Tritium in Berkley
Community Radiation Forum PART 2


Part 1


Tritium in Berkley Community Radiation Forum

Tritium in Berkeley", a City of Berkeley and the Community Environmental Advisory Commission workshop and presentation on the independent findings of Tritium releases and radiation hazards associated with the National Tritium Labeling Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The event featured presentations by city's consultant Mr. Bernt Franke of Institute Fur Energie-Und Umweltforsccwung (IFEU of Heidelberg), Owen Hoffman, LBNL Consultant SENES, and Professor Roger Byrne, U. C. Berkeley Department of Geology. The 3-hour forum also included a lengthy Q&A period and comments by some of Berkeley's elected officials.

Recorded on April 2, 2001 at the North Berkeley Senior Center.
Produced by Berkeley Citizen
Copyright 2001
All labor donated

Also see:

Comments on Review of "Radiological Monitoring at LBNL Preliminary Technical Report" - Bernd Franke and Anthony Greenhouse of IFEU. by Prof. Roger Byrne.
Review of Radiological Monitoring at LBNL...FINAL REPORT Bernd Franke and Anthony Greenhouse of IFEU

Do you know what time it is?Video transcription of questions and comments on the Franke-Greenhouse IFEU Report of Radiological Monitoring at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
Community Meeting at the North Berkeley Senior Center April 2, 2001

1. Jim Cunningham: “Attended a meeting in 1998 at the office of (Councilmember) Betty Olds, and many members of the Lab were there and members of Betty Olds’ district were there asking questions. Many questions were asked including technical questions regarding CAP88. Lab people answered: “ I don’t know.” Two months ago and again tonight I hear about the CAP88 that it is no good, why was I not told in 1998 that it was no good?”
“Also how important is historical contamination? I am referring to the stack, the underground portion of the stack, and to the finding of tritium in the grove, in the trees?

2. Robert Clear: Re: Fire risk. “Have you reviewed the Fire Hazard Analysis for the NTLF? (FD 95-195) To release the tritium, you have to heat the device that holds it to 600 C (1100 F). Is there something wrong with the physics listed here that you object to or specific condition that you are thinking about?” “I also got curious about EPA’s Hazard Rating System and looked into it. Because the score is maxed out …LBNL is already as bad as it gets. Why do you continue to emphasize soil sampling,…can’t do anything about time past?

3. Susan Rodriques:
Cited history of cancer deaths in her family who lived near Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant. Also cited the Nurnberg Principles/ Article 6 and expressed concern over putting children and elders at risk.

4. Martha R: “Is there any regular relationship between the contents of (tritiated) water vapor and rainwater? Can you extrapolate from one to the other?” “You listed a number of plants (facilities) that create and/or use tritium around the country. What kind of epidemiological studies have been done about the onset of cancers and other diseases geographically connected with them?

5. Jami Caseber: “ With regard to human exposures to ionizing radiation, DOE facilities such as LBNL, LLNL rely on federal dose levels as a means of assuring the public. I am troubled by this because Dr. John Gofman stated that there is no safe level. In light of the BEIR V Report, would you agree that there is always some risk to human health from airborne ionizing radiation such as tritium, HTO and that there is no dose level below which exposure can be considered absolutely safe.
“A lot of these standards were set by insiders (NRC, AEC) without public input. We had no say in any of these standards and I am troubled with the position that there is no risk or that the risk is insignificant if it’s below 10 mRem.

6. Dale Smith: “ Assuming a release from the top of the stack is causing these problems, is there not a mechanism that could be used to further capture the elements (tritium) that escape such as condensation chamber(s), gels, or some kind of filtering? Is this a development or are we stuck with the idea that this is an ongoing problem and we have that… it is low enough dosage that we don’t have to worry about it?” “If those trees contain tritiated water vapor, do they have to be treated as hazardous waste when they are disposed of? How very contaminated are they? What is very?”

7. Amanda Carter: “I have two questions. First about the public dosage. I saw the number of 10 mRem/yr and then I saw the 100 mRem. What the federal requirements are or what the public dose… what is the difference between the 10 mRem and the 100 mRem?” “Could you elaborate on the significance of tritium coming out in bursts?”

8. Steve Nadel: “First a comment and question about the relative scarcity of data we seem to have to really analyze the risk level…out of what I understand is maybe twenty-five years’ operation, basically we are saying (that) only the last three years of monitoring data could be considered reliable. And the other, let’s say anecdotal measurement data that occurred before, that may indicate higher releases, may have no corresponding monitoring data that can be considered reliable…so we are in a position basically of being asked to make risk analysis based on two to three years worth of operating data.

So, the question becomes, is the level of operation during the relatively brief period of time at the facility (NTLF) indicative of both its past and present and future levels in terms of the number of tritiations, the amount of the material being handled, which would be somewhat proportional to the risk level, since we are basically being asked to make an analysis based on a very narrow snap shot of data at this time?”

