Executive Summary



A. Permits   §1.3

B. Inspections   §1.4

C. Incident Tracking   §1.5

D. Performance Evaluation   §1.6


A. Radiological Monitoring   §1.8

Figure 1-1: Typical Radiation Doses Received by Public, Including
                     Maximum Contribution from Berkeley Lab

B. Nonradiological Monitoring   §1.9


The mission of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is to continue the long tradition of outstanding research that has made it a premier national and international multiprogram laboratory. Laboratory activities are planned and conducted with full regard to protecting the public and the environment and complying with appropriate environmental laws and regulations. Both radiological and nonradiological activities are thoroughly monitored to assess their potential impact on the environment.

Published annually, this Site Environmental Report covers activities for calendar year 1998. Volume I summarizes environmental protection performance and environmental monitoring activities. Volume II contains all original analytical data used to summarize the environmental monitoring results in the first volume. Volume II is available on request (for details, see preface).

Data are presented in the report using the International System of Units measuring system, more commonly referred to as the metric system. For the convenience of readers, both volumes of this report can be accessed on the Web using the index found on the Berkeley Lab home page, which is located at http://www.lbl.gov. Readers are encouraged to comment on this report by completing (a) the survey card included with the distributed hard copy or (b) the survey form in the Web version of this report. The format and content of this report satisfy the requirements of United States Department of Energy (DOE) Order 231.1, Environment, Safety and Health Reporting,1 and the operating contract between the University of California (UC) and DOE.2


Berkeley Lab’s environmental program involves permits, inspections, incident tracking, performance evaluation, and environmental monitoring. The first four items are discussed in §§1.3, 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6. Environmental monitoring is briefly discussed in §§1.7, 1.8, and 1.9.

§1.3      A. Permits

At the end of 1998, Berkeley Lab managed 21 operations that were subject to environmental operating permits from various regulatory agencies:

For further discussion of these permits, see chapter 3.

§1.4      B. Inspections

Twenty-nine inspections of Berkeley Lab’s environmental programs occurred during 1998, with five reports of violations issued from these inspections by regulatory agencies. Two violations pertained to medical waste handling. Two violations were related to Building 77 sewer discharge levels of chromium that exceeded permit limits. One violation was related to waste storage in a generator area. All five violations have been corrected. For further discussion of these violations, see §§3.17, 3.19, and 3.25.

§1.5      C. Incident Tracking

Berkeley Lab filed four reports with DOE for minor environmental incidents in 1998 that were reportable to DOE under its occurrence-reporting program. For further discussion of these incidents, see §§3.5, 3.7, 3.17, and 3.25.

§1.6      D. Performance Evaluation

The operating contract between UC and DOE requires Berkeley Lab to perform an assessment of its environmental program each year, using measures developed jointly by Berkeley Lab, UC, and DOE.3 There are four environmental program measures:

  1. Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment;
  2. Tracking Environmental Incidents;
  3. Waste Reduction and Recycling; and
  4. Waste Minimization, Pollution Prevention, and Protection of the Environment.

From possible ratings of "outstanding," "excellent," "good," and "no ranking," Berkeley Lab achieved a rating of "outstanding" on the third measure, "excellent" on the first and second measures, and "good" on the fourth measure.

For additional information on the performance review program, see §§3.29, 3.30, 3.31, 3.32, 3.33, and 3.34.


Berkeley Lab’s environmental monitoring program serves several purposes:

Both radiological and nonradiological contaminants are monitored in the local environment.4 Below are brief summaries of environmental measurements from 1998.

§1.8      A. Radiological Monitoring

A significant portion of the environmental monitoring program measures radiological impacts from Laboratory activities. The Laboratory monitors two types of radiation: (1) penetrating radiation from sources such as accelerators and (2) dispersible radionuclides from a wide range of Laboratory research activities. Specially designed shielding blocks are in place to reduce the release of penetrating radiation into the environment, and capture systems are used to retain most dispersible radionuclides so that they are not released into the atmosphere.

