US Navy Dispensary on Fell Street San Francisco – Home of the Bureau of Medicine for Operation Crossroads the Atomic Bomb tests at the Bikini Islands in 1946 (See 1946 listing under Chronology), the personnel who figured out how to clean ships contaminated by an Atomic Bomb Blast and it continued radiological work through 1960. Note this location is within 1200 feet of San Francisco City Hall which will need a radiological survey including an alpha particle survey by the EPA. Twitter Headquarters is also located several hundred feet from this location and since it was an old building, it too must be checked out for contamination.
Today Fort Baker is a part of the Golden Gate National Park where they have a children’s museum and activities on the location of the US Army’s Biological Research Field Laboratory that was closed down when an outbreak of Q Fever swept the base in 1979. The Army called it an accident as they were experimenting on Sheep and goats that just so happen to have Q Fever, and the disease infected the base. There could be no other reason because the US signed onto the International Treaties that banned biological weapons in 1972.
During Desert Storm the Army claimed that the disease Q Fever had infected its soldiers in the field and that this was the first time it was seen by the military. That does not square with the records above. If they truly did not know about it, what does that say about the waste and lack of care in preserving documents?
Given that all of this research is classified at the time, has anyone in the military ever decided to keep track of research so as to avoid accidents like this or to build on previous research instead of inventing the wheel every time a disease crops up?
LAIR Letterman Army Institute of Research (LAIR) was at the Presidio next to Letterman Army Hospital. Fort Baker was the field laboratory for both entities and the NRC regulated the Radiological Labs at all three locations. Here are is a the cover letter and map of the Radiation facilities from December 6 1991.
The Naval Biological Warfare Laboratory in Oakland run by the University of California Berkeley, conducted experiments in infectious disease, fungii, Chemical, Biological and Radiological research for the purpose of protecting Naval Personnel in combat and to develop vaccines and therapeutic methods to treat diseases. Also notice the diseases that affect livestock are an example of a biological weapon. It is this lab that lead the way to the Polio Vaccine and other major works in saving lives. The site is now being developed for real estate.
Bovine Rhinotracheitis Virus – The infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) virus belongs to the group of herpes viruses. It causes in cattle a severe disease predominantly in the upper respiratory tract. Morbidity rate is 100 percent https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/165129/
Malleomyces pseudomallei – Bacterium Melioidosis is also called Whitmore disease, Vietnamese time bomb, Nightcliff gardener’s disease, morphia injector’s septicaemia, and paddy-field disease. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/melioidosis
I was about to type up a report on Fairchild Semiconductors in Mountain View using Tritium as a light source for their LCD displays at what is now a Google Quad building on 434 Ellis Street, Mountain View when I came upon this report showing Tritium being delivered to Apple at 19050 Pruneridge Ave Cupertino. 10.5 curies of Tritium which is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that has a half life of 12.32 Years. This is an invoice for 4-01-2016 to 6-30-2016 and the cover sheet for the invoice is below. Source is Document at Nuclear Regulatory Commission website
On the left is a nuclear reactor core, on the right is the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve Trailhead. This company would have a nuclear disaster in a sister plant in New Jersey which resulted in the closure of all of their plants nationwide due to mismanagement.
International Nutronics Inc ran the Palo Alto reactor also had a reactor in Dover New Jersey (below) that had a serious nuclear accident which the company did not report to the NRC and this resulted in the closure of this reactor in Palo Alto. The company started off at 200 Third St. Los Altos but they had three reactor sites, one in Irvine and this one and the Dover New Jersey plant and a sewage Treatment plant in Menlo Park where they irradiated sewage to kill bacteria.
The Palo Alto facility had 750,000 Curies of C0-60 source and was used to irradiate food to kill bacteria and for cleaning medical equipment. Basically they would place these things in containers over the reactor and open it up to be irradiated.
Here is an example of one of the rods placed in the core from the GE Vallecitos Nuclear Reactor in Pleasanton California.
The plant was closed after the nuclear disaster in the sister plant in Dover New Jersey. To best explain the plant operations and how and why it was closed can be explained by the following documents.
The Dover New Jersey INI Nuclear Disaster December 31, 1982
Do you remember in the movie “The China Syndrome” where the sirens went off in the reactor and the water level dropped too low and was in danger of exposing the core? Well that happened to the International Nutronics Inc, reactor in Dover New Jersey. on December 31 1982
The water level dropped because they had a water leak from the core which spilled radioactive water all over the floor of the building and the workers were tasked with dumping the water into the sewer system using buckets. The amounts of radiation exposure was off the scale and they would have gotten away with it if not for one of the employees told the NRC about what happened about 8 months after the event. He was mad that the company was not addressing his concerns about the exposure.
