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.
The project is a redevelopment property within the Teledyne-Spectraphysics (T-S) plume with underlying groundwater probably impacted by the upgradient T-S source properties. The developer plans to construct the building wiht a vapor intrusion mitigation system (VIMS) and water barrier. Indoor air testing will be conducted to verify that the VIMS is working as designed.
EPA Superfund Site : “The National Semiconductor Corporation (National Semiconductor) previously manufactured electronic equipment at this 50-acre site. Underground storage tanks, sumps, and pipes are the suspected sources for contaminated groundwater and soil in Sunnyvale underneath the site. Beginning in 1982, National Semiconductor closed and removed its leaking tanks and equipment, instituted a groundwater pump and treat system, and removed contaminated soil from selected areas of the facility. The contaminants of concern are primarily chlorinated organic solvents, including trichloloethene (TCE), which, along with other nearby National Priority List (NPL) sites including the Monolithic Memories Superfund Site, have contaminated a common groundwater area. Although these nearby sites are listed separately on the NPL, the cleanup activities at some of the sites are being coordinated as part of an area-wide cleanup approach.”
Deed Restrictions: ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED WHICH DISTURB THE REMEDY AND MONITORING SYSTEMS WITHOUT APPROVAL, LAND USE COVENANT, NOTIFY DAMAGES TO REMEDY AND MONITORING SYSTEMS UPON DISCOVERY
HEWLETT-PACKARD COMPANY (SL720511210) – (Geotracker MAP) Map indicating toxic waste sites in as small square boxes. If you click on each square you will be directed to the State Geotracker page for that toxic waste site.
Groundwater Contamination Map, Toxic Plumes Map Source: The Chemical Legacy of Old Silicon Valley, NBC Bay Area, Map Editor Scott Pham 2019 The red dots represent Daycare centers from 2019. NBC Bay Area had a series of maps that indicated where the toxic waste sites were located and the extent of the damage encompassing vast areas of the community but they took it down. The pollution is in the groundwater so it covers a vast area in Pink.
Envirostor State of California Link: “The EPA added this site to the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1991. This Superfund site is comprised of several former Fairchild Semiconductor Corp facilities spanning 56 acres in Mountain View. The Fairchild Semiconductor Corp – Mountain View site is one of three Superfund or NPL sites that are being cleaned up simultaneously. The other two Superfund sites are the Intel – Mountain View site and the Raytheon site. All three sites are located in the Middlefield-Ellis-Whisman (MEW) Study Area and are being addressed collectively as the MEW SIte. Site investigations at several of these facilities during 1981 and 1982 revealed extensive soil and groundwater contamination, primarily VOCs. Soil cleanup by soil vapor extraction, excavation, and aeration has been completed at all the MEW study area sites. Groundwater remediation is ongoing at the MEW Study Area.”
Apple Computer, Kaiser Permanente Child/ado Psy and Kaiser Permanente – CDRP (Chemical dependency recovery program) are located on the EPA Superfund Tri-Site where there are toxic chemicals in the ground that emerge as toxic vapor and the deed restrictions are present to stop organizations from having hospital facilities on the site. Strange thing is Kaiser Permanente operates two facilities on the site. So I would imagine that each patient must be signing a waver when they visit the facility?
The Teledyne property is part of a two-property Superfund site along with the adjacent Spectra-Physics property.
The responsible parties (RPs) for the Teledyne/Spectra-Physics site completed a Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA) study in the off-property area north of and downgradient of the site. The MNA study concluded that natural breakdown of the chlorinated volatile organic compounds of concern is occuring naturally and at the same rate as groundwater extraction. As a result, only a few of the off-property downgradient extraction wells were operating mainly to maintain hydraulic control of the plume. The RPs completed a pilot study to test the feasibility of enhanced reductive dechlorination (ERD) and concluded that ERD is feasible with bioaugmentation of the Shallow Zone.
Within the last five years, the RPs detected elevated source areas at the Teledyne property using high resolution technology and continuously logged and screened ERD injection well boreholes. Implementing a full-scale ERD treatability study, they have been and are currently remediating the property with groundwater-CVOC levels dropping from as much as over 80,000 ug/l to low multiples of MCLs. Several rounds of ERD injections successfully cleaned up most of the Shallow Zone at the Teledyne property and the adjacent Spring Street residential area to drinking water standards and the treatability study was even more successful in the underlying Upper and Lower Intermediate Zones.
An on-property IA VI evaluation at a SpectraPhysics property in 2004 indicated no IA-CVOC contamination above the Regional Water Board’s 2008 ESLs. More recently, the RPs also assertively evaluated potential IA VI in the off-property commercial North Bayshore and residential Spring Street areas to conclude that IA VI is not occurring in most of the commercial area and is occasionally occurring in several homes in the residential area. The RPs installed sub-slab depressurization systems in the impacted on-property commercial buildings and offered the affected residents crawl space fans to address the issue.
Nine indicator chemicals were identified from approximately 30 chemicals detected in the Study Area. The nine indicator chemicals are as follows: 1,1-dichloroethane (1,1-DCA) 1.1-dichloroethylene (1,1-DCE) 1.2-dichloroethylene (1,2-DCE) tetrachloroethylene (PCE) toluene 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene (1,2,4-TCB) 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA) trichloroethylene (TCE) vinyl chloride (VC
RECORD OF DECISION, TELEDYNE SEMICONDUCTOR AND SPECTRA-PHYSICS, INC. JOINT SUPERFUND SITES MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA MARCH 22, 1991 U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REGION 9 p. 26 https://semspub.epa.gov/work/09/46745.pdf
ACTIVITIES PROHIBITED WHICH DISTURB THE REMEDY AND MONITORING SYSTEMS WITHOUT APPROVAL DAY CARE CENTER PROHIBITED ELDER CARE CENTER PROHIBITED HOSPITAL USE PROHIBITED LAND USE COVENANT MAINTAIN MONITORING OF GROUNDWATER NO GROUNDWATER EXTRACTION AT ANY DEPTH WITHOUT APPROVAL NOTIFY AFTER CHANGE OF PROPERTY OWNER ONLY EXTRACTION OF GROUNDWATER FOR SITE REMEDIATION PERMITTED PUBLIC OR PRIVATE SCHOOL FOR PERSONS UNDER 21 PROHIBITED RAISING OF FOOD PROHIBITED RESIDENCE USE PROHIBITED
POTENTIAL CONTAMINANTS OF CONCERN 1,1,1-TRICHLOROETHANE (TCA), 1,4-DIOXANE, DICHLOROETHENE (DCE), FREON