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Title: Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2017 Meteorological, Radiological, and Wind Transported 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). This operation resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Double Tracks site and 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 the Clean Slate sites and at the TTR Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Center (ROC). The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to support the DOE Environmental Management Nevada Program (EM NV) in the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy of nuclear device development and testing by determining if wind blowing across the Clean Slate sites is transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soil beyond the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. The monitoring program underwent a significant change during 2017 with the decommissioning of one monitoring station and the establishment of three new stations. Station 400, located within TTR Area 3 and near the ROC, monitors conditions near the local workforce center and was in operation the fullmore » calendar year. Stations 401 and 403 are located on the northwest and southeast perimeter fence lines, respectively, of the Clean Slate III site. Station 401 operated throughout 2017, whereas Station 403 began operation at the end of April 2017. Stations 404 and 405 are along the northern and eastern boundary fence, respectively, at Clean Slate II and both began data collection at the end of April 2017. Also at the end of April, the Clean Slate I monitoring site, Station 402, was decommissioned. The stations are located to be generally downwind of the contaminated areas during either north-northwesterly or south-southeasterly winds, which are the predominant wind directions. The stations—which are similar in design to the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) stations operating at locations surrounding the Nevada National Security Site and TTR—include meteorological instruments and continuous-flow, low-volume air samplers. Three pressurized ionization chambers for measuring gamma energy are in use at Stations 400, 401, and 403 (formerly at 402). Saltation sensors and saltation traps are deployed at the stations adjacent to the Clean Slate sites. Detailed meteorological data are recorded on data loggers, with periodic uploads via a satellite system to the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) at Desert Research Institute (DRI), to monitor instrument and site conditions. Air filter samples are collected every two weeks and the deposits in the saltation traps are collected when a sufficient sample mass for analysis has accumulated (generally a six- to eight-month interval). Dust transport by suspension and saltation is strongly dependent on wind speed. Concentrations of PM10 (particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter ≤10 micrometers [μm], a size fraction of small particles that are suspended in the air and can be easily inhaled) remain low until winds exceed approximately 32 km/hr (20 mph). Saltation particle counts also increase above the same general threshold wind speed. Wind speeds in excess of 32 km/hr (20 mph) occur less than three percent of the time. High winds are associated with two predominant directions: north-northwest and south. In 2017, the very highest winds were from the north, but all winds above 40 km/hr (25 mph) were approximately evenly split between south and northwest directions. The low-volume air samplers collect total suspended dust, and saltating particles are captured by the passive saltation traps, both for radiological analysis. Radionuclide monitoring at the ROC in TTR Area 3 (Station 400) found natural background levels of gross alpha and gross beta radiation. Similar background levels were found on filter samples analyzed using gamma and alpha spectroscopy. The gamma exposure rate data from pressurized ionization chambers (PIC) are comparable to those from the regional CEMP stations. Plutonium concentrations above background values were measured during 2017 from soil samples collected in passive saltation traps and on select air filters from the monitoring stations adjacent to the Clean Slate sites. The background for soils in the region is assumed to be 0.014 pCi/g plutonium-239+240 ( 239+240Pu) as measured by Turner et al. (2003), whereas the background concentration of suspended 239+240Pu is assumed to be 9.5 x 10 -19 μCi/ml, which was determined by continuous air monitoring at the TTR airport in 1996 and 1997 (SNL, 1998). Background concentrations are exceeded by one to four orders of magnitude by the majority of samples from Clean Slate I, II, and III. The gross alpha and gross beta measurements of the air filters are also generally higher than those measured at the regional CEMP stations, although the gamma exposure rates determined by the PICs located at Clean Slate I and III are similar to CEMP measurements. The highest radionuclide concentrations of suspended dust are associated with individual filter samples from Clean Slate II Station 404 and Clean Slate III Station 401. Both