Meanwhile in early 1983 the NRC conducted an “inspection” of the facility where they were not informed of the nuclear disaster and the inspector was concerned with the company not issuing regular reports that were required of all nuclear companies. Quality Assurance Reports . The inspector reported no problems because the company had not filed the reports so there were no errors to be found in reports that did not exist.
His inspection report is below, remember that at the time of the inspection the place was a Nuclear Disaster Area, and the inspector was a bureaucrat and while the radiation was pulsing through his body, he made this report about the paperwork.
Suffice it to say the Inspector was fooled.
The State of California does this too; they usually send inspectors after they tell the company they are coming ahead of time. So there are no real regulation or inspections.
When the NRC finally realized what had happened, that their inspector was lied to, the company officials were arrested and the company was closed down. They eventually get 2 years of probation and the company was fined $36000 for the nuclear accident which had to be cleaned up and because of the radiation, it was a very complex clean up exposing workers to dangerous levels of gamma radiation. There was a huge lawsuit over the sales of the cobalt 60 and of course for the contamination.
The Palo Alto plant shutdown
The discovery of the 25 mr/hr of radiation is a nuclear accident. The threshold for a nuclear accident is 2 mr/hr of exposure. And the safe level of radiation for a year is 100 mrems /year.
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.
When the (Atomic Energy Commission changed the safe levels of radiation to the lower number in 1959, these reactors suddenly had a problem, they were over the limits and so shielding had to be devised to keep them running. So American Standard sent the following letter to the Atomic Energy Commission to get them to change their rules, otherwise they were out of business. Guess what, it didn’t work, they are out of business.
The portable nuclear reactors were capable of being placed on a truck or train car and moved to any location where a deep pool of water with the necessary hook ups would be arranged so they just lower the reactor into the pool, connect it to the system and you are done.
You would think that something like this would be noticeable in the State of California or even the EPA but for some strange reason, they do not seem to know anything about this. The Atomic Energy Commission knew about it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission knows about it.
There is a disconnect between the NRC, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the EPA even though the EPA is registered with the NRC for its own radiation detection equipment and it has its own NRC license.
San Ramon Nuclear Reactors were being built 10 at a time
Another location as the Aerojet-General Nucleonics Nuclear Reactor plant in what is now downtown San Ramon which at any one time was building 10 portable nuclear reactors.
In the above map:
1) An AGN-201 reactor, currently opera ting at 20 w, used for instrument and dosimeter calibrations and for research work in connection with AGN’s fission-chemistry development programs. 2) A hot cell with high-density concrete walls 20 in. thick. And high-density glass viewing windows, also 20 in. thick, designed to handle specimens up to 300 curies at 1 Mev 3) Chemistry laboratories, including two radiochemical laboratories, two wet chemical laboratories, a sample preparation laboratory, and storerooms 4) A specialized experimental laboratory for AGN’s fission-chemistry programs, used for UO2 slurry circulation, sample vessel assembly, loading, and unloading, safety tests, and sample analysis
5) A metallurgical and material laboratory for evaluation of high temperature materials and nuclear applications of both fueled and unfueled materials 6) A liquid metals Laboratory, including two liquid metal capsule corrosion test facilities, a boiling and condensing heat transfer test facility for space system radiators and boilers, and a dynamic liquid metal corrosion loop test facility 7) An electronics development laboratory 8) A nuclear measurements laboratory with equipment for precision alpha, beta, and gamma counting
The main office building (2) contains engineering and administrative offices, drafting rooms, computer facilities, a document control center, and printing, photographic, and other supporting services. It includes special AEC and DOD restricted area, for work on classified projects.
The shops building (3) includes a general machine shop, a separate bay of 3000 sq ft for welding operations, specialized machine tool areas for the handling of radioactive materials, facilities for the fabrication, assembly, I maintenance, and calibration of instrumentation and electronic equipment, and supporting shop services.
The nuclear fuel fabrication facility (7) is used for ceramic fuel production, sealing and assembly of wire-spaced pins for elements, and preparation of fuel-loaded parts. It is equipped with dust-free assembly rooms, glove boxes, and special equipment for inspection, testing, analysis, and leak detection. Fireproof vaults are provided for storage of plutonium and uranium. The entire facility is a restricted area, and appropriate accountability and health physics services are provided.
