Office of Radiation Programs


vvEPA
United Slates           National Air and         EPA 520/5-91-003
Environmental Protection      Radiation Environmental Laboratory
Agency
OTfic '
Radiation
                Radiological Survey of the
                Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

-------
                                                EPA 520/5-91-003
    Radiological Survey of the
   Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

             Mark O. Semler

National Air and Radiation Environmental Laboratory
             1504 Avenue A
      Montgomery, Alabama 36115-2601


              October 1991
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
         Office of Radiation Programs
            401 M Street, S.W.
          Washington, DC 20460

-------
                        TABLE OF CONTENTS








List of Figures	     v




List of Tables	     v




Preface	    vi




Introduction	     1




Characteristics of the Harbor and Sampling Areas	     2




Survey and Analytical Methods 	     5




Results and Discussion	    11




Conclusions	    17




References	    18




Appendix:   Description of Samples Collected 	    21

-------
                        LIST OF FIGURES






Figure




1.  Piscataqua River Area Map, Sampling




         Sites Off Naval Facilities	  4




2.  Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Sediment




         Sampling Sites	  9




3.  Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Biota




         Sampling Sites	 10
                         LIST OF TABLES








Table




1.  Summary of Samples Collected 	   8




2.  Summary of Radionuclide Concentrations




         in Sediment Samples 	 ......  14




3.  Description of Biota Samples	  14




4.  Summary of Gamma-Ray Exposure Rates	  15
                                v

-------
                             PREFACE








     The Office of Radiation Programs identifies and evaluates




environmental public health impacts of both natural and manmade




radiation sources.  The National Air and Radiation Environmental




Laboratory (NAREL),  formerly the Eastern Environmental Radiation




Facility, is a fully integrated participant with other components



of the Office in these efforts.  NAREL provides comprehensive




capability for evaluating radiation sources through planning and




conducting environmental studies, nationwide surveillance, and




laboratory analysis.  In addition, NAREL provides special




analytical support for Environmental Protection Agency Regional




Offices and other federal government agencies, as requested, as




well as technical  assistance to the radiological health programs of




state and local health departments.




     This report presents results of the survey conducted by NAREL




personnel to assess levels of environmental radioactivity resulting




from maintenance and operation of nuclear-powered warships at




Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine.   The purpose of the




survey was to determine if activities related to nuclear-powered




warships resulted  in release of radionuclides which may contribute
                               VI

-------
to significant population exposure or contamination of the

environment.

     Readers of our reports are encouraged to bring comments,

omissions, or errors to our attention.
                                  3 .  U^^y Jl/yc
                         Sam T. Windham, Director
                         National Air and Radiation
                            Environmental Laboratory
                               VII

-------
                          INTRODUCTION








     Since 1963, the National Air and Radiation Environmental




Laboratory (NAREL),  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA), in




cooperation with the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), has




surveyed facilities serving nuclear-powered warships on the




Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the  Gulf  of Mexico.  These surveys




assess whether the construction, maintenance, overhaul, or




refueling of nuclear-powered warships  have created elevated levels




of radioactivity.  The  surveys emphasize sampling those areas and




pathways that could expose the public.




     In 1984, NAVSEA requested that EPA again survey all active




facilities servicing nuclear-powered warships.  The Portsmouth




Naval Shipyard was surveyed September 11 to 15, 1989.   This




facility was previously surveyed by EPA in July  1977.  At that




time, no Co-60 was found in any of the silt samples, but tritium




(H-3) activities of 200 to 400 pCi/L were found in water samples




from both background sites and shipyard sites.  Cesium-137 and Zr-




95/Nb-95, which are products of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing




and are not due to the operations of the shipyard,  were also




detected in silts and biota.

-------
        CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HARBOR AND SAMPLING AREAS








     Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is located in Portsmouth Harbor on



Seavey Island.  The shipyard is accessible via bridge from Kittery,



Maine, and occupies all of the island  (Figure 1).  The facility is



approximately 1981 meters  (east-west) by 1158  meters (north-south),



an area of 277.8 acres.  The Piscatagua River empties into the



harbor on the west-northwest side.   The  deepest  part of the harbor



is approximately 23 meters in the channel at low tide.  The



shipyard is a major repair facility for the Navy's nuclear



submarine fleet.



     Observations made during the survey indicated that the harbor



bottom surface is rock at several locations.   The bottom at other



areas is mud.  Tidal  action supplemented by the  river flow results



in a swift current around the shipyard.   This current results in



the lack of sediment on the bottom surface at several locations.



