COMMENTS ON RI/FS-EIS FOR THE TONAWANDA, NEW YORK FUSRAP SITE by James M. Rauch 2-10-94 The following comments on the Tonawanda EIS are submitted in accordance with NEPA. The comments are divided into four parts: general comments on the total document package and the timing of its release, and comments on each of the document components - the Remedial Investigation Report (RI) for the Tonawanda Site, February 1993 (BNI), the Baseline Risk Assessment (BRA) for the Tonawanda Site, August 1993 (SAIC), and the Feasibility Study - Proposed Plan (FS-PP) for the Tonawanda Site, November 1993 (SAIC). Specific comments are numbered and cross-referenced to general comment(s) where appropriate to substantiate the general comments. GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE PROCESS 1) Last winter I attended a meeting led by Site Manager Ron Kirk at the newly opened DOE Tonawanda office where background on the site was presented and questions were answered. I entered my name on a DOE mailing list and expressed an interest in the site remediation process. The RI was not available at that time, but it was mentioned that the FS would be available in the Fall at which time the public would have the opportunity to comment at public hearing. Notice of the release of the FS-PP was received 11-10-93. The FS-PP was immediately requested directly from Oak Ridge. The FS-PP arrived on 11-17-93, two weeks before the scheduled public hearing on 12-1-93. At the time of the hearing many people who had requested the FS-PP still had not received it. Several commenters requested more time to review the document, and requested additional hearings. Only a thirty day extension of the comment period was granted. The FS states that the RI and BRA are incorporated by reference in the EIS package. After several requests to the DOE Tonawanda Office, a copy each of the RI and BRA were made available on 11-24-93. The material contained in these two documents contains important site-related information which is essential to the NEPA public review process. Considerable time is required to review and digest these documents. Why were interested parties not notified by letter of the availability of these important documents as they were completed? This release procedure has placed severe time constraints on commenters, and has significantly reduced the opportunity for meaningful public participation in the NEPA review process. Pursuant to this, how many copies of the RI and BRA have been distributed to the public, and when? 2) None of the three documents contains adequate internal references or cross-references to the others. Many statements and assumptions are made without providing a substantiating reference or referral to supporting RI data. Internal references to material in other locations is often general and does not specify page or section. Reference is sometimes made to a table or figure which does not contain the information described in the text. The RI in particular is poorly organized. It is sometimes difficult or impossible to associate tables and figures with relevant text, and vice versa. 3) The RI and BRA in particular contain numerous errors. Some of these are typographical and/or transcription errors; others are incorrect or misleading statements. COMMENTS ON THE REMEDIAL INVESTIGATION 4) Pg 1-2 : FUSRAP was initiated in 1974. The Tonawanda properties were designated for remediation on the following dates: Linde, 2-80; Ashland 1 and Seaway, 6-84; and Ashland 2, 10-84. DOE Order 5400.4 requires responses to releases or potential imminent releases to be conducted in accordance with CERCLA. A stated objective of the program is the mitigation of any immediate hazards associated with site conditions (pg 1-5). Why was the waste pile on the Linde property, which was consolidated west of Building 90 in 1979-82, not covered until 1992? In view of early indications of contamination at Ashland 2 (aerial surveys and ORNL 1980), why was the Ashland Oil Company allowed to continue moving wastes to Ashland 2 through 1982? 5) Pg 1-4 : The statement is made "DOE decided to include Seaway in the RI/FS-EIS process with the other Tonawanda properties to minimize the effort involved with meeting the procedural and documentation requirements of NEPA and CERCLA." In actuality, an attempt to segment Seaway and deal with it separately and quickly through the establishment of an on-site cell (to accommodate BFI, the landfill operator) was rebuffed by strong local government/public opposition. (See general comment 3) 6) Pg 1-5,6 : The statement is made "DOE has determined that an EIS is the appropriate level of NEPA review necessary to adequately inform decision-makers and the public of reasonable alternatives for minimizing any adverse impacts of the proposed action at the Tonawanda site. ... DOE's CERCLA/NEPA integration policy is not intended to represent a statement on the legal applicability of NEPA to remedial actions under CERCLA." If DOE has determined that an EIS is required, and it has, then DOE must adhere to NEPA requirements. (See general comment 3) 7) Pg 1-6 : The reference for the WP-IP, listed in the references section as NEPA/CERCLA Work Plan - Implementation Plan (8-93) is incorrectly given here as (BNI, 1992c), and as (BNI, 1992b) in Appendix D-1. The work was to be performed between 11-90 and 5-91. How is it that the WP-IP comes after the RI? (See general comments 2 and 3) 8) Pg 1-7 : The Niagara River flows northeast past the site, not northwest. (See general comment 3). Compass directions are not specified as being relative to Ashland Grid North in either the text or the figures, causing confusion with compass north. 