Other installations on the western side of the railroad tracks include a special radionuclide laboratory (14), cleaning and decontamination facilities, housing for pumps, generators, and air compressors, and special storage facilities for inflammable (5) and hazardous (9) materials.
To the east of the tracks, a new facility (51) for testing power conversion equipment and other rotating machinery was completed this year. The facility includes a high-bay assembly area, control room, test room, and special power sources and testing machinery. The concrete floor slab extends outside the building to provide a base for testing fully-assembled power conversion units for nuclear power plants.
A new physics laboratory (52) was recently completed to accommodate AGN’s expanding research in plasma physics and related fields. The laboratory houses various large magnetic-field power supplies, capacitor banks, vacuum chambers, von Ardenne and other ion sources, an energetic arc, microwave diagnostic equipment, and other special equipment for experimentation and analysis. The building is-300 ft from the site of the proposed AGNIR facility.
A new building (55) for a pulse power research facility is now under construction northeast of the new physics laboratory. The building will provide 650 sq ft of floor space for research and experimentation in the field of pulsed power production.
At the time the area was orchards wih very few people living within range of the site in the case of a nuclear accident. Unfortunately they used the city sewage for the release of radioactive water which would flow downstream through Walnut Hill and then all the way to Suisan Bay and given the safety levels of the times, this was a lot of radiation.
They built portable nuclear reactors for the following entities:
Catholic University of America Oklahoma State University of Agriculture and Applied Science University of Akron Texas A&M University of Utah Argonne National Laboratory (AEC) Colorado State University University of California Berkeley University of Delaware Oregon State University AGN 201-111 was operated in the commercial exhibit of the 1958 International Conference in Geneva prior to transfer to the University of Geneva Switzerland (University of Basel) Italy (University of Palermo) U. S. Naval Post Graduate School (USN) – melted down but was contained; no explosion National Naval Medical Center (USN) William Marsh Rice University University of Oklahoma West Virginia University, College of Engineering Aerojet-General Nucleonics (5 reactors) AGN 201 reactors Aerojet-General Nucleonics (5 reactors) AGN 211 Reactors
Today the City of San Ramon parks its School Buses on the site. Google Map
The radioactively contaminated water from the site went into the sewer system of San Ramon and gets dumped into Suisun Bay through Walnut Hill. Unfortunately 1950’s standards for radiation were so dangerous that in 1959 they were cut to 1/3 of what they were in 1955 and this put the portable nuclear reactor business under as the effects of radiation became apparent and all of these reactors were emitting at least 7.5 mrems per hour when today the level of safety is 2 mrems per hour. Any amount above that number is a nuclear accident.
They also had issues with meltdowns and explosions. The Santa Susana reactors near Simi Valley built for NASA and satellites had three nuclear reactors melt down and at least one of them exploded making it the worst nuclear reactor disaster on record. People think Three Mile Island was bad, the reactor exploded and a radioactive cloud of Strontium 90 spread over the valley from the site into Simi Valley and across the hills to Los Angeles County to the River.
We nuked Antarctica
I think I should mention the nuclear reactor built by the Seabees at Port Humene in Antarctica melted down and exploded.
The Navy base at Port Humene is used by the Navy to conduct the radiation studies of Hunters Point Shipyard and Treasure Island. They were directly involved in the studies that purposely contaminated areas for testing.
The Reactor at McMurdo was cleaned up, the materials were sent to the Nevada Test Range for burial. But someone had to clean it up.
TITLE 10 – ATOMIC ENERGY Chapter I – Atomic Energy Commission PART 20 – STANDARDS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST RADIATION Federal Register Tuesday, January 29, 1957 pp 549-554
Editor’s Note: The Atomic Energy Commission produced a set of safe levels of radiation exposure for nuclear workers that today are nuclear accidents, for instance the exposure for hands and forearms feet and neck is 1500 mrems per week in 1957. Today the exposure of citizens for a year is 100 mrems, 10 for children! The USNRDL’s standard established in 1946 by Dr. Joseph Hamilton of the University of California Berkeley which was in use until 1969 was 100 mrems per hour.
These levels are very important for when an agency claims it has cleaned up an area, you have to ask what were the standards used to clean up that area and when was it cleaned?
So for example in this document it discusses the safe levels of radiation drained into sewers. For instance we know that the GE Nuclear Energy disposed of nuclear waste by pouring it down the drain into the sewer system of San Jose using the 1957 standards.
The 1957 Standards for Protection Against Radiation:
TITLE 10 – ATOMIC ENERGY Chapter I – Atomic Energy Commission PART 20 – STANDARDS FOR PROTECTION AGAINST RADIATION