This chapter describes the existing environmental and socioeconomic characteristics of the Savannah River Site (SRS) and nearby region that could be affected by the proposed action or its alternatives. The data presented in this chapter are required to assess the consequences of the proposed action and its alternatives.
SRS is located in southwestern South Carolina adjacent to the Savannah River, which forms the boundary between South Carolina and Georgia. It encompasses approximately 800 square kilometers (300 square miles) within the Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province. SRS is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of Augusta, Georgia, and 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Aiken, South Carolina. Figure 3-1 shows the location of SRS within the South Carolina-Georgia region.
SRS is a controlled area with limited public access. Through traffic is allowed only on SC Highway 125, U.S. Highway 278, SRS Road 1, and CSX railroad corridors (Figure 3-1). Figure 3-2 shows SRS areas and facilities, which include five nuclear production reactors (C-, K-, L-, P-, and R-Reactors); a nuclear target and fuel fabrication facility (M-Area), which assembled the targets and fuel that went into the reactors; two chemical separations areas (F- and H-Areas), which processed irradiated targets and fuel assemblies to separate and recover various isotopes and which contain the liquid high-level radioactive waste tank farms; a waste vitrification facility (S-Area), which vitrifies liquid high-level radioactive waste; a saltstone facility (Z- Area), which solidifies low-level radioactive sludge into a cement-like matrix; N-Area, where some wastes are stored; E-Area, which includes waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities; and various administrative, support, and research facilities. These facilities have generated a variety of liquid high-level radioactive, low- level radioactive, hazardous, mixed (hazardous and radioactive), and transuranic wastes. Section 3.13 provides photographs and descriptions of specific waste management facilities. Section 4.4.15 and Appendix B also describe facilities at SRS.
SRS is located on the Aiken Plateau of the Upper Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic province about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the Fall Line that separates the Atlantic Coastal Plain from the Piedmont physiographic province (Figure 3-3). The Aiken Plateau is highly dissected and consists of broad, flat areas between streams and narrow, steep-sided valleys. It slopes from an elevation of approximately 200 meters (650 feet) at the Fall Line to an elevation of about 75 meters (250 feet) on the southeast edge of the plateau. Because of SRS's proximity to the Piedmont province, it is somewhat more hilly than the near-coastal areas, with onsite elevations ranging from 27 to 128 meters (90 to 420 feet) above sea level. Relief on the Aiken Plateau is as much as 90 meters (300 feet) locally. The plateau is generally well drained, although small poorly drained depressions do occur. The Final Environmental Impact Statement, Continued Operation of K-, L-, and P-Reactors, Savannah River Site, Aiken, South Carolina (DOE 1990) contains a complete description of the geologic setting and the stratigraphic sequences at SRS.
Previously disturbed soils are mostly well drained and were taken from excavated areas, borrow pits, and other areas where major land-shaping or grading activities have occurred. These soils are found beside and under streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and other structures. Much of the soil in the existing waste management areas has been moved, so soil properties can vary within a few meters. Slopes of soils generally range from 0 to 10 percent and have a moderate erosion hazard. These disturbed soils range from a consistency of sand to clay, depending on the source of the soil material (USDA 1990).
Undisturbed soils at SRS generally consist of sandy surface layers above a subsoil containing a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. These soils are gently sloping to moderately steep (0 to 10 percent grade) and have a slight erosion hazard (USDA 1990). Some soils on uplands are nearly level, and those on bottomlands along the major streams are level. Soils in small, narrow drainage valleys are steep. Most of the upland soils are well drained to excessively drained. The well-drained soils have a thick, sandy surface layer that extends to a depth of 2 meters (7 feet) or more in some areas. The soils on bottomlands range from well drained to very poorly drained. Some soils on the abrupt slope breaks have a dense, brittle subsoil.
Several fault systems occur offsite, northwest of the Fall Line. DOE (1990) contains a detailed discussion of these offsite geologic features. A recent study (Stephenson and Stieve 1992) identified six faults under SRS: Pen Branch, Steel Creek, Advanced Tactical Training Area (ATTA), Crackerneck, Ellenton, and Upper Three Runs Faults. Identification of faults is important because earthquakes can occur along these faults. The location of faults must be considered when siting hazardous waste management facilities. South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) regulations specify a setback distance of at least 61 meters (200 feet) from a fault where displacement during the Holocene Epoch (approximately 35,000 years ago to the present) has occurred. None of the waste management areas occur within 61 meters (200 feet) of any faults, nor is there evidence that any of the identified faults have moved in the last 35,000 years. Based on information developed to date, none of the faults discussed in this section are considered "capable," as defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 10 CFR 100, Appendix A. The capability of a fault is determined by several criteria, one of which is whether the fault has moved at or near the ground surface within the past 35,000 years.
Several subsurface investigations conducted on SRS waste management areas encountered soft sediments classified as calcareous sands. These sands contain calcium carbonate (calcite), which can be dissolved by water. The calcareous sands were encountered in borings in S-, H-, and Z-Areas between 33 and 45 meters (110 to 150 feet) below ground surface. Preliminary information indicates that these calcareous zones are not continuous over large areas, nor are they very thick. If the calcareous material dissolved, possible underground subsidence could result in settling at the ground surface. No such settling has been reported at any of the waste management facilities; however, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is currently investigating potential impacts of subsidence.
Two major earthquakes have occurred within 300 kilometers (186 miles) of SRS. The first was the Charleston, South Carolina, earthquake of 1886, which had an estimated Richter scale magnitude of 6.8 and occurred approximately 145 kilometers (90 miles) from SRS. The SRS area experienced an estimated peak horizontal acceleration of 10 percent of gravity (0.10g) during this earthquake (URS/Blume 1982). The second major earthquake was the Union County, South Carolina, earthquake of 1913, which had an estimated Richter scale magnitude of 6.0 and occurred about 160 kilometers (99 miles) from SRS (Bollinger 1973). Because these earthquakes have not been conclusively associated with a specific fault, researchers cannot determine the amount of displacement resulting from them.
Two earthquakes occurred during recent years inside the SRS boundary. On June 8, 1985, an earthquake with a local Richter scale magnitude of 2.6 and a focal depth of 0.96 kilometer (0.59 mile) occurred at SRS. The epicenter was west of C- and K-Areas (Figure 3-4). The acceleration produced by the earthquake did not activate seismic monitoring instruments in the reactor areas (which have detection limits of 0.002g). On August 5, 1988, an earthquake with a local Richter scale magnitude of 2.0 and a focal depth of 2.68 kilometers (1.66 miles) occurred at SRS. Its epicenter was northeast of K-Area (Figure 3-4). The seismic alarms in SRS facilities were not triggered. Existing information does not conclusively correlate the two earthquakes with any of the known faults on the site.
A report on the August 1988 earthquake (Stephenson 1988) reviewed the latest earthquake history. The report predicts a recurrence rate of 1 earthquake per year at a Richter scale magnitude of 2.0 in the southeast Coastal Plain. However, the report also notes that historic data that can be used to accurately calculate recurrence rates are sparse.
A Richter scale magnitude 3.2 earthquake occurred on August 8, 1993, approximately 16 kilometers (10 miles) east of the city of Aiken near Couchton, South Carolina. Residents reported feeling this earthquake in Aiken, New Ellenton (immediately north of SRS), and North Augusta, South Carolina [approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of SRS]. Although detected by SRS instruments, no seismic alarms were triggered.
The current design basis earthquake that nuclear safety-related facilities are engineered to withstand is one that would produce a horizontal peak ground acceleration of 20 percent of gravity (0.2g). Based on current estimates, an earthquake of this magnitude or greater can be expected to occur about once every 5,000 years.
This section updates the detailed water resources information provided in the Final Environmental Impact Statement, Waste Management Activities for Groundwater Protection, Savannah River Plant, Aiken, South Carolina (DOE 1987) and in DOE (1990), and incorporates the latest aquifer terminology used at SRS.
The most important hydrologic system underlying SRS occurs above the Piedmont hydrogeologic province in the Coastal Plain sediments, in which groundwater flows through porous sands and clays.
Figure 3-5 names the geologic formations based on the physical character of the rocks (lithostratigraphy) and the corresponding names used to identify their water-bearing properties (hydrostratigraphy); this figure also identifies the shallow, intermediate, and deep aquifers. This eis uses depth-based identification to simplify discussions of groundwater resources and consequences. More detailed discussions of SRS groundwater features are available in DOE (1987) and DOE (1990).
Groundwater beneath SRS flows at rates ranging from a few centimeters (inches) per year to several hundred meters (feet) per year toward streams and swamps on the site and into the Savannah River.
At SRS, groundwater movement is controlled by the depths of the incisions of creeks and streams where water discharges to the surface. The valleys of the smaller perennial streams collect discharge from the shallow aquifers. Groundwater in the intermediate aquifer flows to Upper Three Runs or to the Savannah River. Water in the deep aquifer beneath SRS flows toward the Savannah River or southeast toward the coast. Beneath some of SRS, groundwater flow is predominantly downward from the upper to the lower parts of the shallow aquifer. This downward flow occurs under A-, M-, L-, and P-Areas. In other areas, groundwater flow is upward, from the lower to the upper parts of the shallow aquifer and from the deep aquifer to the lower part of the shallow aquifer. This upward flow occurs, for example, in the separations (F and H) areas and around C-Area. The upward flow increases near Upper Three Runs.
This section and Section 3.3.3 present groundwater flow and quality, respectively, associated with waste units with known or potential releases to the subsurface. Waste units discussed in these sections are listed in the SRS Federal Facility Agreement (EPA 1993a); Appendix G.1 of this eis (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)/Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act Units List) - sites with known releases; Appendix G.2 of this eis (RCRA Regulated Units) or Appendix G.3 of this eis (Site Evaluation List) - sites with potential releases to be investigated. Table 3-1 lists these waste units by area and the known contaminants for each area (or group of waste units). Refer to Figure 3-6 for the location of these units.
Some SRS facilities that will be investigated in the future for potential groundwater remediation (and the horizontal flow directions of the groundwater beneath them) include the M-Area Metallurgical Laboratory (horizontal flow to the west-northwest in the shallow aquifer and to the south toward Upper Three Runs in the intermediate aquifer); K-Area seepage basin (flow to the southwest toward Indian Grave Branch); L-Area seepage basin (flow toward Pen Branch and L-Lake); and the P-Area seepage basin (flow toward Steel Creek). F- and H-Areas and vicinity are on a surface and groundwater divide; shallow groundwater flows toward either Upper Three Runs or Fourmile Branch.
For further technical discussions of groundwater flow beneath waste units of interest for this eis, as well as beneath SRS in general, for the relationships of groundwater flow between the three main aquifers, and for values for aquifer properties that are useful in analysis of groundwater flow and consequences, see DOE (1987, 1990).
|A- and M-Areas||
||Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radionuclides, metals, nitrates|
||C-, K-, L-, and P-Areas: tritium, other
radionuclides, metals, VOCs|
R-Area: radionuclides, cadmium
|E-Area, Separations (F and H) Areas||
||Tritium, other radionuclides, metals, nitrate, sulfate, VOCs|
||Tritium, lead, VOCs|
||Radionuclides, VOCs, nitrate|
||Metals, radionuclides, VOCs, sulfate|
a. Source: Modified from Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey (1993).
Groundwater of excellent quality is abundant in this region of South Carolina from many local aquifers. The water in Coastal Plain sediments is generally of good quality and suitable for municipal and industrial use with minimum treatment. The water is generally soft, slightly acidic (pH of 4.9 to 7.7), and low in dissolved and suspended solids. High dissolved iron concentrations occur in some aquifers. Groundwater is the only source of domestic water at SRS and where necessary, it is treated to raise the pH and remove the iron.
Industrial solvents, metals, tritium, and other constituents used or generated at SRS have contaminated the shallow aquifers beneath 5 to 10 percent of SRS (Arnett, Karapatakis, Mamatey 1993). Localized contamination of groundwater in the deep aquifer was found in the early 1980s beneath M-Area. Low concentrations of trichloroethylene (11.7 milligrams per liter) have been detected in water from a production well in M-Area. Similarly, low trichloroethylene values have been detected in a few other wells used for process water (du Pont 1983). Groundwater contamination has not been detected outside SRS boundaries. Figure 3-6 shows (1) the locations of facilities where SRS monitors groundwater, (2) areas with constituents that exceeded drinking water standards (40 CFR Part 141) in 1992, and (3) waste units associated with known or potential releases that may require groundwater remediation. Most contaminated groundwater at SRS occurs beneath a few facilities; contaminants reflect the operations and chemical processes performed at those facilities. For example, contaminants in the groundwater beneath A- and M-Areas include chlorinated volatile organic compounds, radionuclides, metals, and nitrate. At F- and H-Areas, contaminants in the groundwater include tritium and other radionuclides, metals, nitrate, chlorinated volatile organic compounds, and sulfate. At the reactors (C-, K-, L-, and P-Areas), tritium, other radionuclides, and lead are present in the groundwater. At D-Area, contaminants in the groundwater include volatile organic compounds, chromium, nickel, lead, zinc, iron, sulfate, and tritium. A recent SRS annual environmental report (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993) presents specific groundwater data from more than 1,600 monitoring wells at SRS, including approximately 120 wells in A- and M-Areas, 218 plume-definition wells in these areas, 8 wells in the areas of the reactors of interest, and more than 350 wells in F- and H-Areas.
After the discovery in 1981 that groundwater beneath A- and M-Areas was contaminated with volatile organic compounds, SRS established an assessment program to define the extent and migration rate of the contamination. A groundwater extraction system was installed in 1983 and modified in 1985. It consists of 11 wells which pump more than 1,890 liters (500 gallons) per minute from the lower section of the shallow aquifer and an air stripper process which removes the volatile organic compounds. The treated waste is discharged to Tims Branch and Upper Three Runs through permitted outfalls.
Groundwater is a domestic, municipal, and industrial water source throughout the Upper Coastal Plain. Most municipal and industrial water supplies in Aiken County are from the deep aquifers. Domestic water supplies are primarily from the intermediate and shallow aquifers. In Barnwell and Allendale Counties, the intermediate zone and overlying units that thicken to the southeast supply some municipal users. At SRS, most groundwater production is from the deep aquifer, with a few lower-capacity wells pumping from the intermediate zone. Every major operating area at SRS has groundwater-producing wells. Total groundwater production at SRS is from 34,000 to 45,000 cubic meters (9 to 12 million gallons) per day, similar to the volume pumped for industrial and municipal production within 16 kilometers (10 miles) of SRS.
