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Title: Legacy Compliance Final Report: Results of the Navy/Encapo Soil Stabilization Study at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada

Abstract

Historic atmospheric testing of nuclear devices at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) has resulted in large areas of plutonium-contaminated surface soils. The potential transport of these contaminated soils to onsite and offsite receptors is a concern to the land steward and local stakeholders. The primary transport pathways of interest at the NTS are sediment entrained in surface water runoff and windblown dust. This project was initially funded by the U.S. Navy and subsequently funded by the USDOE Stockpile Stewardship Program. Field tests were conducted over a 20.5 month period to evaluate the efficacy of an organic-based, surface applied emulsion to reduce sediment transport from plutonium-contaminated soils. The patented emulsion was provided by Encapco Technologies LLC. Field tests were conducted within the SMOKY radioactive contamination area (CA). The SMOKY above ground nuclear test was conducted on 08/31/1957, with a reported yield of 44 kilotons and was located at N 37 degrees 10.5 minutes latitude and W 116 degrees 04.5 minutes longitude. Three 'safety tests' were also conducted within approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) of the SMOKY ground zero in 1958. Safety tests are designed to test the response of a nuclear device to an unplanned external force (e.g., nearby detonation ofmore » conventional explosives). These three safety tests (CERES, OBERON, and TITANIA) resulted in dispersal of plutonium over a wide area (Bechtel Nevada, 2002). Ten 3 x 4.6 meter test plots were constructed within the SMOKY CA to conduct rainfall-runoff simulations. Six of the ten test plots were treated with the emulsion at the manufacturer recommended loading of 1.08 gallons per square meter, and four plots were held untreated as experimental controls. Separate areas were also treated to assess impacts to native vegetation and surface infiltration rate. Field tests were conducted at approximately 6, 13, and 20.5 months post emulsion treatment. Field tests consisted of rainfall-runoff simulations and double ring infiltrometer measurements. Plant vigor assessments were conducted during peak production time, approximately seven months post treatment. Rainfall was simulated at the approximate 5 minute intensity of a 50-year storm (5.1 inches per hour) for durations of four to five minutes. All runoff generated from each test plot was collected noting the time for each liter of volume. Five gallon carboys containing the runoff water and sediment were shipped to Clemson Environmental Technologies Laboratory for analysis. The samples were separated into liquid and solid fractions. Liquid and solid fractions were weighed and analyzed for Americium-241 (Am-241) by gamma spectrometry. Quality control measures used at the laboratory indicate the analytical data are accurate and reproducible. A weather station was deployed to the field site to take basic meteorological measurements including air temperature, incoming solar radiation, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity, precipitation, and volumetric soil moisture content. Meteorological monitoring data indicate the climate over the test period was hot and dry with 41 days having measurable precipitation. The total precipitation for the study period was 12.5 centimeters, 37% of the long-term average. For the 20.5 month test period, 64 freeze-thaw cycles occurred. Vegetation assessments indicate the emulsion treatment did not negatively impact existing vegetation. The three rounds of double ring infiltration tests on treated surfaces indicate the infiltration rate was relatively constant over time and not significantly different from measurements taken on untreated surfaces. Significant differences were observed in the amount of runoff and sediment collected from treated and untreated plots for the first two but not the third round of rainfall-runoff simulations, indicating significant emulsion degradation after 20.5 months of exposure. Treated plots had higher total runoff volumes and sediment loads as compared to untreated plots for the first two rounds of simulations. These data indicate the treatment caused the treated surfaces to repel more of the simulated rainfall than the untreated plots but did not increase the cohesion between soil particles to resist soil particle detachment and transport with the runoff water. Am-241 concentration in collected sediments varied as a function of proximity to the safety test locations, not as a function of surface treatment. The results from field testing the Encapco emulsion indicate it is not a viable long-term option for the stabilization of radionuclide impacted surface soils at the Nevada Test Site in its current formulation. Dust suppression studies conducted by Etyemezian et al. (2006) at an uncontaminated location near the SMOKY site indicate the emulsion significantly reduced dust emissions for at least four months post application, indicating the emulsion may be useful for short-term applications.« less

Authors:
; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Security Technologies, LLC
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE - National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
925507
Report Number(s):
DOE/NV/25946-377
TRN: US200811%%147
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC52-06NA25946
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; AMERICIUM 241; COMPLIANCE; EXPLOSIONS; FIELD TESTS; GAMMA SPECTROSCOPY; NEVADA TEST SITE; PLUTONIUM; PRECIPITATION; QUALITY CONTROL; RADIOISOTOPES; RUNOFF; SAFETY; SOILS; SOLAR RADIATION; STABILIZATION; SURFACE TREATMENTS; SURFACE WATERS; TRANSPORT; soil stabilization

