TRW Microwave was registered with the State of California’s Department of Health with a Radiological Materials License and here is a list of their isotopes they received :
PM-147 Promethium 147 (half life 2.6234 y) which goes through Beta Decay to become Samarium 147 (half life of 1.062278031456×1011 y) which emits an alpha particle to become stable Neodymium 143
TL-204 Thallium 204, yes the deadly poison, (half life) decay7s in two ways, one is a beta particle to Lead 204 which is a long term alpha particle emitter and the other is by electron capture to Mercury 204 which then emits 2 beta particles to become radioactive Lead 204 which although is considered stable it emits an alpha particle to become Mercury 200.
CD-109 Cadmium has a half life of 462 days so the use of this isotope has to be very specific to be ordered for TRW. All of these isotopes are By Product meaning they were made in a nuclear reactor.
SR-90 Strontium 90 half life of 28.9 years is one of the isotopes that are the result of nuclear explosions or nuclear reactors. It goes through beta decay to become Yttrium 90 which has a half life of 2.662037037037 days to become Ziconium 90. Strontium 90 is one of the worst isotopes for contamination as it has a long half life and it along with Cesium 137 and Cobalt 60 are what people fear in fallout from a nuclear explosion.
Beta, e and then 2 beta
The report below does not give amounts but a quick search reports many companies including Teledyne in Palo Alto receiving another list of isotopes and unfortunately the State of California is terrible at keeping records of radio-isotopes and their transfers. There is a whole list of sites and I will be posting those under separate articles.
Silicon Valley was Nuclear Valley before it was Silicon Valley, it was the nuclear industry with its need for precision equipment that fueled the creation of these companies.
This is TRW’s heath and Safety Manual. Note on page 16 the list of isotopes used
“Summary of Incident: Forty seconds after a reactor trip, a main feed water elbow ruptured, releasing steam and water into the turbine building. This water shorted out the security card readers for all the plant and entered a fire protection control panel through an open conduit, shorting several circuits and actuating 62 sprinkler heads. The sprinkler water leaked into the control panels to the Cable Tray Rooms CO2 suppression system and for the Emergency Switchgear Rooms Halon suppression systems, shorting control circuits and actuating the CO2 and Halon systems. The main CO2 supply tank was emptied, CO2 and Halon leaked into the control room, and a worker was momentarily trapped between the C02, the Halon, and an inoperable security door. CO2 generated 2 feet of snow in the cable room.” page A.1-29
Note: “Scram” or “Trip” means a shut down of the reactor.
When the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit, the nuclear industry in the Bay Area had a sudden crisis, an Oh Sh1t crisis! The automatic fire prevention sprinkler systems failed on 80 nuclear sites regulated by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) causing electrical shorts in the instrumentation because the Nuclear Industry was not waterproof until after the Earthquake.
This article includes some of the 140 accidents from 1980 to 1989 that were reported in “a round about way” instead of the official channels.
“Nuclear Power is Safe” According to the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in order to maintain that safety record accident reports were discouraged especially ones where its snowing in the Cable Room of a Nuclear Power plant!
At Treasure Island the Navy flat out denied that there was any radiation on the island. Northing was buried in the ground and yet they were digging up radioactive materials out of the ground. But the official reports denied it 1994 Baseline Survey Report.
Instead accidents were reported to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Advisory Committee on Nuclear Safeguards (ACRS) in correspondence on other topics beginning with the words “Oh by the way, this happened . . .
Ginna New York 11/14/81
Summary of Incident: During a test on satellite station “A”, workers inadvertently activated the control circuits to the water spray solenoid valve actuators, actuating the sprinkler systems in several plant areas. Some water entered the control rod drive switchgear cabinet, causing two control rods to be misaligned to the fully withdrawn position. The water also tripped one Reactor Protection System motor generator set. Operators manually tripped the reactor.
