Apr 9, 2008

Requests for Information

Comments on the PBI 13.1 post have led to readers requesting information from me so they can try to help. "Management by blog" some are calling it. It might work and thank you for trying!

Here's a question from one of the latest comments:
Frank, I've worked at TA-55 for 7 years and I don't recall this incident.
It is possible the leak(s) happened even before you came to TA-55, I only know it was before 1 April 2002. Also remember this room is an electrical substation on the lower level. Very few people would have any reason to ever enter it.

One clue that I have found is in LA-UR-02-1673:
3.0 Preparations

3.1 Batch Feed

High-Radioactivity Influent
: RLWTF influent typically has concentrations ranging from 50- 150 nCi/L gross alpha. However, a slug of influent with a concentration of nearly 1100 nCi/L gross alpha was received on 29 and 30 March 2001. Rightfully concerned about the plant’s ability to process influent with an order of magnitude more radioactivity than normal, plant personnel were successful in side-streaming about 19,000 gallons of this influent.

Discussions about how to treat these waters led to the idea of processing it through the RLWTF as a batch. MTP unit operations would be sampled as was done during the plant test of May 2000 to acquire a supplemental set of performance data. One large and exciting difference, however, was the radioactive concentration. Plant Test 2000 used influent with a low gross alpha concentration of 33 nCi/L. The side-streamed influent would provide a test at the other extreme, and would thus provide complementary, as well as supplemental, data about plant performance.
If anyone could tell me what happened in PF-4 on 29 and 30 March 2001 I would love to hear about it.

This document also gives a fairly detailed description of what is typically in the waste that travels through the pipes that leaked. This is from Section 6.6 Radioactive Parameters:
The next six columns in Table 6-11 then present alpha activity for six isotopes. These columns reveal that 238Pu contributed about three-fourths of the alpha radioactivity in clarifier influent; that 239Pu and 241Am contributed about one-fourth of the alpha radioactivity; and that the three uranium isotopes contributed just one percent.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about LA-UR-02-1673 is that when I found it and forwarded it to the DOE Inspector General's office it was removed from LANL's web site. I had a formal complaint open with the IG's office at the time. I also did one of my first blog posts about it.


Anonymous said...

This LANL report is not alone - ALL LANL reports were removed from their (library) web site in 2002. As far as I can tell, they still aren't available, except to requesters with .gov or .mil addresses. This is the only DOE/NNSA site that hasn't gotten the management intestinal fortitude to put these absolutely unclassified, non-sensitive reports back up for public availability.

Anonymous said...

I have been tracking these posts, and must be missing something - if you ever had a significant internal Pu exposure, you would still be able to detect it in your urine, and possibly also in total body counting. Have you undergone any of these? This would prove unequivocally whether you have or have not received a significant dose.

Frank Young said...

Is this what allowed DOE to cut off public access to accident and safety information, even information that had previously been available? Or was access already cut off in 2002?

pg. CRS-4 and 5

Most recently, in March 2003, President George W. Bush issued E.O. 13292 amending E.O. 12958.15 Among the changes made by this directive were adding infrastructure vulnerabilities or capabilities, protection services relating to national security, and weapons of mass destruction to the categories of classifiable information; easing the reclassification of declassified records; postponing the automatic declassification of protected records 25 or more years old, beginning in mid-April 2003 to the end of December 2006; eliminating the requirement that agencies prepare plans for declassifying records; and permitting the Director of Central Intelligence to block declassification actions of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, unless overruled by the President.

Frank Young said...

4/9/08 8:30 PM,
No, I have not undergone the tests you asked about. And I can't understand why not either.

Anonymous said...

12:17 am: Frank, the entry you cite from the CRS report is not related, except in very general terms, to the removal of all LANL library reports from public access. That was done at DOE/NNSA direction in 2002, but the sources of those directions were not clear and had questionable authority. Nonetheless, LANL complied, as did all other DOE/NNSA sites (some to a greater degree of "over-compliance" than others). Now, LANL is the laughingstock, since it is the only site that has yet to find the management guts to put stuff back up, despite clear subsequent direction from DOE/NNSA to do so, and how to accomplish it. Some very conservative local people are vetoing every move towards progress, and no one has the guts to stand up to them.

Anonymous said...

"Some very conservative local people are vetoing every move towards progress, and no one has the guts to stand up to them." - 4/10/08 8:26 PM

Names, please?

Anonymous said...

This report only talks about waste at the RLWTF. It would not be specificly related to any event in the basement you worked in. How do you know you had a Pu uptake? What has your employer done to help you?

Anonymous said...

4/11 9:41 am: "Names, please?"

Hint: look at those who control the content of the LANL web pages.

Frank Young said...

4/12/08 1:16 PM,
Effluent from PF-4 is influent at RLWTF. I know they have influent from CMR and other sources, but this is the best information I have. Even if the 1100 nCi/L slug did not come from PF-4, at least I know their effluent is probably not worse.

I only know of the uptake because I worked on contaminated equipment. I have not had a whole body scan nor a urine assay.

My (previous) employer has done nothing to help me.