The primary radiological compliance standards affecting the Laboratory are based on the maximum potential dose that a member of the public would receive from both direct penetrating radiation and dispersible radionuclides from the site. For 1998, this maximum annual dose to an individual was determined to be 0.007 millisieverts (mSv) (0.7 millirem (mrem)) or only about 0.7% of the applicable DOE radiological standard of 1 mSv/yr (100 mrem/yr).5 This estimate is also about 0.3% of the dominant source of radiation in the Bay Area, which is naturally occurring background radiation. The estimate for background radiation in the Bay Area is 2.6 mSv/yr (260 mrem/yr).6 Figure 1-1 shows that Berkeley Lab ranks as a minor contributor to the dose received by a typical member of the public from all contributing sources of radiation (i.e., natural terrestrial background, medical, and consumer products).

Figure 1-1      Typical Radiation Doses Received by Public, Including Maximum
Contribution from Berkeley Lab

Berkeley Lab also estimates the cumulative dose impact (collective population dose) from its penetrating and dispersible radiological activities to the entire population found within an 80-kilometer (50-mile) radius of the Laboratory. This measure is the sum of all individual doses (i.e., ranging from a maximum of 0.007 mSv near the site boundary to a minimum of 0 at an 80-kilometer distance) within the specified region. The collective population dose for 1998 was estimated at 2.56 × 10–2 person-Sv (2.56 person-rem) or about two ten-thousandth of one percent of the dose that the population within this region received from background radiation. No regulatory standard exists for this measure. For further discussion of the estimated dose impacts to the neighboring community from both direct and dispersible radiation, see chapter 10.

Dispersible radionuclide sources are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US/EPA). The US/EPA has set 0.1 mSv/yr (10 mrem/yr)7 as the maximum allowable dose to the public from all exposure pathways (e.g., inhalation, ingestion) resulting from airborne releases of radionuclides. The estimated maximum potential dose from all airborne radionuclides released from the site in 1998 was 0.003 mSv (0.3 mrem), with tritium accounting for over 90% of that amount. This dose is about 3% of the US/EPA limit and about 40% of Berkeley Lab’s total maximum dose to the public.

§1.9      B. Nonradiological Monitoring

Berkeley Lab’s nonradiological monitoring program focuses primarily on water, soil, and sediment.

In compliance with the four wastewater discharge permits8 issued to the Laboratory by the East Bay Municipal Utility District, Berkeley Lab samples for metals, chlorinated hydrocarbons, and other specified parameters in sanitary sewer discharges. In 1998, two wastewater discharge samples were above permit limits for chromium. See chapter 3. For details on the wastewater discharge sampling program, see chapter 7.

Stormwater discharges at Berkeley Lab are regulated under a general permit9 issued by the State Water Resources Control Board. Stormwater discharges are treated differently from wastewater in that no specific discharge limits are cited in the permit. References in the permit to the Water Quality Control Plan (Basin Plan)10 for the San Francisco Bay Basin are intended as guidelines rather than measures of compliance for stormwater discharges. Berkeley Lab analyzes stormwater samples for a wide set of potential contaminants, including pH, oil and grease, total suspended solids, and metals. All results for the year were below or near sample detection limits. For the results from stormwater sampling efforts throughout the year (along with the results from the sampling of rainwater, creeks, lakes, and hydraugers), see chapter 5.

Extensive groundwater monitoring has been conducted by Berkeley Lab since the early 1990s, and eight groundwater plumes have been identified. These plumes are all on site. The groundwater in the vicinity of the Laboratory is not used for public drinking water. There are four types of plume contaminants:

The Laboratory has nearly completed characterizing these plumes and is developing long-term strategies to address the contamination. Until the Laboratory can implement these strategies, it has initiated several interim corrective action measures to remediate the contaminated media or prevent movement of contamination. Concentrations of contaminants are reported to agencies quarterly, along with other program developments and planned activities. For further information, see chapter 6.

The current soil and sediment monitoring program analyzes samples for metals, pH, and organic compounds at locations that complement sampling in other media such as air and surface water. Similar to results reported for other programs, most samples were below or near analytical detection limits. The exception was for oil and grease samples collected near roadway or parking lots. The levels of oil and grease measured at Berkeley Lab are not uncommon for an urban setting. For more on Berkeley Lab’s impact on soil and sediment, see chapter 8.