DOE has identified 56 major municipal, industrial, and agricultural groundwater users within 32 kilometers (20 miles) of the center of SRS (DOE 1987). The total amount pumped by these users, excluding SRS, is about 135,000 cubic meters (36 million gallons) per day.
The Savannah River is the southwestern border of SRS for about 32 kilometers (20 miles). SRS is approximately 260 river kilometers (160 river miles) from the Atlantic Ocean. At SRS, river flow averages about 283 cubic meters (10,000 cubic feet) per second. Three large upstream reservoirs, Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and Strom Thurmond/Clarks Hill, moderate the effects of droughts and the impacts of low flows on downstream water quality and fish and wildlife resources in the river.
The Savannah River, which forms the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina, supplies potable water to several municipal users. Immediately upstream of SRS, the river supplies domestic and industrial water to Augusta, Georgia, and North Augusta, South Carolina. The river also receives sewage treatment plant effluents from Augusta, Georgia; North Augusta, Aiken, and Horse Creek Valley, South Carolina; and from a variety of SRS operations through permitted stream discharges. Approximately 203 river kilometers (126 river miles) downstream of SRS, the river supplies domestic and industrial water for the Port Wentworth (Savannah, Georgia) water treatment plant at river kilometer 47 (river mile 29) and for Beaufort and Jasper Counties in South Carolina at river kilometer 63 (river mile 39.2). In addition, Georgia Power's Vogtle Electric Generating Plant withdraws an average of 1.3 cubic meters (46 cubic feet) per second for cooling and returns an average of 0.35 cubic meters (12 cubic feet) per second. Also, the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company's Urquhart Steam Generating Station at Beech Island, South Carolina, withdraws approximately 7.4 cubic meters (261 cubic feet) per second of once-through cooling water.
In 1992, SCDHEC changed the classification of the Savannah River and the SRS streams from "Class B waters" to "Freshwaters." The definitions of Class B waters and Freshwaters are the same, but the Freshwaters classification imposes a more stringent set of water quality standards. Table 3-2 provides data on water quality in the Savannah River upstream and downstream of SRS during 1992. Comparison of the upstream and downstream concentrations shows little impact from SRS discharges on the water quality of the Savannah River, except for an increase in the tritium concentration. Constituents of SRS discharges are within the guidelines for drinking water established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), SCDHEC, and DOE.
This section describes the pertinent physical and hydrological properties of the six SRS tributaries that drain to the Savannah River.
The five tributaries which discharge directly to the river from SRS are Upper Three Runs, Beaver Dam Creek, Fourmile Branch, Steel Creek, and Lower Three Runs (Figure 3-7). A sixth stream, Pen Branch, does not flow directly into the Savannah River but joins Steel Creek in the Savannah River floodplain swamp. These tributaries drain all of SRS with the exception of a small area on the northeast side. No development occurs in this area of SRS, which drains to an unnamed tributary of Rosemary Branch, a tributary of the Salkehatchie River. Each of these six streams originates on the Aiken Plateau in the Coastal Plain and descends 15 to 60 meters (50 to 200 feet) before discharging into the river. The streams, which historically have received varying amounts of effluent from SRS operations, are not commercial sources of water. The natural flow of SRS streams ranges from 0.3 cubic meter (11 cubic feet) per second in smaller streams such as Indian Grave Branch, a tributary to Pen Branch, to 6.8 cubic meters (240 cubic feet) per second in Upper Three Runs (Wike et al. 1994).
Upper Three Runs is a large, cool [annual maximum temperature of 26.1°C (79°F)] blackwater stream that discharges to the Savannah River in the northern part of SRS. It drains an area approximately 545 square kilometers (210 square miles), and during water year 1991 (a water year is October through September) had a mean discharge of 6.8 cubic meters (239 cubic feet) per second at the mouth of the creek (Wike et al. 1994). The 7-day, 10-year low flow (the lowest flow expected in any consecutive 7 days in any 10 years) is 2.8 cubic meters (100 cubic feet) per second. Upper Three Runs is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) long, with its lower 28 kilometers (17 miles) within the boundaries of the SRS. This creek receives more water from underground sources than other SRS streams and, therefore, has lower dissolved solids, hardness, and pH values. Upper Three Runs is the only major tributary on SRS that has not received thermal discharges. It receives surface water runoff and water from permitted discharges in A-, E-, F-, H-, M-, S-, and Z-Areas. Table 3-3 presents maximum and minimum values for water quality parameters for Upper Three Runs for 1993. Water quality parameters for other onsite streams are presented in Appendix E.
Beaver Dam Creek is approximately 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long and drains approximately 2.2 square kilometers (approximately 1 square mile). Beaver Dam Creek originates at the effluent canal of D-Area and flows south, parallel to Fourmile Branch. Some of the discharges of Fourmile Branch and Beaver Dam Creek mix in the Savannah River floodplain swamp before entering the Savannah River. Prior to SRS operations, Beaver Dam Creek had only intermittent or low flow. It has received thermal effluents since 1952 as a result of the cooling water operations from the heavy water production facility (shut down in 1982) and a coal-fired power plant in D-Area. Currently, Beaver Dam Creek receives condenser cooling water from the coal-fired power plant, neutralization wastewater, sanitary wastewater treatment effluent, ash basin effluent waters, and various laboratory wastewaters. In water year 1991, the mean flow rate for Beaver Dam Creek taken approximately 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) south of D-Area was 2.6 cubic meters (93 cubic feet) per second. The mean temperature found during the comprehensive cooling water study (conducted between 1983 and 1985) (Gladden et al. 1985) was 25°C (77°F), with a maximum temperature of 34°C (93°F) (Wike et al. 1994). As required by a Record of Decision (DOE 1988), water from the Savannah River is added to the D-Area powerhouse condenser discharges during the summer months to maintain the temperature of the stream below 32.2°C (90°F) (DOE 1987).
Fourmile Branch is a blackwater stream that previous SRS operations have affected. It originates near the center of SRS and follows a southwesterly route for approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles). It drains an area of about 57 square kilometers (21 square miles), receiving effluents from F- and H-Areas. It received C- Reactor effluent until C-Reactor was placed on shutdown status in 1987; however, thermal discharges ceased in 1985. When C-Reactor was operating, its discharge resulted in water temperatures in excess of 60°C (140°F). Since the shutdown of C-Reactor, the maximum recorded water temperature has been 31°C (89°F), with a mean temperature of 18.5°C (65°F). With C-Reactor discharge, the flow in Fourmile Branch measured about 11.3 cubic meters (400 cubic feet) per second. The average flow at SRS Road A-12.2 (southwest of SC Highway 125) in water year 1991 was 1.8 cubic meters (63 cubic feet) per second (Wike et al. 1994). In its lower reaches, Fourmile Branch broadens and flows via braided channels through a delta formed by the deposition of sediments eroded from upstream during high flows. Downstream of the delta, the channels rejoin into one main channel. Most of the flow discharges into the Savannah River at river kilometer 245 (river mile 152.1), while a small portion of the creek flows west and enters Beaver Dam Creek. When the Savannah River floods, water from Fourmile Branch flows along the northern boundary of the floodplain swamp and joins with Pen Branch and Steel Creek, exiting the swamp via Steel Creek instead of flowing directly into the river.
Pen Branch and Indian Grave Branch drain an area of about 55 square kilometers (21 square miles). Pen Branch is approximately 24 kilometers (15 miles) long and follows a southwesterly path from its headwaters about 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) east of K-Area to the Savannah River Swamp. At the swamp, it flows parallel to the Savannah River for about 8 kilometers (5 miles) before it enters and mixes with the waters of Steel Creek. In its headwaters, Pen Branch is a largely undisturbed blackwater stream. Until K-Reactor shut down in 1988, Indian Grave Branch, a tributary of Pen Branch, received the thermal effluent from the reactor. When K-Reactor operated, Indian Grave Branch's average natural flow of 0.3 cubic meters (10 cubic feet) per second increased to about 11.3 cubic meters (400 cubic feet) per second. As required by a Record of Decision (DOE 1988), a recirculating cooling tower was completed in 1992 to cool water for K-Reactor. This system has not operated because K-Reactor was placed in cold standby in 1992. However, if it were to operate, the flow in Indian Grave Branch would be reduced to 1.6 cubic meters (55 cubic feet) per second with 1.3 cubic meters (45 cubic feet) per second coming from cooling tower blowdown (DOE 1987). This change would alter the water quality and temperature and flow regimes in Pen Branch. Currently, the Pen Branch system receives non-thermal effluents (e.g., non-process cooling water, ash basin effluent waters, powerhouse wastewater, and sanitary wastewater) from K-Area and sanitary effluent from the Central Shops (N-) Area. In water year 1991, the mean flow of Pen Branch at SRS Road A (SC 125) was 4.1 cubic meters (145 cubic feet) per second. During reactor operation, the mean water temperatures of Pen Branch ranged from 33.5 to 48°C (92 to 119°F). Since the shutdown of K-Reactor, the mean temperature of Pen Branch has been 22°C (72°F) (Wike et al. 1994).
The headwaters of Steel Creek originate near P-Reactor. The creek flows southwesterly about 3 kilometers (approximately 2 miles) before it enters the headwaters of L-Lake. The lake is 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) long and relatively narrow, with an area of about 4.2 square kilometers (1,034 acres). Flow from the outfall of L- Lake travels about 5 kilometers (3 miles) before entering the Savannah River swamp and then another 3 kilometers (approximately 2 miles) before entering the Savannah River. Meyers Branch, the main tributary of Steel Creek, flows approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) before entering Steel Creek downstream of the L-Lake dam and upstream of SRS Road A. The total area drained by the Steel Creek-Meyers Branch system is about 91 square kilometers (35 square miles). In 1954 (before the construction of L-Lake or Par Pond), Steel Creek started to receive effluents from L- and P-Reactors. By 1961, a total of 24 cubic meters (850 cubic feet) per second of thermal effluents was being released to Steel Creek. From 1961 to 1964 P-Reactor partially used the Par Pond recirculating system. In 1964, all P-Reactor effluent was diverted to Par Pond, and in 1968 L-Reactor was put on standby. In 1981, DOE initiated activities to restart L-Reactor. L-Lake was constructed in 1985 along the upper reaches of Steel Creek to cool the heated effluent from L-Reactor, and it received these effluents for several years until L-Reactor was shut down in 1988. In addition to receiving the cooling water from L-Reactor, Steel Creek also received ash basins runoff, nonprocess cooling water, powerhouse wastewater, reactor process effluents, sanitary treatment plant effluents, and vehicle wash waters. From October 1990 to September 1991, the mean flow rate of Steel Creek at SRS Road A was 4.7 cubic meters (185 cubic feet) per second, with an average temperature of 19°C (66°F) (Wike et al. 1994).
Lower Three Runs is a large blackwater creek draining about 460 square kilometers (286 square miles), with a 10-square kilometer (2,500-acre) impoundment, Par Pond, on its upper reaches. From the Par Pond dam, Lower Three Runs flows about 39 kilometers (24 miles) before entering the Savannah River. The SRS property includes Lower Three Runs and its floodplain from Par Pond to the river. The mean flow rate of Lower Three Runs in water year 1991 at Patterson Mill [8 kilometers (5 miles) below Par Pond] was 1.8 cubic meters (65 cubic feet) per second. The mean temperature at the Patterson Mill location during the period 1987 to 1991 was 18°C (64°F) (Wike et al. 1994).
Tables E.1-3 through E.1-7 present maximum and minimum values for water quality parameters for each of the remaining five major SRS tributaries that discharge to the Savannah River for 1993 (1992 for Beaver Dam Creek). The analytical results indicate that the water quality of SRS streams is generally acceptable, with the exception of the tritium concentrations. SCDHEC regulates the physical properties and concentrations of chemicals and metals in SRS effluents under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. SCDHEC also regulates chemical and biological water quality standards for SRS waters.
|Parameter||Unit of measurec||MCLd,e or DCGf||Minimumg||Maximumg||Minimum||Maximum|
|Chemical oxygen demand||mg/L||NA||ND||ND||ND||ND|
|Fecal coliform||Colonies per 100 ml||1,000m||13||1,960||5||854|
|Gross alpha radioactivity||pCi/L||15d||<DLn||0.586||<DL||0.325|
|Nitrite/Nitrate (as nitrogen)||mg/L||10d||0.17||0.31||0.18||0.31|
|Nonvolatile (dissolved) beta radioactivity||pCi/L||50d||0.393||3.17||0.959||3.12|
|Total dissolved solids||mg/L||500h||48||75||49||90|
a. Source: Arnett (1994).
b. Parameters are those DOE routinely measures as a regulatory requirement or as part of ongoing monitoring programs.
c. mg/L = milligrams per liter; a measure of concentration equivalent to the weight/volume ratio.
pCi/L = picocuries per liter; a picocurie is a unit of radioactivity; one trillionth of a curie.
d. Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), EPA National Primary Drinking Water Standards (40 CFR Part 141). See glossary.
e. Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL): SCDHEC (1976a). See glossary.
f. DOE Derived Concentration Guides (DCGs) for water (DOE Order 5400.5, "Radiation Protection for the Public and the Environment"). DCG values are based on committed effective dose of 100 millirem per year for consistency with drinking water MCL of 4 millirem per year. See glossary.
g. Minimum concentrations of samples. The maximum listed concentration is the highest single result found during one sampling event.
h.Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL). EPA National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (40 CFR Part 143).
i.NA = none applicable.
j.Dependent upon pH and temperature.
k.ND = none detected.
l.Action level for lead and copper.
m.WQS = water quality standard. See glossary.
n.Less than (<) indicates concentration below analyses detection limit (DL).
o.Shall not exceed weekly average of 32.2°C (90°F) after mixing nor rise more than 2.8°C (5°F) in 1 week unless appropriate temperature criterion mixing zone has been established.
|Parameter||Unit of measurec||MCLd,e or DCGf||Minimumg||Maximumg|
|Chemical oxygen demand||mg/L||NA||ND||ND|
|Fecal coliform||Colonies per 100 ml||1,000m||52||1,495|
|Gross alpha radioactivity||pCi/L||15d||<DLn||3.57|
|Nitrite/Nitrate (as nitrogen)||mg/L||10d||0.10||0.19|
|Nonvolatile (dissolved) beta radioactivity||pCi/L||50d||0.205||3.94|
|Total dissolved solids||mg/L||500h||19||47|
a. Source: Arnett (1994).
b.Parameters are those DOE routinely measures as a regulatory requirement or as a part of ongoing monitoring programs.
c.mg/L = milligrams per liter; a measure of concentration equivalent to the weight/volume ratio.
pCi/L = picocuries per liter; a picocurie is a unit of radioactivity; a trillionth of a curie.
d.Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL), EPA National Primary Drinking Water Standards (40 CFR Part 141). See glossary.
e.Maximum Contaminant Level; SCDHEC (1976a). See glossary.
f.DOE Derived Concentration Guides (DCGs) for water (DOE Order 5400.5). DCG values are based on committed effective doses of 4 millirem per year for consistency with drinking water MCL of 4 millirem per year. See glossary.
g.Minimum concentrations of samples taken at the downstream monitoring station. The maximum listed concentration is the highest single result during one sampling event.
h.Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL), EPA National Secondary Drinking Water Regulations (40 CFR Part 143).
i.NA = none applicable.
j.Depends on pH and temperature.
k.ND = none detected.
l.Action level for lead and copper.
m.WQS = water quality standard. See glossary.
n.Less than (<) indicates concentration below analysis detection limit (DL).
o.Shall not exceed weekly average of 32.2°C (90°F) after mixing nor rise more than 2.8°C (5°F) in 1 week unless appropriate temperature criterion mixing zone has been established.
