Estimating Radiological Doses to Predators Foraging in a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Area

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Since 1957, Los Alamos National Laboratory has operated Area G as its low-level, solid radioactive waste management and disposal area. Although the waste management area is developed, plants, small mammals, and avian and mammalian predators still occupy the less disturbed and revegetated portions of the land. For almost a decade, we have monitored the concentrations of selected radionuclides in soils, plants, and small mammals at Area G. The radionuclides tritium, plutonium-238, and plutonium-239 are regularly found at levels above regional background in all three media. Based on radionuclide concentrations in mice collected from 1994 to 1999, we calculated doses to ... continued below

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24 pages

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L.Soholt; G.Gonzales; P.Fresquez; K.Bennett & E.Lopez March 1, 2003.

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Since 1957, Los Alamos National Laboratory has operated Area G as its low-level, solid radioactive waste management and disposal area. Although the waste management area is developed, plants, small mammals, and avian and mammalian predators still occupy the less disturbed and revegetated portions of the land. For almost a decade, we have monitored the concentrations of selected radionuclides in soils, plants, and small mammals at Area G. The radionuclides tritium, plutonium-238, and plutonium-239 are regularly found at levels above regional background in all three media. Based on radionuclide concentrations in mice collected from 1994 to 1999, we calculated doses to higher trophic levels (owl, hawk, kestrel, and coyote) that forage on the waste management area. These predators play important functions in the regional ecosystems and are an important part of local Native American traditional tales that identify the uniqueness of their culture. The estimated doses are compared to Department of Energy's interim limit of 0.1 rad/day for the protection of terrestrial wildlife. We used exposure parameters that were derived from the literature for each receptor, including Environmental Protection Agency's exposure factors handbook. Estimated doses to predators ranged from 9E-06 to 2E-04 rad/day, assuming that they forage entirely on the waste management area. These doses are greater than those calculated for predators foraging exclusively in reference areas, but are still well below the interim dose limit. We believe that these calculated doses represent upper-bound estimates of exposure for local predators because the larger predators forage over areas that are much greater than the 63-acre waste management area. Based on these results, we concluded that predators foraging on this area do not face a hazard from radiological exposure under current site conditions.

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24 pages

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INIS; OSTI as DE00809554

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Mar 2003

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  • Report No.: LA-13999
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-36
  • DOI: 10.2172/809554 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 809554
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc738084

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  • March 1, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • March 24, 2016, 9:11 p.m.

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L.Soholt; G.Gonzales; P.Fresquez; K.Bennett & E.Lopez. Estimating Radiological Doses to Predators Foraging in a Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Area, report, March 1, 2003; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc738084/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.