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National Analytical Radiation Environmental Laboratory

Us. S. Navy Harbor Environmental Surveys

U.S. Navy Harbor Environmental Surveys

The National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in cooperation with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems CommandExit EPA (NAVSEA) has previously surveyed facilities serving nuclear-powered warships. The surveys began in 1963 and have been conducted on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, on the Gulf of Mexico of the Continental United States, and in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In 1996, an interagency agreement (IAG) was signed with NAVSEA for EPA-NAREL to perform radiological surveys over the next five years at active facilities serving nuclear-powered warships. These surveys assess whether the construction, maintenance, overhaul, or refueling of nuclear-powered warships have created elevated levels of radioactivity that would result in significant population exposure or contamination of the environment.

For each harbor survey, a pre-survey trip is made to develop a sampling and survey plan with the assistance of knowledgeable site personnel, including the Navy and the EPA Region Radiation Program Manager who coordinates concerns from the local public and the State Department of Health. An EPA survey team independently collects samples and performs radiation measurements at the survey site. Radioanalytical analyses of all samples are independently performed at NAREL. Sample collection during the study for radioanalytical analysis will include harbor bottom sediment, cores of harbor bottom sediment, harbor water, drinking water and marine biota. External radiation measurements will be made on the shoreline, at public access points and underwater in the harbor. A report will be prepared documenting the results obtained during the study and conclusions regarding impacts on the population and environment.

The IAG with the Navy is for eight surveys of harbor groups over five years with about two harbor groups surveyed per year. The first environmental study was performed in September 1996 at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS) in Bremerton, WA, and the Naval Submarine Base in Bangor, WA. A second survey was done at San Diego Bay, CA, in March 1997. Additional surveys have been performed as follows:

  • Portsmouth Naval Facilities, ME, during September 1997
  • Pearl Harbor Naval Facilities, HI, in April 1998
  • Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit near Charleston, SC, and Kings Bay Submarine Base at Kings Bay, GA, in May 1999
  • Naval Facilities in the New London Narbor and on the Thames River, CT, during September 1999

A survey of the Norfolk Naval Facilities and Newport News Shipbuilding, VA, was completed in November 2000.

Photo of marine life samples
Marine life samples
Photo of sediment sample preparation
Sediment sample preparation

Photo of an underwater radiation detector
Underwater radiation

Photo - Using dredge to take a harbor sediment sample
Using dredge to take a
harbor sediment sample

Photo - Sediment sample removed from dredge
Sediment sample
removed from dredge

Photo of external measurement and collecting shoreline sediment samples
External radiation measurement and collecting shoreline sediment samples

National Analytical Radiation Environmental Laboratory
540 South Morris Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36115-2600
(334) 270-3400 Voice, (334) 270-3454 Fax

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