Citation Formats

Desotell, Lloyd, Anderson, David, Rawlinson, Stuart, Hudson, David, and Yucel, Vefa. Legacy Compliance Final Report: Results of the Navy/Encapo Soil Stabilization Study at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada. United States: N. p., 2008. Web. doi:10.2172/925507.
Desotell, Lloyd, Anderson, David, Rawlinson, Stuart, Hudson, David, & Yucel, Vefa. Legacy Compliance Final Report: Results of the Navy/Encapo Soil Stabilization Study at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada. United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/925507
Desotell, Lloyd, Anderson, David, Rawlinson, Stuart, Hudson, David, and Yucel, Vefa. Sat . "Legacy Compliance Final Report: Results of the Navy/Encapo Soil Stabilization Study at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada". United States. https://doi.org/10.2172/925507. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/925507.
@article{osti_925507,
title = {Legacy Compliance Final Report: Results of the Navy/Encapo Soil Stabilization Study at the Nevada Test Site, Nye County, Nevada},
author = {Desotell, Lloyd and Anderson, David and Rawlinson, Stuart and Hudson, David and Yucel, Vefa},
abstractNote = {Historic atmospheric testing of nuclear devices at the Nevada Test Site (NTS) has resulted in large areas of plutonium-contaminated surface soils. The potential transport of these contaminated soils to onsite and offsite receptors is a concern to the land steward and local stakeholders. The primary transport pathways of interest at the NTS are sediment entrained in surface water runoff and windblown dust. This project was initially funded by the U.S. Navy and subsequently funded by the USDOE Stockpile Stewardship Program. Field tests were conducted over a 20.5 month period to evaluate the efficacy of an organic-based, surface applied emulsion to reduce sediment transport from plutonium-contaminated soils. The patented emulsion was provided by Encapco Technologies LLC. Field tests were conducted within the SMOKY radioactive contamination area (CA). The SMOKY above ground nuclear test was conducted on 08/31/1957, with a reported yield of 44 kilotons and was located at N 37 degrees 10.5 minutes latitude and W 116 degrees 04.5 minutes longitude. Three 'safety tests' were also conducted within approximately 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) of the SMOKY ground zero in 1958. Safety tests are designed to test the response of a nuclear device to an unplanned external force (e.g., nearby detonation of conventional explosives). These three safety tests (CERES, OBERON, and TITANIA) resulted in dispersal of plutonium over a wide area (Bechtel Nevada, 2002). Ten 3 x 4.6 meter test plots were constructed within the SMOKY CA to conduct rainfall-runoff simulations. Six of the ten test plots were treated with the emulsion at the manufacturer recommended loading of 1.08 gallons per square meter, and four plots were held untreated as experimental controls. Separate areas were also treated to assess impacts to native vegetation and surface infiltration rate. Field tests were conducted at approximately 6, 13, and 20.5 months post emulsion treatment. Field tests consisted of rainfall-runoff simulations and double ring infiltrometer measurements. Plant vigor assessments were conducted during peak production time, approximately seven months post treatment. Rainfall was simulated at the approximate 5 minute intensity of a 50-year storm (5.1 inches per hour) for durations of four to five minutes. All runoff generated from each test plot was collected noting the time for each liter of volume. Five gallon carboys containing the runoff water and sediment were shipped to Clemson Environmental Technologies Laboratory for analysis. The samples were separated into liquid and solid fractions. Liquid and solid fractions were weighed and analyzed for Americium-241 (Am-241) by gamma spectrometry. Quality control measures used at the laboratory indicate the analytical data are accurate and reproducible. A weather station was deployed to the field site to take basic meteorological measurements including air temperature, incoming solar radiation, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, relative humidity, precipitation, and volumetric soil moisture content. Meteorological monitoring data indicate the climate over the test period was hot and dry with 41 days having measurable precipitation. The total precipitation for the study period was 12.5 centimeters, 37% of the long-term average. For the 20.5 month test period, 64 freeze-thaw cycles occurred. Vegetation assessments indicate the emulsion treatment did not negatively impact existing vegetation. The three rounds of double ring infiltration tests on treated surfaces indicate the infiltration rate was relatively constant over time and not significantly different from measurements taken on untreated surfaces. Significant differences were observed in the amount of runoff and sediment collected from treated and untreated plots for the first two but not the third round of rainfall-runoff simulations, indicating significant emulsion degradation after 20.5 months of exposure. Treated plots had higher total runoff volumes and sediment loads as compared to untreated plots for the first two rounds of simulations. These data indicate the treatment caused the treated surfaces to repel more of the simulated rainfall than the untreated plots but did not increase the cohesion between soil particles to resist soil particle detachment and transport with the runoff water. Am-241 concentration in collected sediments varied as a function of proximity to the safety test locations, not as a function of surface treatment. The results from field testing the Encapco emulsion indicate it is not a viable long-term option for the stabilization of radionuclide impacted surface soils at the Nevada Test Site in its current formulation. Dust suppression studies conducted by Etyemezian et al. (2006) at an uncontaminated location near the SMOKY site indicate the emulsion significantly reduced dust emissions for at least four months post application, indicating the emulsion may be useful for short-term applications.},
doi = {10.2172/925507},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/925507}, journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2008},
month = {3}
}