2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 23 Dec 2002 15:12:30 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] New State Report Looks at Plutonium in Your Garden
[The following was posted by <marylia@earthlink.net>]

Greetings colleagues. I thought this might be on interest. Please note
there will be a public meeting on January 15. Read on...

New State Report Looks at Plutonium in Your Garden

By Inga Olson
_From Tri-Valley CAREs' December 2002 newsletter, Citizen's Watch

Documented in a new California Department of Health Services (CDHS)
unintentional releases of plutonium from Livermore Lab resulted in
contamination to the sewage sludge at the Livermore Water Reclamation
(LWRP). The largest accident likely occurred between May 25 and June 15,

1967 when unknown quantities of Plutonium-239 and Americium-241 flowed
Livermore Lab drains into the city's sewer system.

Using routine monitoring data compiled by the Lab, its employees have
estimated that 32 millicuries of Pu 239/Am 241 were released to the
during that time. According to the Lab's incident analysis, the source
the releases could not be definitively established because low-level
radioactivity was routinely released to the sewer from Building 127.

Years later, other agencies looked at Livermore Lab's data and concluded

that the amount of plutonium escaping into the sewer system could not be

precisely determined because the Lab had analyzed the LWRP liquid
when much of the radioactive metal could have become incorporated into

_From 1958-1976, sewage sludge that may have been contaminated with
plutonium from Livermore Lab was made available to an unsuspecting
and municipal agencies for use as a soil amendment. Neither the location

the contaminated sludge nor the levels of plutonium in the sludge are
known. However, it is known that plutonium emits ionizing radiation, and

exposure by inhalation or ingestion can lead to an increased risk of
and other health problems. The impacts of contamination reach far into
future because Plutonium-239 has a radioactive half-life that spans more

than 24,000 years.

With the release of the CDHS report, "Proposed Process to Address the
Historic Distribution of Sewage Sludge Containing Plutonium Releases
the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory," a process to address the
community's concerns may finally begin. The report was produced by the
state in collaboration with representatives from the Alameda County
Environmental Health Department, the City of Livermore, and three
groups, Western States Legal Foundation, SF Bay Area Physicians for
Responsibility and Tri-Valley CAREs.

The report recommends the following actions:

o That the Dept. of Energy's Livermore Lab, where the plutonium
provide funding for Alameda County to implement a process to address the

historic distribution of sludge.

o That Alameda County establish committees with full citizen
to guide the decision-making process.

o That Alameda County establish a toll-free number and provide
so that members of the public can make informed decisions about

The report also identifies issues needing further consideration,

o Developing criteria for analysis and interpretation of laboratory
before sampling is started.

o Determining a trigger level and procedure for removal of contaminated

o Legal issues regarding the sampling results, such as disclosure,
values and likelihood of compensation.

In June 2002, the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
(ATSDR) released its own draft exposure assessment of the potential
implications of the plutonium-contaminated sludge. The ATSDR assessment
concluded that historic levels of plutonium in LWRP sludge would not
resulted in exposure doses exceeding 100 millirem per year and,
are not a health concern.

However, the new CDHS report recommends that dose limits suggested by
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Superfund sites be
considered. Livermore Lab is a Superfund cleanup site. From a regulatory

perspective, the U.S. EPA does not consider the effective dose limit of
millirem a year protective of health, because it equates to an
"unacceptably high" cancer risk of approximately 2 in 1000. The U.S. EPA

suggests that levels of 15 millirem per year effective dose or less
health and are achievable. The 15 millirem per year effective dose
to an increased cancer risk of 3 in 10,000.

CDHS also recognizes in the new report that children can be more
to health effects and that additional information may be needed to
that children's health is adequately protected.

The purpose of the public participation process is to make better
by incorporating the comments of all affected stakeholders and to meet
needs of the decision-making body. CDHS has released the new report for
public review and comment.

Comments on the public participation process or any concerns or
relating to the historic distribution of sludge can be submitted to
Barreau, CDHS - Environmental Health Investigation Branch, 1515 Clay
Street, Suite 1700, Oakland, CA 94612.

Comments received by January 15, 2003 will be in time to be fully
considered in decisions on a structure for the process, although CDHS
said it will welcome the public's comments at any time.

The report can be found in the Livermore library. It is also available
the Tri-Valley CAREs office and in PDF on our web site at
www.trivalleycares.org.   Additionally, copies of the report can be
obtained by calling CDHS at (510) 622-4500.

NOTE: The CA State Dept. of Health Services will hold a public meeting
present and discuss the report in Livermore on January 15. I will post a

notice and/or flier after the holidays. However, if you live in the
Tri-Valley area, or may have received plutonium contaminated sludge,
reserve that evening on your calendar now -- and contact us for more
information. Thanks.

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