COMMENTS ON "ENGINEERING EVALUATION/COST ANALYSIS (EE/CA) FOR BUILDING 30
AT PRAXAIR", NOVEMBER 1996, U.S. DEPT. OF ENERGY


James M. Rauch                                            December 20, 1996


1)     Since DOE's release of the Tonawanda Site Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) review documents and the cleanup plan alternatives in 1993,
the Tonawanda community has demonstrated overwhelming support for
Alternative #2, i.e. the demolition of all four contaminated buildings at
the Linde/Praxair property and the complete removal of the 366,000 cubic
yards of sitewide radioactive soils and sediments identified by DOE in
those documents to a suitable off-site long-term storage location. 
F.A.C.T.S., a DOE-recognized stakeholder group representing health,
environmental, worker and resident interests in the Tonawanda community,
has actively and consistently supported this thorough cleanup plan.

     The Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) established the FUSRAP (Formerly
Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program) in 1974 for the stated purpose of
cleaning up properties contaminated by the nuclear weapons production
operations of both the AEC and the U.S. Army's Manhattan Project (DOE
predecessors) to a level of residual contamination that would enable the
federal government "to certify the sites for unrestricted use following
decontamination, to the extent possible." (page 3, "Remedial Actions at
Four FUSRAP Sites in New York: Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental
Impact Statement", February 22, 1988, DOE)  It is possible to fully
decontaminate the Tonawanda Site for unrestricted use (see EIS Alternative
#2).

     As used in the phrase "to certify for unrestricted use", the term
"unrestricted use" has a specific meaning.  It is the pattern of human use
which will result in the greatest radiation dose to a site user: generally
accepted to be a "resident farmer" use scenario.  It does not include
patterns of limited use, for example industrial use scenarios or open space
use scenarios, where substantial limitations on both the time of exposure
and the possible pathways of radiation exposure are assumed and used to
derive much less stringent cleanup levels.  Such uses are restricted uses.

     It is evident that DOE desires to limit cleanup of its contamination
at the Tonawanda Site properties as much as possible.  DOE hopes the
property owners and the community will accept a very limited cleanup of
these properties based on their existing limited use or current Town of
Tonawanda zoning plans.  Anyone who follows local zoning board actions
knows that they are subject to political vagaries and special interest
influence.  It is unrealistic to expect that they will maintain
restrictions on use of the FUSRAP-contaminated properties.  For this
reason, following an open and extensive public discussion pursuant to an
Environmental Impact Statement process, the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) developed a regulation (10 CFR Part 61.59) specifying that
land use restrictions can be considered to remain effective, and therefore
be employed as a radioactive waste management tool, for a time period not
to exceed 100 years. 

     Given the indefinite duration of the radioactive hazard (500,000
years), the expectation of continued high population density in the
Tonawanda area for the foreseeable future and corresponding pressures to
more intensively re-use the properties, the likely inability or
unwillingness of future governments to place or to maintain restrictions on
the use of the contaminated private properties, and the availability of
much better physical sites where the long-term isolation of the wastes is
both better assured and more cost-effective, we believe the original FUSRAP
goal of cleanup for unrestricted use makes sense and is essential if we are
to adequately protect many future generations of site users from elevated
rates of radiation-induced death and injury. 

     Alternative #2 is the only EIS alternative that will fully discharge
DOE's congressionally-mandated responsibility under the FUSRAP.

     Why, then, does this EE/CA list as its objective: "to certify sites
for appropriate [DOE doublespeak for restricted] future use", instead of
the FUSRAP's stated goal, as set out in the Notice of Intent, "to certify
for unrestricted use"?  What has changed (other than the current crop of
management at DOE)?  Has the hazardous nature of the radioactive material
changed?  Were the licensing and regulatory requirements prescribed in
Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 40 (pursuant to the Atomic
Energy Act of 1954 and subsequent statutes) and applicable to Tonawanda's
"byproduct" materials (formerly included under "source" materials) somehow
magically suspended in the 1950s? 
 
