The program conducts environmental monitoring to measure radionuclide concentrations in various environmental media, including air, surface water, sediment, soil, natural vegetation, agricultural products, fish wildlife, and external radiation levels to assure the public that the dose and risk from Hanford contaminants are well understood. The data is also collected to monitor several chemical and metal levels in the Columbia River water and sediment, and in fish and wildlife. Surveillance activities focus on materials that are, have been, or potentially could be released from the Hanford Site; however, non-Hanford releases are also considered.
Environmental surveillance performs cumulative assessments of on-site and off-site environmental impacts and off-site human health exposures from Hanford Site operations. In most cases, the assessments are based on measurements made at the point of release (stacks and effluent streams) since releases of radionuclides from the Hanford Site are usually too low to be measured in offsite air and food crops. Environmental concentrations are then estimated using computer models and verified from the environmental monitoring results.
The information produced by Environmental Surveillance is published in the Hanford Site Environmental Report, and is also integrated with the environmental cleanup mission assessment activities. In addition, unusual results or trends are reported to the U.S. Department of Energy, Richland Operations Office, pertinent regulatory agencies, and the appropriate facility managers on a timely basis.