Lab’s annual report finds no adverse impact on environment

Jan. 4, 2006

Lab’s annual report finds no adverse impact on environment

LIVERMORE, Calif. — Environmental monitoring of 2004 operations for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory indicates no adverse impact to public health or the environment. The findings are presented in the 2004 Site Annual Environmental Report.

The report assesses the impact of LLNL operations on the environment, summarizes regulatory compliance and records results of environmental monitoring for the main Lab site, as well as Site 300, the experimental test facility located near Tracy.

Samples are taken from air, water, vegetation, wine, soil and wastewater on site and in surrounding communities.

In addition to the monitoring results, the report also details the results of a more than 10-year public health assessment of the Laboratory’s main site and Site 300, performed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency found “no apparent public health hazard” from past and ongoing operations of the Laboratory. The agency also found “the current environmental monitoring program conducted by LLNL is adequate to ensure that future releases of hazardous substances will not present a future public health hazard.”

Below is a summary of the Site Annual Environmental Report. The complete report may be accessed on the Web at . It is available at the environmental repositories of the Livermore and Tracy public libraries as well.

  • Air monitoring – Sixty-eight instruments monitor air at 30 locations on the Livermore site and Site 300, throughout the Livermore Valley and in the Tracy area. Concentrations of all monitored radionuclides and beryllium at all locations were below levels that could endanger the environment or public health. Emissions of nonradioactive air pollutants from LLNL operations also were low. For example, releases of reactive organics from the Livermore site were about 0.02 percent of the total daily emissions from stationary sources in the entire Bay Area.
  • Wastewater monitoring – There were no enforcement actions for wastewater permit violations in 2004. Wastewater flow from the Laboratory to the Livermore Water Reclamation Plant is monitored continuously. If any significant releases of radioactivity, metals, or high or low Ph water are detected, the wastewater is redirected to an onsite sewer diversion system. It is then treated and disposed of appropriately or returned to the sanitary sewer it if meets permit conditions.
  • Groundwater monitoring – In the Livermore Valley, monitored radioactive or inorganic nonradioactive constituents were significantly below primary drinking water standards in offsite wells. At Site 300, shallow groundwater in certain areas contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tritium, nitrate, perchlorate, high explosives, organosilicate oil, metals and depleted uranium. These present no public health risks because the shallow groundwater is not used as a water supply source.
  • Soil and sediment monitoring – Most analyses of 2004 onsite soil samples did not detect any nonradiological contaminant that could impact public health. A few analyses detected either trace amounts of contaminants or naturally occurring background concentrations.
  • On-site vegetation and wine monitoring – In general, offsite monitoring for tritium found none. Tritium in local wine was up to ten times lower than in some French wine. All tritium found was well below regulatory levels of concern.
  • Groundwater remediation – As of 2004, groundwater treatment facilities at the Livermore site had processed almost 10 billion liters of water since 1989. More than 1,700 kilograms of VOCs were removed. Since treatment began at Site 300, about 1.1 billion liters have been treated, removing 300 kilograms of VOCs.
  • Radiological dose assessment – Each year a theoretical radiological dose from LLNL to the public is calculated. The dose is based upon what an individual would receive if he or she lived for a year where the highest radiation dose from releases to the air would occur. For the Livermore site, that dose was 0.0079 millirem in 2004. For Site 300, it was 0.026 millirem. The total theoretical dose from both sites added together is almost 9,000 times smaller than the dose everyone receives from background radiation in the natural environment.
  • Regulatory Compliance – The Laboratory must meet all applicable federal, state, regional, county and local environmental requirements. For example, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued or renewed approximately 180 operating permits for the Livermore site. The San Joaquin Valley United Air Pollution Control District issued or renewed permits for 40 air emissions sources at Site 300. LLNL also has permits for medical waste, hazardous waste treatment and storage, underground storage tanks, discharge of treated groundwater, industrial and sanitary sewage and storm water. Site 300 has additional permits for inactive landfills, cooling tower discharges, operation of a sewer lagoon, septic tanks and leach fields. Numerous federal, state and area regulatory agencies conduct inspections at both at Livermore and Site 300.
  • Endangered species – The Laboratory meets the requirements of various federal and state regulatory acts covering endangered or sensitive natural resources. In 2004, monitoring and stewardship of the California red-legged frog continued at the Livermore site. Biological surveys were conducted for special status species at Site 300. American badgers, Swainson’s hawks and will flycatchers were found, but no San Joaquin kit fox. Seven uncommon and rare plant populations continue to be monitored at the site, along with the California red-legged frog, the Alameda whipsnake, the California tiger salamander and various bird species.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a mission to ensure national security and to apply science and technology to the important issues of our time. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.