9) Pg 1-22 : What specifically were the results of the 1958 radiological survey conducted by AEC (referred to in ORNL, 1978b) which prompted AEC to release Ashland 1 for unrestricted use? 10) Pg 1-26 : What are the locations and the results of soil sampling at two locations on Ashland 2 performed by ORNL in 1980? 11) Pg 1-32 : Groundwater at Seaway: the results of Wehran (1979), although limited to analysis of non-radiological contaminants, indicate that leachate from the landfill is migrating both downward into deeper layers and outward with discharge to surface drainage. In view of this, why wasn't the full length of the southern drainage channel which borders the Seaway landfill on the south (and empties into the Niagara River), sampled? This channel lies directly downslope from unsampled disposal areas `B' and `C'. Analysis of samples from area `A' indicates depletion of the more mobile radionuclides Ra-226 and U-238. 12) Review of Tables A-11 and A-16 indicates a very non-uniform (heterogeneous) distribution of radiological contamination, the volume of which has not been adequately characterized. For example, in Seaway area `A', auger holes B23R009, B23R012, B23R013 and B23015 had Th-230 levels ranging from 11 to 180 pCi/g at the bottom of the hole. Similarly, sampling is insufficient to adequately define the nature and extent of contamination in Area `D'. Areas 'B' and `C' were not characterized. It appears that the areal extent of contamination of the surface soil layer and, in particular, the subsurface soil layers is inadequately defined, especially at Ashland 2 and Seaway. How accurate are estimates of contaminated volumes at each of the properties? (See comments 44 and 62) 13) Pg 1-52 : Figure 10: Where are the results for the sediment samples from locations M14, M15, and M16 along Two Mile Creek downstream of Linde? There appears to be no data between locations 2 and 3 in this drainage. It does not appear that this drainage has been adequately sampled, nor has the Niagara River itself, especially considering the significant activities discharged. 14) Pg 1-67 : Water sampling at location W-7 in the western drainage area of Seaway between Murphy Motor Freight Line and the Weigh Station indicates Ra-226 levels at three to ten times background. Was this area and the entire drainage system through to the Niagara River gamma surveyed and/or soil sampled? Parts of Seaway area `A', portions of which remain uncovered, are within this drainage and present significant potential for erosion to the Niagara River. 15) Pg 1-67,68 : ORNL 1978 Data locations W-8 and M-8 (Tables 1-4 and 1-5) could not be found on any figure. Where are they? (See general comment 2) 16) Pg 3-15 : Climatological data: The three year (1987-89) precipitation average, 35.2 inches, from the recent NWS station at North Tonawanda is not representative of current trends being witnessed at the Buffalo NWS in the moving 30-year average, reported on pg 3-4 as 37.5 inches (for 1951 through 1980) and most recently as 38.58 inches (for 1961 through 1990). For the same 1987-89 period, the Buffalo NWS averaged 40.6 inches. The North Tonawanda location is less representative of actual conditions at the site than the Buffalo location. Precipitation amounts decrease rather quickly as one goes north from the southern tip of Grand Island. The North Tonawanda NWS is roughly five miles north of the Tonawanda sites. Lewiston, N.Y., ten miles to the north, averages 30 inches per year. To the extent that use of the three-year North Tonawanda figure biases the calculation of percolation and runoff (up to 10%), contaminant migration involving these processes is underestimated. 17) Pg 3-25 : The text refers to (Kappel 1992). This reference does not appear in the reference section. (See general comment 2) 18) Pg 3-35 : Unconsolidated material: The varved lacustrine clay is described as "very thin locally," for example, three feet thick at bore hole B55G48 at the southern end of Seaway. The possibility of discontinuity in this layer at Seaway cannot be discounted. Discontinuities do occur at Ashland 1 and 2. When coupled with desiccation cracking of the clay unit, piping of particles (approximately 1 foot/day, pg 3-46), sand lenses in the overlying till and zones of fine-grained sands in the underlying glaciolacustrine unit which have higher hydraulic conductivity, the route to the contact zone aquifer may be complete. Over the long term, DOE scenarios ruling out this pathway are not justified. In fact, DOE does not adequately address long-term groundwater impacts either here or at the Linde injection wells or the properties in general. 19) Pg 3-40 : Geochemical Properties of Soil: Table 3-5 lists uranium distribution ratios (Kd) determined from soil samples collected at Ashland 1 and 2. The varved clay is characterized by only one sample. This table has entries for which no Kd values are given. Were these samples not analyzed? Based on this data, which ranged from 5 to 29 (cm3/g), an average value of 10 was selected. Despite the fact that Kd values are contaminant-specific, site-specific Kds were not determined for Ra-226 or Th-230. A review of the distribution coefficient data (distribution coefficient closely approximates distribution ratio) in Table 5-1 (pg 5-35) reveals considerable variability in this important parameter. For example, Gee et al. l980 reported a Kd for U-238 at pH 7.7 of 23,000 (cm3/g), while Rancon l973 reported a value of 100 (at pH 8), a difference of approximately two and a half orders of magnitude. Most significantly, Gee reports a Kd of 2400 for Ra-226 at pH 7.7, a value roughly ten times smaller than that of U-238 at pH 7.7. This may reasonably be interpreted as an indication that the Kd of Ra-226 at Tonawanda is approximately l cm3/g. Erroneous Kd values (too large) will seriously underestimate radionuclide mobility. Anionic composition of the radionuclides is not given. Table 5-4 indicates moderately high solubility for both radium nitrate and thorium sulfate. Based on this data and data in Table 5-2, thorium mobility may be underestimated, and radium mobility is likely to be greater than, not less than, that of uranium. 