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Dose Reconstruction for Weapons Experiments Involving 140La at Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1944-1962.

Kraig, David H.
Health Physics: October 1997
Papers: PDF Only

A series of 254 weapons design experiments was conducted by Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1944 through 1962 and resulted in the dispersal of approximately 11 PBq (300 kCi) of radioactive 140La. All shots occurred at Point Able in Bayo Canyon, east of the Los Alamos townsite. Public interest and the Government Accounting Office probe precipitated a dose reconstruction to assess potential exposures to members of the public. The information available for each shot included explosive charge size, date and time of explosion, and shot activity. Detailed meteorological data were not available for the majority of the shots, requiring the development of statistically representative meteorological data. A wind rose was developed specific to the afternoon-evening time of the shots, and the wind frequency in each sector was used to determine the fraction of activity dispersed towards each hypothetical receptor. HOTSPOT 7, a Gaussian plume-based dispersion model, was used to determine the average dose per sector per unit of shot activity. The dose from penetrating radiation from ground-deposited'4[degrees] La was greater by several orders of magnitude than the dose from inhalation and immersion. The highest doses to a permanent resident probably occurred in the easternmost part of the Los Alamos townsite. The highest annual dose occurred in 1955 and was approximately 0.23 mSv. Assuming an individual had been at the location of maximum potential exposure in the Los Alamos townsite continuously throughout the experiments, the total dose from the 18-y series would have been approximately 1.4 mSv with an average dose of approximately 0.09 mSv y-1. Doses at nearby Totavi trailer park, San Ildefonso Pueblo, and Santa Clara Pueblo were approximately 75%, 40%, and 15%, respectively, of those at Los Alamos. Visitors to nearby public areas received negligible doses.

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