The climate at SRS is temperate, with short, mild winters and long, humid summers. Throughout the year, the weather is affected by warm, moist maritime air masses (DOE 1991).
Summer weather usually lasts from May through September, when the area is strongly influenced by the western extension of the semi-permanent Atlantic subtropical "Bermuda" high pressure system. Winds are relatively light, and migratory low pressure systems and fronts usually remain well to the north of the area. The Bermuda high is a relatively persistent feature, resulting in few breaks in the summer heat. Climatological records for the Augusta, Georgia, area indicate that during the summer months, high temperatures were greater than 32.2°C (90°F) on more than half of all days. The relatively hot and humid conditions often result in scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms (Hunter 1990).
The influence of the Bermuda high begins to diminish during the fall, resulting in relatively dry weather and moderate temperatures. Fall days are frequently characterized by cool, clear mornings and warm, sunny afternoons (Hunter 1990).
During the winter, low pressure systems and associated fronts frequently affect the weather of the SRS area. Conditions often alternate between warm, moist subtropical air from the Gulf of Mexico region and cool, dry polar air. The Appalachian Mountains to the north and northwest of SRS moderate the extremely cold temperatures associated with occasional outbreaks of arctic air. Consequently, less than one-third of all winter days have minimum temperatures below freezing, and temperatures below -7°C (20°F) occur infrequently. Snow and sleet occur on average less than once per year (Hunter 1990).
Outbreaks of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes occur more frequently during the spring than during the other seasons. Although spring weather is variable and relatively windy, temperatures are usually mild (Hunter 1990).
Data on severe weather conditions are important considerations in the selection of design criteria for buildings and structures at SRS. Information on the frequency and severity of past incidents provides a basis for predicting the probabilities and consequences of releases of airborne pollutants.
The SRS area experiences an average of 55 thunderstorms per year, half of which occur during the summer months of June, July, and August (Shedrow 1993). On average, lightning flashes will strike six times per year on a square kilometer (0.39 square mile) of ground (Hunter 1990). Thunderstorms can generate wind speeds as high as 64 kilometers (40 miles) per hour and even stronger gusts. The highest 1-minute wind speed recorded at Bush Field in Augusta, Georgia, between 1950 and 1990 was 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour (NOAA 1990).
Since SRS operations began, nine confirmed tornadoes have occurred on or close to SRS. Eight caused light to moderate damage. The tornado of October 1, 1989, caused considerable damage to timber resources on about 4.4 square kilometers (1,097 acres) and lighter damage on about 6 square kilometers (1,497 acres) over southern and eastern areas of the site. Winds produced by this tornado were estimated to have been as high as 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) (Parker and Kurzeja 1990). No tornado-related damage has occurred to SRS production facilities.
Based on tornado statistics for the SRS area, the average frequency of a tornado striking any given location in South Carolina was estimated to be 7.11x10-5 per year. This means that a tornado could strike any given location about once every 14,000 years (Bauer et al. 1989).
The nuclear materials processing facilities at SRS were built to withstand a maximum tornado wind speed of 451 kilometers per hour (280 miles per hour) (Bauer et al. 1989). The estimated probability of any location on SRS experiencing wind speeds equal to or greater than this is 1.2x10-7 per year. Such a tornado would occur about once every 10 million years (Bauer et al. 1989).
A total of 36 hurricanes have caused damage in South Carolina between 1700 and 1989. The average frequency of occurrence of a hurricane in the state is once every 8 years; however, the observed interval between hurricanes has ranged from as short as 2 months to as long as 27 years. Eighty percent of hurricanes have occurred in August and September.
Winds produced by Hurricane Gracie, which passed to the north of SRS on September 29, 1959, were as high as 121 kilometers (75 miles) per hour in F-Area. No other hurricane-force wind has been measured on SRS. Heavy rainfall and tornadoes, which frequently accompany tropical weather systems, usually have the greatest hurricane-related impact on SRS operations (Bauer et al. 1989).
A joint frequency summary (wind rose) of hourly averaged wind speeds and directions collected from the H- Area meteorological tower at a height of 61 meters (200 feet) during the 5-year period 1987 through 1991 is shown in Figure 3-8. This figure indicates that the prevailing wind directions are from the south, southwest, west, and northeast. Winds from the south, southwest, and west directions occurred during about 35 percent of the monitoring period (Shedrow 1993).
The average wind speed for the 5-year period was 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) per hour. Hourly averaged wind speeds less than 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) per hour occurred about 10 percent of the time. Seasonally averaged wind speeds were highest during the winter [14.8 kilometers (9.2 miles) per hour] and lowest during the summer [12.2 kilometers (7.6 miles) per hour] (Shedrow 1993).
Air dispersion models that predict downwind ground-level concentrations of an air pollutant released from a source are based on specific parameters such as stack height, wind speed, pollutant emission rate, and air dispersion coefficients. The air dispersion coefficients used in modeling are determined by atmospheric stability.
The ability of the atmosphere to disperse air pollutants is frequently expressed in terms of the seven Pasquill-Gifford atmospheric turbulence (stability) classes A through G. Occurrence frequencies for each of the stability classes at SRS have been determined using turbulence data collected from the SRS meteorological towers during the 5-year period 1987 through 1991. Relatively turbulent atmospheric conditions that increase atmospheric dispersion, represented by the unstable classes A, B, and C, occurred approximately 56 percent of the time. Stability class D, which represents conditions that are moderately favorable for atmospheric dispersion, occurred approximately 23 percent of the time. Relatively stable conditions that minimize atmospheric dispersion, represented by classes E, F, and G, occurred about 21 percent of the time (Shedrow 1993).
In the southeastern United States, high air pollution levels typically occur when the air is stagnant and there is little dispersion of pollutants. Stagnant episodes generally occur when atmospheric pressure is high (i.e., the area is under a high-pressure system). Under a stagnating high-pressure system, the maximum height of air mixing is less than 1,524 meters (5,000 feet), and the average wind speed is less than 4.0 meters per second (9 miles per hour). According to upper air data, episodes of poor dispersion in the vicinity of SRS lasted for at least 2 days on 12 occasions over a 5-year period (1960 through 1964). Episodes lasting at least 5 days occurred on two occasions. A stagnation episode is defined as limited dispersion lasting 4 or more days. Two stagnation episodes have occurred in the SRS area each year over the 40-year period from 1936 through 1975. The total number of stagnant days averaged about 10 per year (Bauer et al. 1989).
Ambient air concentrations of radionuclides at SRS include nuclides of natural origins, such as radon from uranium in soils; man-made radionuclides, such as fallout from testing of nuclear weapons; and emissions from coal- fired and nuclear power plants. SRS operates a 35-station atmospheric surveillance program. Stations are located inside the SRS perimeter, on the SRS perimeter, and at distances up to 161 kilometers (100 miles) from SRS (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
Routine SRS operations release quantities of alpha- and beta-gamma-emitting radioactive materials in the form of gases and particulates. Gross alpha and nonvolatile beta measurements are used as a screening method for determining the concentration of all radionuclides in the air.
The average 1990 to 1993 gross alpha radioactivity and nonvolatile beta radioactivity measured at SRS and at distances of 40 kilometers (25 miles) to 161 kilometers (100 miles) from SRS are shown in Table 3-4. The maximum levels of onsite gross alpha and gross beta radioactivity were found near production/processing areas. For each year, average onsite gross alpha and nonvolatile beta radioactivity concentrations were similar to the average concentrations measured in offsite air (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994). Nonvolatile beta concentrations do not include tritium (which accounts for more than 99 percent of the airborne radioactivity released from SRS) or carbon-14.
Tritium levels in 1993 are not directly comparable to those observed in previous years because the sampling protocol for atmospheric tritium oxide was changed in 1993. For 1993, the highest annual average concentration of tritium in air over SRS was 1.06x10-9 microcuries per milliliter. The maximum offsite tritium concentration was slightly higher than the 1992 level of 5.3x10-11 microcuries per milliliter (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
|Location||Number of Locations||Average gross alpha radioactivity||Average nonvolatile beta radioactivity|
a. Source: Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey (1994).
b.Kilometer; to convert to miles, multiply by 0.621.
The major SRS production facilities and the types and quantities of radionuclides released during 1993 are presented in Table 3-5. The dose to a member of the public from these releases, calculated by the MAXIGASP computer model, was 0.11 millirem. This dose is 1.1 percent of the 10-millirem-per-year EPA limit (see 40 CFR 52.21). Tritium (H-3), in both elemental and oxide forms, constitutes more than 99 percent of the radioactivity released to the atmosphere from SRS operations (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
|Radionuclideb||Half-life||Reactors||Separations||Reactor materials||Heavy water||SRTCd||Diffuse and fugitivee||Total|
|Gases and Vapors|
|H-3 (oxide)||12.3 yrs||3.85x104||9.39x104||NRf||448||NR||43.1||1.33x105|
|H-3 (elem.)||12.3 yrs||NR||5.82x104||NR||NR||NR||NR||5.82x104|
|H-3 Total||12.3 yrs||3.85x104||1.52x105||NR||448||NR||43.1||1.91x105|
|Zr-95 (Nb-95)||64 days||NR||NR||NR||NR||NR||2.39x10-14||2.39x10-14|
a. Source: Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey (1994).
|b. H-3= tritium||Sb = antimony|
|S = sulfur||Eu = europium|
|Ni= nickel||U = uranium|
|Sr= strontium||Pu = plutonium|
|Zr= zirconium||Am = americium|
|Nb= niobium||Cm = curium|
c.One curie equals 3.7x1010 becquerels.
d.Savannah River Technology Center.
e.Estimated releases from minor unmonitored diffuse and fugitive sources (i.e., sources other than stacks or vents such as windows and doors).
f.NR = not reported.
g.Includes unidentified beta-gamma emissions.
h.Includes unidentified alpha emissions.
SRS is in an area that is designated an attainment area because it complies with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria pollutants, including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides (reported as nitrogen dioxide), particulate matter (less than or equal to 10 microns in diameter), carbon monoxide, ozone, and lead (see 40 CFR 81). The closest nonattainment area (an area that does not meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards) to SRS is the Atlanta, Georgia, air quality region, which is 233 kilometers (145 miles) to the west.
Sources in attainment areas must comply with Prevention of Significant Deterioration regulations. The regulations apply to new and modified sources of air pollution if the net increase in emissions from the new or modified source is determined to exceed the Prevention of Significant Deterioration annual threshold limit (see 40 CFR 52.21). Development at SRS has not triggered Prevention of Significant Deterioration permitting requirements, nor is it expected to trigger such requirements in the future.
DOE has demonstrated compliance with state and Federal air quality standards by modeling ambient air concentrations that would result from maximum potential emission rates using the calendar year 1990 (most recent available) air emissions inventory data as the baseline year. The compliance demonstration also included sources forecast for construction or operation through 1995 and permitted sources supporting the Defense Waste Processing Facility (WSRC 1993b). SRS based its calculated emission rates for the compliance demonstration sources on process knowledge, source testing, permitted operating capacity, material balance, and EPA air pollution emission factors (EPA 1985).
At present, SRS does not perform onsite ambient air quality monitoring. State agencies operate ambient air quality monitoring sites in Barnwell and Aiken Counties in South Carolina, and Richmond County in Georgia. These counties, which are near SRS, are in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter, lead, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide (see 40 CFR 50).
SRS has modeled atmospheric dispersion of both maximum potential and actual emissions of criteria and toxic air pollutants using EPA's Industrial Source Complex Short Term Model (EPA 1992). This modeling was performed using the most recent (1991) quality-assured onsite meteorological data. The maximum potential emissions data included sources of air pollution at SRS that either existed or were permitted to operate as of December 1992. Emissions data for 1990 were used for the modeling of actual emissions (WSRC 1993b; Hunter and Stewart 1994). The results of this modeling are summarized in Tables 3-6 and 3- 7, which list the maximum concentrations occurring at or beyond the SRS boundary. Actual SRS boundary concentrations are probably lower than values reported in these tables.
SCDHEC has air quality regulatory authority over SRS and determines compliance based on pollutant emission rates and estimates of ambient concentrations at the SRS perimeter based on modeling. SRS complies with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and the gaseous fluoride and total suspended particulate standards, as required by SCDHEC Regulation R.61-62.5, Standard 2 ("Ambient Air Quality Standards"). These standards are shown in Table 3-6. SRS complies with SCDHEC Regulation R.61-62.5, Standard 8 ("Toxic Air Pollutants"), which regulates the emission of 257 toxic air pollutants (EPA 1992). SRS has identified emission sources for 139 of the 257 regulated air toxics; the modeling results indicate that SRS complies with SCDHEC air quality standards. Table 3-7 lists concentrations of air toxics at the SRS boundary which exceed 1 percent of SCDHEC standards. Concentrations of all other air toxics are less than 1 percent of SCDHEC standards and are shown in Table E.2-1 in Appendix E.
