game Animals

Tissue

Gamma-emitting radionuclides

No large game animals were sampled in the first quarter.

Radiation in Our World

Radiation has always been a part of the natural environment in the form of cosmic radiation, cosmogenic radionuclides [carbon-14 (14C), Beryllium-7 (7Be), and tritium (3H)], and naturally occurring radionuclides, such as potassium-40 (40K), and the thorium, uranium, and actinium series radionuclides which have very long half lives. Additionally, human-made radionuclides were distributed throughout the world beginning in the early 1940s. Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons from 1945 through 1980 and nuclear power plant accidents, such as the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union during 1986, have resulted in fallout of detectable radionuclides around the world. This natural and manmade global fallout radioactivity is referred to as background radiation. MORE

Radiation Exposure and Dose

The primary concern regarding radioactivity is the amount of energy deposited by particles or gamma radiation to the surrounding environment. It is possible that the energy from radiation may damage living tissue. When radiation interacts with the atoms of a given substance, it can alter the number of electrons associated with those atoms (usually removing orbital electrons). This is called ionization. MORE