Characterization and Cleanup
As a result of past operations in Area IV, chemical and radiological contamination has occurred in some of the soil, groundwater and facilities. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is actively engaged in the characterization activities that will lead to the cleanup of Area IV.
Regulation of the Energy Technology Engineering Center Closure project is segmented by different regulatory authorities. Prior decontamination and demolition activities of the radiologically contaminated facilities at the Energy Technology Engineering Center site were conducted under the Atomic Energy Act authority. The cleanup of groundwater is regulated by the California Department of Toxics Substance Control (DTSC) and is being performed consistent with the 2007 Consent Order. The characterization and cleanup of soil is regulated by DTSC as well and is being performed consistent with the signed 2010 Administrative Order on Consent.
Due to the nature of the past work that occurred in Area IV of SSFL, some of the soil has been contaminated. Currently, there are chemical and radiological characterization activities on-going to identify the areas the soil will need to be cleaned up.
Groundwater is water contained in spaces within the soil and bedrock. Because of the past activities on the site DOE has installed over 50 wells in and around Area IV to monitor the groundwater. Groundwater is monitored for both radiological and chemical contaminants. Groundwater is monitored at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory under the oversight of DTSC.
When Area IV was operational there were many facilities on site were nuclear and liquid metals research took place. If a facility is contaminated as a result of prior operations and/or research, it has to be decontaminated, decommissioned and surveyed in order to restore it to a safe, clean status where it can be used for other purposes without exposing future users to hazards or risks. This area explains the past and current activities that are taking place to ensure the facilities in Area IV are properly cleaned up and returned to a safe state.
The Department of Energy signed the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control Agency, December 2010. The AOC defines the process for characterization and the cleanup of soils for Area IV of SSFL. DOE is still operating under the 2007 Consent Order for the characterization and cleanup of groundwater.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California directed the DOE to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for Area IV of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.
Waste from the cleanup activities at the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) is generated from excavated soil, unusable equipment, unusable supplies, and building debris. After sampling to identify the type of waste, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) packages and ships the waste to the appropriate disposal facility according to U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.