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Tritium Management at Fermilab Stuart Henderson Associate Laboratory Director for Accelerators Community Advisory Board Meeting August 23, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Tritium Management at Fermilab Stuart Henderson Associate Laboratory Director for Accelerators Community Advisory Board Meeting August 23, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tritium Management at Fermilab Stuart Henderson Associate Laboratory Director for Accelerators Community Advisory Board Meeting August 23, 2012

2 Outline What is Tritium? How and where is it produced? How are we managing tritium? In what forms does tritium leave the site? What about the future? Summary Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

3 What is Tritium? Weakly radioactive isotope of hydrogen with 12.3 year half life It decays into helium by emitting a low-energy electron which does not penetrate the skin Behaves chemically like hydrogen, so is found most prominently in water molecules (HTO rather than HHO) Does not accumulate in body when ingested. Prolonged exposure by drinking tritiated water over many years poses a cancer risk Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

4 4 How and where is it produced? Tritium is created as an expected by-product of our accelerator operations When high-energy protons hit other particles or matter, they can produce tritium. In March 2005, Fermilab started operating a new proton beam line to create neutrinos for the MINOS experiment. It is the main source of tritium at Fermilab. Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23, 2012

5 5 The NuMI/MINOS Tunnel The tritium is incorporated into the water that is being pumped out of the tunnel and then is transported to the surface. Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23, 2012

6 How are we managing Tritium? Our management approach is guided by the following:  Fermilab takes this issue very seriously  We’re not satisfied with just meeting regulatory limits  We are committed to being both good neighbors and good stewards  We are committed to keeping the amounts of tritium produced and discharged from the site as low as possible Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23, Since 2005, when low levels of tritium were first detected in Indian Creek, we have put in place many measures to minimize the amount of tritium in ponds and creeks

7 Tritium Working Group The lab’s Tritium Working Group, a group of physicists and engineers, works to  characterize tritium sources in present and future operations  study and recommend mitigation and monitoring approaches  provide overall coordination and guidance on tritium management S. Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

8 In what forms does tritium leave the site? In surface water In the sanitary sewer system discharge In the air by emissions In drums, after solidification, for transport to a licensed waste disposal facility Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

9 Tritium in surface water First detected very low levels of tritium in Indian Creek in 2005, for the first time in the 40-year history of the lab’s environmental monitoring program Levels are far lower than the standards Fermilab is required to meet and pose no health or environmental risk U.S. Department of Energy standard for surface water is less than 1,900 picocuries per milliliter, whereas our readings are in the single digits In fact, the concentrations remain below even the US EPA drinking water standard of 20 pCi/ml Levels are well below DOE standard Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

10 Indian Creek results posted on the web site S. Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

11 Tritium in the sanitary sewer We routinely sample our sanitary sewer discharge that is sent to wastewater treatment facilities in Batavia and Warrenville as part of our surveillance monitoring program Samples taken from sewage discharge to Batavia first showed very small, but detectable, levels in  No tritium has been detected in sanitary sewer discharge sent to Warrenville Whereas sanitary sewer tritium concentrations rose and fell in the mid to late 2000s, levels since 2010 remain above detection limits The DOE standard for sanitary sewer discharge is larger than that for surface water: 9,500 pCi/ml (limited to 5 Ci/year in total) To date, the highest level detected is 7.5 pCi/ml Tritium concentration in the sanitary sewer discharge is well below DOE standards 11

12 Tritium in sanitary sewer discharge to Batavia S. Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23, The Tritium Working Group is presently focused on reducing levels in the sanitary sewer water

13 What about Batavia discharge to the Fox River? Fermilab generated Tritium in the Fox River is dwarfed by the natural tritium concentrations in rainwater S. Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

14 Tritium emissions to the air Tritiated water evaporates from ponds, is evaporated in the cooling towers and another service building evaporation system, and is emitted by ventilation systems The EPA sets limits on the amount of radioactive material that can be sent into the air such that the dose to an individual member of the public remains below 10 millirem in a year The highest annual dose at a particular location is 0.04 millirem due to airborne emission Fermilab’s emissions are far below the EPA standard Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

15 Tritium in disposed solid waste There are a few water systems at Fermilab that have tritium concentrations above the surface water DOE standards. When it needs to be disposed, that water is contained in 55-gal drums, solidified in place and transported to a licensed waste facility in Utah. Fermilab transports about 250 drums of this solid waste to the Utah facility each year, in two shipments. Because of tritium’s low radioactivity, it is not considered a hazardous material by the DOT, however we do follow the DOE requirements for disposal. Stuart Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,

16 What about the future? We are constructing the NOvA neutrino experiment and will begin NOvA operation in The environmental assessment led to “finding of no significant impact.”  With a doubling of beam power we could expect, without further mitigation, twice the tritium levels. But we are actively exploring additional mitigation. We propose to build a new proton/neutrino beam line for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), which would produce tritium  The present concept for LBNE has a target facility on the surface, and other enhancements for much better tritium management We hope to build Project X, which would further increase proton intensity and create more tritium We are working hard to get the tritium issue right so that we retain the confidence of all our stakeholders in our ability to do future projects 16

17 Summary Tritium concentrations are very small, but detectable, in surface waters, sewer water and air emissions All measured tritium concentrations are well below applicable DOE and EPA standards There is no threat to health or the environment We are actively managing tritium on the Fermilab site We are committed to keeping the amounts of tritium produced and discharged from the site as low as possible both now and in the future S. Henderson, Community Advisory Board, August 23,


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