20) Pg 3-40 : Measured cation exchange capacities for the till, varved clay, and glaciolacustrine deposits show considerable variability, from 30 to 485 meq/100g. It is unclear whether each of the three ranges given results from samples from all three soil units or if each range applies to one each of the soil units; it is also stated that these results are being verified. Please explain. Is it not realistic to expect this range of non-uniformity across the soil types? Since this exchange capacity is an important parameter in determining the mobility of the radionuclides, assumptions made here may introduce a ten-fold error. 21) Pg 4-2 : Radioactive Constituents of Interest: The statement is made "Radionuclides in these operations [uranium ore processing operations conducted at Linde] come from the uranium-238, uranium-235, and thorium-232 decay chains. Therefore, based on a review of the decay chains and previous survey information uranium-238, radium-226, thorium-232, and thorium-230 were selected as indicator radionuclides. ...Because the primary radiological constituent of the American and African ores is natural uranium, thorium-232 (which is not in the uranium decay chain) is not expected to be in abundance in the ores or their residues." Later, and also in the FS (pg 2-3), it is claimed that Th-232 was not present in the MED ores, but since both slag and fly ash (used as surface fill at Linde and to a lesser extent at Ashland 1) are "suspected sources of heavy metals and radionuclides including Th-232," DOE has chosen Th-232 as an indicator the presence of which in an area is used to exclude the area from DOE cleanup responsibility. This EIS contains no inventories of what was received at the site or residue characterization references (other than the Aerospace 1981 effluent characterization which has been requested but not yet received) to support the assumption that no Th-232 was present in the ores. The lack of such specific information regarding the radionuclide composition of the ores is a serious shortcoming. A considerably more sophisticated study would be necessary to begin to determine the relative contamination contributions from the ores versus the slag/fly ash. Without such information, DOE has no justification for excluding such areas of Th-232 contamination from both chemical and radionuclide remediation. As explained on pg 1-2, "Under FUSRAP, DOE assumes responsibility for: managing any chemical contamination at the Tonawanda site that is mixed with radioactive contamination or that resulted from activities conducted for MED." 22) Linde processed both African ore (high in radium content) and American ores (lower in radium, partly because they had already been subject to vanadium extraction), and therefore the site has contamination resulting from both ore streams. It is stated "The other three properties have contamination originating from the American ores only" since the African ore wastes were shipped to Lewiston, N.Y. (the Niagara Falls Storage Site). Of course, the high radium African ore effluents were discharged to the sanitary sewers, and the storm sewers which drain into Two Mile Creek and subsequently the Niagara River. Other than estimates of the activities of the uranium and Ra-226 in these effluents, characterization of the nature and activities of other radionuclides (e.g. Th-230) is not given. The ultimate fate and impacts of these discharges is not presented. Sampling of sediments in Two Mile Creek downstream of Linde and in the Niagara River at Two Mile Creek is either insufficient or totally lacking. This is inadequate for purposes of NEPA. 23) Pg 4-4 : An exclusionary procedure is described which "will be used in part to differentiate soils contaminated by MED filter cake from soils contaminated by other industrial processes (e.g., refinery operations) that may contain metals at above-background concentrations." The basis of this exclusion is "a direct one-to-one correlation between high concentrations of vanadium and lead and high levels of radionuclides (greater than guidelines for all three radionuclides [emphasis added] of interest)." Since some of the data indicates that radionuclides may be differentially removed (transported) from contaminated areas (pg 7-26), according to FUSRAP (see comment 21) the presence of a single radionuclide above guidelines should require cleanup of such areas. 24) Pg 4-5 : Background Concentrations, Soils: The selection of Ashland 2 South for determination of background levels of radionuclides and metals is not appropriate. Ashland 2 South lies directly downwind, both in relation to predominant wind direction and maximum wind speed, from the original pile areas on Ashland 1 and may have received airborne deposition. Also, previous surface drainage patterns from Ashland 1 may have contaminated portions of Ashland 2 from which some of the `background' samples were taken (see results for locations GS-1 and SP-12). Representative area-wide background values for radionuclides reported by ORAU 1981 are significantly lower (roughly 50%) than the values from Ashland 2 South. The ORAU values should have been used as the background radionuclide levels. Why weren't they? 25) Pg 4-6 : Background Concentrations, Sediment: It is not clear what background sediment values are used for the four properties. Are they the values given for location 113 at Ashland 1 (Table 4-35)? The proximity of sediment sampling locations GS-5 and 113 to the original piles and roads makes them suspect. 