In 1989, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a program, for the U.S. Department of Energy, to involve local citizens in environmental surveillance at the Hanford Site. The Community-Operated Environmental Surveillance Program was patterned after similar community-involvement efforts at the Nevada Test Site and the Three Mile Island nuclear facility. Its purpose is to increase the flow of information to the public, thereby enhancing the public's awareness and understanding of surveillance activities. The program consists of two components: radiological air monitoring at nine offsite locations and agricultural product sampling at selected locations near the site. At each air-monitoring station, two local school teachers collect air particulate samples and operate equipment to monitor ambient radiation levels. Atmospheric tritium samples (as water vapor) are also collected at some locations. Four of the air-monitoring stations include large, colorful informational displays for public viewing. These displays provide details on station equipment, sample types, and sampling purposes. Instruments in the displays also monitor, record, and show real-time ambient radiation readings (measured with a pressurized ionization chamber) and meteorological conditions. Agricultural products, grown primarily by middle-school-aged students, are obtained from areas downwind of the site. Following analysis of these samples, environmental surveillance staff visit the schools to discuss the results with the students and their teachers. The data collected by these air and agricultural sampling efforts are summarized with other routinely collected sitewide surveillance data and reported annually in the Hanford Site environmental report.
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