Wolf Creek Generating Station (WCGS) is a pressurized water nuclear reactor capable of producing over 1,200 megawatts of electrical power. Located near Burlington Kansas, the plant is operated by Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation (WCNOC). The facility releases radioactive material to the environment in the form of liquid and gaseous effluents. This report details the results of surveillance of the environs surrounding WCGS conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) from July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.
KDHE’s Wolf Creek Environmental Radiation Surveillance (ERS) program began in 1979 in accordance with Kansas Administrative Regulation (K.A.R.) 28-19-81 with the initial selection of surface water sampling locations. The ERS program parallels (and partially overlaps) the WCNOC Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program (REMP).
The purpose of the ERS program is to detect, identify, and measure radioactive material and direct radiation released to the environment from the operation of WCGS. Data indicating the release of elevated levels of radioactive material will be used to determine the need for corrective and/or protective actions to protect the health and safety of the public.
The ERS program includes the following monitoring methods:
• Measurement of ambient external radiation levels using optically stimulated luminescence dosimetry
• Monitoring of radionuclides present in ambient air through weekly collection and laboratory analysis of continuous air samples
• Monitoring of radionuclides present in water, terrestrial vegetation, aquatic vegetation, fish, sediments, and soil through scheduled and random sample collection and laboratory analysis.
Discussion of Impact of Japan Earthquake and Radiological Release
On March 11, 2011, the Japanese island of Honshu experienced a magnitude 9.0 earthquake which resulted in a tsunami which produced waves up to 133 feet. Some of the waves traveled inland up to six miles, resulting in massive damage and loss of critical infrastructure.
The earthquake and subsequent tsunami resulted in damage to six nuclear power plants on the island. Radioactive material released from at least four of the plants was carried across the Pacific Ocean to the United States. Samples obtained in conjunction with the ERS Program detected low levels of radioiodine and cesium in various samples:
• Radioiodine was detected in air sampler particulate and iodine cartridge samples on March 25, March 31, April 7, and April 14, 2011 (per Table 1 note)
• Radioiodine was detected in a soil sample collected April 5, 2011
• Radioiodine was detected in milk samples collected March 24 and April 18, 2011.
• Radioiodine and cesium were detected in a vegetation sample collected on April 5, 2011
No radionuclides were detected in subsequent samples obtained after the releases in Japan were significantly reduced.
These data are reported in the applicable tables in the Sample Results section of this report. These radionuclides were not the result of Wolf Creek Generating Station operation, and are so indicated in the results tables.
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