26) Pg 4-6 : Background Concentrations, Groundwater: It is unclear what the sitewide radiological and nonradiological background values are. Figure 3-20 shows two wells as background, B55W36D, and B55W35S. Are the background radionuclide values those footnoted in Table 4-71? If so, what is the Th-230 value? 27) Pg 4-7 : Guidance Values: DOE guidelines (order 5400.5, Table 4-3) for residual radioactive contamination incorporate assumptions and scenarios that are not sufficiently protective of public health and the environment under plausible current or future conditions at the Tonawanda sites. These sites currently are surrounded by an area of dense human population and activity. Current land use plans propose intensified human presence and activity at the sites. Owing to the rich physical attributes of the area (e.g., Great Lakes), it is a virtual certainty that in the long term, this pattern of increased human presence and activity will prevail. It cannot be assumed that planning, or institutional controls, should they be claimed as risk management tools, will be maintained throughout the duration of the hazardous period (500,000 years). The DOE soil guidelines will allow average post-remediation exposures of 100 mrem per year above background, with smaller hotspots (less than 25 square meters) having up to 30 times this rate. This hotspot exemption must be eliminated. The proposed post-remediation basic dose limit can be expected to produce excess stochastic effect risks (cancers, genetic damage) that are approximately 33% higher than the background cancer risks. [Assuming the lifetime background cancer risk, 1 x 10-2 (EPA 1989a), results from a lifetime average dose of 300 mrem/yr, a 100 mrem/yr increment in dose exposure (the target post-remediation basic dose limit) translates into a 33% increase in cancer risk or a lifetime risk of 1.7 x 10-2. BEIR V predicts a similar result. See comments 59 and 60 also.] Obviously, this is unacceptable. In an area such as this, where future reconstruction activities are a given, setting subsurface (greater than six inches) remediation standards (15 pCi/g) for Ra-226, Th-230, and Th-232 at a level three times the surface (first six inches) standard (5 pCi/g) makes no sense. The derived concentration guidelines (DCGs) for water allow similar exposure rates and are therefore also unacceptable. This discussion leads to the inescapable conclusion that the basic dose limit for the Tonawanda site must be no more than 10 mrem per year above background as prescribed in New York State TAGM-4003. It is conceivable that in retrospect even this post-remediation incremental level of exposure, resulting in a 3.3% increased risk of cancers and genetic effects, will be viewed as unwise, especially with regard to the nature of the hazard and its indefinite duration. 28) Pg 4-81 : The extent of contamination within the watershed of the drainage ditch on Ashland 2, which enters the Niagara River at sampling point SP-7, and the SP-7 area itself, has not been adequately determined. 29) Pg 4-83 : Nature and Extent of Contamination in Groundwater: At a meeting last winter at the Tonawanda office, in response to questions concerning the fate of the effluent injected into the Linde wells and possible remediation, Site Manager Ron Kirk said that the injected effluent was "gone," implying there was nothing to remediate. An opposite conclusion based on numerous assumptions is presented in section 4.3. The suggestion (pg 4-28) that injected effluent remains confined to a limited injection zone is not adequately supported by results from just two offset wells. Because "no detailed chemical analysis is available for the effluents disposed of by injection" (pg 4-89), it is impossible to accurately determine the extent of precipitate formation. The fact that an offset bore hole #1 core showed 176 pCi/g of U-238 and 1.3 pCi/g of Ra-226 (pg 428), when compared with an estimated 3 Ci of uranium and 5.5 Ci of Ra-226 injected, may indicate migration of radium. The injection scenario remains obscure. It is suggested that the effluent plume may have entered the glaciofluvial deposits and based on combined glaciofluvial (5.5 ft/yr) and Salina bedrock (24 ft/yr) groundwater flow velocities, it is further suggested that the area of contamination may extend laterally for 300 to 1200 feet (pg 4-87). The glaciofluvial estimate of flow velocity may be too low. Page 3-38 states that this unit is conservatively assumed to be composed of "coarse-grained materials (sand)", yet the 5.5 ft/yr estimate of groundwater velocity incorporates an estimate of hydraulic conductivity (lower) for silty sand (pg 3-53). (Contact-zone groundwater velocity at Seaway was estimated at 82 ft/yr.) Page 4-87 indicates that analysis of radiological and chemical contaminants in the contact-zone is being refined and will be included in a later technical memorandum. This is insufficient. The information presented in the RI does not adequately define the injected effluent or its fate, and the resulting long-term impacts. The purposes of NEPA review are not satisfied. 30) Pg 5-22 : Perched Groundwater System: The significance of lateral migration in the perched groundwater system may be seriously underestimated. Despite evidence of widespread heterogeneity in the composition of the till, water flow models are developed which emphasize the unlikelihood of contaminant migration to deeper aquifers (see comment 18) while tending to ignore the higher horizontal groundwater velocities (26 ft/yr, to 1049 ft/yr at Seaway) in the perched system. There are too few wells to characterize migration in this non-uniform till, therefore risk modeling for this exposure pathway is insufficient for the long term, especially considering the indefinite duration of the hazard. 