Brookhaven National Laboratory
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EPA added the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) site in Upton, New York to the Superfund National Priorities List on November 21, 1989 because hazardous chemicals were found in the soil and ground water. The 5,265 acre superfund site in Suffolk County was previously used by the Army as a camp during World Wars I and II. Since 1947, the site has been operated by contractors of the Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S Department of Energy (DOE). Brookhaven National Laboratory lies over an underground body of water. Residents receive drinking water from within three miles of the facility.
When the site was listed, on-site soil was contaminated with heavy metals, hydrocarbons, radioactive materials, oils, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are potentially harmful contaminants that can easily evaporate into the air. Sediments in the on-site portion of the Peconic River were contaminated with metals and low levels of radionuclides. On-site and off-site groundwater was contaminated with VOCs, radionuclides, and pesticides. DOE connected neighboring properties to the public water supply as a protective measure.
Over 30 areas of concern have been identified. Since remedial actions began in 1992, over 1,800 tons of contaminated soils were removed from various site locations. Over 10 billion gallons of contaminated ground water were treated. In addition, over 21,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed from both on-site and off-site areas along the Peconic River. Three 100,000 gallon radioactively contaminated tanks and other various underground storage tanks were removed and disposed of. In addition, 25 contaminated cesspools were removed, 25 holes and pits that were used for the disposal of laboratory wastes were excavated and approximately 20,800 tons of contaminated soils were removed. Three on-site landfills which were used to dispose BNL waste were covered with a low permeability cap in 1995. To remove contaminants from the ground water, over 16 individual treatment systems have been installed at BNL.
Currently, cleanup of the Brookhaven Graphite Reactor (BGRR) is underway, including the removal of all remaining structures. Work is also being done on the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR). Control rods and other equipment will be removed by 2020 and the reactor vessel will be placed in safe storage. Since DOE recently obtained some additional funding, these activities may be completed as soon as 2010. Under current conditions at this site, potential or actual human exposures are under control.