surface monitoring by NMed
AMBIENT AIR SAMPLING
Far FieldAmbient Monitoring Site 02/28/2014 SALK, DOE OB
NMED monitors the ambient air at WIPP and in the vicinity for radionuclides. Looking towards the southeast, the Far Field monitoring site includes three (3) co-located ambient air monitoring stations run by (from left to right) U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), NMED, and the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center (CEMRC). Far Field is northwest of the exclusive use area boundary and just across the North Access Road from WIPP. NMED and DOE call this location Far Field; CEMRC calls it Near Field. DOE runs their low-volume samplers at 2 cubic feet per minute (cfm); NMED runs their low-volume samplers at 3 cfm; and CEMRC runs high-volume samplers.
SE Control Ambient Monitoring Site 04/08/2014 SALK, DOE OB
Environmental scientist Catrina Johnson installs an ambient air filter housing during a biweekly filter swap-out at the Southeast Control location. NMED, DOE and CEMRC all have co-located ambient air monitors at Southeast Control. CEMRC calls this location Cactus Flats. Southeast Control is located approximately 12 miles southeast of WIPP on the Jal Hwy. Due to prevailing wind patterns, samplers at southeast control measure background upstream activity. Ambient air filter samples are analyzed for gross alpha/beta, isotopic plutonium, isotopic americium, strontium, and gamma-emitting isotopes.
Carlsbad Mobile Solar Ranch 04/08/2014 SALK, DOE OB
Environmental scientist Catrina Johnson changes the particulate air filter on the mobile solar-powered ambient air monitor, currently deployed a few miles southwest of the WIPP facility. Working with our air monitoring equipment manufacturer, the NMED DOE Oversight Bureau developed a mobile air monitoring station that could operate completely off the grid. The trailer-mounted unit uses solar panels to charge deep cycle batteries that power a high efficiency DC air pump that draws a specified quantity of air through a particulate filter. This unit can operate continuously and indefinitely using ambient sunlight and will run continuously for three days without sunshine. This capability, unique to NMED, can allow optimum placement of an air monitoring station regardless of power source. It has been used successfully for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) decommissioning and demolition projects as well as for the Las Conchas Fire. The Bureau has two such stations, both normally located in Los Alamos.
EPA Ambient Air Equip 04/08/2014 SALK, DOE OB
A health physicist from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Analytical Radiation Environmental Laboratory (NAREL) demonstrates how to operate the EPA low-volume ambient air samplers. From April 7, 2014, to April 29, 2014, the EPA collected weekly air filters from three (3) low-volume air samplers near existing DOE samplers at Far Field, WIPP East and WIPP South to independently corroborate DOE’s reported results. NMED staff from the DOE Oversight Bureau, Hazardous Waste Bureau and Air Quality Bureau all received training on the equipment.
SURFACE SOIL AND VEGETATION MONITORING
Field Sampling Map & Notebook 03/19/2014 RM, HWB
NMED staff and DOE staff collected col-located composite surface soil and composite vegetation samples from WIPP and the vicinity from March 19, 2014 to March 21, 2014. The samples were collected from transects of the plume projection as modelled by the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The photo shows the field sampling map and field notebook used by staff during the sampling. Sampling locations were located throughout the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act area and overland travel was required to access them. Soil and vegetation samples were analyzed for gross alpha/beta, isotopic uranium, isotopic plutonium, isotopic americium, strontium, and gamma-emitting isotopes.
Vegetation Samples 03/20/2014 RM, HWB
NMED collected approximately 1 gallon (approximately 300 g) of vegetation and 32 ounces of surface soil from each sampling location. A total of 32 samples were collected: 29 samples and 3 field duplicates.
Vegetation Sample Preparation 03/19/2014 RM, HWB
Staff Manager Susan Lucas Kamat trims vegetation samples to fit in the 1-galloon sample containers. Samples were collected from above-ground plant materials. Clippings were taken from rangeland grasses, forbs and shrubs were composited for each sample location. Staff wore nitrile gloves to prevent cross-contamination between sample locations and decontaminated equipment between each sample location.
Soil Sample Collection 03/19/2014 SALK, DOE OB
Environmental Scientist Ricardo Maestas collects a surface soil sample. Surface soil materials were scooped from a depth of 0-2cm. Organic and inorganic debris that does not represent the soil environment, like twigs, roots, or large pebbles, was removed from each sample. Materials were mixed in a bag to create a homogenous sample for each location. . Staff wore nitrile gloves to prevent cross-contamination between sample locations and decontaminated equipment between each sample location.
Recording Sample Locations 03/20/2014 RM, HWB
Staff manager Susan Lucas Kamat records sample location and collection date/time information for the surface soil and vegetation samples. The general rangeland conditions of the WIPP area are visible in the background. Sample field preparation included labeling the sample containers, applying custody tape/seals and recording chain of custody information.
Vegetation Sample Locations 03/20/2014 SALK, DOE OB
Soil and vegetation locations were marked in the field with yellow reference post. Environmental scientist Ricardo Maestas ties orange tape onto a field marker to increase visibility. WIPP is visible in the visible in far background on the right. Field location latitude and longitude were recorded for future sampling.