Concrete Block Recovery Effort
(Completed in 2002)
How And When Did CY Discover That Concrete Blocks Had Been Removed From The Plant?
The CY plant, which is permanently shut down and in the process of decommissioning, performed a Site Characterization in preparation for decommissioning. The Site Characterization identifies the location, type and amount of radioactive contamination at the plant site that occurred during operation. As part of the Site Characterization, CY also performed a Historical Site Assessment, including reviewing historical records and reports, and interviewing present and former employees. In the fall of 1997, while conducting the Historical Site Assessment, CY discovered that potentially contaminated concrete blocks used for shielding at the plant had been removed by employees in the mid-1970's.
How Did It Happen?
Because the blocks were removed more than 20 years ago, it is unlikely we will be able to determine exactly how it happened. We do know that employees were instructed to check the blocks with radiation detection equipment to make sure the blocks were free of contamination before removing them. We believe that although many of the blocks were checked, some did not go through that process. CY's new management team has decided to concentrate their efforts on returning the blocks to CY as quickly as possible rather than focusing on the cause.
How Many Blocks Were Removed?
About 5100 - based on the review of historical photos of the plant area in which the blocks were used.
Were All The Blocks That Were Removed Contaminated?
No. Our information and data shows only a small portion of the blocks were contaminated, but we are taking a highly conservative approach and have committed to removing all the blocks and returning them to CY, whether they were contaminated or not.
What Did CY Do About The Blocks When They Were Discovered?
A team was immediately put together to begin identifying the location of the blocks. The team is comprised of construction specialists and radiation specialists from CY. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the NRC are overseeing the recovery effort. This team has been responding to and following up on all inquiries from residents and former employees since last fall.
What Is CY Doing Now?
What you are hearing about now is our work to remove these blocks and if necessary, the soil surrounding them, and return them to the CY plant. We have a dedicated team of professionals whose sole responsibility is to complete the removal of the blocks as efficiently and swiftly as possible. We expect to complete the recovery effort by the end of the year.
How Many Blocks Have Been Found To Date?
Based on the information we have to date, we believe we have identified the location of essentially all the blocks, which were found at less than 50 sites. They were primarily used outside in yards as patios, walkways, flower bed boarders and retaining walls.
How Many Blocks Were Found To Be Contaminated?
We have brought more than 5000 blocks back to the CY plant. Approximately 9 percent had detectable radioactivity levels above background. Background radiation occurs naturally in our environment. In most cases, the only radiation detected on the blocks was coming from naturally occurring background radiation.
Why did CY not Announce What It Was Doing?
We sent letters to our neighbors and current and former employees in an effort to locate the blocks. In addition, the media covered the issue last fall. When CY discovered that the blocks had been removed and used at home sites in the area, we promised we would protect the anonymity of the residents involved. We have kept our promise and withheld details about the owners of the sites, or their locations. We will continue to do so, not only to protect those involved, but also to encourage people to contact us. We want people to feel comfortable doing so.
Are These Blocks Dangerous?
No. There is no health and safety concern. However, we understand that for many just the mention of radiation can cause concern. Please take a moment to read the attached fact sheet that describes how we are exposed to radiation in the course of our daily lives. The blocks that are being returned to CY have extremely low levels of radioactivity. A person would have to spend a great deal of time in direct contact with one of these blocks to receive a very small dose of radiation. Even then it would be at least 30 times less radiation than the average person receives from naturally occurring background radiation.