Ames Laboratory (page 3)
Site Size • 4 hectares (1 0 acres)
Current Landlord· U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science
Expected Future Landlord- U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Ames Laboratory ........................................................................ 3
AMES LAB ORATORY'
Site Description and Mission
Ames Laboratory is one of the 12 dedicated laboratories
LONG-TERM STEWARDSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
within the DOE complex. The Laboratory is located on
the Iowa State University Campus in the town of Ames,
Total Site Area- 4 hectares (10 acres)
Iowa. Iowa State University manages and operates the
Current Landlord- U.S. Department of Energy, Office
laboratory under a five-year contract to DOE, and
leases this land to DOE. Iowa State University owns
Expected Future Landlord- U.S. Department of
Energy, Office of Science
the land, and DOE owns the Ames Laboratory
Reason Not Subject to NDAA - No long-term
buildings. The four-hectare (ten-acre) site includes
stewardship activities are anticipated for this site
several research facilities, including a metallurgy
research building, a records storage facility, a
laboratory research building, a metals development
building, an administrative building, and several small auxiliary buildings. The laboratory, at one time,
maintained a dedicated Chemical Disposal Site (which was about 7,440-square meters (80,000 square feet) in
size and located north of Ontario Street, off of Scholl Road, and east of the Ames Applied Sciences Complex).
This disposal site has since been remediated and approved for unrestricted use.
Ames Laboratory was founded in 1947, following work to produce purified uranium for the Manhattan Project.
Researchers at Iowa State University perfected a magnesium reduction process, producing pure uranium metal
that quickly became the industry-wide standard for production of uranium metal in large quantities. Other
universities and private companies participated in the research; however, Iowa State University was one of the
first organizations to supply metallic uranium, used as "fuel" for the first self-sustaining chain reaction, to Enrico
Fermi and his colleagues at the University of Chicago. The laboratory continues to provide basic and applied
research to the U.S. Government.
Currently, DOE has an ongoing research mission at Ames Laboratory, and the site landlord is the DOE Office
of Science. The laboratory's mission is to conduct fundamental research in the physical, chemical, materials,
and mathematical sciences and engineering. Ames Laboratory also pursues broader research priorities in the
areas of energy resources, high-performance computing, environmental technology development, and the
synthesis and study of new materials. The laboratory and many of its staff continue to stay involved in the
academic programs at Iowa State University.
This report is developed in response to a Congressional request in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 National
Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). As requested by the Act, this report addresses current and anticipated longterm stewardship activities at each site or portion of a site by the end of calendar year 2006 ("Conference Report on
S.l059, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000," Congressional Record, August 5, 1999).
Based on current planning, all currently identified and planned remediation activities at the Ames Laboratory will be
completed before 2006, and the site will not require long-term stewardship activities other than record-keeping
activities. For this reason, the site is not the primary focus of this report. This summary of the site is included
because the Department of Energy (DOE) has an ongoing mission at the site, has funded remediation activities in
the past, and is responsible for completing remediation from previous laboratory activities.
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Long-Tenn Steanlship Report
Site Cleanup and Accomplishments
DOE completed all currently identified remediation activities at Ames Laboratory in 1999. Past operations at
Ames Laboratory, principally as a result of waste disposal practices, led to contamination of soils and
groundwater. Contaminants of concern included uranium, thorium, tritium, mercury, thallium, potassium,
lithium, and kerosene. Between 1958 and 1966, radiological and chemical wastes were buried in nine unlined
pits at the Chemical Disposal Site (located at the southeast corner of the site). This disposal method met the
regulatory standards at that time. The bulk of the
disposed wastes was metal slags from the research and
development of the processes for separating and
purifying specific metals. Small quantities of reactive
• Investigated nine inactive waste sites; those
or unstable materials from routine chemical laboratory
requiring remediation were completed
research, such as mercury, salts, potassium, and sodium,
• Remediated former Chemical Disposal Site
were also buried at the site. Waste was reportedly
• Sampled Old Iowa State College Dump and
buried in steel pails, drums, glass containers, and
determined contamination was below action levels
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS OF 2006
In 1994, DOE spent $4 million to clean up the site,
completing soil and groundwater assessment activities,
• Complete groundwater monitoring at former
and removing approximately 1,530 cubic meters (2,000
Chemical Disposal Site
cubic yards) of contaminated soil and debris, which
• Dispose of Iowa State University Fire Training site
were sent to a commercial disposal site in Utah. In
1998, the Iowa Department of Public Health approved the site for unrestricted use. Groundwater monitoring of
the site, however, will continue through 2002, as approved in a monitoring plan agreed to by DOE, the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, and Iowa State University. DOE provided a lump-sum payment of $50,000
for Iowa State University to conduct post-remediation monitoring at the former Chemical Disposal Site and
complete closeout activities.