of the stations are downwind of their respective sites during southerly winds, but they are also geographically closer to the highly contaminated detonation areas than the other monitoring stations. Considering all the analyzed samples, the 239+240Pu concentrations are generally higher for the Clean Slate II samples compared with those from Clean Slate III. The highest gross alpha and gross beta results are also observed for the Clean Slate II stations. The highest radionuclide concentrations are measured on the smaller (≤63 μm) saltation-sized particles and particulate matter collected downwind of each site. Nonetheless, traps oriented to collect dust moving toward the contamination areas also had plutonium concentrations significantly above background values, which is consistent with observations of low-level contamination dispersed beyond the fenced area. All the observed 239+240Pu concentrations are below the risk-based action level (25 millirem per year, equivalent to a 239+240Pu concentration of 4,120 pCi/g for an industrial worker scenario; U.S. DOE, 2014). The meteorological and particulate matter monitoring indicate that conditions for wind-borne contaminant movement exist at the Clean Slate sites, and that transport of radionuclide-contaminated soil by both suspension and saltation is occurring. The Corrective Action Unit (CAU) closure strategy uses a risk-based approach, whereby acceptable contaminant concentrations are determined as a function of anticipated human exposure. This strategy is consistent with the fence lines at the Clean Slate sites encircling areas of higher concentration and the observed presence of lower concentrations of contamination outside the fences.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. Desert Research Inst. (DRI), Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Nevada System of Higher Education, Reno, NV (United States). Desert Research Institute
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Environmental Management (EM)
OSTI Identifier:
1482208
Report Number(s):
DOE/NV/-0003590-25; DRIPubNo.-45284
DOE Contract Number:  
NA0003590
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Tonopah Test Range; TTR; NTTR; Nevada Test and Training Range; radionuclide-contaminated soil; monitoring; radiological; meteorological; dust wind; boundaries; air samplers; saltation sensors; saltation traps; Western Regional Climate Center; suspension; particles; plutonium concentrations; gamma exposure

Citation Formats

Chapman, Jenny, Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., and Mizell, Steve. Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2017 Meteorological, Radiological, and Wind Transported Particulate Observations. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1482208.
Chapman, Jenny, Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., & Mizell, Steve. Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2017 Meteorological, Radiological, and Wind Transported Particulate Observations. United States. doi:10.2172/1482208.
Chapman, Jenny, Nikolich, George, Shadel, Craig, McCurdy, Greg, Etyemezian, Vicken, Miller, Julianne J., and Mizell, Steve. Thu . "Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2017 Meteorological, Radiological, and Wind Transported Particulate Observations". United States. doi:10.2172/1482208. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1482208.
@article{osti_1482208,
title = {Tonopah Test Range Air Monitoring: CY2017 Meteorological, Radiological, and Wind Transported Particulate Observations},
author = {Chapman, Jenny and Nikolich, George and Shadel, Craig 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). This operation resulted in radionuclide-contaminated soils at the Double Tracks site and 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 the Clean Slate sites and at the TTR Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) Range Operations Center (ROC). The primary objective of the monitoring effort is to support the DOE Environmental Management Nevada Program (EM NV) in the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy of nuclear device development and testing by determining if wind blowing across the Clean Slate sites is transporting particles of radionuclide-contaminated soil beyond the physical and administrative boundaries of the sites. The monitoring program underwent a significant change during 2017 with the decommissioning of one monitoring station and the establishment of three new stations. Station 400, located within TTR Area 3 and near the ROC, monitors conditions near the local workforce center and was in operation the full calendar year. Stations 401 and 403 are located on the northwest and southeast perimeter fence lines, respectively, of the Clean Slate III site. Station 401 operated throughout 2017, whereas Station 403 began operation at the end of April 2017. Stations 404 and 405 are along the northern and eastern boundary fence, respectively, at Clean Slate II and both began data collection at the end of April 2017. Also at the end of April, the Clean Slate I monitoring site, Station 402, was decommissioned. The stations are located to be generally downwind of the contaminated areas