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Title: Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2015 Meteorological, Radiological, and Airborne Particulate Observations

Abstract

In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range). The operation resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Clean Slate I, II, and III sites. This report documents observations made during ongoing monitoring of radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions at stations installed adjacent to Clean Slate I and Clean Slate III, and at the TTR Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Control (ROC) center. The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to determine if winds blowing across the Clean Slate sites are transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soil beyond the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. Radionuclide assessment of airborne particulates in 2015 found the gross alpha and gross beta values of dust collected from the filters at the monitoring stations are consistent with background conditions. The meteorological and particle monitoring indicate that conditions for wind-borne contaminant movement exist at the Clean Slate sites and that, although the transport of radionuclide-contaminated soil by suspension has not been detected, movement by saltation is occurring.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Nevada University, Reno, NV (United States). Desert Research Inst.
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Nevada University, Reno, NV (United States). Desert Research Inst.
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1329635
Report Number(s):
DOE/NV/-0000939-37; 45-271
DOE/NV/0000939-37; TRN: US1700388
DOE Contract Number:
NA0000939
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; TONOPAH TEST RANGE; NEVADA TEST SITE; PARTICULATES; AEROSOL MONITORING; METEOROLOGY; SOILS; DUSTS; RADIONUCLIDE MIGRATION; WIND; TRANSFRONTIER CONTAMINATION; RADIATION MONITORING

Citation Formats

Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, Chapman, Jenny, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., and Mizell, Steve. Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2015 Meteorological, Radiological, and Airborne Particulate Observations. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1329635.
Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, Chapman, Jenny, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., & Mizell, Steve. Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2015 Meteorological, Radiological, and Airborne Particulate Observations. United States. doi:10.2172/1329635.
Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, Chapman, Jenny, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., and Mizell, Steve. Thu . "Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2015 Meteorological, Radiological, and Airborne Particulate Observations". United States. doi:10.2172/1329635. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1329635.
@article{osti_1329635,
title = {Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2015 Meteorological, Radiological, and Airborne Particulate Observations},
author = {Nikolich, George and Shadel, Craig and Chapman, Jenny and McCurdy, Greg and Etyemezian, Vicken and Miller, Julianne J. and Mizell, Steve},
abstractNote = {In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range). The operation resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Clean Slate I, II, and III sites. This report documents observations made during ongoing monitoring of radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions at stations installed adjacent to Clean Slate I and Clean Slate III, and at the TTR Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Control (ROC) center. The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to determine if winds blowing across the Clean Slate sites are transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soil beyond the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. Radionuclide assessment of airborne particulates in 2015 found the gross alpha and gross beta values of dust collected from the filters at the monitoring stations are consistent with background conditions. The meteorological and particle monitoring indicate that conditions for wind-borne contaminant movement exist at the Clean Slate sites and that, although the transport of radionuclide-contaminated soil by suspension has not been detected, movement by saltation is occurring.},
doi = {10.2172/1329635},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Thu Sep 01 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

Technical Report:

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  • In 1963, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), predecessor to the US Department of Energy (DOE), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range (NAFR)). Operation Roller Coaster consisted of four tests in which chemical explosions were detonated in the presence of nuclear devices to assess the dispersal of radionuclides and evaluate the effectiveness of storage structures to contain the ejected radionuclides. These tests resulted in dispersal of plutonium over the ground surface downwind of the test ground zero. Three tests,more » Clean Slate 1, 2, and 3, were conducted on the TTR in Cactus Flat; the fourth, Double Tracks, was conducted in Stonewall Flat on the NTTR. DOE is working to clean up and close all four sites. Substantial cleaned up has been accomplished at Double Tracks and Clean Slate 1. Cleanup of Clean Slate 2 and 3 is on the DOE planning horizon for some time in the next several years. The Desert Research Institute installed two monitoring stations, number 400 at the Sandia National Laboratories Range Operations Center and number 401 at Clean Slate 3, in 2008 and a third monitoring station, number 402 at Clean Slate 1, in 2011 to measure radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions. The primary objectives of the data collection and analysis effort are to (1) monitor the concentration of radiological parameters in dust particles suspended in air, (2) determine whether winds are re-distributing radionuclides or contaminated soil material, (3) evaluate the controlling meteorological conditions if wind transport is occurring, and (4) measure ancillary radiological, meteorological, and environmental parameters that might provide insight to the above assessments. The following observations are based on data collected during CY2012. The mean annual concentration of gross alpha and gross beta is highest at Station 400 and lowest at Station 401. This difference may be the result of using filter media at Station 400 with a smaller pore size than the media used at the other two stations. Average annual gamma exposure at Station 401 is slightly greater than at Station 400 and 402. Average annual gamma exposure at all three TTR stations are in the upper range to slightly higher than values reported for the CEMP stations surrounding the TTR. At higher wind speeds, the saltation counts are greater at Station 401 than at Station 402 while the suspended particulate concentrations are greater at Station 402 than at Statin 401. Although these observations seem counterintuitive, they are likely the result of differences in the soil material present at the two sites. Station 401 is located on an interfluve elevated above two adjacent drainage channels where the soil surface is likely to be composed of coarser material. Station 402 is located in finer sediments at the playa edge and is also subject to dust from a dirt road only 500 m to the north. During prolonged high wind events, suspended dust concentrations at Station 401 peaked with the initial winds then decreased whereas dust concentrations at Station 402 peaked with each peak in the wind speed. This likely reflects a limited PM10 source that is quickly expended at Station 401 relative to an abundant PM10 source at Station 402. In CY2013, to facilitate comparisons between radiological analyses of collected dust, the filter media at all three stations will be standardized. In addition, a sequence of samples will be collected at Station 400 using both types of filter media to enable development of a mathematical relationship between the results derived from the two filter types. Additionally, having acquired approximately four years of observations at Stations 400 and 401 and a year of observations at Station 402, a period-of-record analysis of the radiological and airborne dust conditions will be undertaken.« less
  • In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range). This test resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at Clean Slate I, II, and III. This report documents observations made during on-going monitoring of radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions at stations installed adjacent to Clean Slate I and Clean Slate III and at the TTR Range Operations Control center. The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to determine ifmore » winds blowing across the Clean Slate sites are transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soils beyond both the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. Results for the calendar year (CY) 2013 monitoring include: (1) the gross alpha and gross beta values from the monitoring stations are approximately equivalent to the highest values observed during the CY2012 reporting at the surrounding Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) stations (this was the latest documented data available at the time of this writing); (2) only naturally occurring radionuclides were identified in the gamma spectral analyses; (3) the ambient gamma radiation measurements indicate that the average annual gamma exposure is similar at all three monitoring stations and periodic intervals of increased gamma values appear to be associated with storm fronts passing through the area; and (4) the concentrations of both resuspended dust and saltated sand particles generally increase with increasing wind speed. However, differences in the observed dust concentrations are likely due to differences in the soil characteristics immediately adjacent to the monitoring stations. Neither the resuspended particulate radiological analyses nor the ambient gamma radiation measurements suggest wind transport of radionuclide-contaminated soils.« less
  • In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range). This test resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at Clean Slate I, II, and III. This report documents observations made during ongoing monitoring of radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions at stations installed adjacent to Clean Slate I and Clean Slate III and at the TTR Range Operations Control center. The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to determine ifmore » winds blowing across the Clean Slate sites are transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soils beyond both the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. Results for the calendar year (CY) 2014 monitoring are: (1) the gross alpha and gross beta values from the monitoring stations are approximately equivalent to the highest values observed during the CY2014 reporting at the surrounding Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) stations; (2) only naturally occurring radionuclides were identified in the gamma spectral analyses; (3) the ambient gamma radiation measurements indicate that the average annual gamma exposure is similar at all three monitoring stations and periodic intervals of increased gamma values appear to be associated with storm fronts passing through the area; and (4) the concentrations of both resuspended dust and saltated sand particles generally increase with increasing wind speed. Differences in the observed dust concentrations are likely the result of differences in the soil characteristics immediately adjacent to the monitoring stations. Neither the resuspended particulate radiological analyses nor the ambient gamma radiation measurements suggest wind transport of radionuclide-contaminated soils.« less
  • In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]), implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range). This operation resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Clean Slate I, II, and III sites. This report documents observations made during ongoing monitoring of radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions at stations installed adjacent to Clean Slate I and Clean Slate III, and at the TTR Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Control (ROC) center. The primary objective ofmore » the monitoring effort is to determine if wind blowing across the Clean Slate sites is transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soil beyond the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites.« less
  • In 1963, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission [AEC]) implemented Operation Roller Coaster on the Tonopah Test Range (TTR) and an adjacent area of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) (formerly the Nellis Air Force Range [NAFR]). Operation Roller Coaster consisted of four tests in which chemical explosions were detonated in the presence of nuclear devices to assess the dispersal of radionuclides and evaluate the effectiveness of storage structures to contain the ejected radionuclides. These tests resulted in the dispersal of plutonium over the ground surface downwind of the test ground zero (GZ). Threemore » tests—Clean Slate I, II, and III—were conducted on the TTR in Cactus Flat. The fourth, Double Tracks, was conducted in Stonewall Flat on the NTTR. The Desert Research Institute (DRI) installed two monitoring stations in 2008, Station 400 at the Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Center (ROC) and Station 401 at Clean Slate III. Station 402 was installed at Clean Slate I in 2011 to measure radiological, meteorological, and dust conditions. The monitoring activity was implemented to determine if radionuclide contamination in the soil at the Clean Slate sites was being transported beyond the contamination area boundaries. Some of the data collected also permits comparison of radiological exposure at the TTR monitoring stations to conditions observed at Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) stations around the NTTR. Annual average gross alpha values from the TTR monitoring stations are higher than values from the surrounding CEMP stations. Annual average gross beta values from the TTR monitoring stations are generally lower than values observed for the surrounding CEMP stations. This may be due to use of sample filters with larger pore space because when glass-fiber filters began to be used at TTR Station 400, gross beta values increased. Gamma spectroscopy typically identified only naturally occurring radionuclides. The radionuclides cesium-134 and -137 were identified in only two samples at each station collected in the weeks following the destruction of the nuclear power reactor in Fukushima, Japan, on March 11, 2011. Observed gamma energy values never exceeded the local background by more than 4 μR/h. The higher observed gamma values were coincident with wind from any of the cardinal directions, which suggests that there is no significant transport from the Clean Slate contamination areas. Annual average daily gamma values at the TTR stations are higher than at the surrounding CEMP stations, but they are equivalent to or just slightly higher than the background estimates made at locations at equivalent elevations, such as Denver, Colorado. Winds in excess of approximately 15 mph begin to resuspend soil particles and create dust, but dust generation is also affected by soil temperature, relative humidity, and soil water content. Power curves provide good predictive equations for dust concentration as a function of wind speed. However, winds in the highest wind speed category occur infrequently. iii« less