31) Pg 7-5 : The conclusion is drawn that uranium concentrations in the groundwater are below the DOE DCG, ignoring the fact that a Ra-226 concentration in well B29W09D exceeded the DOE drinking water guideline of 5 pCi/l. This establishes the need for further analysis of groundwater impacts as well as the evaluation and presentation of potential remediation techniques. (See comments 29 and 50) 32) Pg 7-37 : Infiltration into the Seaway Reinforced Concrete Pipe: This continues to be a route for migration of MED contaminants from both Ashland 1 and Seaway to Ashland 2 and beyond. The need to seal the RCP and prevent flow along its trench has long been obvious, but Table 7-2 indicates action to be taken by the owner by an "undetermined" time. When? This situation is allowing uncontrolled release of both radiological and non- radiological MED wastes. (See comment 4) 33) Pg 7-54 : In a chart of Data Limitations and Future Work at the Tonawanda Site (Table 7-2), item (2) is Two Mile Creek dredgings. Future work to be done is described as "Walkover gamma scan of the Town of Tonawanda landfill and collection of soil samples. Collection of Two Mile Creek bed core samples." The estimated date of completion is given as "Completed in 1992," yet page 7-36 (dated 12-28-92) describes these activities as "future work". This information could not be found in a review of the FS. The EIS is incomplete and insufficient for public review without such information. 34) Pg 7-38 : Designation of Vicinity Properties: Investigation of properties contaminated, or possibly contaminated, by MED wastes is incomplete. No report is given on the extent of likely contamination at R.P. Adams directly adjacent to Linde on the north or the extent of contamination at the Town of Tonawanda landfill (resulting from suspected disposal there of contaminated sewage treatment plant sludge). To what extent were the sewer effluent contaminants concentrated and retained in the sewer plant sludges? Elsewhere in the RI, reference is made to gamma surveys, indicating that contamination extends beyond the surveyed areas at Ashland 2 and onto the G.K. Hambleton and Benson Development Co. properties. Why were these properties not studied? The material presented is insufficient for the purposes of NEPA review. 35) Pg C-19, Appendix C : Soil Classifications Table: Percents passing no. 400 sieve are given as greater than percents passing no. 200 sieve. (See general comment 3) 36) Pg D-15, Appendix D : Quality Assurance and Quality Control Evaluation: It is stated "the only factor thought to have a potentially significant impact on representativeness was holding time violations, which would produce an underestimate of sample concentrations." Previously, page 4-3 states "because radioactive decay is a random process, no precise correlation between the rate of disintegration and a given radionuclide concentration can be established; therefore, the exact concentration of the radionuclide cannot be determined." Do these statements imply that the counting times for determinations of radionuclide concentrations were insufficient in some cases? 37) Pg 4-8 : QA/QC rejection of thallium, selenium, and boron metal analyses due to improper analytical procedures has resulted in a data gap in the target metals. COMMENTS ON THE BASELINE RISK ASSESSMENT 38) Pg 1-3 : Radiological Sources: Th-232 is listed, instead on Th-230, in description of procedure for identifying contaminated areas and subareas. (See general comment 3) 39) Pg 1-4 : Exclusion of storm sewer, sanitary sewer, sump and drainage basin sediment radionuclide data at Linde from the "no action" risk assessment underestimates risk resulting from plausible scenarios involving sewer or maintenance workers or future reconstruction activities. Lack of relevant sediment data for the drainage pathway from Linde (large 9 ft by 7 ft twin-conduit underground pipe that discharges to Two Mile Creek through the face of Sheridan Park Lake dam) is not sufficient reason to exclude this pathway. Existing contaminated sediments and future releases to Two Mile Creek may be masked by larger sediment loadings from upstream. These contaminated sediments may be uncovered and reconcentrated by stream flows in a manner similar to that described for Cattaraugus Creek in the September, 1991 "Aerial Radiological Survey of the West Valley Demonstration Project and Surrounding Area" performed in 1984 by EG&G. 40) Pg 1-5 : Why is the inadequately characterized drainage ditch along the Ashland 2 access road leading to contaminated location SP-7 not included as a radiological source? 41) Pg 1-6 : Despite the fact that buried Seaway areas `B' and `C' are likely to be large contributors to contaminated surface discharges from the landfill (principally via the reinforced concrete pipe [RCP] carrying Rattlesnake Creek beneath Seaway to Niagara Mohawk and Ashland 2 - this part of the RI work plan was not completed), this source is also not included as a radiological source. Why not? The lack of chemical sampling at Seaway is a major data gap which precludes any meaningful assessment of chemical risks at this property. 