The United States acquired the SRS property in 1951. At that time, the site was approximately 60 percent forest and 40 percent cropland and pasture (Wike et al. 1994). At present, more than 90 percent of SRS is forested. An extensive forest management program conducted by the Savannah River Forest Station, which is operated by the U.S. Forest Service under an interagency agreement with DOE, has converted many former pastures and fields to pine plantations. Except for SRS production and support areas, natural succession has reclaimed many previously disturbed areas.
SRS land management practices have maintained the biodiversity in the region. Satellite imagery reveals that SRS is a circle of wooded habitat surrounded by a matrix of cleared uplands and narrow forested wetland corridors. SRS provides more than 730 square kilometers (280 square miles) of contiguous forest that supports plant communities in various stages of succession. Carolina bay depressional wetlands, the Savannah River swamp, and several relatively intact longleaf pine-wiregrass (Pinus palustris-Aristida stricta) communities contribute to the biodiversity of SRS and the region. Table 3-8 lists land cover in undeveloped areas of SRS.
The land used for production and support facilities is heavily industrialized and has little natural vegetation inside the fenced areas. These areas consist of buildings, paved parking lots, graveled construction areas, and laydown yards. While there is some landscaping around the buildings and some vegetation along the surrounding drainage ditches, most of these areas have little or no vegetation. Wildlife species common to the vegetated habitat surrounding the facilities often frequent the developed areas.
Most new development needed to support waste management would be within previously disturbed areas and would occur on existing graveled or paved areas. Undeveloped land required for expanded waste management facilities is located in E-Area near the center of SRS and approximately 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) southeast of Upper Three Runs (Figure 3-2).
Figure 3-9 shows the existing land cover of the area where most new waste management facilities would be located. The undeveloped land is comprised of 0.2 square kilometer (49 acres) of longleaf pine planted in 1988; 0.4 square kilometer (99 acres) of slash pine (P. elliotti) planted in 1959; 0.36 square kilometer (88 acres) of loblolly pine planted in 1946; 0.73 square kilometer (180 acres) of white oak (Quercus alba), red oak (Q. rubra), and hickory (Carya sp.) regenerated in 1922; 0.64 square kilometer (158 acres) of longleaf pine regenerated in 1922, 1931, or 1936; 0.32 square kilometer (79 acres) of loblolly pine planted in 1987; and 0.12 square kilometer (30 acres) of recently harvested mixed pine hardwood (see Figure 3-9).
Table 3-6. Estimated ambient concentration contributions of criteria air pollutants from existing SRS sources and sources planned for construction or operation through 1995 (micrograms per cubic meter of air).a,b
|SRS maximum potential concentration
|Concentrations based on actual emissions
|Most stringent AAQSd
(Federal or state)
|Maximum potential concentration as a percent of
|Gaseous fluorides (as HF)||12 hours
|TSP||Annual geometric mean||16.1||12.6||75e||21|
|Lead||Calendar quarter mean||0.001||0.0004||1.5e||0.07|
a. Source: Stewart (1994).
b.The concentrations are the maximum values at the SRS boundary.
c.SO2 = sulfur dioxide; NOx = nitrogen oxides; CO = carbon monoxide; HF = hydrogen fluoride; PM10 = particulate matter < 10 microns in diameter; O3 = ozone; TSP = total suspended particulates.
d.AAQS = Ambient Air Quality Standard.
e.Source: SCDHEC (1976b).
f.The value in parentheses is the second highest maximum potential value.
g.Source: 40 CFR Part 50.
h.Concentration not to be exceeded more than once a year.
i. NA = not available.
at SRS boundary
|Bis (chloromethyl) Ether||0.03||0.00180||6.00|
a. Source: WSRC (1993b).
b.Concentrations are based on maximum potential emissions.
c.See Table E.2-1 for a complete list of toxic pollutant results.
d.Percent of standard = ´ 100
|Types of land cover||Square kilometers||Square miles||Percent of total|
|Savannah River swamp||49||19||7|
a.Source: USDA (1991a).
b.Excludes production areas; total reflects undeveloped land only.
SRS is near the transition between northern oak-hickory-pine forest and southern mixed forest. Thus, species typical of both associations are found on SRS (Dukes 1984). Farming, fire, soil, and topography have strongly influenced SRS vegetation patterns.
A variety of plant communities occurs in the upland areas (Dukes 1984). Typically, scrub oak communities are found on the drier, sandier areas. Longleaf pine, turkey oak (Quercus laevis), bluejack oak (Q. incana), and blackjack oak (Q. marilandica) dominate these communities, which typically have understories of wire grass and huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.). Oak-hickory communities are usually located on more fertile, dry uplands; characteristic species are white oak, post oak (Q. stellata), red oak, mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), pignut hickory (C. glabra), and loblolly pine, with an understory of sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), holly (Ilex spp.), greenbriar (Smilax spp.), and poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) (Dukes 1984; Wike et al. 1994).
The departure of residents in 1951 and the subsequent reforestation have provided the wildlife of SRS with excellent habitat. Furbearers such as gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), opossum (Didelphis virginiana), and bobcat (Felis rufus) are relatively common throughout the site. Game species such as gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), fox squirrel (S. niger), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus), and eastern wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) are also common (Cothran et al. 1991; Wike et al. 1994). Waterfowl are common on most SRS wetlands, ponds, reservoirs, and in the Savannah River swamp and have been studied extensively (Mayer, Kennamer, and Hoppe 1986a; Wike et al. 1994). The reptiles and amphibian species of SRS include 17 salamanders, 26 frogs and toads,1 crocodilian, 12 turtles, 9 lizards, and 36 snakes. Gibbons and Semlitsch (1991) provides an overview, description, and identification keys to the reptiles and amphibians of SRS.
Undeveloped land in E-Area contains suitable habitat for white-tailed deer and feral hogs (Sus scrofa), as well as other animal species common to the mixed pine/hardwood forests of South Carolina.
SRS has extensive, widely distributed wetlands, most of which are associated with floodplains, creeks, or impoundments. In addition, approximately 200 Carolina bays occur on SRS (Shields et al. 1982; Schalles et al. 1989). Carolina bays are unique wetland features of the southeastern United States. They are isolated wetland habitats dispersed throughout the uplands of SRS. The more than 200 bays on SRS exhibit extremely variable hydrology and a range of plant communities from herbaceous marsh to forested wetland (Shields et al. 1982; Schalles et al. 1989).
The Savannah River bounds SRS to the southwest for approximately 32 kilometers (20 miles). The river floodplain supports an extensive swamp, covering about 49 square kilometers (19 square miles) of SRS; a natural levee separates the swamp from the river. Timber was cut in the swamp in the late 1800s. At present, the swamp forest consists of second-growth bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), and other hardwood species (Sharitz, Irwin, and Christy 1974; USDA 1991a; Wike et al. 1994).
Six streams drain SRS and eventually flow into the Savannah River. Each stream has floodplains with bottomland hardwood forests or scrub-shrub wetlands in varying stages of succession. Dominant species include red maple (Acer rubrum), box elder (A. negundo), bald cypress, water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and black willow (Salix nigra) (Workman and McLeod 1990).
Raccoon (Procyon lotor), beaver (Castor canadensis), and otter (Lutra canadensis) are relatively common throughout the wetlands of SRS. The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory has conducted extensive studies of reptile and amphibian use of the wetlands of SRS (Schalles et al. 1989).
Bottomland hardwood forest wetlands are located north of E-Area along Upper Three Runs. These wetlands, dominated by sweetgum and yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), are flooded during most winters.
The aquatic resources of SRS have been the subject of intensive study for more than 30 years. Research has focused on the flora and fauna of the Savannah River, the tributaries of the river that drain SRS, and the artificial impoundments on two of the tributary systems. Section 3.3.3 describes the water quality of those aquatic systems. In addition, several monographs (Patrick, Cairns, and Roback 1967; Dahlberg and Scott 1971; Bennett and McFarlane 1983), the eight-volume comprehensive cooling water study (du Pont 1987), and three eiss (DOE 1984, 1987, 1990) describe the aquatic biota (fish and macroinvertebrates) and aquatic systems of SRS.
Based on studies by the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and others (Floyd, Morse, and McArthur 1993), Upper Three Runs has one of the richest aquatic insect faunas of any stream in North America. At least 551 species of aquatic insects, including at least 52 species and 2 genera new to science, have been identified (Wike et al. 1994). A recent study identified 93 species of caddisflies, including three species that had not previously been found in South Carolina and two species that are new to science (Floyd, Morse, and McArthur 1993). Other insect species found in the creek are considered endemic, rare, or of limited distribution (Floyd, Morse, and McArthur 1993). Between 1987 and 1991, the density and variety of insects collected from Upper Three Runs decreased for unknown reasons. Data from 1991 indicate that the insect communities may be recovering from this disturbance (Wike et al. 1994).
The American sandburrowing mayfly (Dolania americana), a relatively common mayfly in Upper Three Runs, is listed by the Federal government as a candidate species for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The species is sensitive to siltation, organic loading, and toxic releases (Wike et al. 1994).
A recent study (Davis and Mulvey 1993) has identified an extremely rare clam species (Elliptio hepatica) in the Upper Three Runs drainage.
Several threatened, endangered, or candidate plant and animal species are known to occur on SRS. Table 3-9 lists those species (Wike et al. 1994). SRS contains no designated critical habitat for any listed threatened or endangered species.
The smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata) is the only endangered plant species found on SRS. One colony is located on Burma Road approximately 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the waste management sites. A second colony is located near the junctions of SRS Roads 9 and B (LeMaster 1994a). The habitat of smooth coneflower is open woods, cedar barrens, roadsides, clearcuts, and powerline rights-of-way. Optimum sites are characterized by abundant sunlight and little competition in the herbaceous layer (USFWS 1992). Suitable habitat for this species occurs throughout SRS, including undeveloped land near E-Area.
Botanical surveys performed during 1992 and 1994 by the Savannah River Forest Station located four populations of rare plants in the area northwest of F-Area (Figure 4-4). One population of Nestronia and three populations of Oconee azalea (Rhododendron flammeum) were located on the steep slopes adjacent to the Upper Three Runs floodplain (LeMaster 1994b). The Oconee azalea is a state-listed rare species. Nestronia was a Federally-listed Category 2 species that was found to be more abundant than previously believed; consequently, it was determined that listing as threatened or endangered was not warranted (USFWS 1993).
Wood storks (Mycteria americana) feed in the Savannah River Swamp and the lower reaches of Steel Creek, Pen Branch, Beaver Dam Creek, and Fourmile Branch. They foraged at Par Pond during the drawdown in 1991 (Bryan 1992). The undeveloped land in E-Area contains no suitable foraging habitat, and wood storks have not been reported in this area (Coulter 1993). Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest near Par Pond and L-Lake and forage on these reservoirs (USDA 1988; Brooks 1994). One bald eagle was reported flying near the junction of SRS Roads E and 4, south of H-Area, on November 15, 1985 (Mayer, Kennamer, and Hoppe 1986b). However, E-Area does not contain suitable nesting or foraging habitat for bald eagles. Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) have been reported in the past as rare winter visitors to SRS near Par Pond. Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) is also a rare temporary visitor (Wike et al. 1994). Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum), typically residents of large coastal rivers and estuaries, have not been collected in the tributaries of the Savannah River that drain SRS. Sturgeon ichthyoplankton have been collected in the Savannah River near SRS (Wike et al. 1994).
The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Standards and Guidelines, Savannah River Site (USDA 1991b) describes SRS management strategy for the red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). The most important element of this management strategy is the conversion of slash (P. elliottii) (and some loblolly) pine in a designated red-cockaded woodpecker management area to longleaf pine, with a harvest rotation of 120 years. These birds inhabit and use open pine forests with mature trees (older than 70 years for nesting and 30 years for foraging) (Wike et al. 1994). While the undeveloped land surrounding E-Area contains no red-cockaded woodpecker nesting or foraging areas currently used by the species, it does contain unoccupied habitat of a suitable age (LeMaster 1994c).
As presented in Appendix J, DOE has consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine the potential for endangered species to be affected, as required by the Endangered Species Act.
|Common Name (Scientific Name)||Statusb|
|American sandburrowing mayfly (Dolania americana)||FC2|
|Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum)||E|
|American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)||T/SA|
|Southern hognose snake (Heterodon simus)||FC2|
|Northern pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus)||FC2|
|Carolina crawfish (= gopher) frog (Rana areolata capito)||FC2|
|Loggerhead shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)||FC2|
|Bachman's sparrow (Aimophila aestivalis)||FC2|
|Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)||E|
|Wood stork (Mycteria americana)||E|
|Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis)||E|
|Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus)||E|
|Kirtland's warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii)||E|
|Bewick's wren (Thyromanes bewickii)||FC2|
|Rafinesques (= southeastern) big-eared bat (Plecotus rafinesquii)||FC2|
|Smooth coneflower (Echinacea laevigata)||E|
|Bog spice bush (Lindera subcoriacea)||FC2|
|Boykin's lobelia (Lobelia boykinii)||FC2|
|Loose watermilfoil (Myriophyllum laxum)||FC2|
|Nestronia (Nestronia umbellula)||FC3|
|Awned meadowbeauty (Rhexia aristosa)||FC2|
|Cypress knee sedge (Carex decomposita)||FC2|
|Elliott's croton (Croton elliottii)||FC2|
a.Source: Wike et al. (1994).
b.FC2 = under review (a candidate species) for listing by the Federal Government.
FC3 = found to be more abundant than previously believed.
E = Federal endangered species.
T/SA = threatened due to similarity of appearance.
