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Decontamination techniques

A Project 57 technician in anti-contamination gear picks up a sample tray with a magnetic device.

Rad-Safe workers from Task Group 57 at the NTS collected data on particulate physics, plutonium inhalation, alpha monitoring, and decontamination techniques on experimental surfaces at Area 13.

For the particulate physics study, surface and airborne plutonium levels were measured as a function of time after detonation. Air samplers, balloon-borne precipitators, soil samples, and photographic methods were used. Scientists constructed a fallout pattern model using a grid of more than 4,000 sticky pans distributed over a 43-square-mile area.

They also analyzed the fractionation characteristics and physical nature (size, shape, and distribution) of the fallout particles. Interestingly, the maximum air concentration levels of alpha contaminants were found at a distance of 5,000 feet from the detonation point.

A biomedical field study examined environmental short-term and chronic effects of plutonium inhalation and persistency of debris resulting from subcritical bursts. For this experiment, a group of test animals (dogs) were exposed to the radioactive cloud to test the effects of acute exposure. A larger group of dogs was placed in the contaminated zone for a longer period of time to study the effects of chronic exposure. Test animals were periodically sacrificed and autopsied by veterinary scientists to collect data.

A third study was undertaken to practice monitoring of alpha contamination on various surfaces. This effort correlated alpha monitoring data from sticky pan collectors with field study data from broom-finished concrete slabs. The slabs and sticky pans were placed adjacent to each other at various locations throughout Area 13. The monitors also took readings from nearby soil and vegetation.

The largest effort was expended on developing techniques for decontamination of large surface areas. Technicians studied plutonium removal from large land surface areas, concrete

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