“The current exposure is based on a level of operation at that period, at the facility were you say we have reliable data. We can compare the level of operations at that period to both earlier and projected future and say, was it typical, was it higher, was it lower? Can you comment on that?” “If we concentrate on monitoring, once it (tritium) has come out of the stack, we are basically not asking the question whether the Lab is following the best possible practices in handling and preventing high accidental and other releases and what is the mechanism for evaluating that?”

“In terms of dealing with hydrogen there is a lot of expertise in this region regarding dealing with gases and handling them and whether the Lab is following best procedures, has the best up to date equipment, etc… I don’t know what the mechanism for community involvement is for assessing that…?”

9. Seth Katzman: Re: Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS): “Your report finds that no one in the study, in the period of two years, has received a dose of radiation from the tritium facility that has been unsafe. So, would you advise parents, school boards and educators to keep their kids away from LHS?”

10. Gene Bernardi: Bernd Franke thinks that most people are only concerned about what’s going on right now. As he has also said, the lab (NTLF) has considerably reduced its operations. There is no way of telling, as he also said, that they are not going to ratcheted-up their operations to what they had been in the past, when we had some very high releases. There seems to be so much focus on the now…we are talking about something, when tritium is released into the environment it is there for 123 years before it almost disappears. I am very concerned and I think many others are about the legacy contamination and I want to ask that these questions Dr. Roger Byrne has raised, I hope Mr. Franke, that you will seriously consider looking at them before you finalize this Report No. 2.

“What does it mean when you have 775,000 pCi/L (of tritium) in rainwater? You said that you want to rely on the measurements and yet you told us that the data are not reliable for that period. What does it mean? Isn’t there something that we can find from that? How about the organically bound tritium in the vegetation? And tritium in groundwater: 85,000 pCi/L, that is four times the EPA limit? What is going on here?

“Dr Hoffman indicated that he does not know about any cover-ups at the Lab. Well here we have a memo about an accidental release on March 9, 2001. It’s almost a month later and nobody has heard about it. Why have we not heard about it? Why was there not a press release about this (release of tritium)?”

11.Janice Thomas: “I am concerned about the politics of science, the politics of science of economics, the science of risk assessment and that’s what we are basing our decision upon. (I would like to have an) answer to a question that was not asked of Bernd Franke. And that is whether this is the right location for this laboratory? “I was living in Strawberry Canyon and I am still living in Strawberry Canyon and I was trying to get pregnant during the year of these big releases. My husband had dead sperm…He has since had children, it took him ten years later, he has children, no more dead sperm. One of the side effects of tritium is damage to the reproductive organs. We can’t prove that this is what caused the dead sperm, but meanwhile this laboratory does not practice good scientific management principles. I can attest to that. When I first started working on this issue, the wind monitoring stations were at the Oakland Airport….is this the right location for the laboratory”

12. Elliot Cohen: “First of all, I want to give you a couple of incidences: Feb 27, 1984 accident, monitor measured 100,000 pCi/L in the air. Monitor was located on the ground level but discontinued due to construction and replaced by another several hundred feet further away from the facility. In 1995 a Pineapple Creek monitor (i.e., sampling site) which showed high concentrations (of tritium) in 1993, was removed.(as sampling site) along with five other monitoring sites, only four stormwater sampling locations now remain.Over half of the air samples exceeded EPA ‘s Cancer Risk Screening Concentrations (in LBNL’s ) 8- monitor network in 1995. By 1996, four of these monitors were no longer in the network.

My question to you is this a smart practice, in terms of trying to get accurate results from monitoring or does this seem more like an effort to hide the truth?” Every time the Lab found a high concentration detected by monitors, all of a sudden they removed the monitors. Is this a fair way to get an accurate reading or is this a cover-up? When you have a director of EH&S Division who is also the director of the Community Relations Office, which seeks to get this community to continue accepting the existence of the facility and tries to make this facility presented in the best light…Isn’t that an inherent conflict of interest? And that’s Mr. McGraw here”.

13. Leona Wilson: “I live fairly close to the stack, in my family my husband died of cancer, of Leukemia, at the age of fifty-six, my daughter can not have any children and I got breast cancer. Now that is…radiation (audience). I am not sure but it certainly sounds to me like it might be due to that. It’s a fairly high number of cancers in one family. I like to give my time to Dr,.Byrne”.

14. Roger Byrne: “I am upset about how the CAP88 has been castigated. It is difficult to use in complex topography if you are trying to model all sixteen sectors. If you are interested in one sector and the target is only 110 meters away, CAP88 should be used. There is absolutely no reason why CAP88 can not give you good numbers and therefore should be still used as it is used at all DOE facilities by law. These low numbers that are reported by the ambient air samplers up on the hill are low because both are inappropriately located: one is below the stack and the other’s air intake is at a height of 3.5 meters…almost certainly the plume is less than two meters high. The tragedy here is that (tritiated) water vapor is an invisible pollutant and I urge the Lab to run smoke experiments to test my interpretation, we need to see it indirectly by putting smoke and watching what happens.

