COMMENTS ON "ENGINEERING EVALUATION/COST ANALYSIS (EE/CA) FOR
PRAXAIR INTERIM ACTIONS, JANUARY 1996"

James M. Rauch                                               March 12, 1996


     a)  Since last October the Department of Energy (DOE) has been
conducting an "interim" action at the Linde/Praxair property of the
Tonawanda Site.  This "interim" action consists of an expensive,
labor-intensive, partial decontamination of Buildings 31, 14, and
30, in spite of the community's overwhelming preference for EIS
Alternative 2 which calls for the less costly demolition and
offsite disposal of all four buildings (three of which were built
by the Manhattan Project at taxpayer expense) including an
estimated 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil under the
buildings.  DOE claims this action qualifies for a NEPA Categorical
Exclusion from public environmental review.  We disagree and have
objected to this costly building decontamination action for two
reasons:

     1) DOE has maintained that "too-high" cost is the primary
obstacle to implementing EIS Alternative 2.  Yet, DOE claims that
this more costly "interim" decontamination action will not
prejudice the selection of a sitewide "final remediation" plan. 
These two statements are clearly incompatible.  On October 23, 1995
at Congressman LaFalce's Niagara Falls office, DOE Assistant
Secretary Thomas Grumbly made a commitment to us to disclose the
extra cost of building decontamination over the cost of demolition. 
He has failed to do so.  Are we to conclude that lack of money will
not be a factor in the selection of a sitewide "final remediation"
plan?

     2) The buildings are being cleaned to meet the DOE's basic
radiation dose guideline of 100 millirems per year above background
assuming the current limited-use exposure scenario--industrial use. 
This dose level corresponds to at least a 33% increased risk of
fatal cancers.  We do not believe this is sufficiently protective
of workers' health.  It also does not seem to meet the surface
decontamination requirements for release of facilities specified in
the NYS Department of Health regulation NYCRR Part 16, Appendix A,
Table 7.


     b)  Now the DOE has issued (on January 29, 1996) a draft
"Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA) for Praxair Interim
Actions" covering only: 1) the demolition of Building 38, and 2)
removal of the radioactive debris and soils that exceed DOE's
cleanup criteria from the onsite soil pile.  At the request of
FACTS and CANiT, the comment period has been extended to March 15,
1996, a 45 day period as previously prescribed.   While the
"suspended" EIS documents (Remedial Investigation [RI], Baseline
Risk Assessment [BRA], Feasibility Study [FS] and Proposed Plan
[PP]) are mentioned, DOE apparently believes the twenty page EE/CA
itself to be a sufficient environmental impact review for this
"interim" removal action.  We disagree and we object to this
proposal for the following reasons:

     1) On page 9, DOE claims "It is reasonable to expect any site-
wide remedy to include controls [restrictions on access to the
site, deed limitations on residential use, etc.] to prevent
exposures resulting from future activities at the site."  We do not
know where DOE got this idea; certainly not at any public meetings. 
Both the community and the private property owners expect a
thorough cleanup that will remove radioactive contaminants down to
a level which will allow unrestricted, safe use of the Site in the
future.  This is the stated goal of DOE's Formerly Utilized
Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP).  And with good reason, since
these radioactive wastes have a hazardous life of over 500,000
years.  Also, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), in an
open public rulemaking (10CFR61), has decided that institutional
control measures to reduce public exposure at radioactive waste
disposal sites can only be relied upon for a period of up to 100
years.

     In addition, the statement seems to imply that the proposed
"interim" action will constitute "final remediation" for this
portion of the Site.  If so, the proposal clearly violates the
prescribed, and still "suspended", sitewide full EIS/ROD process.
Admiral Guimond's commitment (for DOE) that any final cleanup plan
must have the community's full acceptance and NEPA/CERCLA law both
clearly require that the sitewide EIS process must be completed and
the sitewide Record of Decision be must issued before any cleanup
work at any part of the site can be considered "final remediation". 
     2)  The DOE's basic dose guideline (following cleanup) of 100
millirems per year above background is too high to adequately
protect future generations either working (limited use exposure
scenario) or living (unrestricted use exposure scenario) at the
Site; it would allow a 33% to well over 200% increase, respective-
ly, in the risk of radiation-induced fatal cancers.  EPA is
currently proposing (at 40CFR196) a dose limit of 15 millirems per
year above background after cleanup.  The New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation's (NYSDEC) guideline, TAGM-4003,
calls for cleanup to 10 millirems per year above background, which
corresponds to an increase of 3.3% in the risk of fatal cancers.

