About Fermilab

Indian Creek - Letter to the Neighbors

December 8, 2005

Dear Neighbor,

I am writing as part of the commitment Fermilab and I have made to our neighbors to keep you informed about issues at Fermilab that may be important to the community.

Since the early days of our laboratory, Fermilab has maintained a comprehensive environmental monitoring program to check for any impacts from our operations. In the 30-year history of this program, we have never detected any radionuclides (atoms that decay into other atoms and particles) in any of the streams that leave the site. That changed this November when we detected very small amounts of tritium in Indian Creek, at the southwest corner of the site. Tritium is a radionuclide that decays into helium, emitting beta particles, which are very-low-energy electrons.

First, and most important, the levels we found pose no threat to human health or to the environment. The amounts we detected are far lower than the federal water standards we are required to meet. As soon as we confirmed the presence of tritium, we immediately took steps to prevent water containing tritium from entering Indian Creek.

Although the levels detected are well below federal water standards for tritium, we are taking this situation seriously. We are not satisfied with merely achieving standards. We seek to implement and manage systems that keep releases as low as reasonably achievable.

While such a small amount of material does not require Fermilab to make a public announcement, we believe that our neighbors have the right to know what is happening on the laboratory site and how we are keeping our commitment to protect the environment. Earlier this year, we made a promise to the Fermilab Community Task Force that we would create and maintain a culture of public participation here at Fermilab.

Attached to this letter you will find answers to some of the questions that you may have about this situation. We will also post this information on our Community Web site at www.fnal.gov/pub/about/community/


Piermaria Oddone
Director of Fermilab

last modified 12/7/2005   email Fermilab