42) Pg 1-8 : Ra-226 and uranium are given as the "principal radioactive materials in the liquid effluent (Aerospace 1981)." What activities of other radionuclides , such as Th-230 and Th-232, were present? The Curie amounts of uranium and Ra-226 given as having been released to the storm drains, sanitary sewer and injection wells indicate that the average concentration of Ra-226 released to the injection wells and storm drains was about 3.5 times higher than that released to the sanitary sewer. Is this correct? Does it mean that predominantly African ore effluents were discharged via these routes? There is no risk analysis for these unaccounted storm drain and sanitary sewer discharges. No mention is made of the Two Mile Creek dredgings in the radiological source and risk analysis. In each case, why not? 43) Pg 1-12 : Time Period : It is stated that "Because DOE is responsible for the cleanup of the site and is committed to pursuing a timely response, the time period considered as the hypothetical future in this assessment of risks for the "no action" alternative is the immediate future (i.e., the next 150 years). Thus, further dispersal of contaminants that would occur over very long time periods has not been considered in the BRA." This is an almost insignificant time period relative to the hazardous life of the MED radiological contaminants. The effect is to discount future dispersal and associated increases in exposures. The statement also reflects inadequate characterization of the properties and the limitations involved in the application of layers of assumptions based on site homogeneity. Also, this assessment assumes "the retention of existing institutional controls (e.g., access restrictions and monitoring) up to the next 100 years." In view of the area land use master plan, this assumption is not conservative at any of the properties. 44) Pg 2-2 : Radiological Data Evaluation: Both aerial gamma mapping and ground gamma surveys are referred to but no references are given either here or in the RI. Please identify these reports so that they may be reviewed. It is unclear whether the ground surveys utilized protocols (instrument sensitivity, grid spacing, counting times, etc.) which would insure 100% surface coverage. A major concern is non-detection of subsurface contaminant deposits due to shielding by overlying soil material (Pg 5-8). 45) Pg 2-2 : Th-230 is not included in the list of radionuclides (Th-232, Ra-226, U-238) whose soil concentrations were analyzed. It is assumed that this is an oversight. (See general comment 3) 46) Pg 2-2 : The aggregation of sediment and surface water data across all drainages may significantly under-represent the risk in the most contaminated area for the transient child scenario, even in the RME case. 47) Pg 2-2 : Because the American ores were subject to pre-processing involving vanadium/radium extraction, the assumption of equilibrium activities for Ra-226 through Po-210 is not strictly correct. Lead-210 (t1/2, 22 years), having undergone only two half-lives of decay since pre-processing, will still be present at a higher level than the assumed equilibrium activity level depending upon the extent of radium removal. 48) Pg 2-3 : Background : The selection of Ashland 2 South for background soil levels is not representative of area-wide background as determined by ORAU (see comment 24). This biases the risk assessment process and results in underestimates. Selection of sampling well B29W05D at the southern boundary of Linde (located within 1000 feet of the injection wells) as the background location for groundwater may result in similar bias. While the well is supposedly upgradient from Linde, groundwater flow in the area is somewhat indeterminate. Both Wehran (1979) and Yager, Tepper, and Kappel ("Hydrogeology of the Niagara Falls Area - a Survey of the USGS Study" presented at the International Symposium on Groundwater Issues of the Lower Great Lakes, November 7-8, 1991) indicate that groundwater flow in the contact-zone aquifer is in a southerly direction. Wehran suggested the possibility that the southward flow is induced by the pumping of several large industrial wells located to the south. 49) Pg 2-5 : Chemical Data Evaluation: Restricting evaluation of chemicals of concern to the surficial soil horizon (0 to 2 ft depth) does not consider the pathway of lateral migration in the perched system, a significant pathway at Seaway and Ashland 2. Although Pg 5-2 indicates that "interim or provisional SFs [would be] obtained for use in the risk characterization (EPA 1992d)," fourteen chemical contaminants of concern, including lead, were eliminated from the chemical risk assessment because "toxicity values could not be obtained" (Pg 5-12). For the purposes of NEPA review, this is unacceptable. 50) Pg 2-18 : Table 2-2: In view of comments 31 and 48, Ra-226 should have been included as a groundwater contaminant of concern. It can be shown that 39 billion cubic feet of water would be required to dilute the estimated 5.5 Ci of Ra-226 which were injected into the Linde wells to the level of DOE's drinking water guideline of 5 pCi/liter. [Thirty-nine billion cubic feet translates into eight hundred ninety thousand acre-feet, a volume roughly one-tenth the surface area of Lake Erie to a depth of one foot.] In terms of the groundwater that has flowed past the injection wells in the last 50 years, rough calculations show that this flow is insufficient by at least a factor of 100 to dilute the Ra-226 activity to a level below the guideline. 