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Letters to the Editor

Thursday August 31, 2000

Correcting the record 


Again Berkeley Lab would like your readers to receive accurate information regarding the tritium issue. The Lab's record of tritium emissions, and its monitoring and reporting of these emissions from its National Tritium Labeling Facility, is confirmed as safe, verifiable, and far below the allowable regulatory limits established by the U.S. EPA's National Emission Standards for Hazardous Pollutants (NESHAPs). No public health risk has been suggested or determined by the regulators. To correct errors in the Aug. 22 Opinion by Mark McDonald:  

• The Lab captures and recycles nearly all of the tritium used in its research facilities; it does not “dump” tritium.  

• Both of its laboratories involving tritium research are more than 100 meters from Girton Hall on campus or the Lawrence Hall of Science and not “immediately adjacent.”  

• The NTLF is not a nuclear facility; it is a National Institutes of Health national resource center using radiotracers in performing biomedical research in the national interest.  

• The NTLF's treatability study researched combustion techniques in closed systems to eliminate the hazardous component of mixed waste; the Lab does not incinerate mixed waste.  

• Dose calculations for radiation exposure from the Lab's research facilities are conservatively estimated, and these produce a likely overestimated exposure, not an underestimated level.  

I encourage your readers to review the actual text of documents for factual information on this issue. The IFEU report is readily available via the web, at The Lab's annual Site Environmental Reports are also available via the web at The Delisting Petition for tritiated mixed waste residues is available at  

These and many other Laboratory documents, are also available in hard copy form at UC Berkeley’s Doe Library, second floor.  

Terry Powell  

Community Relations  

Lawrence Berkeley Labs 

National Laboratory