    A major dredging project of the Portsmouth harbor by the Army



Corps of Engineers was begun in 1989 and was  in progress during



this survey.  This dredging  was  in  the  main  channel areas of the



harbor.



Although some  dredging was done near Seavey Island,  it  was not



related to the shipyard operations and was not  inside the



restricted area.   There has been no significant dredging of



                                2

-------
sediments immediately adjacent to Seavey Island since the last



survey.




     Discussions with shipyard personnel indicated that most of the



water is accessible to the public by boat with the exception of



certain areas that are restricted for security reasons.  There are



extensive commercial fishing and recreational activities in the



area, the most significant being lobstering.  There are many



commerical and private lobster traps in the immediate vicinity of



the shipyard.

-------
                PORTSMOUTH
   0.2        0.4
kilometers
I.  Piscataqua River Area Map, Sampling Sites Off Naval Facilities

-------
                  SURVEY AND ANALYTICAL METHODS
     Personnel from the radiological control office at Portsmouth




Naval Shipyard accompanied the NAREL team during the survey.  The




Navy personnel provided information on those sampling sites where




radioactivity associated with Naval nuclear propulsion plants, if




it were present,  would most likely be detected.  Extensive sediment




sampling was conducted in the pier and dry dock  areas where nuclear




warships were being or had been serviced.  Public access or




recreational areas and public drinking water supplies in the




vicinity of the  shipyard were also surveyed for radioactivity.




     Cobalt-60 is the predominant radioisotope one would find in




environmental media if radioactivity were present as a result of




Naval nuclear propulsion plant operations (Ca77,  Se88, Sen88);




therefore, environmental sampling focused on detecting this




radioisotope.  The Co-60 content in all samples was determined by




gamma-ray spectroscopy.  Water samples were also analyzed for




tritium since this radionuclide is known to be produced in the




coolant of light-water nuclear reactors.




     According to past surveys, if radioactivity were released as




a result of Naval nuclear propulsion  plant operations, it would be




detected as Co-60 in the sediment (Ca77, Ca79).  Radionuclides tend




to accumulate in  the sediment over time, which enables detection of

-------
events that may have occurred in the past.  A standard Peterson



dredge was used to sample approximately the top 10 centimeters of



sediment.  Forty sediment samples were collected during the survey.



At the laboratory, these samples were dried, ground to a fine



powder, placed in 400 cubic centimeter (cm3) sample counting



containers, and counted on intrinsic germanium detectors for 1000



minutes.  The minimum detectable activity for Co-60 in this



geometry is approximately 0.01 picocuries per gram (pCi/g).



     Sediment core samples are useful in determining the vertical



distribution of radioactivity in harbor bottom sediment.  If



radioactive material were present from past operations and



subsequently covered with sediment, the radioactivity might be



detected in the core samples.  Four core samples were taJcen using



3.8 centimeter diameter plastic tubes and a mechanical  coring tool.



The cores were frozen and sectioned into 2,5 centimeter lengths.



The individual sections were  freeze-dried  and counted on intrinsic



germanium detectors for 1000 minutes to analyze for gamma-ray



emitting radioisotopes.   The  minimum detectable activity for Co-60



in this geometry is approximately 0.1 pCi/g.



     Water samples were collected at six sites.  The surface water



samples were grab samples.   The drinking water samples,  collected



from taps, represent the water supplied to Portsmouth, New



Hampshire, Kittery, Maine,  and the shipyard.  One liter water



samples were analyzed for gamma-ray emitting radionuclides,



especially Co-60, on intrinsic germanium detectors.  The minimum






                                6

-------
detectable level for Co-60 in this geometry is 5 picocuries per



liter (pCi/L).  Water samples were also analyzed  for tritium.  The



tritium found in reactor coolant  systems is in the oxide form and



chemically indistinguishable from water; therefore, it does not



accumulate in marine life or on the harbor floor (Ma88).  The



minimum detectable level for tritium is 200 pCi/L with the



analytical procedure used.



     Aquatic biota samples were collected at three sites by the



divers.  These samples were divided for analysis as follows:



(1) fish  muscle;  (2) crab  samples included muscle, viscera,



and exoskeleton; (3)  barnacles and mussels; (4)  lobster -- the tail



and claw meat; and (5) vegetation.  The biota samples were dried,



ground to a fine powder, and counted on intrinsic germanium



detectors for 1000 minutes.  The  counting geometry was determined



by the amount of sample available: the minimum detectable level for



Co-60 is 0.01 pCi/g for a 400 cm3 sample or  0.1 pCi/g  for a  40 cm3




sample.



