ESER Program Description
Operations at the INL are conducted under
requirements imposed by the DOE under authority of the Atomic
Energy Act, and the EPA under a number of acts (e.g. the Clean
Air Act and Clean
Water Act). The requirements imposed by the DOE are specified in the DOE
Orders. These requirements
include those to monitor the effects of DOE activities onsite and
offsite of the INL (DOE
Order 5400.1). During
calendar year 2001, environmental monitoring within the INL boundaries
was primarily the responsibility of the INL Management and Operations
(M&O) contractor, while monitoring outside the INL boundaries was
conducted under the ESER Program. The
ESER Program is led by the S.M. Stoller
Corporation in cooperation with its team members including the
University of Idaho (UI) and Washington State University (WSU) for
research, Montgomery Watson Harza and North Wind Environmental for
technical support. This
report contains the monitoring results from the ESER Program for the
first quarter of 2001 (January 1 – March 30).
The goal of the surveillance program is to monitor several different media points within these potential pathways, including air, water, foodstuff, and soil, that could potentially contribute to the dose received by the public.
Air samples are taken at 15 locations on and around the INL;
surface water at five locations on the Snake River; drinking water at 14
locations around the INL; foodstuff which includes milk at nine
dairies around the INL, potatoes from at least 5 local producers,
wheat from approximately 10 local producers, lettuce from approximately
nine home-owned gardens around the INL, sheep from 2 operators which
graze their sheep on the INL, and various types of wildlife including
big game (pronghorn, mule deer, and elk), waterfowl, and fish sampled on
and near the INL. Appendix A lists samples, sampling locations and collection
frequency for the ESER Program.
Once samples have been collected and analyzed, the ESER Program
has the responsibility for quality control of the data and preparing
quarterly reports on results from the environmental surveillance
program. The quarterly
reports are then combined into the INL
Annual Site Environmental Report for each calendar year.
Annual reports also include data collected by other INL
The ESER Program used two laboratories to perform analyses on
environmental samples for the quarter reported here.
The Idaho State University (ISU) Environmental Assessment
Laboratory (EAL) performed routine gross alpha, gross beta, tritium, and
gamma spectrometry analyses. Severn-Trent,
Inc performed analyses requiring radiochemistry, including analysis for 90Sr,
238Pu, 239/240Pu, and 241Am.
The Operational Dosimetry unit of the INL M&O contractor
evaluates environmental dosimeters.
Samples collected by the ESER Program on behalf of the EPA
(detailed in the next paragraph) are sent to the EPA’s Eastern
Environmental Radiation Facility.
In the event of non-routine occurrences, such as suspected releases of radioactive material, the ESER Program may increase the frequency of sampling and/or the number of sampling locations based on the nature of the release and wind distribution patterns. In the event of any suspected worldwide nuclear incidents, like the Chernobyl accident, the EPA may request additional sampling be performed through the Environmental Radiation Ambient Monitoring System (ERAMS) network of which the ESER Program operates air and precipitation sampling equipment in Idaho Falls. The EPA established the ERAMS network in 1973 with an emphasis on identifying trends in the accumulation of long-lived radionuclides in the environment. ERAMS is comprised of a nationwide network of sampling stations that provide air, precipitation, surface water, drinking water, and milk samples. Any data found to be outside historical norms in the ESER Program are thoroughly investigated to determine if an INL origin is likely. Investigation may include re-sampling and/or re-analysis of prior samples.
For more information concerning the ESER Program, contact the
S.M. Stoller Corporation at (208) 525-9358, or visit the Program’s web