In the Bay Area we have generally a stable atmosphere. Inversion conditions are typical near the surface…plume not disturbed vertically, will keep the same diameter as it comes out of the stack…diameter of the stack is less than 1 meter, not reason…that plume is going to be dispersed vertically, the chances are that the plume, when it is blown towards the LHS will be concentrated in the lowest two meters of the atmosphere.”

15. Patricia Sun: “All things about radiation are under a lot of suspicion because the government has lied about it a lot of times.”

16. Pamela Sihvola: “ The NTLF is also a waste generator, main generator of a waste type for which there is not disposal path (NDP). In May of 2000, Berkeley Lab signed an agreement with DOE that they (LBNL) will not generate NDP waste, and at the same time they are telling us at the tritium Task Force meetings that operations of the NTLF will continue during this very critical time, when Superfund (air, soil, water) sampling is going to take place. In 1998 EPA deemed LBNL eligible for Superfund listing based on ambient air monitoring data (1995). Since the lab has promised not to generate NDP waste and if they really want to honor this agreement, they would come out in public and state that the NTLF is not operating until the mixed waste issue has been resolved…..In addition, there were only three user tritiations performed at the NTLF during the first quarter of CY 2001.

(Given that the NTLF’s major activity during the two years that you reviewed LBNL’s air emissions data, was tritiated mixed waste treatment under a treatability study, which DTSC has shut down on October 13, 2000, what are we expecting to measure in the in the air during the Superfund sampling period of 2001-02 ?)

Furthermore LBNL has announced that the 28 foot high tritium stack and its highly contaminated high-capacity exhaust system will be removed and it seems unlikely that any user tritiations be performed during this time of decommissioning…What are we expecting to monitor in the air during the removal and proposed relocation of the tritium stack, given that this stack project will take place concurrent with the LBNL Superfund air sampling?”

17. Leo Steidlitz: “I worked in nuclear physics…as a medical physicist. Every one of the standards related to radioactivity has been made more rigorous, not less rigorous (with one exception). So, that’s part of what the outrage does with respect to politics. So called science is not pure science. Science is effected by the political environment. If the lab were serious about decreasing the outrage they would increase the stack height by 200 meters. Why don’t they do that? Then it would be power struggle and outrage would have had some effect. Outrage comes from lack of response and the defensiveness of those who jobs are at stake. Not in the monetary way but the psyche of these people to keep this facility running and to keep the nuclear plants running. It is obvious that outrage is necessary…based on real considerations of the problems at the facility and the management of that facility which has resisted oversight. If there was no outrage, uranium miners would not be recognized with compensation, the down-winders would not be recognized with compensation, not that their broken lives could be restored.”

18. Mark McDonald: “ The issue of Monheit/Menchaca data…we are not interested in the lab’s data…what we asked was to reverse engineer…what does it take in terms of emissions to create those kinds of (tritium) concentrations in rainwater and vegetation? You are doing the community a disservice by dancing around it…that way we can assess whether the lab’s data (is accurate). The number of (user) tritiations is critical, i.e., you turn the car off, you don’t get any exhaust…you can’t smog the car with the engine off. If this facility is not operating, you can’t get an idea what kinds of emissions are normal…there should be a comparison to what was considered normal activity a few years ago, and what is normal activity now that they have shut it off. Is it possible that the reduced level of user tritiations is going to skew the results of the air sampling regiment. (Superfund sampling).
Regarding tritium recycling…Due do to the information that you reviewed showed that the (October 1998) recycling shipment had a lot less tritium than they claimed… Is it possible that LBNL has not been recycling as much as they claim?”

19. Arlene Crooks: “I have lived on lower Summit Road for many years and there were thirteen children who were raised there. And of these thirteen children, I only know of two that were able to have easy and normal pregnancies. There are reproductive issues with all the rest. Some of them have not tried to get pregnant but the ones that have tried… there have been issues. There have been no studies done. You are talking about human lives, what are the great scientific achievements from the use this tritium to justify the infertility of these children?”

20. Arlene Margarian: “Tritium contamination levels at the (NTLF) corporation yard bus stop were found to be 100,000pCi/m . Why did you not recommend that a monitor be placed there as well? (Especially in light of the fact that the closest monitor to that location is on top of the roof of building 69 and not at ground employee level.)

21. Barbara George: “Karl Morgan, a physicist for nearly two decades chaired the U. S. and international committees that set radiation standards, said his colleagues have had as a major objective the preservation of the floundering nuclear power business. The international committee prostituted itself regarding the danger of tritium, legalizing higher doses in 1973 after he argued they should be five times lower.”

"Tritium in Berkeley", a City of Berkeley and the Community Environmental Advisory Commission workshop and presentation on the independent findings of Tritium releases and radiation hazards associated with the National Tritium Labeling Facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Mr. Bernt Franke Institute Fur Energie-Und Umweltforsccwung (IFEU of Heidelberg)...including Owen Hoffman, LBNL Consultant SENES, David McGraw, LBNL, Professor Roger Byrne, U. C. Berkeley Department of Geology.

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