2)   In our comment (a)(2) on DOE's January 1996 "EE/CA for Praxair Interim
Actions" (demolition of Building 38 and removal of the soil pile), we
pointed out that the surface decontamination requirements for release of
facilities specified in the NYS Department of Health regulation NYCRR Part
16, Appendix A, Table 7 are more stringent than the guidelines selected by
DOE (Order 5400.5).  In its May 1996 "Responsiveness Summary" to comments
on that EE/CA, DOE states on page 10 that "(t)he DOE and Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) surface contamination guidelines (shown in Appendix C) are
similar to the NYCRR Table 7 values".

     In fact, the NRC Regulatory Guide 1.86 provides guidelines for a
subset of alpha-emitters including radium-226 and thorium-230: 100 dpm/100
cm2 average, 300 dpm/100 cm2 maximum, and 20 dpm/100 cm2 removable, that
are, in all three cases, 50 times more stringent than the DOE-selected
Order 5400.5 guidelines (5000, 15000, and 1000).  In addition, the NRC
Guide specifies that "where surface contamination by both alpha- and beta-
gamma-emitting nuclides exists, the limits established for alpha- and beta-
gamma-emitting nuclides should apply independently."  The NY Part 16, Table
7 regulations limit alpha-emitters to 500, 2500 and 100 dpm/100 cm2,
average, maximum and removable, respectively.

     How then can DOE claim that "(i)t is expected that use of the DOE and
NRC surface contamination guidelines will result in cleanup of surfaces to
levels which will meet the NYCRR Appendix 16-A, Table 7 criteria" (page 11,
"Responsiveness Summary"), or the even more stringent NRC criteria?  A
review of the count data ranges and averages presented in Figure 4 of this
EE/CA shows, for example, that readings of the average fixed alpha-emitter
contamination in the walls and floor exceed the NRC criteria but not the
DOE guidelines.  For DOE's claim to be true, all of the surveyed areas that
are radioactive waste by the more stringent NRC alpha-emitter criteria must
also coincide with those areas determined by DOE's beta-gamma criteria to
be waste.  This is highly unlikely.  

     Instead, it is possible that significant quantities of Building 30
material, material that is radioactive according to NRC and NYS criteria,
could be disposed of in local solid waste landfills by DOE as "clean"
material.  We say this because page 9 of DOE's "Responsiveness Summary"
states "(i)f building materials meet the uranium surface release criteria
(1,000 disintegrations per minute (dpm)/100 cm2 removable, 5,000 dpm/100
cm2 total), then the materials could be disposed in a licensed landfill."  
By "licensed" we assume DOE means a licensed solid waste landfill.  Have
any such Building 38 materials been disposed of in a solid waste landfill?

     On page 11 of this EE/CA it is stated that "clean material could be
disposed at solid waste landfills or recycled."  We have repeatedly
reminded DOE that, prior to an agreement by stakeholders on cleanup
criteria that is set down in a final remediation plan and Record of
Decision (ROD), any such disposition of FUSRAP-contaminated material will
violate the NEPA/CERCLA review process prescribed for the Tonawanda Site. 
We have done this most recently in a September 28 letter to Mr. James
Owendoff, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Restoration
(attached).  

3)   During the demolition and volume reduction of Building 38 we received
reports suggesting that radioactive dust may have been released directly
exposing workers and perhaps nearby residents.  Were continuous worker and
site perimeter air monitoring data collected for the duration of the
demolition period?  Where are they available for public inspection?

     We do not believe this EE/CA gives an adequate description of the
proposed action or the risks posed by it.  As was the case with Building
38, will the demolition area not be enclosed?  From the limited data
presented, it appears that the contamination of Building 30 may be
considerably greater than that of Building 38.  For example, the maximum
fixed alpha contamination on the walls in Building 38 was reported as
29,500 dpm/100 cm2, less than a tenth that reported in Building 30. 
Building 30 also contains considerable wood and is much larger than
Building 38.  Since the contamination is quite heavy and the building
substrate is likely to release dust during demolition and volume reduction
(crushing and grinding), we do not believe watering, portrayed in DOE's
August 1996 "Tonawanda Site FUSRAP Update" (attached), to be an adequate
measure to control the release of radioactive dust.  We request that a
Birdair style temporary total enclosure be utilized to assure containment
both during demolition and subsequent storage of material pending agreement
on final cleanup criteria.

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