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Humble Beginnings - page 37 / 63





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At the time of the original application for SFMP acceptance, the most recent radiological survey of Area 13 had been taken in 1977. Results were reported only for land within the 895- acre contaminated zone. The Board took issue with the fact that "additional Pu migration within the site since the time of the 1977 survey, and dispersal of Pu outside the site boundaries were not discussed in the DOE-NV request."

The application had also stated that "minimal DOE surveillance is being performed at Area 13 because the contaminated area is not within direct control of DOE." The Board held off on accepting Area 13 into SFMP, stating that "with the limited information available, the board was unable to assess the current radiological safety of Project 57."

The Board made several recommendations to DOE-NV that would allow the Project 57 site to meet the guidelines for SFMP funding. A new radiological survey was required to determine the extent and migration of plutonium from the fenced contaminated zone. A hazards analysis had to be performed, with particular emphasis on assessing the predicted radiation exposure of workers at the new construction site. DOE-NV had to determine an acceptable concentration level for plutonium in the soil (for any levels detected after the cleanup).

The Board also required that DOE-NV provide a description of safety measures that would ensure that plutonium would not continue to migrate off-site.

Cleanup costs

DOE-NV followed the Board's recommendations, and the site was subsequently accepted into the Surplus Facilities Management Program. According to DOE documents, the initial phase of the operation was set to begin in October 1982. First of all, a preliminary site characterization was made for both the Project 57 contaminated zone and the inactive contaminated waste dump adjacent to Valley Road. Also included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 1983 budget were plans for perimeter survey work, pathway and criteria analysis, clean-up technique investigation, engineering design and equipment specification, and procurement of mobile laboratory equipment.

This phase was scheduled to be completed in September 1983 at a total cost of $500,000.

Next, heavy equipment was to be procured for the excavation of contaminated soil. Four 30- ton ore-haulers and one earth-mover were to be purchased for $1,250,000. A water-well was to be drilled for dust suppression support in order to prevent resuspension of plutonium into the atmosphere. Actual decontamination was set to begin in January 1984, with an initial effort to remove 40,000 cubic yards of soil. Estimated expenses for FY-1984 were $2,500,000.

Three more 30-ton ore-haulers and a 5,000-gallon water tanker were to be purchased in FY- 1985 to support the removal of an additional 90,000 cubic yards of soil. Total costs for FY- 1985 were estimated at $2,500,000.

The plan called for removal of 100,000 cubic yards of soil per year from FY-1986 through FY- 1991 at an annual cost of $2,500,000.

The fate of Area 13?

The decontamination and decommissioning project was scheduled for completion in FY-1992. Tasks included final decontamination, revegetation, demobilization, certification, and production of a final report. Total cost for FY-1992 was estimated to be $500,000. The total cost of the project was estimated at $21,000,000. No documents have yet surfaced to show whether or not the project remained on schedule and within budget.

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