Radionuclide Concentrations in Terrestrial Vegetation and Soil Samples On and Around the Hanford Site, 1971 Through 2008

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Environmental monitoring is conducted on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site to comply with DOE Orders and federal and state regulations. Major objectives of the monitoring are to characterize contaminant levels in the environment and to determine site contributions to the contaminant inventory. This report focuses on surface soil and perennial vegetation samples collected between 1971 and 2008 as part of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Surface Environmental Surveillance Project performed under contract to DOE. Areas sampled under this program are located on the Hanford Site but outside facility boundaries and on public lands surrounding the Hanford Site. ... continued below

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Simmons, Mary Ann; Poston, Ted M.; Fritz, Brad G. & Bisping, Lynn E. July 29, 2011.

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Environmental monitoring is conducted on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site to comply with DOE Orders and federal and state regulations. Major objectives of the monitoring are to characterize contaminant levels in the environment and to determine site contributions to the contaminant inventory. This report focuses on surface soil and perennial vegetation samples collected between 1971 and 2008 as part of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Surface Environmental Surveillance Project performed under contract to DOE. Areas sampled under this program are located on the Hanford Site but outside facility boundaries and on public lands surrounding the Hanford Site. Additional samples were collected during the past 8 years under DOE projects that evaluated parcels of land for radiological release. These data were included because the same sampling methodology and analytical laboratory were used for the projects. The spatial and temporal trends of six radionuclides collected over a 38-year period were evaluated. The radionuclides----cobalt-60, cesium-137, strontium-90, plutonium-238, plutonium-239/240, and uranium (reported either as uranium-238 or total uranium)----were selected because they persist in the environment and are still being monitored routinely and reported in Hanford Site environmental reports. All these radionuclides were associated with plutonium production and waste management of activities occurring on the site. Other sources include fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, which ended in 1980, and the Chernobyl explosion in 1986. Uranium is also a natural component of the soil. This assessment of soil and vegetation data provides important information on the distribution of radionuclides in areas adjacent to industrial areas, established perimeter locations and buffer areas, and more offsite nearby and distant locations. The concentrations reflect a tendency for detection of some radionuclides close to where they were utilized onsite, but as one moves to unindustrialized areas on the site, surrounding buffer areas and perimeter location into the more distant sites, concentrations of these radionuclides approach background and cannot be distinguished from fallout activity. More importantly, concentrations in soil and vegetation samples did not exceed environmental benchmark concentrations, and associated exposure to human and ecological receptors were well below levels that are demonstratively hazardous to human health and the environment.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-20577
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1056775 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1056775
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc835190

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  • July 29, 2011

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Dec. 1, 2016, 1:06 p.m.

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Simmons, Mary Ann; Poston, Ted M.; Fritz, Brad G. & Bisping, Lynn E. Radionuclide Concentrations in Terrestrial Vegetation and Soil Samples On and Around the Hanford Site, 1971 Through 2008, report, July 29, 2011; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc835190/: accessed August 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.