51) Pg 3-13 : Current and Future Use Scenarios: The selection of an older child (ten years old) as the receptor for the Ashland 2 and Local Creek scenarios does not take into consideration the likely presence of younger and correspondingly more sensitive children as receptors. The use of DCFs (dose conversion factors) based on the Reference Man (70 kg adult male) in determining dose exposure for these scenarios is inappropriate. Why was this done? Younger children exhibit a much higher rate of adverse effects per unit of exposure. The short exposure duration of six years is also not a realistic assumption. The exposure time of the wading child, only seven hours per year, in the Local Creek scenario is absurdly low. The RME inhalation rate for the employee, 20 m3/d, can reasonably be expected to be the same as the rate for the transient adult, 24 m3/d. Why was 20 used? The future exposure durations for the Ashland 1 and 2 sites (7 years, average; 25 years, RME) and the Seaway area (6 years average; 24 years RME), and the exposure frequency for Seaway (100 days/year) are very unrealistic in relation to likely future human use scenarios including the possibility of human habitation in these areas. As a result, the risks given in Table 5-1 are underestimated and significantly misrepresent the actual hazard present at the sites. 52) Pg 3-15 : Identification of Exposure Pathways: Migration of contaminants through groundwater is not considered an exposure pathway because the affected aquifer is not considered potable. However, current use of area wells for lawn watering, etc., and potential future uses are ignored. Exclusion of this pathway from the risk analysis is not justified. 53) Pg 3-19 : Exposure Point Concentrations: The assumption that soil ingestion occurs from only the upper two feet of land surface ignores the occurrence of higher subsurface concentrations in many areas and the likelihood that these subsurface soils will be exposed as a result of future human activity. It is stated that "No external gamma exposure rate measurements were available for site properties," yet several ground-level gamma surveys are referred to in the RI. Why wasn't this data used in place of or to supplement the RESRAD modeling? The lack of air monitoring for radon is a serious data gap. For the Local Creek scenario, the assumption of constant surface water and sediment contaminant concentrations in the future is not conservative based on the historic record to this point, and anticipated migration in the future ("no action" scenario). 54) Summary of Radiological Exposure Estimates: With the exception of Figure 3-14, Figures 3-7 through 3-20 contain a key denoting the 10-25 millirem/yr exposure range as simply a white area indistinguishable from the page. This is confusing and reduces the immediate usefulness of the document. (See general comment 3) 55) Pg 3-54 : Table 3-1B, Mean Radionuclide Concentrations in Subsurface Soil: The concentrations given for Th-232 and daughters are obviously in error. (See general comment 3) 56) Pg 3-57 : In view of the preceding comments, the dose summary presented in Table 3-2 may significantly underestimate the total doses for the current, and especially the future use scenarios. In any case, the current total dose to receptors at Linde subarea `A' and future doses at all properties are signifi- cant - up to 660 millirem/yr, RME at Ashland 1 area `B'. 57) Pg 4-1 : Radiation Toxicity: It is claimed that "The risk of serious genetic effects is much lower than the risk of cancer induction," and therefore genetic effects are not considered. Genetic effects were included in the risk assessment at the Niagara Falls Storage Site, and the EIS for that site ("Long-term Management of the Existing Radioactive Wastes and Residues at the Niagara Falls Storage Site, April 1986") has tables on page 4-47 that report the rate of genetic effects to be as great or greater than the rate of fatal cancers. Exclusion of genetic effects from this risk assessment, especially given the indefinite duration of the hazard, is a serious shortcoming. Failure to include non-carcinogenic effects in this assessment under- represents the total risk and associated societal costs. The statement that "Studies of populations chronically exposed to low-level radiation, such as those residing in regions of elevated natural background, have not shown consistent evidence of an associated increase in the risk of cancer" implies that there is a safe dose or threshold below which no effects are produced. BEIR V, a reference source for this BRA, found just the opposite: the best fit of the data for the dose-response curve shows no threshold for the effects of ionizing radiation. 58) Pg 4-2 : The sentence "Thus for sites like Tonawanda, where all exposures are longer term, it is likely that immediate effects would be observed" would make more sense if "likely" were replaced with "unlikely". (See general comment 3) 59) Pg 4-3 : The application of a dose rate effectiveness factor (DREF) of 2 to the BEIR V risk factor results in a population-weighted cancer induction risk factor used in this analysis of 6 x 10-7/millirem. Independent radiation experts have presented a strong case that this risk factor and the application of DREFs are not reflective of the evidence. For example, evidence presented by John Gofman supports the use of a sixfold larger risk factor. DOE and DOE predecessor agencies have consistently underestimated effect rates at low doses. 