     Gamma radiation exposure measurements were made with



pressurized ionization chambers or portable scintillation survey



instruments that were calibrated  with the pressurized ionization



chambers.  Measurements were made at  all sites in the pier and dry



dock areas where the majority of  the sediment samples were



collected and along the restricted area line.  Public access and



recreation areas in the vicinity  were surveyed with portable




scintillation survey instruments.



                                7

-------
     Sampling sites are shown on maps of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard

in Figures 2 and 3.  Sites that are located outside the boundaries

of the Naval facilities are shown on the area map in Figure 1.  A

summary of the samples  collected during the survey is presented in

Table 1.  Sample types collected at each site are detailed in the

Appendix.
TABLE 1

Summary of Samples Collected
                       Sampling     	Number of Samples	
 Facility              Sites      Water  Sediment  Cores   Biota

Portsmouth Naval
Shipyard                50            6       40      4      11


NOTE:  See Appendix for a list of all samples collected at each
       sampling location.

-------
   KITTERY, ME.
2. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Sediment Sampling Sites

-------
     K1TTERY, ME.
3. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Biota Sampling Sites
                    10

-------
                      RESULTS  AND  DISCUSSION
     Results  of  the  sampling  of  the  Portsmouth Naval  Shipyard  and



surrounding areas are summarized in Tables 2, 3,  and 4.   The  si,tes



sampled  outside  the  shipyard  were  selected either  as  background



sites, areas of public access  and/or recreation,  or public drinking



water  supplies.



     Bottom sediment samples from 40  sites were analyzed for gamma-



emitting radionuclides, with  particular emphasis given  to  the



detection of  Co-60.   Several  additional sites around  the shipyard



were selected  for sampling; however, no sediments  were  present at



these  sites because of the scouring action of the Piscataqua  River



tides.   No Co-60 was  detected in any of these sediiaqrjts.   Other



radionuclides  identified are either naturally occurring  (K-40,  Ra-



226, Th-232, U-238)  or are the result of  fallout from atmospheric?



weapons  testing  (Cs-137).



     Four sites, 5,  8, 17, and 25, were sampled with  a  mechanical



coring tool to evaluate the deposition of radionuclides with time.



Cores of 13 inches,  5 inches,  10 inches,  and 22 inches  in  depth



were taken, respectively, from these sites.  Results  of the



analyses of 2.5 cm sections of each core are comparable to those of



the sediments  also taken at the sites.  No Co-60 or other






                                11

-------
radionuclide which could be attributed to the operations at the



shipyard was found.  Only Cesium-137 and naturally occurring



radionuclides were detected.



     Surface water samples at three sites, 1, 7, and 39, were



collected and analyzed for both gamma-emitting radionuclides and



tritium (H-3).   No radioactivity was detected in any of these



samples.  Three additional water samples of the Portsmouth, New



Hampshire, Kittery, Maine, and Seavey Island drinking water were



also analyzed.  No gamma emitting radionuclides or tritium were



detected in these drinking water samples.  These results are



consistent with routinely analyzed water samples from New Hampshire



and Maine (EPA89, EPA90a,  EPA90b).



     There is considerable sport and commercial fishing and



lobstering in the area.  Significant concentrations of lobster



traps are placed in close  proximity to Seavey Island.  Lobster and



crab were collected at three sites around the Island,  45, 46, and



47, by shipyard divers.  The edible portions were analyzed for



gamma-emitting radionuclides.  The only radionuclides detected in



these samples were K-40 and a trace of Cs-137.   One fish sample



from site 46 and samples of clams,  barnacles, and mussels from



sites 38,  45, and 48 were analyzed:  only K-40 and Cs-137 were



detected.   No Co-60 or  other radionuclide associated with shipyard



operations was detected in any of these samples.



     Vegetation was collected at four  locations, sites 23, 37, 46,



and 47.  Potassium-40 and  Th-232  were present in all samples, and






                                12

-------
Cs-137 was detected in samples from sites 23 and 47.  No Co-60 or



other radionuclide associated with shipyard operations was



detected in any of these samples.



     External gamma radiation measurements were taken at all



sampling sites and along the restricted area boundary of the



shipyard.  Measurements were also made at  public access areas near



the facility, including public parks  and marinas in both Maine and



New Hampshire, and the shoreline of Kittery,  Maine, and Portsmouth,



New Hampshire, opposite Seavey Island.  Recreational areas on the



eastern end of Seavey Island were also monitored.  A summary of the



locations and results is presented in Table 4.



