1991-02-xx EPA – Sites Contaminated and Potentially Contaminated With Radioactivity in the United States

The Department of Defense (DoD) has 7463 sites in the United States and 952 sites in CA contaminated or potentially contaminated with radioactivity.


THIS IS A PRELIMINARY DRAFT (Not Yet Subjected to Peer Review)

2.1.4 Department of Defense (DoD)
The U.S. Department of Defense through its Departments of Army (including the Army National Guard), Navy (including the Marine Corps), and Air Force (including the Air National Guard) controls a large number of sites both in and outside the conterminous United States. Additional military sites are controlled by the Department of Transportation through the U.S. Coast Guard.

Military facilities range in size from single buildings to large forts and bases which may cover areas as large as a few million acres. These complexes cover a wide range of functions including schools, hospitals, training academies, research and development laboratories, proving grounds, bombing and gunnery practice ranges, storage depots, arsenals, air bases, naval bases, missile launch sites, forts, and manufacturing sites for weapons and ammunition. Some sites are also used for storage of strategic materials for national stockpiles.

Most of the residual radioactivity at military sites is a result of research and development testing of military munitions, testing and operation of military reactors, or accidents. Sites may be contaminated with plutonium and fission products over large areas, or may have used or stored small quantities of radioactive materials in the form of luminous dial watches, compasses, electron tubes, and lights in electric equipment. Still others have been contaminated with depleted uranium munitions but vary widely in character.

The DoD’s Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) has been ongoing since 1983 to restore active (DERP) and formerly utilized defense sites (DERP /FUDS). The Defense Environmental Restoration Program has been codified into law as part of Superfund.

There may be very few sites where radioactive wastes have been buried on site but little information is available regarding deliberate on-site burials.

Refer to Exhibit 2-2 for a list of potentially contaminated DoD sites.

2.1.4.1 Defense Environmental Restoration Program (Active Sites). The Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) is an outgrowth of the overall Installation Restoration Program (IRP). Active sites may have segments that are inactive or which may have been decontaminated. In such cases the overall site is still considered an active site.

• Bases – Bases can be large, sprawling complexes where many and varied activities have been carried out. Some of the military sites such as hospitals, research and development laboratories, and schools will continue in operation for the indefinite future. Others have already been taken out of service and decontaminated and decommissioned but are still part of the active base.
There are 113 military bases/camps/arsenals with expected residual radioactivity. In addition, 34 military reservations have been used to stockpile strategic materials under the management of the Government Services Administration (refer to Section 2.1.13).

• Power Production – Most of the military nuclear reactors were designed to produce electricity and heat and, with the exception of nuclear ship reactors, have been shutdown or dismantled. These power plants were typically used to service remote installations. There were 6 such sites as shown in Exhibit 2-3.

Residual radioactivity at the non-operating reactors is primarily activation products. Except for the PM-3A site in Antarctica, the waste from which has been sent to the Naval Center at Port Hueneme, California, waste volumes and inventories are not available.

• Propulsion – The U.S. Navy has constructed approximately 150 nuclear submarines and about a dozen surface ships. To support its nuclear powered ships, the Navy has 11 shipyards, 13 tenders, and 2 submarine bases for a total of approximately 174.
Residual Radioactivity consists primarily of activation and fission products. In addition, low levels of radioactivity (principally Co-60) are also usually present in harbor sediments where ships are serviced. This is true not only for the shipyards listed in Exhibit 2-2, but also for other nuclear ship bases such as those at Guam, Scotland, and possibly others.

Research Labs – The DoD has operated several small test and research reactors for simulating the effects of nuclear weapons and for other physical and medical research. Most of these have been shut down or dismantled. There are 19 such · sites as indicated in Exhibit 2-4.

Residual contamination at non-operating reactors consists primarily of fission and activation products. Remediation efforts at recently shutdown reactors will contend with spent fuel and fresh fission products.

Weapons Testing There are several nuclear weapons test sites where missile, gunnery and bomb testing is performed. Tests can be both surface and underground, on-site and off-site. There are at least two sites where nuclear bombs were detonated, and approximately 11 sites where depleted uranium shells have been fired. In addition, there is one site where nuclear weapons have been assembled and stored, for a total of 14.

Residual radioactivity from bomb testing is expected to range widely and include fission products as well as plutonium. The Nellis Air Force Base and Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Range encompass about three million acres, portions of which are contaminated by fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons and weapons safety tests.

Residual radioactivity can also be present in the form of shell fragments (from projectiles that incorporated depleted uranium), storage and waste areas, and contaminated soils.

Accidents of Weapons Carriers Very little information has been released by the DoE or the DoD on residual radioactivity associated with accidents involving weapons carriers in the United States. A few accidents are known to have had residual radioactivity associated with them, some on sites already contaminated with radioactivity, but essentially no unclassified information has been reported. Some accidents may also have involved other radioactive but non-fissionable radionuclides (e.g., tritium). Estimates of the total number of weapons accidents range up to more than 50. Exhibit 2-5 summarizes the information available for 29 documented cases.

The extent of residual radioactivity at nuclear weapons accident sites is unknown. Possible contaminants would be plutonium, enriched uranium and tritium.

2.1.4.2 Defense Environmental Restoration Program/Formerly Utilized Defense Sites (Inactive Sites). The DERP Formerly Utilized Defense Sites (FUDS) activity is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Included are efforts related to hazardous and toxic/radiologic wastes, ordnance and explosive waste and building demolition on lands formerly owned or used by any DoD component for which DoD is responsible.

Pages 2-9 to 2-17

1991-02-xx EPA - Sites Contaminated and Potentially Contaminated With Radioactivity in the United States.pdf

I am not a doctor or attorney, and cannot give medical advice or legal advice.

If you, a friend, or loved one has been injured or died as a result of the contamination at a DOD Superfund Site please follow the steps that are outlined at Get Help.

The views and opinions expressed in this website/articles are those of the authors and
do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency of the U.S. government

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