Given that the Superfund site is the G. E. Intersil site, this associates it with the San Jose G. E. nuclear reactor assembly plant where they were assembling portable nuclear reactors for the US Army, a project started in the mid 1950s when radiological contamination levels were very relaxed and when they were strengthened in 1959 to 1/3 of what they were before, so all of these reactors were too hot for safe use. The entire program was scrapped by 1965. But this program required a large amount of new electronics and this brought about the beginnings of Silicon Valley.
Unfortunately for the people of San Jose they were dumping waste directly into the sewer system using 1955 standards which are nuclear accidents today. That is the problem with nuclear radiation, the clean up standards of the past, including the most recent past have been less and less radiation so that a site cleaned up 25 years ago is an accident today!
These were portable nuclear reactors that you could put on a truck, a transport plane, a ship or a train and bring it to a military site that had a deep pool with all of the necessary hook ups to set up a nuclear reactor to power the base or for colleges and universities. These reactors had no meaningful shields and were a serious radiological hazard to modern specifications.
There were several other portable nuclear reactor plants in the Bay Area, two I featured in this article Two nuclear reactors sites, 369 Whisman Road Mountainview (now Google) and San Ramon CA where the EPA should also look into assessing the damage to the environment and the people who now live within range of those reactor sites. The 369 Whisman Road reactor site had a high curb surrounding the building to contain the radioactive waste!
The EPA has regulations on conducting radiological surveys for sites and basically everything within 200 feet of a site is considered on the site, that goes for chemical contamination as well as radiological. DTSC has interpreted this to mean the property lines of toxic waste sites but the EPA has different rules. Then there is the distance from the contamination to a quarter of a mile is considered a near neighbor and the distance from a quarter of a mile to a mile is also a near neighbor but with a different set of calculations. The danger is evaluated based on the population near a site so in the case of Apple, this could be a big problem for them. How many people work in their Wheel?
It depends on what happened to the Kr 85 which is a Byproduct Material, meaning it came out of a nuclear reactor and cannot be dumped in low level radiation facilities but would have to be disposed of most likely in the Nevada Test Site.
In order to use an isotope like this, the facility would require a hot cell which is a device or room to store radiological isotopes usually with mechanical hands to remove the isotope from the container and use it in whatever industrial process GE was using at the time and the necessary Geiger counter device to measure the Beta radiation from this isotope. It has a half life of 10 years so its still hot. Some hot cells are portable and look like aquariums or those isolated rooms with hands you see in movies or TV shows.
If the radiation was used on a device that has since decomposed in the soil, then you have the larger ranges of water and air contamination that can go out 4 miles from the site.
The Question is, does the EPA know that the isotope was used on the site. Given the other sites in the Bay Area I would give my opinion as to say no, but this will have to be looked into.
If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had done its job, then there would be a set of inspections and a series of surveys to confirm the radiological isotopes were disposed of property and how they were used.
Google currently occupies the location where American Standard built portable nuclear reactors that were sent overseas in trade shows for the Atomic Energy Commission and for colleges and universities. The AEC shut down the facility because it was located in a densely populated area and given the accidents from these reactors and that the location had no shielding or even containment for the radioactive gasses and radioactive water, it was decided to pull the plug on the reactors. They had two reactors on site and built these reactors for other entities:
Iowa State University Virginia Polytechnic Institute / North Carolina State college Australia (Atomic Energy Commission) Japan (Kinki University) Osaka Japan (Tokai University)
From the report page 6:
“B. Reactor Building The reactor will be housed in an existing 20′ x 32′ x 14′ eave height steel frame reactor building. The building is supported on a reinforced concrete foundation and has corrugated steel walls and roof and a concrete floor sealed with Amercoat. A concrete curb around the base of the building will prevent run off of radioactive water. Gas-tight construction has not been provided. Entry to the building is provided by two sliding doors, which may be locked with a padlock. A stairway provides access to the top of the reactor. A one-ton electric hoist is available for removing the concrete closures from the reactor”
Note the curb around the building to prevent run off of radioactive water and the padlock on the door for security. Remember this is for two nuclear reactors.
This reactor type was based on the Argonne reactor which had some serious defects causing a melt down.