     Terrestrial gamma exposure rates ranged from 4 to 24 /iR/hr;



these exposure rates are comparable to those measured during other



surveys of Naval facilities and background sites [Se88, Sm87,



Wi87), and indicate that shipyard operations have no significant



radiological impact on the public.  One measurement taken on a



granite sea wall at Fort McClary State Park was 24 /iR/hr.  This



elevated reading is due entirely to the presence of naturally



occurring radionuclides in the granite and has been observed during




other surveys (Sen88, Sm87).



     Gamma exposure rates taken over  water at the background sites



ranged from 3.5 to 4.8 /j,R/hr.  Gamma exposure rates taken over



water at the sampling sites adjacent to Seavey Island ranged from



3.8 to 5.9 ^iR/hr.   The gamma exposure rates  at the restricted area




boundary ranged from 3.0 to 5.7 juR/hr.



                                13

-------
TABLE 2

Summary Of Radionuclide Concentrations  in  Sediment Samplesa>b
-------
TABLE 4

Summary of Gamma-Ray Exposure Rates
Location of Survey
                                           Average Gamma-Ray
                                           Exposure Rates jiR/hr)
                                           4.3 (3.5
                                           4.8 (3.8
Harbor Sediment Sampling Sites
   Off-Site
   On-Site
Restricted Area Boundary around
   Seavey Island

Terrestrial Surveys
On Seavey Island
   Northeast tip at Jamaica Island park
   Jamaica Island, Eastern tip
   Jamaica Island, picnic table area
   Jamaica Island, children's playground
   Main road to Jamaica Park
   North end of Seavey Island
Kittery, Maine, and surroundings
   Pepperell Road causeway
   Pepperell Road, east of causeway
   Fort McClary State Park, on granite sea wall
   Frisbee Wharf
   Chauncey Creek Road
   Fort Foster State Park
   West of Security Gate 1 to Seavey Island
   Badgers Island, east end
   U.S. 1 at bridge over Piscataqua River
   U.S. 1, midspan of bridge

Portsmouth, New Hampshire
   Prescott Park, south end
   Fourtree Island
   Pierce Island
   Pierce Island, at waste treatment plant
Pierce Island, Northernmost point
  Market Street shoreline
  Ceres Road, on a pier
  Goat Island bridge
  Shaws Hill bridge
  Fort Dearborn
4.8)a
6.0)a
                                           4.3 (3.0 - 5.7)a
                                                      12
                                                      12
                                                      16
                                                      12
                                                      15
                                                      15
                                                       4
                                                      12
                                                      24
                                                      10
                                                      11
                                                      14
                                                      14
                                                      13
                                                      10
                                                       5
                                                      13
                                                      13
                                                      10
                                                      14
                                                       8
                                                      17
                                                       7
                                                       5
                                                      11
                                                      15
* Mean concentration given,  with the range shown in parentheses.

                                15

-------
TABLE 4  Continued

Summary of Gamma-Ray Exposure Rates
Location of Survey                         Average Gamma-Ray
                                           Exposure Rates  (jitR/hr)


New Castle Island
   Shoreline at Cape and River Roads                  12
   Shoreline at Cape and Oliver Roads                 15
   Portsmouth Yacht Club                              14
   U.S. Coast Guard Station                           13
   Fort Constitution                                  13
   Fort Point                                          7
   Fort Stark State Park                              12
                                16

-------
                           CONCLUSIONS








   The radiological survey of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard



provides the basis for the following conclusions:








   1. No trace of Co-60 was detected in any samples at Portsmouth



      Naval Shipyard.  All radioactivity detected in the forty



      sediment samples is attributed to naturally occurring



      radionuclides or fallout from past nuclear weapons testing.



   2. Results of core sampling did not indicate any previous



      deposit of Co-60 in the sediment.



   3. Water samples contained no detectable levels of



      radioactivity.



   4. All radioactivity detected in the biota samples is attributed



      to naturally occurring radionuclides or fallout.



   5. External gamma-ray  measurements  did not detect any increased



      radiation exposure to the public above natural background



      levels.



   6. Based on this survey, we conclude that current practices



      regarding nuclear-powered warship operations have resulted in



      no increases in radioactivity that would result in




      significant population exposure  or contamination of the




      environment.