60) Pg 5-57 : Table 5-1, Total Radiological Risk Summary: It would appear that there are errors in this table other than the mislabeling of risk as "(mrem/yr)". The average risk for Linde area `A', reported as 6.5E-05, appears to be calculated based on the Ashland employee exposure duration, 7 years. Shouldn't the average risk be 2.0E-04, based on the 22 year Linde exposure duration parameter? This brings the risk above the EPA accepted range of 1.0E-04 per lifetime (or 1.0E-06 per year, the Supreme Court recognized de minimis risk). There appear to be other errors in this table as well. A more realistic appraisal of the inherent radiological hazard present at these sites can be obtained by applying a scenario-appropriate factor (to convert to round-the-clock exposure) and the factor 6 (as explained in comment 59 above) to the Table 5-1 values. For example, in the future RME (reasonable maximum exposure) scenario, round-the-clock exposure at Ashland 1 area `B' carries an incremental risk of 2.6 x 10-1 (9.9E-03 x 6 x 4.4 [to convert 100 hours per year to round-the-clock exposure]). This is roughly a 26 in 100 risk of cancer or 26 times EPA's background cancer risk estimate. 61) Pg 5-28 : Table 5-2, Summary of Chemical Risks - Carcinogens : Failure to include many of the MED-related metals, including lead, in the risk calculations due to lack of toxicity data, renders this summary of chemical risks virtually useless. The use of interim toxicity values for this evaluation, while perhaps not ideal, would have at least provided a better picture of this risk component. Why wasn't this done? Why weren't the chemical and radiological risks combined to present an overall risk profile? In view of comment 27 and the failings of this BRA identified in this and preceding comments, actual site risks appear to be significantly underestimated. 62) What was the original source term in 1946 for this site? What is the best percentage estimate of the original source term activity which will be left behind at each of the properties following Alternative 2? GENERAL COMMENTS ON THE FEASIBILITY STUDY - PROPOSED PLAN 63) Mixed Waste : The assumption "that the waste generated during remediation will not be hazardous under RCRA definition" is not justified. The RI failed to adequately resolve this issue. Where would mixed wastes go? 64) In assessing remediation alternatives for the Tonawanda site, the greatest consideration must be given to: 1) the essentially indefinite hazard period associated with MED wastes, 2) a realistic assessment of the risks presented by the wastes at Tonawanda given that any form of institutional control can be expected to be lost and dense human habitation to occur long before the hazard ceases, and 3) the notable inability of clay containments in humid environments to provide waste isolation for the required time period (in this case 500,000 years). A clay `cell' at the Tonawanda site may be protective for 200 years barring excursionary natural events such as earthquakes, floods, etc. Engineers' optimistic claims of 1000 year cell longevities are interesting. History indicates that such claims are ludicrous. On the basis of this experience, the need to remediate a Tonawanda `cell' is likely to occur in the not-so-distant future. At that time, however, the contaminated volume will be much greater. It will include the original clay containment material and, once again, surrounding soils and sediments, not to mention groundwater. The relevant question now is, will we then be able to cope with such large, contaminated volumes? Trench disposal with wind-erosion protection in an arid, unpopulated desert environment can reasonably be expected to eliminate water-borne migration of contaminants and require little maintenance or intervention for thousands of years, while maintaining the originally deposited volume virtually intact. Up front transportation costs to relocate the wastes shrink in comparison with the long term difficulties (noted above) involved in maintaining isolation in Tonawanda. An increase in radon emissions at a sandy, arid disposal location (Hanford, Washington) has been raised previously as an objection to the relocation of MED wastes (EIS for the Niagara Falls Storage Site, 1986). However, that scenario proposed using only 1.5 meters of native sand as cover material. The use of finer soils or clays as cover material was not addressed; nor was the use of a thicker cover layer. The selection of such engineering options combined with waste emplacement at topographical locations subject to wind-borne desposition, rather than removal, should effectively eliminate radon release. For all of these reasons, Alternative 2 with relocation to Clive, Utah (Envirocare) or the Nevada Test Site is the only acceptable management option. 65) As previously noted (comment 11, Wehran 1979), leachate from the Seaway landfill containing landfill contaminants has been detected in samples collected outside the landfill. Decay of large amounts of organic material present in the landfill is likely to result in subsidence with associated loss of cap integrity. The release of biogenic gases is also likely to entrain radon resulting in potentially significant releases. In view of these facts, both the "accessible" and the "access-restricted" wastes must be removed along with the other wastes. 66) Page 4-5 of the FS mentions the possibility of implementing institutional controls at Seaway through purchase of the property. 10CFR61 limits the time during which institutional controls can be applied as a management tool to a 100 year period. This is a negligible period in relation to the duration of the hazard and therefore should not receive consideration as a management tool. 67) Penetration of burrowing animals into either the containment `cell' or unremediated subsurface areas is a potential problem that has not been addressed. DOE must show that its capping materials are impervious to such animals. 68) DOE's figure for rail transportation costs involved in relocating the wastes to Clive, Utah has been found to be significantly inflated. At the January 26, 1994 public hearing in Kenmore, N.Y., CANiT reported obtaining a vendor figure $13 million less than the DOE figure.
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