Food and Agricultural Products

The INL site is situated in a large agricultural area that produces many food products. The ESER Team monitors the following foods for potential migration and deposition of effluents from the INL. These foods were chosen for their abundance in the upper Snake River valley and their availability for testing.

Lettuce samples are obtained from private gardens in communities in the vicinity of the INL. Samples are washed to remove soil (as in normal food preparation), dried, reduced to a powdered form and weighed. All lettuce samples are analyzed for Strontium-90 and gamma-emitting radionuclides. 

The collection of lettuce from home gardens around the INL typically depends on availability. To make this sampling more reliable, ESER added two prototype lettuce planters in conjunction with other sampling locations at Atomic City and the Experimental Field Station (EFS) on the INL. These locations are relatively remote and have no access to water, requiring that a self-watering system be developed. This method allows for the placement and collection of lettuce at areas previously unavailable to the public (i.e., on the INL). The boxes are set out in the spring with the lettuce grown from seed. This new method also allows for the accumulation of deposited radionuclides on the plant surface throughout the growth cycle.

Potato samples are collected from storage warehouses in the INL vicinity. The samples, with cleaned skins included, are processed and weighed. All potato samples are analyzed from Strontium-90 and gamma-emitting radionuclides.

Wheat samples are collected from grain elevators in the region surrounding the INL. All wheat samples are analyzed for Strontium-90 and gamma-emitting radionuclides.