United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Hydrogeologic Performance Assessment of the Commercial Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility Near West Valley, New York (NUREG/CR-5737)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: April 1991
Date Published: June 1991

Prepared by:
K. P. Bergeron, J. L Smoot, K. L Kenmer, W. E. Cronin

Pacific Northwest Laboratory
Richland, WA 99352

Prepared for:
Division of Low-Level Waste Management and Decommissioning
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC FIN B2485

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Abstract

A hydrogeologic performance assessment of the commercial low-level waste site near West Valley, New York, was performed for two pathways: a shallow lateral pathway where trench water can potentially migrate laterally through fractured and weathered till to nearby streams and a deep vertical pathway where leachate can migrate downward through unweathered till and laterally offsite in a lacustrine unit.

Along the shallow pathway, little physical site evidence is available to Indicate what the degree of lateral migration can be. Past modeling showed that overflowing trench water would migrate laterally some distance before migrating downward into the unweathered till. If water did reach a nearby stream, calculations show that decay, adsorption, and stream dilution would reduce leachate concentration to acceptable levels.

Within the deep pathway, tritium and 14C were the only radionuclides released in any significant concentrations. Predicted tritium levels are well below regulatory limits; however, predicted peak 14C concentrations, while meeting the 25 mrem/yr limit using the drinking-water-only exposure scenario, exceed the limit for the full garden scenario. Site Information on 14C release rates and geochemical behavior has considerable uncertainty and would need to be more fully evaluated in a licensing situation.

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