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The Community Environmental Monitoring Program: A Model for Stakeholder Involvement in Environmental Monitoring

[+] Author Affiliations
William T. Hartwell, David S. Shafer

Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, NV

Paper No. ICEM2007-7180, pp. 1461-1464; 4 pages
doi:10.1115/ICEM2007-7180
From:
  • The 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management
  • 11th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Parts A and B
  • Bruges, Belgium, September 2–6, 2007
  • Conference Sponsors: Nuclear Division and Environmental Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4339-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3818-8
  • Copyright © 2007 by ASME

abstract

Since 1981, the Community Environmental Monitoring Program (CEMP) has involved stakeholders directly in its daily operation and data collection, as well as in dissemination of information on radiological surveillance in communities surrounding the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the primary location where the United States (US) conducted nuclear testing until 1992. The CEMP is funded by the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and is administered by the Desert Research Institute (DRI) of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The CEMP provides training workshops for stakeholders involved in the program, and educational outreach to address public concerns about health risk and environmental impacts from past and ongoing NTS activities. The network includes 29 monitoring stations located across an approximately 160,000 km2 area of Nevada, Utah and California in the southwestern US. The principal radiological instruments are pressurized ion chambers for measuring gamma radiation, and particulate air samplers, primarily for alpha/beta detection. Stations also employ a full suite of meteorological instruments, allowing for improved interpretation of the effects of meteorological events on background radiation levels. Station sensors are wired to state-of-the-art dataloggers that are capable of several weeks of on-site data storage, and that work in tandem with a communications system that integrates DSL and wireless internet, land line and cellular phone, and satellite technologies for data transfer. Data are managed through a platform maintained by the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) that DRI operates for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The WRCC platform allows for near real-time upload and display of current monitoring information in tabular and graphical formats on a public web site. Archival data for each station are also available on-line, providing the ability to perform trending analyses or calculate site-specific exposure rates. This configuration also allows for remote programming and troubleshooting of sensors. Involvement of stakeholders in the monitoring process provides a number of benefits, including increased public confidence in monitoring results, as well as decreasing costs by more than 50 percent from when the program was managed entirely by U.S. federal employees. Additionally, the CEMP provides an ideal platform for testing new environmental sensors.

Copyright © 2007 by ASME

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