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The Committee on Oceanography was organized in 1957 within the Division of Earth Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences— National Research Council. Its activities have been jointly sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission, the Bureau of Commercial Fish- eries, the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Re- search. The Committee•s objectives are to assist in the development of the marine sciences, to encourage basic research and to advise the government agencies on various oceanographic problems. The map on the front cover is a portion of a charf originally published in Pefer Goos' De Zee Atias in 1667. We are grateful to the American Geographic Society for loan of the original map and permission to reprint it here.

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Radioactive Waste Disposal into Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Waters A Report from a Working Group of the Committee on Oceanography of the National Academy of Sciences—National Research Council. Second Printing Publication 655 National Academy of Sciences—National Research Council Washington, D.C. -''•'-- ' :v'i'A 1959

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Library of Congress catalog card number: 59-60046

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GROUP MEMBERSHIP Dayton E. Carritt, Chairman, The Johns Hopkins University Dean F. Bumpus John H. Harley Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution U. S. Atomic Energy Commission James H. Carpenter Bruce C. Heezen The Johns Hopkins University Columbia University Walter A. Chipman Bostwick H. Ketchum U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Robert O. Reid A. and M. College of Texas Consultants Howard Eckles Arnold Joseph Department of the Interior U. S. Atomic Energy Commission 111

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TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Foreword by Roger R. Revelle vii Summary 1 Recommendations 3 The Problem 3 Present Sea Disposal Practices 4 Low Level Wastes Generated Within AEC Facilities 6 Low Level Wastes Generated Within Government Operations other Than AEC 6 Low Level Radioactive Wastes Generated Within Private Facilities 7 Estimate of the Fraction of the Production of Oak Ridge National Laboratories Shipped to Other Than Atomic Energy Commission Operations, That Became Wastes for Sea Disposal 8 Previous Studies 8 The Present Problem 11 The Basis for Judgment 11 Why Dispose at Sea? 14 Transport and Dispersion 16 Movement of Bottom Sediment 16 Near-bottom Water Circulation 16 Surface Circulation 17 Diffusion Processes 18 Sustained Gross Source 20 Instantaneous Source 21 Continuous Sources at Uniform Leaching Rate 23 Sorption and Exchange 24 Permissible Concentrations of Radioisotopes in Sea Water and Uptake by Marine Organisms 26 Possible Conflict with Other Interests 27 Commercial Fisheries 27 Submarine Cables 29 Maximum Rate of Disposal 30 Pre-Use Survey and Monitoring 30 Disposal Areas 33 References ........ 37

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FOREWORD RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL INTO ATLANTIC AND GULF COASTAL WATERS In January 1958, the Committee on Oceanography of the National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council was asked to conduct a detailed study of the problems of the disposal of low level radioactive wastes into the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastal waters of the United States. This request was made jointly by the three government sponsors of the Committee: The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission, and the Office of Naval Research.* The Committee agreed to take responsibility for such a study, and Dr. Harrison Brown, Committee Chairman, asked me, as a member of the Committee on Oceanography and Chairman of the Academy's Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation on Oceanography and Fisheries, to call together a special working group. This group was asked to consider the levels of radioactive wastes that can be disposed of safely, the kinds of packaging that should be used, and to recommend specific disposal sites. A preliminary draft of this report was finished in May 1958 and discussed in detail before a meeting of the Committee on Oceanography shortly thereafter. The Committee approved the report and authorized its reproduction in mimeograph form prior to a similar review by the Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation on Oceanography and Fisheries. The latter Committee met in March 1959. At that time the report was brought up to date and approved in its present form. In its study, the group has taken into account the effects of local oceanographic conditions, possible health hazards and the importance of non-interference with fisheries, recreational and other uses of the oceans. The report makes recommendations as to the amounts of dif- ferent radioactive isotopes that can be disposed of safely in any one area. Twenty-eight possible disposal sites are listed. Before any one of these is finally selected, a pre-use survey should be made. The area should be monitored periodically after disposal begins. The working group has attempted to make its recommendations as precise as possible within the limits of our present knowledge of the physics, chemistry, and biology of the oceans. Where uncertainties exist because of inadequate knowledge a conservative position has been chosen—that is, the calculations underlying the recommendations may err on the side of safety. Each assumption and each step in the calcula- tions is fully described, however, so that the reader may make an inde- pendent evaluation of the degree of conservatism. • I he National Science Foundation has since become one of the sponsors of the Committee. vii

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Publication of this report is made possible through the cooperation of the National Academy of Sciences - National Research Council, Earth Sciences Division, Committee on Waste Disposal, Advisory to the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission. For the results of other NAS - NRC studies pertaining to the disposal of radioactive wastes, the reader is referred to "The Disposal of Radioactive Wastes on Land" NAS - NRC Pub. 519, April 1957, and "Thermal Considerations of Deep Disposal of Radioactive Wastes", a special report by Dr. Francis Birch, NAS - NRC Pub. 588, September 1958. Reports are also in progress on the disposal of low-level wastes into Pacific coastal waters and on radioactive waste disposal from nuclear-powered ships. Roger Revelle Scripps Institution of Oceanography La Jolla, California May 1959 viii