SRS occupies approximately 800 square kilometers (300 square miles) in a generally rural area in western South Carolina. Administrative, production, and support facilities make up about 5 percent of the total SRS area. Of the remaining land, approximately 70 percent is planted pine forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service (under an interagency agreement with DOE), which harvests about 7.3 square kilometers (2.8 square miles) of timber from SRS each year (DOE 1993a). Approximately 57 square kilometers (22 square miles) of SRS have been set aside exclusively for nondestructive environmental research (DOE 1993a) in accordance with SRS's designation as a National Environmental Research Park. Research in the set-aside areas is coordinated by the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
A number of factors will determine the future development and use of SRS. Primary among these are:
- funding and priority of DOE defense programs and environmental management activities
- decisions on the disposition of nuclear materials at SRS and other sites, which DOE is currently evaluating under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
- the role of SRS in the reconfigured DOE weapons complex, which is also being evaluated through the NEPA process
- possible alternative uses of SRS land, facilities, and human resources
- compliance with regulatory requirements concerning environmental protection, worker safety and health, and nuclear facility safety
- public input and participation
- community support (DOE 1994a)
Decisions on future land uses at SRS will be made by DOE through the site development, land-use, and future- use planning processes. There will be a study of each DOE site to determine possible uses. The study will address DOE missions and the public's perspectives and interests; and it will aid in deciding the most appropriate use for each site (DOE 1994a). SRS has established a Land Use Technical Committee composed of representatives from DOE, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, and other SRS organizations. The committee is evaluating potential uses for SRS. DOE prepared an FY 1994 Draft Site Development Plan (DOE 1994a), which describes the current SRS mission and facilities, evaluates possible future missions of SRS and their requirements, and outlines a master development plan now being prepared. In addition, DOE has projected requirements for land and other SRS resource needs for the next 20 years. This planning process must consider activities that will involve all DOE sites (e.g., reconfiguration of the nuclear weapons complex and strategies for spent nuclear fuel management) and SRS-specific actions (e.g., waste management and environmental restoration activities). The plan will take into account risks, benefits, possible final disposition of nuclear materials, potential facility decontamination and decommissioning, land-use strategies, cleanup standards, and facilities required for potential future missions. Once decisions on the future use of SRS have been made, appropriate cleanup levels will be determined and remediation techniques will be selected and submitted for regulatory approval.
This section discusses existing socioeconomic conditions within the "region of influence" where approximately 90 percent of the SRS workforce lived in 1992 (Figure 3-10). The SRS region of influence includes Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell Counties in South Carolina, and Columbia and Richmond Counties in Georgia.
Between 1980 and 1990, total employment in the SRS region of influence increased from 139,504 to 199,161, an average annual growth rate of approximately 4 percent. The unemployment rates for 1980 and 1990 were 7.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively (HNUS 1992). Table 3-10 lists projected employment data for the six-county region of influence. By 2025, regional employment is forecast to increase to approximately 269,000 (HNUS 1994).
In fiscal year 1992, employment at SRS was 23,351, approximately 10 percent of regional employment, with an associated payroll of more than $1.1 billion. SRS employment in 2000 is expected to decrease to approximately 15,800, representing 6 percent of regional employment, and it is expected to continue to decrease as a percent of regional employment in subsequent years.
|Year||Employment||Population||Personal Income (Billions)|
a.Source: HNUS (1994).
Personal income in the six-county region of influence increased from almost $2.9 billion in 1980 to approximately $6.9 billion in 1990. Together, Richmond and Aiken Counties accounted for 78 percent of personal income in the region of influence during 1991; these two counties provided most of the employment opportunities in the region. As listed in Table 3-10, personal income in the region is projected to increase 27 percent to almost $8.8 billion in 1995 and to approximately $50.2 billion by 2025 (HNUS 1994).
Between 1980 and 1990, population in the region of influence increased 13 percent, from 376,058 to 425,607. More than 88 percent of the 1990 population lived in Aiken (28.4 percent), Columbia (15.5 percent), or Richmond (44.6 percent) counties. Table 3-10 also presents population forecasts for the region of influence to 2025 (HNUS 1994). According to census data, the average number of persons per household in the six-county region of influence was 2.72 in 1990, and the median age was 31.2 years (HNUS 1992).
Public education facilities in the six-county region of influence include 95 elementary or intermediate schools and 25 high schools. In addition to the public schools, there are 42 private and 16 post-secondary schools in the region (HNUS 1992).
The average number of students per teacher in 1988 was 16, based on a combined average daily attendance for elementary and high school students in the region of influence. The highest ratio was in Columbia County high schools, where there were 19 students per teacher (1987/1988 academic year). The lowest ratio occurred in Barnwell County's district 29 high school, which had 12 students per teacher (1988/1989 academic year) (HNUS 1992).
The six-county region of influence has 14 major public sewage treatment facilities with a combined design capacity of 302.2 million liters (79.8 million gallons) per day. In 1989, these systems were operating at approximately 56 percent of capacity, with an average daily flow of 170 million liters (44.9 million gallons) per day. Capacity utilization ranged from 45 percent in Aiken County to 80 percent in Barnwell County (HNUS 1992).
There are approximately 120 public water systems in the region of influence. About 40 of these county and municipal systems are major facilities, while the remainder serve individual subdivisions, water districts, trailer parks, or miscellaneous facilities. In 1989, the 40 major facilities had a combined total flow of 576.3 million liters (152.2 million gallons) per day. With an average daily flow rate of approximately 268.8 million liters (71 million gallons) per day, these systems were operating at 47 percent of total capacity in 1989. Facility utilization rates ranged from 13 percent in Allendale County to 84 percent in the City of Aiken (HNUS 1992).
Eight general hospitals operate in the six-county region of influence, with a combined capacity in 1987 of 2,433 beds (5.7 beds per 1,000 population). Four of the eight general hospitals are in Richmond County; Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, and Barnwell Counties each have one general hospital. Columbia County has no hospital. In 1989, there were approximately 1,295 physicians serving the regional population, which represents a physician-to-population ratio of 3 to 1,000. This ratio ranged from 0.8 physician per 1,000 people in Aiken and Allendale counties to 5.4 physicians per 1,000 people in Richmond County (HNUS 1992).
Fifty-six fire departments provide fire protection in the region of influence. Twenty-seven of these are classified as municipal fire departments, but many provide protection to rural areas outside municipal limits. The average number of firefighters in the region in 1988 was 3.8 per 1,000 people, ranging from 1.6 per 1,000 in Richmond County to 10.2 per 1,000 in Barnwell County (HNUS 1992).
County sheriff and municipal police departments provide most law enforcement in the region of influence. In addition, state law enforcement agents and state troopers assigned to each county provide protection and assist county and municipal officers. In 1988, the average ratio in the region of influence of full-time police officers employed by state, county, and local agencies per 1,000 population was 2.0. This ratio ranged from 1.4 per 1,000 in Columbia County to 2.5 per 1,000 in Richmond County (HNUS 1992).
Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," requires that Federal agencies identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionate adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs and activities on people of color and the poor. DOE is developing official guidance on the implementation of the Executive Order. This eis's approach to implementing the Order is to identify the potential effects of waste management activities at SRS on people of color or those with low incomes. The following describes the analysis of environmental justice issues for the alternatives considered in this eis. Potential offsite health impacts would result from releases to the air and to the Savannah River. For air releases, standard population dose analyses are based on an 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius from SRS because expected dose levels beyond that distance are very small. Table 3-11 and Figure 3-11 provide data on the 1990 population distribution within a 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius of SRS. For releases to water, the region of analysis includes areas along the Savannah River that draw on it for drinking water [Beaufort and Jasper Counties in South Carolina and Port Wentworth (Savannah), Georgia]. Therefore, the analysis examines populations in all census tracts that have at least 20 percent of their area within the 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius of SRS and all tracts from Beaufort and Jasper Counties in South Carolina and Effingham and Chatham Counties in Georgia. It should be noted that offsite health effects are based on the population within an 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius of SRS and those people who use the Savannah River for drinking water. The population considered in estimating drinking water dose is beyond the 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius. DOE used data from each census tract in this combined region to identify the racial composition of communities and the number of persons characterized by the U.S. Bureau of the Census as living in poverty. The combined region of analysis contains 247 census tracts, 99 in South Carolina and 148 in Georgia.
Tables 3-12 and 3-13 list racial and economic characteristics of the population within the combined region. The total population in the combined area is more than 993,000. Of that total population, approximately 618,000 (62.2 percent) are white. Within the population of people of color (375,000), approximately 94 percent are African American; the remainder are Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. Figure 3-12 gives the distribution of people of color by census tract areas within the region of analysis.
Executive Order 12898 does not define minority populations. However, one approach is to identify communities that contain a simple majority of people of color (greater than or equal to 50 percent of the total population of the community). A second approach, proposed by EPA, defines communities of people of color as those that have higher-than-average (over the region of analysis) percentages of people of color (EPA 1994). In Figure 3-12, two different shadings indicate census tracts where (1) people of color constitute 50 percent or more of the total population in the tract, or (2) people of color constitute between 35 percent and 50 percent of the total population in the tract. For purposes of this analysis, DOE adopted the second, more expansive, approach to identifying minority populations.
In the combined region, there are 80 tracts (32.4 percent) where the number of people of color are equal to or greater than 50 percent of the total population. In an additional 50 tracts (20.2 percent), people of color comprise between 35 and 49 percent of the population. These tracts are well distributed throughout the region, although there are more of them toward the south and in the immediate vicinities of Augusta and Savannah, Georgia.
Low-income communities are defined as those in which 25 percent or more of the population live in poverty (EPA 1993b). The U.S. Bureau of the Census defines persons in poverty as those with incomes less than a "statistical poverty threshold." This threshold is a weighted average based on family size and the age of the persons in the family. The baseline threshold for the 1990 census was an income of $8,076 for a family of two during the previous year, 1989.
In the region of analysis, more than 169,000 persons (17.0 percent of the total population) live in poverty (Table 3-13). In Figure 3-13, shaded census tracts identify low-income communities. In the region, 72 tracts (29.1 percent) are low-income communities. These tracts are distributed throughout the region of analysis, but are primarily to the south and west of SRS.
a.Source: Arnett (1993).
b.To convert to miles, multiply by 0.6214.
|State||Total population||White||African American||Hispanic||Asian||Native American||Other||People of color||Percent people of colorb|
a.Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census (1990a).
b.Methodologies used to collect census data result in situations in which the total population does not equal the sum of the populations of the identified racial groups. In this table, people of color is calculated by subtracting the white population from the total population.
|Area||Total population||Persons living in povertyb||Percent living in poverty|
a.Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census (1990b).
b.Families with incomes less than $8,076 in 1989 for a family of two.
Field studies conducted over the past two decades by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the University of South Carolina, under contract to DOE and in consultation with the South Carolina State Historic Preservation Officer, have provided considerable information about the distribution and content of archaeological and historic sites on SRS. By the end of September 1992, approximately 60 percent of SRS had been examined, and 858 archaeological (historic and prehistoric) sites had been identified. Of these, 53 have been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places; 650 have not been evaluated. No SRS facilities have been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, and there are no plans for nominations at this time. The existing SRS nuclear production facilities are not likely to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, either because they lack architectural integrity, do not represent a particular style, or do not contribute to the broad historic theme of the Manhattan Project and the production of initial nuclear materials (Brooks 1993, 1994).
Archaeologists have divided SRS into three zones related to their potential for containing sites with multiple archaeological components or dense or diverse artifacts, and their potential for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places (SRARP 1989).
- Zone 1 is the zone of the highest archaeological site density, with a high probability of encountering large archaeological sites with dense and diverse artifacts, and a high potential for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Zone 2 includes areas of moderate archaeological site density. Activities in this zone have a moderate probability of encountering large sites with more than three prehistoric components or that would be eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
- Zone 3 includes areas of low archaeological site density. Activities in this zone have a low probability of encountering archaeological sites and virtually no chance of encountering large sites with more than three prehistoric components; the need for site preservation is low. Some exceptions to this definition have been discovered in Zone 3; some sites in the zone could be considered eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
S- and Z-Areas were extensively surveyed prior to construction of the Defense Waste Processing Facility. No archaeological or historic artifacts were found (DOE 1982). The construction of F- and H-Areas during the 1950's is likely to have destroyed any historic or archaeological resources in those areas (Brooks 1993).
In conjunction with studies in 1991 related to the New Production Reactor, DOE solicited the concerns of Native Americans about religious rights in the Central Savannah River Valley. During this study, three Native American groups, the Yuchi Tribal Organization, the National Council of Muskogee Creek, and the Indian People's Muskogee Tribal Town Confederacy, expressed general concerns about SRS and the Central Savannah River Area, but did not identify specific sites as possessing religious significance. The Yuchi Tribal Organization and the National Council of Muskogee Creek are interested in several plant species traditionally used in tribal ceremonies, such as redroot (Lachnanthes carolinianum), button snakeroot (Eryngium yuccifolium), and American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) that may occur on SRS (NUS 1991a). Redroot and button snakeroot are known to occur on SRS (Batson, Angerman, and Jones 1985). DOE included all three tribal organizations on its mailing lists and sends them documents about SRS environmental activities.
The dominant aesthetic settings in the vicinity of SRS are agricultural land and forest, with some limited residential and industrial areas. The reactors and most of the large facilities are located in the interior of SRS (Figure 3-2). Because of the distance to the SRS boundary, the rolling terrain, normally hazy atmospheric conditions, and heavy vegetation, SRS facilities are not usually visible from outside SRS or from roads with public access. The few locations that have views of some SRS structures (other than the administrative area) are distant from the structures [8 kilometers (5 miles) or more]; these views have low visual sensitivity levels because most of these structures were built as many as 40 years ago and are well established in the viewer's expectations.
SRS land is heavily wooded (predominantly pine forest, which minimizes seasonal differences), and developed areas occupy approximately 5 percent of the total land area. The facilities are scattered across SRS and are brightly lit at night. Typically, the reactors and principal processing facilities are large concrete structures as much as 30 meters (100 feet) tall adjacent to shorter administrative and support buildings and parking lots. These facilities are visible in the direct line-of-sight when approaching them on SRS access roads. The only structure visible from a distance is the recently completed K-Reactor Cooling Tower. Since this tower will not be operated, the absence of a steam plume ensures no further visual impact. Otherwise, heavily wooded areas that border the SRS road system and public highways crossing the Site limit views of the facilities.
SRS is surrounded by a system of interstate highways, U.S. highways, state highways, and railroads. Barge traffic is possible on the Savannah River; however, neither SRS nor commercial shippers routinely use barges (DOE 1991). Figure 3-14 shows the regional transportation infrastructure.
The SRS transportation infrastructure consists of more than 230 kilometers (143 miles) of primary roads, 1,931 kilometers (1,200 miles) of unpaved secondary roads, and 103 kilometers (64 miles) of railroad track (WSRC 1993c). These roads and railroads provide connections among the various SRS facilities and links to offsite transportation. Figure 3-15 shows the SRS network of primary roadways, access points, and the SRS railroad system.
In general, heavy traffic occurs in the early morning and late afternoon when workers commute to and from SRS. Table 3-14 provides data on SRS roads during peak travel times, and Table 3-15 provides peak baseline traffic for the primary offsite access roads and Road E. During working hours, official vehicles and logging trucks constitute most of the traffic. As many as 30 logging trucks, which can impede traffic, may be operating simultaneously on SRS, with an annual average of 15 trucks per day (WSRC 1992a). A total of 785 trucks longer than about 8 meters (25 feet) enter and exit SRS daily (Swygert 1994a).