                               17

-------
                           REFERENCES










B176   Blanchard, R.L., et. al. 1976.  Radiological Surveillance



          Studies at the Oyster Creek BWR Nuclear Generating



          Station.  EPA-520/5-76-003.  Washington, D.C.:



          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation



          Programs.



Ca77   Callis, R.S., Windham,  S.T., and Phillips, C.R.  1977.



          Radiological Survey of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard,



          Bremerton, Washington and  Environs.   EPA 520/5-77-001.



          Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,



          Office of Radiation Programs.



Ca79   Callis, R.S., Windham,  S.T., and Phillips, C.R.  1979.



          Radiological Survey of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,



          Kittery, Maine, and Environs.   EPA 520/5-79-003.



          Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,



          Office of Radiation Programs.



Ca87   Callis,  R.S.  1987.   Radiological Survey of the Pearl Harbor



          Naval Shipyard and Environs, Honolulu, Hawaii.



          EPA 520/5-87-010. Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Environmental



          Protection Agency,  Office of Radiation Programs.
                                18

-------
REFERENCES - Continued
EPA89     Environmental Protection Agency. 1989.  Environmental




             Radiation Data: Report 58  (April - June 1989).




             EPA 520/5-89-034.  Washington, D.C.:




             U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office  of




             Radiation Programs.




EPA90a    Environmental Protection Agency- 1990.  Environmental




             Radiation Data: Report 59  (July - September 1989).




             EPA 520/5-90-003.  Washington, D.C.:




             U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office  of




             Radiation Programs.




PA90b     Environmental Protection Agency. 1990. Environmental




             Radiation Data: Report 60  (October - December 1989).




             EPA 520/5-90-018. Washington, D.C.:  U.S. Environmental




             Protection Agency, Office  of Radiation Programs.




Ka74   Kahn, B., et. al. 1974. Radiological Surveillance Study of




             the Haddam Neck PWR Nuclear Power Station.




             EPA 520/3-74-007.  Washington, D.C.:




             U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office  of




             Radiation Programs.




Ma88   Mangeno, J.J., Steele, J.M., and Poletti, L.F.  1988.




             Environmental Monitoring and Disposal of  Radioactive




             Wastes from U.S. Naval Nuclear Powered Ships and Their




             Support Facilities. Naval Sea Systems Command  Report,




                                19

-------
REFERENCES - Continued








Se88   Semler,  M.O.  and Blanchard, R.L.  1988.  Radiological Survey




          of San Diego Bay.  EPA 520/5-88-019.  Washington, D.C.:




          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation




          Programs.




Sen88  Sensintaffar, E.L. and Blanchard, R.L. 1988.  Radiological




          Survey of the Norfolk Naval Station, the Norfolk Naval




          Shipyard,  and Newport News Shipbuilding.




          EPA 520/5-88-019.  Washington, D.C.:




          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Radiation




          Programs.




Sm87   Smith, J.M.  1987.  Radiological Survey of Charleston Naval




          Base and Shipyard and the Charleston Naval Weapons




          Station.  EPA 520/5-87-009. Washington, D.C.:




          U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of




          Radiation Programs.




Wi87   Windham, S.T., 1987.  Radiological Survey of Kings Bay




          Submarine Support Facility.   EPA 520/5-87-008.




          Washington, D.C.: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,




          Office of Radiation Programs.
                                20

-------
                      APPENDIX

           Description of Samples Collected
             at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Site No,
Samples Collected
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
   10
   11
   12
   13
   14
   15
   16
   17
   18
   19
   20
   21
   22
   23
   24
   25
   26
   27
   28
   29
   30
   31
   32
   33
   34
Sediment, Surface Water
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment, Core
Sediment
Sediment, Surface Water
Sediment, Core
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment, Core
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment, Vegetation
Sediment
Sediment, Core
Sediment
No Sediment*
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
                           21

-------
APPENDIX   Continued
Description of Samples Collected
at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
     Site No.
Samples Collected
        35
        36
        37
        38
        39
        40
        41
        42
        43
        44
        45
        46
        47
        48
        49
        50
Sediment
Sediment
No Sediment*, Vegetation
No Sediment*, Vegetation
Sediment, Surface Water
Sediment
Sediment
Drinking Water
Drinking Water
Drinking Water
Biota
Biota
Biota
Sediment
Sediment
Sediment
   Area was scoured of sediment by the swift currents.
   sample could be obtained.
              No sediment
                               22

-------