LeftendClassifiedsJobsHomesCarsMarketplaceShopRightend
HomeLocal NewsSportsIsland LifeEntertainmentBusinessTechnologyOpinionHelp
Space
ln
Space
Logo
April 5, 2005
Inside
hr
Local News
Education
Obituaries
Weather
Traffic Hotspots
Town Hall
Hali'a Hawai'i
Military News
Discussion Boards
Live Chats
hr
Get Home Delivery
Subscribe NOW!
hr

space


The Site
Our Archives
Classifieds

Back Issues

hr
Featured News
Nation/World News
Movie Showtimes
TGIF Calendar
Photo Gallery
Special Projects
Columnists
hr
Customer Service
Help Page
Contact Us
E-mail News Alerts
Subscriber Services
Reader Services
Advertising Services
Make Us Your Start Page
hr
Space
 
Print This Printable version  |   Email This E-mail this story 
Space
Posted on: Sunday, March 3, 2002

Feds want to bury Johnston Island's radioactive matter

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Science Writer

A federal agency hopes to entomb nearly 60,000 cubic yards of radioactive material on Johnston Island.

The burial and covering of the contaminated coral and construction debris has been proposed as the best of multiple disposal options by the Defense Environmental Restoration Program.

Officials with the program will hold public hearings in Hawai'i this month on its proposals. The hearings will be preceded by a one-hour meeting during which technicians will discuss the plan.

Sessions are March 13 at the Lihu'e Public Library on Kaua'i, March 15 at the Kahului Community Center on Maui, and March 18 at the Pu'u'eo Community Center in Hilo on the Big Island. Times for the Neighbor Island events are 5 to 6 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. The Honolulu sessions are 5 to 6 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. March 20 at Washington Middle School.

Johnston Atoll, 700 miles southwest of Honolulu, was the site of two aborted nuclear test missile launches in 1962. The destruction of the missiles left Johnston Island, the largest land mass within the atoll, contaminated by plutonium oxide and americium, a radioactive breakdown product of plutonium.

The cleanup of the radioactive contamination has been going on for the past 40 years, resulting in four piles of contaminated material:

  • Nearly 60,000 cubic yards of coral with an average radiation concentration of 200 picocuries per gram — a level of radioactivity that under Environmental Protection Agency regulations must be sealed from exposure to the environment.
  • 156,000 cubic yards of coral contaminated at an average of 7.7 picocuries per gram — below the level requiring special treatment.
  • 240 tons of metal and 260 cubic yards of concrete debris, whose radioactivity is assumed but untested.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency proposes using an existing excavation within the Radiological Control Area, the region directly contaminated by the missile blasts. It would dump in the metal and concrete debris first, followed by the higher-level contaminated coral. It would be capped with a 2-foot layer of coral soil.

The area would then be subject to land-use restrictions and regular monitoring for up to five years.

"This combined option provides an approach that protects human health and the environment commensurate with the radiological risk, and offers cost-effectiveness and practicality for this remote location," the agency said.

Other alternatives include different landfilling options, shipping material off the atoll, encasing it in concrete, and vitrification — essentially, turning it into glass before burying it.

The EPA set a radioactivity level of 40 picocuries per gram as an acceptable risk level for the atoll, but the Defense Threat Reduction Agency selected a technique that allowed it to achieve 13.5 picocuries per gram as the standard islandwide.

The radiation risk for people on the island for one year at this level, the agency said, is slightly less than the radiation dose an airline passenger receives flying coast to coast.

A May 2000 survey "verified that plutonium oxide is not soluble in the Johnston Atoll environment and that groundwater has not moved radioactive contamination from the Radiological Control Area to other parts of the island."

Of 113 core samples taken around the island, all but five showed contamination levels lower than 13.5 picocuries per gram, and four of those five were below the surface.

The fish in the lagoon are edible and contain no more radioactivity than fish sold in Mainland U.S. markets, the agency said.

Space Space Space
 
Up Arrow Top  
Space Space

MINI SITE MAP
LOCAL NEWS :
Education | Obituaries | Weather | Traffic Hotspots | Town Hall | Military News | Discussion Boards | Live Chat | Columnists
SPORTS :
Surf Report | UH Sports | High School Sports | Recreation | Sports Calendar | On the Air | Golf Report | National Sports
ISLAND LIFE :
About Men/Women | Taste/Recipes | Faith Calendar | Health/Fitness | Comics | TGIF Calendar | Tube Notes
ENTERTAINMENT :
TGIF Calendar | 4-Week Guide | Movie Showtimes | Dining | Visitors | National Arts & Leisure
BUSINESS :
Hawai'i Stocks | Hawai'i Mutual Funds | Hawai'i Mortgage Rates | Island Bank Rates | Stock Quotes | Moneywire | Coming Events | Trade Winds | Local Resources
TECHNOLOGY :
Click! | New Products | Help & Advice | Byte Marks | National Tech News
OPINION :
Letters to the Editor | Dick Adair's Cartoons | Submit a Letter | Submit a Commentary
HELP PAGE :
Contact Us | Back Issues | Newspaper Subscriptions | How to Advertise | Frequently Asked Questions | About Us | Site Map | Terms of Service | Corrections
CLASSIFIEDS :
Classified Ads | Cars | Homes | Jobs | Marketplace | Shop | Business Directory | Restaurant Guide | Coupons | Place an ad | Contact Advertising
Space
Space
© COPYRIGHT 2004 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
Use of this site indicates your agreement to the Terms of Service (updated 12/19/2002)
Space Space
 
IF YOU SEE THE LIST OF SECTIONS BELOW, IT IS BECAUSE YOU ARE USING AN OLD BROWSER.
PLEASE UPGRADE YOUR BROWSER TO ACTIVATE SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS TO YOUR NEWS-READING EXPERIENCE.
 Education 
 Obituaries 
 Weather 
 Traffic Hotspots 
 Town Hall 
 Military News 
 Discussion Boards 
 Live Chat 
Space
 Surf Report 
 UH Sports 
 High School Sports 
 Recreation 
 Sports Calendar 
 On the Air 
 Golf Report 
 AP Sports 
Space
 About Men/Women 
 Taste/Recipes 
 Faith Calendar 
 Health/Fitness 
 Comics 
 TGIF Calendar 
 Tube Notes 
Space
 TGIF Calendar 
 4-Week Guide 
 Movie Showtimes 
 Dining 
 Visitors 
 AP Arts & Leisure 
Space
 Hawai'i Stocks 
 Hawai'i Mutual Funds 
 Hawai'i Mortgage Rates 
 Island Bank Rates 
 Stock Quotes 
 National Business 
 Coming Events 
 Trade Winds 
 Local Resources 
Space
 Click! 
 New Products 
 Help & Advice 
 Bytemarks 
 AP Tech News 
Space
 Letters to the Editor 
 Dick Adair's cartoons 
 Submit a Letter 
 Submit a Commentary 
Space
 Contact Us  
 How to Subscribe 
 How to Advertise
 About Us  
 Site Map  
 Terms of Service 
 Corrections 
Space