The SRS rail yard is east of P-Reactor. This eight-track facility sorts and redirects rail cars. Deliveries of shipments to SRS occur at two rail stations in the former towns of Ellenton and Dunbarton. From these stations, an SRS engine moves the railcars to the appropriate facility. The Ellenton station, which is on the main Augusta-Yemassee line, receives coal for the large powerhouse located in D-Area. The Dunbarton station receives the other rail shipments and coal for the smaller powerhouses located throughout SRS (McLain 1994).
Under normal conditions, about 13 trains per day use the CSX tracks through SRS (Burns 1993). Movement of coal and casks containing radioactive material constitutes the bulk of rail traffic (DOE 1991).
|Measurement point||Date||Direction||Daily total||Peakb||Peak timec||Average speed (mph)d|
|Road 2 between Roads C and D||9-29-93
|Road 4 between Roads E and C||12-9-92
|Road 8 at Pond C||2-23-92
|Road C between landfill and Road 2||12-16-92
|Road C north of Road 7||1-20-93
|Road D at old gunsite||9-29-93
|Road E at E-Area||8-25-93
|Road F at Upper Three Runs||2-2-93
|Road F north of Road 4||8-25-93
|Road F south of Road 4||8-25-93
a. Source: Swygert (1994b).
b.Number of vehicles in peak hour.
c.Start of peak hour.
d.mph = miles per hour; to convert to kilometers per hour, multiply by 1.6093.
e.NA = not available.
|Road||Design capacity||1994 baseline traffica||Percent of capacity|
|Road E at E-Area||2,300c||741e||32|
a. Baseline traffic for 1994 was estimated from actual traffic counts
measured in 1989 (offsite) and 1992/1993 (onsite) by adjusting total vehicles by
the percent of change in SRS employment between the measured years and 1994.
b.Adapted from Smith (1989).
c.Adapted from TRB (1985).
d.Source: Swygert (1994b).
e.Morning traffic traveling to E-Area.
Previous studies have assessed noise impacts of existing SRS operational activities (NUS 1991b; DOE 1990, 1991). These studies concluded that, because of the remote locations of the SRS operational areas, there are no known conditions associated with existing sources of noise at SRS that adversely affect individuals at offsite locations.
A release of radioactivity to the environment from a nuclear facility is an important issue for both SRS workers and the public. However, the environment contains many sources of radiation, and it is important to understand all the sources of ionizing radiation to which people are routinely exposed.
Environmental radiation consists of natural background radiation from cosmic, terrestrial, and internal body sources; radiation from medical diagnostic and therapeutic practices; radiation from weapons tests fallout; radiation from consumer and industrial products; and radiation from nuclear facilities. All radiation doses mentioned in this eis are "effective dose equivalents" (i.e., organ doses are weighted for biological effect to yield equivalent whole- body doses) unless specifically identified otherwise (e.g., "absorbed dose," "thyroid dose," "bone dose").
Releases of radioactivity to the environment from SRS account for less than 0.1 percent of the total annual average environmental radiation dose to individuals within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of SRS (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994). Standard population dose analyses for air releases are based on an 80- kilometer (50-mile) radius because expected dose levels beyond that distance are very small.
Natural background radiation contributes about 82 percent of the annual dose of 357 millirem received by an average member of the population within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of SRS (Figure 3-16). Based on national averages, medical exposure accounts for an additional 15 percent of the annual dose, and the combined doses from weapons tests fallout, consumer and industrial products, and air travel account for about 3 percent of the total dose (NCRP 1987a).
External radiation from natural sources comes from cosmic rays and emissions from natural radioactive materials in the ground. The radiation dose from external radiation varies with location and altitude.
Internal radiation from natural terrestrial sources consists primarily of potassium-40, carbon-14, rubidium- 87, and daughter products of radium-226 that are consumed in food grown with fertilizers containing these radionuclides. The estimated average internal radiation exposure in the United States from natural radioactivity (primarily indoor radon daughter products) is 240 millirem per year (NCRP 1987b).
Medical radiation is the largest source of man-made radiation to which the population of the United States is exposed. The average dose to an individual from medical and dental x-rays, prorated over the entire population, is 39 millirem per year (NCRP 1987a). In addition, radiopharmaceuticals administered to patients for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes account for an average annual dose of 14 millirem when prorated over the population. Thus, the average medical radiation dose in the U.S. population is about 53 millirem per year. Prorating the dose over the population determines an average dose that, when multiplied by the population size, produces an estimate of population exposure. It does not mean that every member of the population receives a radiation exposure from these sources.
In 1980, the estimated average annual dose from fallout from nuclear weapons tests was 4.6 millirem (0.9 millirem from external gamma radiation and 3.7 millirem from ingested radioactivity). Because atmospheric nuclear weapons tests have not been conducted since 1980, the average annual dose from fallout is now less than 1 millirem. This decline is due principally to radioactive decay.
A variety of consumer and industrial products yield ionizing radiation or contain radioactive materials and, therefore, result in radiation exposure to the general population. Some of these sources are televisions, luminous dial watches, airport x-ray inspection systems, smoke detectors, tobacco products, fossil fuels, and building materials. The estimated average annual dose for the U.S. population from these sources is 10 millirem per year (NCRP 1987a). About one-third of this dose is from external exposure to naturally occurring radionuclides in building materials.
People who travel by aircraft receive additional exposure from cosmic radiation because at high altitudes the atmosphere provides less shielding from this source of radiation. The average annual airline passenger dose, when prorated over the entire U.S. population, amounts to 1 millirem (NCRP 1987b).
Figure 3-16 summarizes the major sources of exposure for the population within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of SRS and for populations in Beaufort and Jasper Counties, South Carolina, and in Chatham County, Georgia, that drink water from the Savannah River. Many factors, such as natural background dose and medical dose, are independent of SRS.
Atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons deposited approximately 25,600,000 curies of cesium-137 on the earth's surface (United Nations 1977). About 104 millicuries of cesium-137 per square kilometer were deposited in the latitude band where South Carolina is located (30°N to 40°N). The total resulting deposition was 2,850 curies on the 27,400 square kilometers (10,580 square miles) of the Savannah River watershed and 80 curies on SRS. The cesium-137 attached to soil particles and has slowly been transported from the watershed. Results from routine health protection monitoring programs indicate that since 1963 about 1 percent of the 2,850 curies of cesium-137 deposited on the total Savannah River watershed has been transported down the Savannah River (du Pont 1983).
Onsite monitoring shows that an average of 50 millicuries of cesium-137 per square kilometer (1976 to 1982 average) are in the upper 5 centimeters (2 inches) of the soil column. This is one-half the original amount. Some of the cesium has moved down in the soil column, and some has been transported in surface water to the Savannah River.
Other nuclear facilities within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of SRS include a low-level waste burial facility operated by Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc., near the eastern SRS boundary, and Georgia Power Company's Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, located directly across the Savannah River from SRS. In addition, Carolina Metals, Inc., which is northwest of Boiling Springs in Barnwell County, South Carolina, processes depleted uranium. The Chem-Nuclear facility, which began operating in 1971, releases essentially no radioactivity to the environment (Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc. 1980), and the population dose from normal operations is very small. The 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius population receives an immeasurably small radiation dose from transportation of low-level radioactive waste to the burial site. Plant Vogtle began commercial operation in 1987, and its releases to date have been far below DOE guidance levels and Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulatory requirements (Davis, Martin, and Todd 1989).
In 1993, releases of radioactive material to the environment from SRS operations resulted in a site perimeter maximum dose from all pathways from atmospheric releases of 0.11 millirem per year (in the north- northwest sector), and a maximum dose from releases into water of 0.14 millirem per year, for a maximum total annual dose at the SRS perimeter of 0.25 millirem (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994). The maximum dose to downstream consumers of Savannah River water was to users of the Port Wentworth public water supply, and was 0.05 millirem per year (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
In 1990, the population within 80 kilometers (50 miles) of SRS was 620,100 (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993 and Table 3-11). The collective effective dose equivalent to the 80-kilometer (50-mile) population in 1993 was 7.6 person-rem from atmospheric releases (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994). The 1990 population of 65,000 people using water from Port Wentworth (Savannah), Georgia, and from Beaufort and Jasper Counties, South Carolina, received a collective dose equivalent of 1.5 person-rem (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
Controlled deer and hog hunts are conducted annually at SRS to control their populations. Field measurements performed on each animal prior to release to the hunter determine the levels of cesium-137 present in the animal. Field measurements are subsequently verified by laboratory analysis, and dose calculations are performed to estimate dose to the maximally exposed individual among the hunters. In 1993, the maximally exposed individual hunter killed four deer and three hogs. The dose to this hunter was estimated based on the cesium-137 measurements of the deer and hog muscle taken from these animals and the conservative assumption that the hunter consumed all of the edible portions of these animals (337 pounds of meat). The dose to this maximally exposed individual was estimated to be 57 millirem (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994), which represents 57 percent of the DOE annual limit of 100 millirem (DOE Order 5400.5).
In 1993, the maximally exposed individual fisherman was assumed to eat 19 kilograms (42 pounds) of fish per year. The dose to the fisherman was based on consumption of fish taken only from the mouth of Steel Creek on SRS. The dose to this individual was estimated to be 1.30 millirem (WSRC 1994a) or 1.3 percent of the DOE annual limit (DOE 1993a).
The hunter population dose was estimated based on the fact that 1,553 deer and 147 hogs were killed in 1993. These deer and hogs contained average cesium-137 concentrations of 4.69 picocuries per gram and 5.64 picocuries per gram, respectively. The regional average of cesium-137 concentration in deer is 0.7 picocuries per gram (Fledderman 1994). The population dose due to the consumption of SRS animals is estimated to be 8.3 person-rem. The portion of this dose attributable to the presence of cesium-137 above the regional average concentration is 7.1 person-rem (Rollins 1994).
Gamma radiation levels, including natural background terrestrial, and cosmic radiation measured at 179 locations around the SRS perimeter during 1993, yielded a maximum dose rate of 102 millirem per year (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994). This level is typical of normal background gamma levels measured in the general area (84 millirem per year measured by the EPA at Augusta, Georgia, in 1992). The maximum gamma radiation level measured onsite (N-Area) was 460 millirem per year (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994).
Detailed summaries of releases to the air and water from SRS are provided in a series of annual environmental reports (e.g., Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1994 for the year 1993). Each of these environmental reports also summarizes radiological and nonradiological monitoring and the results of the analyses of environmental samples. These reports also summarize the results of the extensive groundwater monitoring at SRS, which uses more than 1,600 wells to detect and monitor both radioactive and nonradioactive contaminants in the groundwater and drinking water in and around process operations, burial grounds, and seepage basins.
Table 3-16 presents gamma radiation levels measured in E-, F-, H-, N-, S-, and Z-Areas in 1993. These values can be compared to the average dose rate of 35 millirem per year measured at the SRS perimeter. This difference is attributable to differences in geologic composition, as well as facility operations.
Analyses of soil samples from uncultivated areas measure the amount of particulate radioactivity deposited from the atmosphere. Table 3-17 lists maximum measurements of radionuclides in the soil for 1993 at E-, F- , H-, S-, and Z-Areas, the SRS perimeter, and at background [160-kilometer (100-mile)] monitoring locations. Measured elevated concentrations of strontium-90 and plutonium-239 around F- and H-Areas reflect releases from these areas.
a.Source: Arnett (1994).
b.One milliRoentgen is approximately 1 millirem.
|Background [160-kilometer (100-mile) radius]||0.0772||0.352||0.00105||0.00835|
a. Source: Arnett (1994).
b.No data available.
The major goals of the SRS Health Protection Program are to keep the exposure of workers to radiation and radioactive material within safe limits and, within those limits, as low as reasonably achievable. An effective radiation protection program must minimize doses to individual workers and the collective dose to all workers in a given work group.
Worker dose comes from exposure to external radiation or from internal exposure when radioactive material enters the body. In most SRS facilities, the predominant source of worker exposure is from external radiation. In the SRS facilities that process tritium, the predominant source of worker exposure is the internal dose from tritium that has been inhaled or absorbed into internal body fluids. On rare occasions, other radionuclides can contribute to internal dose if they have accidentally been inhaled or ingested.
External exposure comes mostly from gamma radiation emitted from radioactive material in storage containers or process systems (tanks and pipes). Neutron radiation, which is emitted by a few special radionuclides, also contributes to worker external radiation in a few facilities. Beta radiation, a form of external radiation, has a lesser impact than gamma and neutron radiation because it has lower penetrating energy and, therefore, produces a dose only to the skin, rather than to critical organs within the body. Alpha radiation from external sources does not have an impact because it has no penetrating power.
Internal exposure occurs when radioactive material is inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Once the radioactive material is inside the body, low-energy beta and non-penetrating alpha radiation emitted by the radioactive material in close proximity to organ tissue can produce dose to that tissue. If this same radioactive material were outside the body, the low penetrating ability of the radiation emitted would prevent it from reaching the critical organs. For purposes of determining health hazards, organ dose can be converted to effective dose equivalents. The mode of exposure (internal versus external) is irrelevant when comparing effective dose equivalents.
The current SRS radiological control program implements Presidential Guidance issued to all Federal agencies on January 20, 1987. This guidance was subsequently codified (10 CFR 835) as a federal regulation governing all DOE activities (58 FR 238). Policies and program requirements, formulated to ensure the protection of SRS workers and visitors, are documented in the SRS Radiological Control Procedure Manual, WSRC 5Q (WSRC 1993d). DOE performs regular assessments to ensure the continuing quality and effectiveness of the SRS radiological control program by monitoring radiological performance indicators and by making periodic independent internal appraisals as required by 10 CFR 835.102. External appraisals are also conducted periodically by DOE and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to provide additional assurance of continuing program effectiveness.
Appropriate control procedures, engineered safety systems, and worker training programs are established and implemented to ensure compliance with applicable regulations before beginning radioactive operation of any facility at the SRS.
The purpose of the radiation protection program is to minimize dose from external and internal exposure; it must consider both individual and collective dose. It would be possible to reduce individual worker dose to very low levels by using numerous workers to perform extremely small portions of the work task. However, frequent changing of workers would be inefficient and would result in a higher total dose received by all the workers than if fewer workers were used and each worker were allowed to receive a slightly higher dose.
