web analytics

INL Site

Executive Summary

Some human-made radionuclides were detected in samples collected during the third quarter of 2018. None of the radionuclides detected in samples collected during the first quarter of 2018 could be directly linked with INL Site activities.  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 third quarter of 2018 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, July 1 through September 30, 2018. All sample types (media) and the sampling schedule followed during 2018 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
    • Lettuce
    • Potatoes
    • Grain
    • Big game animals
    • Soil

Table E-1 Summary of results for theThird Quarter of 2018.

Media

Sample Type

Analysis

Results

Air

Particulate Filters

Gross alpha, gross beta

There were no statistically significant differences in monthly and quarterly gross alpha and gross beta concentrations measured at Distant, Boundary, and INL Site sampling locations. No result exceeded results for the past ten years or the Derived Concentration Standard (DCS) for plutonium-239 (an alpha-emitting radionuclide) or strontium-90 (a beta-emitting radionuclide) in air.

Particulate Filters Quarterly Composite

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

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides were detected in any of the third quarter composite air samples.
Americium-241, 238Pu and 239/240Pu, human-made alpha-emitting radionuclides, were not detected in any composited air sample.

Strontium-90, a human-made beta-emitting radionuclide, was not measured in any composite collected during the third quarter.

Charcoal Cartridge

Iodine-131

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

Atmospheric Moisture

Liquid

Tritium

Eleven of fifteen results showed tritium concentrations greater than the 3s uncertainty during the quarter. No sample result exceeded results for the past ten years or the DCS for tritium in air.

Precipitation

Liquid

Tritium

A total of six samples were collected during the third quarter. Three of the tritium results were greater than the 3s uncertainty. All results were within the range previously measured in the past ten years and were consistent with those reported across the region by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Milk

Liquid

Iodine-131, other gamma-emitting radionuclides, strontium-90

Forty-one milk samples were collected at seven locations (including the offsite control sample from Colorado). No gamma emitting radionuclides of concern or tritium were detected.

Lettuce

Vegetation

Gamma-emitting radionuclides, strontium-90

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides were found in any of the nine samples (including a duplicate) collected this year.  Strontium-90 was found in one of the samples analyzed. The value was within the range of measurements made in previous years.

Potatoes

Vegetation

Gamma-emitting radionuclides, strontium-90

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides were found in any of the ten samples (including a duplicate) collected this year.  Strontium-90 was not detected in any of the samples analyzed.

Grain

Vegetation

Gamma-emitting radionuclides, strontium-90

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides or 90Sr were detected in any of the eleven samples (including a duplicate) collected this year. 

Large Game Animals

Tissue

Gamma-emitting radionuclides

No human-made gamma-emitting radionuclides were found in the muscle tissues or thyroid of an elk sampled in the third quarter.

Soil

Soil

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

Cesium-137 was detected in all thirteen samples (including a duplicate) but has shown a decreasing trend over time consistent with its 30-year half-life. Strontium-90 was detected in one sample above 3σ and in three samples above 2σ.  Although 90Sr has approximately the same half-life as 137Cs, it has decreased at a greater rate, possibly reflecting greater mobility in the environment. Plutonium-239/240 was detected in six samples and persists in the environment due to long half-lives. Plutonium-238 was detected in only one sample. Americium-241 was detected in two samples. The concentration appears to be increasing since the late 1970’s as a result of the ingrowth from decay of 241Pu.

 

 

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