The Peace Farm of Texas, Inc. is one of 39 environmental and peace organizations that won a landmark lawsuit against the U.S Department of Energy for failure to follow-through on adequate environmental cleanup during its 50+ years of nuclear weapons research, testing, and production. Part of this settlement was the establishment of the MTA Fund (Citizens’ Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund), which provided $6.25 million for tribes and non-profit organizations to assess and conduct independent technical and scientific studies regarding the multitude of technical, ecological, and health issues surrounding the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.
Clark University was chosen by the non-profit peace and environmental groups as the conservator of these reports to ensure they remain available to the public in perpetuity. The unconventional election of university as conservator is an innovative example, particularly within the era of Web 1.0, of higher education as protector and provider of information through wide dissemination.
The research and reports available in this series were conducted by the The Peace Farm of Texas with their allocated portion of the MTA fund.
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Radiation Monitoring at Pantex: A Review of the Bureau of Radiation Control Environmental Data 1993-2003
The Peace Farm of Texas, Inc. and Pam Allison
The U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration Pantex Plant (hereinafter, Pantex) is located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, in Carson County, Texas. Its primary mission is to assemble, evaluate, repair, retrofit, and disassemble nuclear weapons; provide interim storage for plutonium pits; and develop, fabricate, and test chemical explosives and explosive components for nuclear weapons.
The laboratory analyses were performed by the Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories. Each year’s summary disclosed the Quality Assurance and Quality Control evaluations for the laboratory in its appendices. The rationale for the BRC’s selection of sampling locations, duration of monitoring for specific radionuclides or types of radiation, and discussions about the reported analytical results were not included in the reports. The BRC stated that “analysis of samples is concentrated on determining presence of any special nuclear material” (BRC 2004, p. 61), and provided the conclusions that no regulatory limits or license limits were exceeded at any of the monitored facilities.
This review was undertaken to (1) identify and understand what media, constituents, and locations have been monitored; (2) review and compare the reported analytical results between and among media and locations; (3) identify data gaps; (4) identify any data trends to the extent possible; (5) compare results to available health standards; and (6) identify any questions about the radiation monitoring by the BRC that resulted from this review.
Also, it was hoped to determine whether the gathering of data was done in a comprehensive manner to enable the BRC to confidently determine the extent of any exposures and address any expected health concerns.
This research was completed money allocated during Round 6 of the Citizens’ Monitoring and Technical Assessment Fund (MTA Fund). Clark University was named conservator of these works.
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