Worker doses at SRS have consistently been well below the DOE worker exposure limits. Administrative exposure guidelines are set at a fraction of the exposure limits to help ensure doses are as low as reasonably achievable. For example, the current DOE worker exposure limit is 5 rem per year, and the SRS administrative exposure guideline was 1.5 rem per year in 1993. Table 3-18 shows the maximum and average individual doses and the SRS collective doses for 1988 through 1993.
|Year||Individual dose (rem)||SRS collective dose|
a. Adapted from: du Pont (1989), WSRC (1991, 1992b, 1993d, 1994a), Petty
b.The average dose is calculated only for workers who received a measurable dose during the year.
In the United States, 23.5 percent of human deaths each year are caused by some form of cancer (CDC 1993). Any population of 5,000 people is expected to contract approximately 1,200 fatal cancers from non- occupational causes during their lifetimes, depending on the age and sex distribution of the population. Workers who are exposed to radiation have an additional risk of 0.0004 latent fatal cancers per person-rem of radiation exposure (NCRP 1993).
In 1993, 5,157 SRS workers received a measurable dose of radiation amounting to 263 person-rem (Table 3- 18). Therefore, this group may experience up to 0.1 (0.0004 ´ 263) additional cancer death due to its 1993 occupational radiation exposure. Continuing operation of SRS could result in up to 0.1 additional cancer death each year of operation, assuming future annual worker exposure continues at the 1993 level. In other words, for each 10 years of operation, there could be one additional death from cancer among the work force that receives a measurable dose at the 1993 level.
Industrial safety, industrial hygiene, medical monitoring, and fire protection programs have been implemented at SRS to ensure the nonradiological health and safety of SRS workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires the use of incidence rates to measure worker safety and health (DOL 1986). Incidence rates relate the number of injuries and illnesses and the resulting days lost from work to exposure (i.e., the number of hours worked) of workers to workplace conditions that could result in injuries or illnesses. Incidence rates, which are based on the exposure of 100 full-time workers working 200,000 hours (100 workers times 40 hours per week times 50 weeks per year), automatically adjust for differences in the hours of worker exposure. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also specifies the types of injuries and illnesses that must be recorded for inclusion in incidence rate calculations. Incidence rates are generally calculated for total number of recordable cases, total number of lost workday cases, and total number of lost workdays.
Each year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the results of its annual survey of job-related injuries and illnesses in private industry. The injury and illness data supplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics provide the most comprehensive survey data available on work-related injuries and illnesses in private industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that in 1991, private industry employers experienced 8.4 work-related injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time workers (DOE 1993b).
Incidence rates provide an objective measure of the performance of SRS safety programs. The data in Table 3-19 compare the performance of SRS operations to that of general industry, the manufacturing industry, and the chemical industry (DOE 1993a). SRS safety programs have produced incidence rates that are far below comparable rates for general industry, the manufacturing industry, and the chemical industry. The numbers reported in Table 3-19 for SRS include only management and operating contractor employers because these are the only ones that would be involved in waste management.
Occupational exposure to noise is controlled through the management and operating contractor hearing conservation program outlined in Industrial Hygiene Manual 4Q, Procedure 501. This program implements the contractor requirements for identifying, evaluating, and controlling noise exposures to meet the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.95, Occupational Noise Exposure.
Table 3-19. Comparison of 1992 illness and injury incidence rates for SRS operations to 1991 illness and injury incidence rates for general industry, the manufacturing industry, and the chemical industry (number of illnesses and injuries per 100 full-time workers).
|Incidence rate||SRS M&Oa
|Total recordable cases||0.5||8.4||12.7||6.4|
|Lost workday cases||0.1||3.9||5.6||3.1|
a. M&O = management and operating contractor.
SRS activities in support of the national defense mission produced liquid high-level radioactive waste, low-level (low- and intermediate-activity) radioactive waste, hazardous waste, mixed waste (radioactive and hazardous combined), and transuranic waste. This section discusses current treatment, storage, and disposal of these wastes at SRS and management of wastes generated from facility operations discussed in Chapter 2.
Wastes at SRS were and continue to be generated both by facility operations and environmental restoration, with facility operations generating most of the waste. Facility operations include nuclear and non-nuclear research; material testing; laboratory analysis; high-level waste processing and nuclear fuel storage; manufacturing, repair, and maintenance; and general office work. Facility operations also include operating all waste management facilities for treatment, storage, and disposal of SRS-generated wastes.
DOE treats, stores, and disposes of wastes generated from all onsite operations in waste management facilities, most of which are located in E-, F-, H-, N-, S-, and Z-areas (Figure 3-2). Major facilities include the high-level waste tank farms; the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility; the F- and H-Area Effluent Treatment Facility; the Defense Waste Processing Facility (undergoing startup testing); and the Consolidated Incineration Facility (under construction).
The environmental restoration mission has increased in recent years and includes two programs: (1) the decontamination and decommissioning of surplus facilities (see Section 3.14) and (2) the remediation program, which identifies and, where necessary, arranges for cleanup of potential releases from inactive waste sites (see Section 3.15).
DOE stores liquid and solid wastes at SRS. Liquid high-level radioactive waste is stored in underground storage tanks in accordance with an SCDHEC wastewater treatment permit (Figures 3-17 and 3-18). The tanks are managed in accordance with federal laws, SCDHEC regulations, and DOE Orders. Figure 3-19 shows the management process for liquid high-level radioactive waste at SRS. Transuranic mixed waste is stored on interim-status storage pads in accordance with SCDHEC requirements and DOE Orders (Figure 3- 20). Wastewater contaminated with low-level radioactivity is stored and treated at the F/H-Area Effluent Treatment Facility, a SCDHEC permitted facility (Figure 3-21). Hazardous and mixed wastes are stored in permitted or interim-status facilities, such as the hazardous waste storage facilities (buildings and pads) and in the mixed waste storage buildings (Figures 3-22 and 3-23, respectively). Figure 3-24 shows the process for handling other forms of waste at SRS.
Through waste minimization and treatment programs, DOE continues to reduce the amount of waste generated, stored, and disposed of at SRS. DOE minimizes waste by reducing its volume, toxicity, or mobility before storage and disposal. Waste reduction includes intensive surveys, waste segregation, and the use of administrative and engineering controls.
Low-level radioactive waste is defined as waste that contains radioactivity and is not classified as high-level waste, transuranic waste, spent nuclear fuel, or byproduct material.
SRS packages low-level waste for disposal onsite in the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility (Figure 3-25) according to its waste category and its estimated surface dose. DOE places low-activity wastes in carbon steel boxes and deposits them in low-activity waste vaults in E-Area. The vaults are concrete structures approximately 200 meters (643 feet) long by 44 meters (145 feet) wide by 8 meters (27 feet) deep.
DOE packages intermediate-activity waste according to its form and disposes of it in intermediate-level waste vaults in E-Area. Some intermediate-activity waste, such as contaminated pieces of equipment, is wrapped in canvas before disposal.
DOE will store long-lived wastes, such as resins, in the Long-Lived Waste Storage Building in E-Area until DOE develops treatment and disposal technologies for them (Figure 3-26).
The E-Area vaults began receiving low-level radioactive waste in September 1994. This facility includes low-activity, intermediate-level nontritium, and intermediate-level tritium vaults (Figures 3-27 and 3-28).
Liquid high-level radioactive waste is highly radioactive material from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel that contains a combination of transuranic waste and fission products in concentrations requiring permanent isolation. It includes both the liquid waste produced by reprocessing and any solid waste derived from that liquid. The solid waste is also classified as liquid high-level radioactive waste.
SRS generates liquid high-level radioactive waste during the recovery of nuclear materials from spent fuel and targets in F- and H-Areas, and stores it in 50 underground tanks. Waste was previously stored in an additional tank; however, waste in that tank has been removed, and the tank is no longer in service. These tanks also contain other radioactive effluents (primarily low-level radioactive waste such as liquid process waste and purge water from storage basins for irradiated reactor fuel or fuel elements). The liquid high-level waste is neutralized and then stored in these tanks until short-lived radionuclides have decayed to inconsequential levels and insoluble components of the waste (about 5 to 10 percent) have settled out to form a sludge layer on the tank bottom. The liquid waste is then heated to evaporate the water, thereby reducing its volume and crystallizing the solids as salt. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement Defense Waste Processing Facility (DOE 1994b) provides details on this process. The evaporated liquid is transferred to the F/H-Area Effluent Treatment Facility, which is designed to decontaminate routine process effluents from F- and H-Areas. The salt fraction is further processed by in-tank precipitation to separate it into a highly radioactive portion for vitrification at the Defense Waste Processing Facility (when it becomes operational) and a low radioactive salt solution that is stabilized and disposed of at the Z-Area Saltstone Facility.
Transuranic waste contains alpha-emitting radionuclides that have an atomic weight greater than uranium (92), half-lives greater than 20 years, and concentrations greater than 100 nanocuries per gram of waste. Before 1982, transuranic waste was defined as any waste containing transuranic radionuclides with concentrations in excess of 10 nanocuries per gram. Buried and stored wastes containing concentrations of transuranic radionuclides between 10 and 100 nanocuries per gram are now referred to as alpha-contaminated low-level waste (or "alpha waste" in this eis). Alpha waste is managed like transuranic waste because its physical and chemical characteristics are similar and because similar procedures will be used to determine its final disposition. SRS stores waste containing 10 to 100 nanocuries of alpha activity per gram with transuranic wastes until disposal requirements can be determined. Currently, there are no treatment facilities or disposal capacities for transuranic waste; however, DOE plans to retrieve, repackage, certify, and ship all transuranic wastes offsite for final disposition.
Historically, DOE used three types of retrievable storage for transuranic waste at SRS. Transuranic waste generated before 1974 is buried in approximately 120 below-grade concrete culverts in the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility. Transuranic waste generated between 1974 and 1986 is stored on five concrete pads and one asphalt pad that have been covered with approximately 1.2 meters (4 feet) of native soil. DOE stores waste generated since 1986 on 13 concrete pads that are not covered with soil. Transuranic waste includes waste mixed with hazardous waste which is stored on Pads 1 through 17 that operate under interim status approved by SCDHEC (Figures 3-20 and 3-29). DOE currently uses Pads 18 and 19 to manage nonhazardous transuranic wastes only. DOE filed for approval under a RCRA Part A permit application (to describe the waste and facilities) for additional storage of transuranic mixed waste on Pads 20 through 22, which are currently empty. All of these pads are located in the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility.
Hazardous waste is defined as any discarded materials that are either characteristically hazardous or are listed as hazardous under RCRA. Characteristically hazardous materials are corrosive, ignitable, reactive, or toxic. Wastes listed as hazardous include certain process wastes, solvents, and discarded commercial chemicals.
At SRS, hazardous waste is generated by routine facility operations and environmental restoration projects. Hazardous waste is temporarily stored at storage facilities (Figure 3-22) located in new buildings in B- and N-Areas, prior to shipment to permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
DOE began offsite shipments of hazardous wastes to treatment and disposal facilities in 1987. In 1990, DOE imposed a moratorium on shipments of hazardous waste that came from radiological materials areas or that had not been proven to be nonradioactive. SRS continues to send hazardous waste that is confirmed as not subject to the moratorium (e.g., recyclable solvents) offsite for recycling, treatment, or disposal.
Mixed waste contains both hazardous waste (subject to RCRA), and source, special nuclear, or byproduct material (subject to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954). Mixed waste is classified according to its radioactive component. Low-level mixed waste is managed with its hazardous components as its primary consideration, while high-level and transuranic mixed wastes are managed with their radioactive component as the primary consideration.
The SRS mixed waste program consists primarily of safely storing mixed wastes until treatment and disposal facilities are available. Mixed waste storage facilities are located in E-Area (Figure 3-23), N-Area, M-Area, S-Area, and A-Area. These facilities include Burial Ground Solvent Tanks S23 through S30, M-Area Process Waste Interim Treatment/Storage Facility (Figure 3-30), Savannah River Technology Center Mixed Waste Storage Tanks, and the Organic Waste Storage Tank (Figure 3-31).
DOE has also requested approval under RCRA for interim storage capacity at a pad in M-Area for treated M- Area sludge and stabilized ash and blowdown waste from the Consolidated Incineration Facility.
DOE is constructing the Consolidated Incineration Facility in H-Area to treat mixed, low-level, and hazardous waste. The Consolidated Incineration Facility is designed to annually process approximately 17,830 cubic meters (630,000 cubic feet) of solid waste (e.g., boxed mixed, low-level, or hazardous waste) at 50 percent utility and approximately 4,630 cubic meters (163,610 cubic feet) of liquid waste (e.g., liquid hazardous, mixed, and low-level waste) at 70 percent utility (Figure 3-32).
The SRS Tier Two Emergency and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Report (WSRC 1994b) for 1993 lists more than 225 hazardous chemicals that were present at some time during the year in excess of their respective minimum threshold level (10,000 pounds for hazardous chemicals and 500 pounds or less for extremely hazardous substances). Ten of these hazardous chemicals are designated as extremely hazardous substances under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. The actual number and quantity of hazardous chemicals present on SRS, as well as at individual facilities, change daily as inventories are used and replenished. The annual reports filed under the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act for the SRS facilities include year-to-year inventories of these chemicals.
The objective of the decontamination and decommissioning programs at SRS is to plan and implement the surveillance, maintenance, and cleanup of contaminated areas that are no longer needed by DOE. The program's goal is to ensure that risks to human health and safety and to the environment posed by these areas are eliminated or reduced to safe levels in a timely and cost-effective manner. This goal will be accomplished by cleaning up and reusing facilities, returning sites to greenfield conditions (in which the facility, its foundation, and the contaminated soil would be removed), or entombing facilities in concrete. The methods selected will determine the quantities of waste materials needing disposal. Decontamination and decommissioning methods have not been identified for most SRS facilities; the selection process would be subject to separate NEPA review. This section describes the surplus areas that will eventually be decontaminated and decommissioned and estimates the amount of waste that will be generated by decontamination and decommissioning.
There are more than 6,000 buildings at SRS that will eventually be declared surplus and will need to be decommissioned. As of April 1994, 2,862 of these facilities had been identified as surplus (WSRC 1994c). Two-hundred-thirty-four of the buildings are now surplus or will be within 5 years. Some of these facilities may be used in new missions, but others pose risks unless they are properly maintained and decommissioned.
