Description: Residual plutonium (Pu), with trace quantities of depleted uranium (DU) or weapons grade uranium (WU), exists in surficial soils at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR), and the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) as the result of the above-ground testing of nuclear weapons and special experiments involving the detonation of plutonium-bearing devices. The special experiments (referred to as safety shots) involving plutonium-bearing devices were conducted to study the behavior of Pu as it was being explosively compressed; ensure that the accidental detonation of the chemical explosive in a production weapon would not result in criticality; evaluate the ability of personnel to manage large-scale Pu dispersal accidents; and develop criteria for transportation and storage of nuclear weapons. These sites do not pose a health threat to either workers or the general public because they are under active institutional control. The DOE is committed to remediating the safety shot sites so that radiation exposure to the public, both now and in the future, will be maintained within the established limits and be as low as reasonably achievable. Remediation requires calculation of a guideline concentration for the Pu, U, and their decay products that are present in the surface soil. This document presents the methodology for calculating guideline concentrations of weapons grade plutonium, weapons grade uranium, and depleted uranium in surface soils at the safety shot sites. Emphasis is placed on obtaining site-specific data for use in calculating dose to potential residents from the residual soil contamination.
Date: June 1, 1997
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