Lab’s annual environmental report finds no adverse impact to public health or environment

Nov. 9, 2009

Lab’s annual environmental report finds no adverse impact to public health or environment

LIVERMORE -- Environmental monitoring of operations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2008 indicates no adverse impact to public health or the environment from Laboratory operations. The findings are presented in the Laboratory's Environmental Report 2008.

The annual report demonstrates LLNL's continuing commitment to providing responsible stewardship of the environmental resources in its care. The report also documents the integration of environmental stewardship into strategic planning and decision-making processes through the Lab's Environmental Management System.

The report assesses the impact of LLNL operations on public health and the environment, summarizes the Lab's regulatory compliance with environmental standards and requirements, describes LLNL's environmental protection and remediation programs, and records results of environmental monitoring for the main Laboratory site, as well as for Site 300, the Laboratory's experimental test facility near Tracy, Calif.

LLNL's environmental releases are highly regulated. Monitoring samples were taken from air, water, vegetation, foodstuff, soil and wastewater on site and in surrounding communities.

In addition, the report documents the substantial actions the Laboratory has taken to comply with federal, state and local environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, among others.

The following is a summary of findings in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Environmental Report 2008. The complete report may be accessed on the Web at . It also is available in the environmental repositories of the Livermore and Tracy public libraries.

  • Pollution prevention - In 2008, the Laboratory received the California Integrated Waste Management Board's 2008 WRAP award. The award recognizes California businesses and organizations that have made outstanding efforts to reduce nonhazardous waste by implementing resource-efficient practices, aggressive waste reduction, reuse and recycling activities, or procurement of recycled-content products.
  • Air monitoring - Air at the Laboratory and throughout the Livermore Valley and in the Tracy area is monitored by some 70 instruments at 38 separate locations. In 2008, radionuclide and beryllium concentrations in air were well below the levels that would cause concern for the environment or public health.
  • Water monitoring/groundwater remediation - Data from liquid effluent monitoring demonstrate LLNL has good control of its discharges to the sanitary sewer, and the measurements of discharges to surface water indicate that LLNL's best management practices for stormwater pollution prevention are effective. At both the Livermore site and at Site 300 remediation activities continued to remove contaminants from groundwater and soil vapor that resulted from past operations. During 2008, the Livermore site remediation effort experienced a substantial budget reduction that significantly impacted operations; however, funding has since been restored and an intensive effort was undertaken to restore remediation operations. At the Livermore site, the primary contaminant in groundwater and soil is volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
  • Terrestrial radiological monitoring - The impact of LLNL operations on surface soil in 2008 was insignificant. Vegetation and Livermore Valley wine were sampled for tritium, and the median concentrations in all off-site vegetation samples were below the lower limit of detection. The highest concentration of tritium in Livermore Valley wines sampled was less than 0.3 percent of the drinking water standard.
  • Biota - The Laboratory meets the requirements of federal and state regulatory acts covering endangered or sensitive natural resources. The Laboratory studies, preserves and attempts to improve the habitat of five animal and plant species at Site 300 that are covered by the federal or California Endangered Species Acts, as well as species that are rare and otherwise of special interest. The 2008 radiological doses calculated for biota at the Lab's main site and at Site 300 were far below screening limits set by the Department of Energy.
  • Radiological dose - Annual radiological doses from emissions at the Livermore site and at Site 300 in 2008 were found to be well below the regulatory limit for radiation protection of the public. Two methods are used to assess radiological dose. One assesses maximum dose to a hypothetical person living for a year, 24 hours a day, in a location near the Lab where that person would receive the highest possible radiation dose through the air. The other method assesses collective dose to the population living within 80 kilometers of the Laboratory. The maximum radiological doses that could have been received by individual members of the public from releases to the air from Livermore site and Site 300 operations in 2008 were just 0.013 percent and 0.00000044 percent of the federal limit, respectively - more than 20,000 times smaller and 100 million times smaller, respectively, than the dose members of the public receive annually from natural background radiation. The collective doses from LLNL operations in 2008 were more than 1 million times smaller than those caused by natural radioactivity in the environment.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a national security laboratory that develops science and engineering technology and provides innovative solutions to our nation's most important challenges. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.