SRS prepared a 30-year forecast of the amounts of wastes that would be generated by decontamination and decommissioning (WSRC 1994d). This forecast was based on a 5-year forecast that identified 53 facilities to be decontaminated and decommissioned between 1995 and 1999. Both forecasts relied on the Surplus Facility Inventory and Assessment Database dated March 4, 1994, which contains information on SRS facilities such as building size, type of construction, radiological characterization, and hazardous material characterization. The database is continuously updated as new information becomes available.
Facilities that need to be decontaminated and decommissioned have been categorized according to the types of work required (WSRC 1994e). These categories will ensure incorporation of on-the-job lessons learned and assignment of specialized work crews to similar projects across SRS. The following sections describe some tentative categories of facilities with common traits or factors.
Two-hundred-eleven buildings contain asbestos, including 142 buildings for which asbestos is the only contaminant present. The R-Area surplus buildings are the first ones scheduled for asbestos removal. Experience at these facilities will improve asbestos abatement at other SRS facilities.
Most of the surplus buildings have only small amounts of contamination. However, a few surplus facilities have more contamination, pose risks of releasing contaminants under special circumstances, or are located near large numbers of employees or near the SRS boundary. These facilities have been given a priority for immediate decontamination and decommissioning and are assigned to the higher risk facilities decommissioning program. Facilities in this program include the Separations Equipment Development Facility, the 235-F Plutonium Fabrication Facility, and the 232-F Tritium Manufacturing Building.
The buildings associated with nuclear reactors are included in the nuclear reactor facilities decommissioning program. The Heavy Water Component Test Reactor is the prototype for this program. By starting with a small facility, DOE can learn from experience and develop methods and procedures which will then be applied to the larger reactors.
Fifty-one high-level waste storage tanks and their ancillary equipment will eventually be decommissioned. Type I, II, and IV tanks will be closed in place once the waste (supernatant, saltcake, and sludge) stored in the tanks has been removed, prior to decontamination and decommissioning. Decontamination and decommissioning activities will include stabilizing residual waste, removing associated equipment and small buildings, and abandoning in place underground transfer lines and diversion boxes. Type III tanks, which have secondary containment, will be used during the waste vitrification process at the Defense Waste Processing Facility, which is expected to continue for 24 years. To date, waste has been removed from one high-level waste storage tank.
The separations facilities present the greatest challenge for decontamination and decommissioning because of their size, high levels of contamination, need for security, and process complexity. The transition of these facilities from operational status to one suitable for final disposition will require a long and expensive sequence of activities. The Separations Equipment Development facility (located within the Savannah River Technology Center) was shut down in 1978 and transferred to the DOE environmental restoration decontamination and decommissioning program in 1982 (see Section 184.108.40.206). Lessons learned from the decontamination and decommissioning of this facility will be used to develop procedures for the larger chemical separations facilities in F- and H-Areas.
Waste handling facilities will process waste generated by decontamination and decommissioning. The decontamination and decommissioning of these facilities cannot begin until this processing has been completed. However, there are a number of obsolete waste handling facilities that can be decommissioned sooner.
Facilities that do not fit into other categories are included in the miscellaneous facilities category. At this time only a few facilities (in M-, N-, and Z-Areas) have been assigned to this category. Other unique facilities will probably be added to the miscellaneous facilities category. Decontamination and decommissioning of these areas is not scheduled to begin until 1998.
Decontamination and decommissioning will generate large amounts of waste for a long period of time. These wastes will include equipment, rubble, contaminated clothing, and tools. Most of the quantitative data regarding waste generated by decontamination and decommissioning have been collected during the dismantling of plutonium production and processing facilities. The volumes of waste generated by decontaminating and decommissioning these facilities is expected to represent an upper estimate of the amount of waste generated because of the high contamination levels and special packaging requirements inherent in transuranic waste.
For plutonium-238 facilities, approximately 13 cubic meters (459 cubic feet) of solid waste per square meter (10.76 square feet) of contaminated floor area are generated by decontamination and decommissioning. Of this, approximately 50 percent is transuranic waste; the rest is low-level waste. Less than 0.03 cubic meters (1.05 cubic feet) is mixed waste (primarily lead shielding) per square meter of area (Smith and Hootman 1994; Hootman and Cook 1994).
For plutonium-239 processing facilities, approximately 4 cubic meters (141 cubic feet) of transuranic waste and 5 cubic meters (177 cubic feet) of low-level waste are generated per square meter (10.76 square feet) of contaminated floor during decontamination and decommissioning (Hootman and Cook 1994).
The fundamental goal of environmental restoration at SRS is to ensure that the environment is protected from further degradation caused by past activities, and that the safety and health of people exposed to the environment are protected. This goal is met through the cleanup of inactive facilities. "Cleanup" refers to actions taken to prevent the release or potential release of hazardous substances to the environment. These actions may involve complete removal of the substances from the environment; or stabilizing, containing, or treating the substances so that they do not affect human health or the environment.
In accordance with Section 120 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, DOE negotiated a Federal Facility Agreement with EPA and SCDHEC that organizes remedial activities at SRS into one comprehensive strategy that fulfills both RCRA corrective action requirements, including closure and post-closure of RCRA-regulated units, and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act investigation and remedial action requirements. Environmental restoration of inactive waste sites at SRS is controlled by the Federal Facility Agreement. The number of sites to be assessed and considered for cleanup under the Federal
Facility Agreement is estimated to be 420. Newly identified sites are still being added to Appendix G of the Federal Facility Agreement. Sites are listed in the following Federal Facility Agreement appendixes:
- Appendix C - Sites with known releases
- Appendix G - Sites with potential releases to be investigated
- Appendix H - Sites subject to RCRA
Each of these lists appears in Appendix G of this eis.
To date, DOE has prepared approximately 55 work plans detailing the proposed investigations for RCRA/Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act units identified in Appendix C of the Federal Facility Agreement. These work plans must be approved by EPA and SCDHEC prior to implementation. Eleven of the work plans have been approved. Additional site characterization and field sampling is underway at these units.
Of the 304 areas identified on the original Site Evaluation List (Appendix G of the Federal Facility Agreement), DOE has prepared site evaluation reports for 36 and received EPA and SCDHEC concurrence on 17 of the proposed response actions. Six closures of RCRA-regulated units (Appendix H of the Federal Facility Agreement) have been completed and approved by SCDHEC.
Each cleanup and closure will generate significantly different quantities of waste materials. Specific cleanup methods have not been identified for most of the SRS waste sites. The methods will be selected in accordance with procedures established by the Federal Facility Agreement and will be subject to separate NEPA review. The remainder of this section discusses the extent and type of site contamination in E-Area and hazardous and mixed waste sites.
Contamination of the shallow groundwater aquifers beneath the SRS with industrial solvents, metals, tritium, and other constituents, and contamination of the surface waters with tritium are discussed in Sections 3.3 and 3.4, respectively.
Six types of waste units are common to SRS. The descriptions for these waste sites are derived from Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey (1993).
The acid/caustic basins found in F-, H-, K-, L-, P-, and R-Areas are unlined earthen pits, approximately 15 meters by 15 meters by 2 meters (50 feet by 50 feet by 7 feet) deep, that received dilute sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide solutions used to regenerate ion-exchange units. Other wastes discharged to the basins included water rinses from the ion-exchange units, steam condensate, and runoff from containment enclosures for storage tanks. The dilute solutions are mixed and neutralized in the basins before they are discharged to nearby streams. Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near the acid/caustic basins include lead, cadmium, sulfates, nitrates, tritium, gross alpha radioactivity, nonvolatile beta radioactivity, technetium-99, and total dissolved solids (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993).
The basins were constructed between 1952 and 1954. The R-Area basin was abandoned in 1964, the L-Area basin in 1968, and the H-Area basin not until 1985. The other basins remained in service until new neutralization facilities became operational in 1982. The basins will be remediated in accordance with requirements of the Federal Facility Agreement; however, SRS and SCDHEC have not determined the level of cleanup that will be required.
From 1951 to 1973, wastes such as paper, wood, plastics, rubber, oil, degreasers, and drummed solvents were burned in one of the burning/rubble pits in A-, C-, D-, F-, K-, L-, N- (Central Shops), P-, or R-Areas. In 1973, the burning of waste stopped, and the bottoms of the pits were covered with soil. Rubble wastes including paper, wood, concrete, and empty galvanized-steel barrels and drums were then disposed of in the pits until they reached capacity and were covered with soil. All dumping into burning/rubble pits stopped by 1982, and all are covered except the R-Area pit, which has not been backfilled. These pits will be remediated in accordance with requirements of the Federal Facility Agreement. Work plans to fully characterize the extent of contamination at all of the pits have been submitted to EPA and SCDHEC. Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near the burning/rubble pits include lead and volatile organics (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993).
Electricity and steam at SRS are generated by burning coal, which is stored in open piles. The coal is generally moderate-to-low sulfur coal (1 to 2 percent), which is received by rail, placed on a hopper, sprayed with water to control dust, and loaded onto piles. Coal piles originally existed in A-, C-, D-, F-, H-, K-, L-, P-, and R-Areas. The coal pile in R-Area was removed in 1964, the L-Area coal pile was removed in 1968, and the coal piles in C- and F- Areas were removed in 1985. In 1991, the K-Area coal pile was reduced to a 2-inch base, and 75 percent of the P- Area coal pile was also removed. Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near the former coal piles include gross alpha radioactivity, nonvolatile beta radioactivity, volatile organics, sulfates, tritium, total dissolved solids, and lead (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993).
The coal piles generally contained a 90-day reserve of coal, which was not rotated; this resulted in long-term exposure to the weather. Chemical and biological oxidation of sulfur compounds in the coal during this weathering resulted in the formation of sulfuric acid.
To comply with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued in 1977, DOE built runoff containment basins around the coal piles in A- and D-Areas in October 1978, and around the coal piles in the C-, F-, H-, K-, and P-Areas in March 1981.
Currently, rainwater runoff from the remaining coal piles in several areas (A, D, H, K, and P) flows into the coal pile runoff containment basins via ditches and sewers. The basins allow mixing of the water runoff with seepage below the surface, thus preventing the discharge of large surges of low pH (acidic) runoff into streams. All the basins are functional, including those in C- and F-Areas which still collect runoff, although no coal remains at either location. These basins will be remediated in accordance with requirements of the Federal Facility Agreement.
Disassembly basins were constructed adjacent to each reactor to store irradiated reactor fuel and target rods prior to their shipment to the separations areas. The disassembly basins are concrete-lined tanks containing water. Although the irradiated assemblies were rinsed before being placed in the basins, some radioactivity was released to the water from the film of liquid on the irradiated components, the oxide corrosion film on the irradiated components, and infrequently, from leaks in porous components. Sand filters were used to remove radioactive particulates from the disassembly basin water. Filtered basin water was circulated through chemical filters (deionizers) to remove additional constituents and was periodically purged through regenerated deionizers to the reactor seepage basins. The disassembly basin then was filled with clean water.
Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near the disassembly basins include lead, tritium, and alkalinity (as calcium carbonate) (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993). The disassembly basins will be remediated in accordance with the Federal Facility Agreement.
Since 1957, active reactor seepage basins have received purged water with low-level radioactivity from disassembly basins. This water purge is necessary to keep the tritium concentration in disassembly basin water within safe levels for operating personnel. Although many radionuclides have been discharged to the basins, almost all of the radioactivity is due to tritium and small amounts of strontium-90, cesium-137, and cobalt-60. Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near the reactor seepage basins include alkalinity (as calcium carbonate), lead, tritium, gross alpha radioactivity, nonvolatile beta radioactivity, nitrates, volatile organics, mercury, potassium-40, and strontium-90 (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993).
Before the use of sand filters began in the 1960s (see Section 220.127.116.11), purge water was pumped directly from the disassembly basins to the seepage basins. From 1970 to 1978, the seepage basins for active reactors were bypassed, and the filtered, deionized purge water was discharged directly into nearby streams. In 1978, the seepage basins for C-, L-, and P-Reactors were reactivated. The K-Reactor Seepage Basin was used from 1957 to 1960 only. The R-Area seepage basins have been filled and covered with asphalt. The K- and R-Area Reactor seepage basins will be remediated in accordance with the Federal Facility Agreement.
Beginning in 1980, the sewage sludge application sites were the subject of a research program using domestic sewage sludge to reclaim borrow pits and to enhance forest productivity. After sludge was applied to the sites according to the provisions of a SCDHEC permit, hardwoods and pines were planted to determine whether sludge could be used as a fertilizer and soil amendment to increase wood production. Constituents identified as exceeding standards in monitoring wells near these sites include gross alpha radioactivity, nonvolatile beta radioactivity, radium-226, radium-228, and lead (Arnett, Karapatakis, and Mamatey 1993). These sludge application sites will be remediated in accordance with the Federal Facility Agreement. Work plans to fully characterize the extent of contamination at the K-Area and Par Pond sites have been submitted to EPA and SCDHEC.
The Burial Ground Complex (E-Area) occupies about 1.3 square kilometers (330 acres) in the central part of SRS between F- and H-Areas. The Burial Ground Complex is divided into a northern area containing 1 square kilometer (254 acres) and a southern area containing 0.3 square kilometer (76 acres). The southern area is known as the Old Radioactive Waste Burial Ground; it was a trench disposal area that began receiving waste in 1952 and was filled in 1972. After 1973, wastes were disposed of in the northern disposal area (Figure 3-33).
Disposal in the northern area of the Burial Ground Complex, referred to as the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility, continues. In 1986, it was determined that hazardous wastes may have been placed in certain areas of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility. These areas were designated as the Mixed Waste Management Facility (Figure 3-33). Since that time, DOE has determined that additional areas of the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility contain solvent rags; these areas have been added to the Mixed Waste Management Facility. The Mixed Waste Management Facility includes shallow, unlined trenches in which various low-level radioactive wastes containing solvents and metals were placed. A RCRA Closure Plan was approved by SCDHEC for the original Mixed Waste Management Facility in 1987; closure was completed in December 1990, and SCDHEC issued the closure certification in April 1991. Closure of the portions of the Mixed Waste Management Facility that contain the solvent rags is pending.
Hazardous substances, including cadmium, lead, mercury, tritium, and volatile organic compounds, have been detected in groundwater beneath the Mixed Waste Management Facility. The shallow aquifer contains levels of tritium, trichloroethylene, and tetrachloroethylene that exceed EPA's primary drinking water standards (Figures 3-33 and 3-34).
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