during either north-northwesterly or south-southeasterly winds, which are the predominant wind directions. The stations—which are similar in design to the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) stations operating at locations surrounding the Nevada National Security Site and TTR—include meteorological instruments and continuous-flow, low-volume air samplers. Three pressurized ionization chambers for measuring gamma energy are in use at Stations 400, 401, and 403 (formerly at 402). Saltation sensors and saltation traps are deployed at the stations adjacent to the Clean Slate sites. Detailed meteorological data are recorded on data loggers, with periodic uploads via a satellite system to the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) at Desert Research Institute (DRI), to monitor instrument and site conditions. Air filter samples are collected every two weeks and the deposits in the saltation traps are collected when a sufficient sample mass for analysis has accumulated (generally a six- to eight-month interval). Dust transport by suspension and saltation is strongly dependent on wind speed. Concentrations of PM10 (particulate matter of aerodynamic diameter ≤10 micrometers [μm], a size fraction of small particles that are suspended in the air and can be easily inhaled) remain low until winds exceed approximately 32 km/hr (20 mph). Saltation particle counts also increase above the same general threshold wind speed. Wind speeds in excess of 32 km/hr (20 mph) occur less than three percent of the time. High winds are associated with two predominant directions: north-northwest and south. In 2017, the very highest winds were from the north, but all winds above 40 km/hr (25 mph) were approximately evenly split between south and northwest directions. The low-volume air samplers collect total suspended dust, and saltating particles are captured by the passive saltation traps, both for radiological analysis. Radionuclide monitoring at the ROC in TTR Area 3 (Station 400) found natural background levels of gross alpha and gross beta radiation. Similar background levels were found on filter samples analyzed using gamma and alpha spectroscopy. The gamma exposure rate data from pressurized ionization chambers (PIC) are comparable to those from the regional CEMP stations. Plutonium concentrations above background values were measured during 2017 from soil samples collected in passive saltation traps and on select air filters from the monitoring stations adjacent to the Clean Slate sites. The background for soils in the region is assumed to be 0.014 pCi/g plutonium-239+240 (239+240Pu) as measured by Turner et al. (2003), whereas the background concentration of suspended 239+240Pu is assumed to be 9.5 x 10-19 μCi/ml, which was determined by continuous air monitoring at the TTR airport in 1996 and 1997 (SNL, 1998). Background concentrations are exceeded by one to four orders of magnitude by the majority of samples from Clean Slate I, II, and III. The gross alpha and gross beta measurements of the air filters are also generally higher than those measured at the regional CEMP stations, although the gamma exposure rates determined by the PICs located at Clean Slate I and III are similar to CEMP measurements. The highest radionuclide concentrations of suspended dust are associated with individual filter samples from Clean Slate II Station 404 and Clean Slate III Station 401. Both of the stations are downwind of their respective sites during southerly winds, but they are also geographically closer to the highly contaminated detonation areas than the other monitoring stations. Considering all the analyzed samples, the 239+240Pu concentrations are generally higher for the Clean Slate II samples compared with those from Clean Slate III. The highest gross alpha and gross beta results are also observed for the Clean Slate II stations. The highest radionuclide concentrations are measured on the smaller (≤63 μm) saltation-sized particles and particulate matter collected downwind of each site. Nonetheless, traps oriented to collect dust moving toward the contamination areas also had plutonium concentrations significantly above background values, which is consistent with observations of low-level contamination dispersed beyond the fenced area. All the observed 239+240Pu concentrations are below the risk-based action level (25 millirem per year, equivalent to a 239+240Pu concentration of 4,120 pCi/g for an industrial worker scenario; U.S. DOE, 2014). The meteorological and particulate matter monitoring indicate that conditions for wind-borne contaminant movement exist at the Clean Slate sites, and that transport of radionuclide-contaminated soil by both suspension and saltation is occurring. The Corrective Action Unit (CAU) closure strategy uses a risk-based approach, whereby acceptable contaminant concentrations are determined as a function of anticipated human exposure. This strategy is consistent with the fence lines at the Clean Slate sites encircling areas of higher concentration and the observed presence of lower concentrations of contamination outside the fences.},
doi = {10.2172/1482208},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {11}
}