RADIOACTIVITY ALONG the MOHAWK
last update January 20, 2001
KAPL was located on a river because the Laboratory needed a plentiful supply of water. Not that the water used was returned to the river in the same condition as it was taken. But, there was a more sinister reason. KAPL had a lot of radioactivity to dispose of ... lots of it. Some could be dumped secretly in the Laboratory's landfills, and some could be used to make a radioactivity parking lot, but much more could be dumped into the mighty Mohawk river. In 1953, KAPL had a cadre of Ph.d. chemists who developed a theory for disposing of the large amounts of Cs-137 and Sr-90 being generated by the PUREX research. Both isotopes are highly radioactive, each with a half-life of 30 years. The theory went like this: the Cs-137 and Sr-90 will be dumped into the Mohawk river, will be carried 15 miles downstream to the Hudson river, will travel 150 miles down the Hudson, pass right by the island of Manhattan, flow into the Atlantic ocean and disappear forever. Ten years later they somehow came up with the brilliant idea of checking the sediment in the Mohawk river ... and much to their amazement they found that the Cs-137 had not disolved ... it had been going directly into the sediment, in depth. A survey of the river revealed that the radiation levels were very high, and almost constant, for seven miles downstream. At this point KAPL terminated the survey ... never to be resumed.
Please submit any comments, or questions, on the topics presented to :