Department Of Health Sees No Evil In Radioactive Salmon Spawning Grounds

Contrary to recent official assurances, Washington State’s Department of Health (WDOH) has found europium-152 and other radioactive waste contaminating the Hanford Reach National Monument. WDOH identified radioactivity from the old Hanford nuclear facility in a sample of beach sand from Hanford’s D-Island during a radiological survey in 1995.

According to Norm Buske, a scientist studying Hanford’s impact on the Columbia Riverbed, radioactivity in sediments leads to radioactivity in riverbed water, where salmon hatchlings live. That contamination might have profound consequences for wild salmon spawning in the Hanford Reach.

Earlier this year, WDOH harshly criticized an August 2002 report by Buske that identified Hanford radioactivity, including europium-152, in Hanford Reach salmon spawning grounds. WDOH assured the public, “It is unlikely than any Eu-152 remains in the Hanford Reach from that time [when Hanford reactors operated during the Cold War]." (See Ref. 1 below.)

Buske replies: “WDOH’s criticism of my results, while their own data confirmed my findings, looks suspiciously like Washington State is selling the salmon out to the Department of Energy,” operator of Hanford Site and funder of WDOH’s Division of Radiation Protection.

Along with europium-152, WDOH found cobalt-60, cesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium 239 in its analysis of beach sand from D-island. These findings agree with Buske’s results, published in August 2002 by the Government Accountability Project. The specific data comparison follows:

WDOH radiological results of a total sand sample from downstream D-Island, September 1995 (units: picocuries per gram):
Co-60      Sr-90      Tc-99      Cs-137      Eu-152
  0.16      0.005        0.38         0.66         0.28

Eu-154      Pu-238      Pu-239      UTot
  0.03        0.009        0.011        1.2
UTot = Total Uranium, only partly of Hanford origin. See Ref. 2, below.

TRAC radiological results of a sieved-and-flotated sand sample #172914, from downstream D-Island, July 2001 (units: picocuries per gram):
Co-60      Sr-90      Tc-99      Cs-137      Eu-152
   ND         ND           ND         0.10          0.38

Eu-154     Pu-238     Pu-239     UNat
   ND         NA           NA         0.93
NA = No Analysis
ND = No Detection (below detection limit)
UNat = Natural Uranium
See Table 1, p.17, in “Hanford Radioactivity in Salmon Spawning Grounds.”

Radionuclide             produced by     Half-life in Years
Co-60 = Cobalt-60         neutron activation    5
Sr-90 = Strontium-90      nuclear fission         29
Tc-99 = Technetium-99   nuclear fission         213,000 Cs-137 = Cesium-137      nuclear fission         30
Eu-152 = Europium-152   neutron activation    13
Eu-154 = Europium-154   neutron activation    9
Pu-238 = Plutonium-238  neutron activation    88
Pu-239 = Plutonium-239  neutron activation    24,100


Ref. 1. “Comments On Hanford radioactivity In Salmon Spawning Grounds,” ERS 02-506, Division of Radiation Protection, Olympia, WA 98504, May 24, 2002. Also at Appendix 3 in , with commentary.

Ref. 2 “Environmental Radiation Program 100-D Island Radiological Survey,” Excerpt of Publication WDOH/ERS-96-1101. See , updated to 06/27/02.

Contact: Moon Callison, 360.275.1351,


The RadioActivist Campaign
Address: 10119 W. Belfair Valley Rd, Bremerton, WA 98312 Phone: 360.275.1351
Director: Norm Buske,