“Fission Products” and “Reactor Control Rods”
Typically the most damning contamination findings come in dense scientific reports that require a keen eye to find data related to Brandeis-Bardin if, that is, it exists at all. Another such report arrived January 20, 2016. The 239 page study [36.98 MB] for the Department of Energy was called “Department of Energy (DOE) RCRA Facility Investigation Groundwater Work Plan Portions of Area IV under DOE Responsibility.”
A trio of Brandeis-Bardin wells called RD-59A, RD-59B and RD-59C has yielded some shocking results with Area IV’s nuclear contamination fingerprints. “The cluster is located below the escarpment with groundwater flow from the mountain resulting in a generally upward gradient,” the report says. “The heads of B and C are above the ground surface and result in flowing artesian conditions.”
They also result in some extraordinary readings. RD-59A, monitored from 1989 to 2011, had a high for radioactive tritium with a reading of 110 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). “No SSFL operations occurred off-site,” read the report before making an incredible leap of logic. “Tritium detection frequency and activity confirm that there are no tritium off-site sources. No future action is required for off-site wells.”
Later in the report, RD-59A is recorded as having a filtered reading of Cadmium-113m of 9,700 pCi/L. The well is subsequently recommended for future sampling because “Cadmium-113m neutron activation of Cadmium-112 used in reactor control rods – possibly site process related.” [Report emphasis] Presumably, “site process related” means that it came from SSFL activities.
RD-59B also directly tied Area IV’s radiation contamination spreading offsite in Brandeis-Bardin’s groundwater. The well tested positive for radioactive Tin-126. The report advocated continued testing of this well too. “Tin-126 is a fission product and is possibly site process related.” [Report emphasis]
Nothing says radioactive contamination more than finding a “possibly site process related” isotope directly related to nuclear reactors downhill from Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Yet nothing is what AJU has had to say about it. Either Brandeis-Bardin representatives had no clue of the findings or they did know these astonishing results and chose not to share them.
Neither explanation can account for the institution’s howling of certainty that its property has not been impacted by SSFL by one iota. The information kept on coming, courtesy of the department supposedly in charge of the Rocketdyne cleanup, a government agency also apparently blind to the data that the DOE created.
New Toxic Fluoride Levels in Brandeis-Bardin Groundwater
DTSC sent EnviroReporter.com an email “DTSC-SSFL Document Upload Notification: SSFL NASA Area I LOX and Area II Groundwater Monitoring Report Third Quarter 2016” with a link to the report [1,180 PDF pages; 17.3 MB] November 30, 2016. “Monitoring wells RD-68A and RD-68B and seep well SP-29B are the only wells located offsite that were sampled during the third quarter 2016,” the report says of these wells which are on Brandeis-Bardin property. “Fluoride was detected above the SSFL comparison level of 0.8 mg/L [milligrams per liter] at RD-68B and SP-29B at concentrations of 0.97 mg/L and 4.8 mg/L, respectively.”
While fluoride might seem an innocuous chemical added to drinking water to fight cavities, or a threat to “precious bodily fluids” as comically suggested in Dr. Strangelove, it is hazardous at high levels.
Artesian well SP-29B’s 4.8 milligrams/liter of water more than doubles California’s MCL for the chemical. A reading of 4.2 mg/L in the same well in the 1st Quarter shows that the toxic level of fluoride in Brandeis-Bardin water has increased.
“Samples collected from SP-29B were submitted for radionuclide analysis during third quarter 2016,” the NASA report added. “Nine individual radionuclides were detected, for which there are screening criteria for only five of these analytes (gross alpha, gross beta, gross beta-decanted, uranium-233/234, and uranium-238).” Actual levels of the radiation weren’t provided. The report also didn’t list exactly what the other four radionuclides were or their amounts either.
Fluoride might seem an odd chemical to find at such high levels in Brandeis-Bardin gurgling out of its artesian water. Yet according to an April 14, 1983 Rockwell International memo obtained by EnviroReporter.com entitled “LETF Fluoride Incident, 3 March through 31 March 1983,” contaminated water from the Bowl Area [R-1] and Perimeter Pond reservoirs at SSFL was sprayed on the surrounding area dirt to bring down the levels of fluoride.
“I originally proposed this spray disposal system during the mid summer fluoride incident of June 1981 to evaporate the large volume of contaminated water at R-1,” wrote C. E. Winzer in the “Internal Letter” to L. D. Schmued. “[C]ontinued spraying with fluoride reduction due to salt formation afforded the most suitable treatment process. Run-off from this spray was monitored daily for magnitude and reduction.”
According to the US National Council on Research, toxic concentrations of fluoride in drinking water can lead to weakened bones and cause hip and wrist fractures. In Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’s Standards (2006), the council said fractures occur at fluoride levels of 1 to 4 mg/L. Brandeis-Bardin’s artesian levels of fluoride were found in excess of this in samples pulled twice in 2016. The hazards of fluoride at high levels has been known for decades. Clinically-significant renal dysfunction is possible with fluoride drinking water levels of 1 ppm according to “Metabolism and renal effect of enflurane in men” in the journal Anesthesiology in 1976.