Radium Scanning Process at Seaplane Lagoon

Radiation scanner with Seaplane Lagoon in background
Testing compartments for metals, PCBs, and DDT

Every scoop of dirt that was dredged from the Seaplane Lagoon earlier this year is first sorted into premeasured compartments.  The piles are then tested for heavy metals, PCBs, and pesticides.  But the piles cannot be tested for radium 226.

In order to test for radium, every pile has to be scooped back into a dump truck, dumped into a screening area the size of a tennis court, and graded smooth to a depth no greater than 12 inches.

Grading soil for the radiation scanner

Then an electric vehicle with a scanning rig and GPS mapping system drives back and forth over every inch at the pace of a turtle.  If any radiation is detected, it is mapped onto a computer, and then this area is scooped up and placed in a special dumpster.  This already time-consuming process was slowed even more with unexpected rains in the fall because the soil cannot be scanned for radiation when it’s wet.

There are no final numbers on how many dumpster loads have gone to a radiological disposal facility.  Most of the other soil, however, that was tested for heavy metals, PCBs, and pesticides is not even leaving Alameda Point it now meets screening standards for clean soil, and it’s being hauled out to the runway area to eventually be reused to cover the old dump known as Site 2.

Recycled soil stockpiled on Wildlife Refuge for use on Site 2 dump.

2012 – More Dredging

When the existing piles of dirt are all gone in a few weeks, it might seem like they are finally done.  But they won’t be.  In January, the second phase of dredging begins on the northwest corner of the Seaplane Lagoon.

Author: richard94501

My blog is Alameda Point Environmental Report covering environmental issues from wildlife to cleanup at the former Navy base in Alameda now called Alameda Point. Articles on my blog are frequently printed in the Alameda Sun newspaper. I also host a Twitter site and a Flickr photo site. I hope you find my stories and photos of interest. Richard Bangert Alameda, California

1 thought on “Radium Scanning Process at Seaplane Lagoon”

  1. Excellent photo/video essays! This site should be very helpful in educating the community about the progress in clean-up at Alameda Point.
    A small point=the scanner is more accurately called a radioactivity scanner, since it counts radioactivity from any source present, not just radium; altho radium is the most likely primary source for radioactivity at this location. Other radiation sources affecting the scanner are the daughter products of radium in its decay chain, such as Radon, an inert gas. Other sources of ionizing radiation known to have been present at Alameda Point are Strontium-90, Cesium-137[engine ignition excitors & spark gap tubes], Cobalt-60, & depleted Uranium;altho these would not be expected at this location-unless someone irresponsibly tossed them into the lagoon 50 years ago!
    Can you explain why “the soil cannot be scanned for radiation when it is wet”?

    Like

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