     The proposed cleanup criteria for soils which DOE has selected
for Tonawanda will not allow unrestricted use of the Site following
cleanup.  After cleanup to the DOE's site-specific uranium
criterion for Tonawanda's soils, DOE uranium remaining at the Site
would produce 40 millirems per year of radiation dose above back-
ground, according to DOE's own model for unrestricted use--the
resident farmer scenario (page 8 of EE/CA).  The criteria for
radium and thorium are taken from the US EPA's Uranium Mill
Tailings Radiation Control Act guidelines (40CFR192) which were
developed for remote western uranium mill tailings sites.  Cleanup
to these criteria will impose an additional 600 millirems per year
of dose above background, which corresponds to at least a 200%
increase in risk of radiation-induced fatal cancer, on unrestricted
future users of the Site (see pp 24-26 of GAO report, attached). 
Thus, an unrestricted future user of the Site could be exposed to
more than a 200% increased risk of premature fatal cancer.

     DOE's cleanup criteria are sufficient to meet DOE's basic dose
guideline (100 millirems per year above background) following
cleanup only under a very restrictive industrial use exposure
scenario.  Both Praxair workers and the community expect any
cleanup, whether "interim" actions or "final remediation", to clean
the Site more thoroughly, i.e. to meet the State dose guideline of
10 millirems per year above background, using an unrestricted use
exposure scenario.  As indicated above, cleanup to a level that
will allow unrestricted use is the stated goal of DOE's FUSRAP.   

     Also, DOE's assessment of risk considers only fatal cancer. 
Residual contamination will also subject Site users to correspon-
dingly elevated rates of non-fatal cancers, inheritable mutations,
and birth defects--radiation health effects which DOE has ignored
in their risk assessment, but which nonetheless will also impose
additional high costs on the community.

     3) On page 11 of the EE/CA, it is stated that "Clean material
[some of the debris from demolition of Building 38 or some of the
soil from the pile] will be disposed at solid waste landfills or
recycled."  As used here, "clean" includes contaminated materials
at or just below the DOE's outdated cleanup criteria described
above.  These criteria are inappropriate for densely populated,
heavily used areas.  This means that DOE is planning to dispose of
radioactive materials, with concentrations that deliver many times
the State dose guideline, in local solid waste landfills which are
not suitable for long-term storage of these long-lived wastes. 
This is totally unacceptable to us. 

     In 1981, Building 37 was demolished by Linde (Union Carbide). 
"Debris from Building 37, having radioactivity exceeding twice the
background level, was placed with the tailings [contaminated soil
pile]." (page 6 of EE/CA)  At that time, "clean" debris was
probably material which surveyed at less than 20 uR/hr or about 160
millirems per year; this means some of it was up to 100 millirems
per year above background.  While not stated here, this material
was deposited in an [unkown] area of the Town of Tonawanda
Landfill, according to page 1-18 of the Remedial Investigation. 
Thus, according to the current State guideline some of this
material is radioactive waste and does not belong in that landfill.

     4) According to page 3-53 of the Baseline Risk Assessment
(BRA), surface soil under Building 38 is contaminated above DOE
cleanup criteria.  The removal of this contaminated soil is not
included in the proposed action.  However, site restoration
activities are included under number (7) on page 18 of the EE/CA. 
This means that contaminated soils under Building 38 which should
be removed, even by DOE's inadequate criteria, may be mixed and re-
graded with clean fill during site restoration activities, such
that the concentrations of radioactive contaminants is reduced
below DOE criteria.  This would be an illegal activity and we are
firmly opposed to such a result.  

     DOE has a record in this regard.  At the Niagara Falls Storage
Site at Lewiston, NY, the concentrated radioactivity in the ori-
ginal R-10 residue pile was diluted by similar mismanagement.  DOE
subsequently re-classified the R-10 residues as "wastes" (contami-
nated soils) and now DOE wants to keep these residues -- now
higher-volume, lower-concentration "wastes" -- at Lewiston.  Under
this formula, DOE mismanagement equals more radiation dose for
Lewiston (see pp 5-8 of 8-24-94 ROLE letter to DOE Secretary
O'Leary, attached).

     5) The EE/CA states on pages 7-8 that a sample of dust from a
ceiling beam contained 42,000 pCi/g U-238 and 26 pCi/g Ra-226,
while "fixed" contamination ranged to 13,409 pCi/100 square
centimeters for alpha particle radiation, and 172,881 pCi/100
square centimeters for beta-gamma radiation.  This is heavy
contamination.  Yet the EE/CA gives only a sketchy description, on
pages 13, 15 and 17, of how dispersal of heavily contaminated
particles will be prevented during demolition: "Once uncovered, the
stored soil would be susceptible to wind and water erosion.  Dust
from demolition and crushing activities could also be released to
the air. ... but these effects will be minimized or eliminated by
the use of dust suppression measures and barriers to erosion during
rain events.  ...Plastic sheeting will be used during the construc-
tion activities ... As necessary, the stored soil and rubble will
be misted with water to reduce the potential for spread of
radioactive materials by the wind."  

     We do not believe the EE/CA gives an adequate description of
the proposed action or the risks posed by it.  The demolition area
will apparently not be totally enclosed in plastic.  Since the
material may be stored onsite for some time before removal to a
licensed disposal facility, a Birdair style temporary total
enclosure is  desirable to assure containment both during demoli-
tion and subsequent temporary storage. 

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