DOE has treated and disposed offsite all newly-generated waste at the Ames Laboratory. Regarding the Ames
Laboratory facilities, DOE assumes that the DOE Office of Science will be responsible for any future
decontamination, environmental remediation, land use issues, and long-term stewardship activities that may be
identified in the future. However, there are no long-term stewardship activities identified for the actions currently
planned to be completed by the end of 2006.
In addition to the cleanup work on the former Chemical Disposal Site, nine other waste sites were investigated,
and those requiring remediation were completed in FY 1995 and FY 1996. One underground storage tank action
was also completed at that time. The intent of these investigations was to determine if any of the nine sites had
been impacted by previous Ames Laboratory activities. Although the concentrations at some of the inactive
waste sites are slightly above background levels, information collected to date indicates that the sites do not pose
a significant health risk in their present land uses. No further activities are currently envisioned for any of these
waste sites. The nine inactive waste sites are: Old Sewage Treatment Plant; Ames Airport; Ames Municipal
Cemetery; Grand Avenue Underpass; Annex I; Annex II; Little Ankeny Debris Site; Applied Science Complex;
Four of the nine waste sites (Old Sewage Treatment Plant, Ames Airport, Grand Avenue Underpass, and Ames
Municipal Cemetery) were characterized due to higher than expected releases of material to the Old Sewage
Treatment Plant (formerly City of Ames Water Pollution Control Plant) in 1951 and 1952. The Old Sewage
Treatment Plant received effluent containing low levels of mesothorium, a daughter product of thorium decay.
The effluent was treated as routine sanitary sewage, i.e., the plant discharged the liquid effluent and produced
a dry sludge which was used for fertilizer. As a result of the treatment process, the mesothorium was
concentrated primarily in the dry sludge. The dry sludge produced during this period is known to have been
stored at the Old Sewage Treatment Plant and spread at the Ames Airport. The Grand Avenue Underpass and
Ames Municipal Cemetery also had permits to spread this material. DOE does not know if any of the impacted
sludge was spread in these areas.
The Old Sewage Treatment Plant is inactive and much of the plant has been demolished. Several kinds of
sampling and surveying (soil sampling, surface gamma surveying, and aerial gamma surveying) have been
performed since 1976. In 1988, soil was removed from some contaminated areas at this site and disposed of
offsite. Subsequent sampling and surveying in 1993 indicated soil and groundwater activity levels slightly above
background but below acceptable DOE (soil) and Iowa Administrative Code (groundwater) levels. Additional
sampling and analysis was performed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science in 1994, in response to stakeholder
concerns, with similar results. Remedial activities were performed by the City of Ames, under the guidance of
the Iowa Department of Public Health, in the fall of 1994.
Sampling and surveying performed at the Ames Airport in 1976 indicated readings above background in some
areas. Subsequent surveying and groundwater sampling (in 1992 and 1993) showed soils at background radiation
levels and groundwater below isotope detection limits. Extensive construction activities have occurred at this
location, which probably spread and diluted any contaminated soil. Available data indicate that the site does not
pose a threat to public health or the environment in its current land use.
National Defense Authorization Act (NOAA) Long-Term Stcardship Repm·t
Sampling and surveying at the Ames Cemetery and Grand A venue Underpass indicated readings within the range
of naturally-occurring levels.
Three of the inactive waste sites (Annex I, Annex II, and Little Ankeny Debris Site) were related to the
production of uranium as part of the Manhattan Project. All three sites are on Iowa State University property.
Annex I and Annex II were buildings that subsequently were razed. Little Ankeny Debris Site is the location
where debris from Annex I was burned after its demolition in 1953. The Annex I site now is largely covered by
vegetation, and a portion of the site is occupied by the Iowa State University Food Technology Laboratory. The
Annex II site is paved over and is used as a parking lot for the Iowa State University Physical Plant Building.
The ash from the Little Ankeny Debris Site, which was placed in a depression in the ground and covered with
soil, was removed from the site in 1987 and shipped to DOE's Hanford site for disposal. Surveys and sampling
in 1976, 1977 and 1993 indicated background levels for the Annex II site and the presence of some residual
contamination at the Annex I and Little Ankeny Debris Site. However, data collected to date indicate that none
of the sites poses a significant health risk in its present land use.
The Applied Science Complex, plus its auxiliary structures for radioactive waste management, its cooling towers,
and its liquid waste treatment and discharge systems, was the former site of the Ames Laboratory Research
Reactor, which operated from 1965 until 1977. Decommissioning was conducted from 1978 to 1980, with
dismantlement and removal of all reactor equipment and materials. The leased property subsequently was
transferred back to Iowa State University. Subsequent sampling, analysis, and surveying in 1987 indicated the
need for a few areas to be cleaned in the reactor building basement and for shielding and marking of abandoned
drain lines. The radioactive waste disposal building and warehouse building are still in use by Iowa State
University. The available data indicate that there is no public health threat under current land use.
The Blockhouse site was a 22 square meter (240-square-foot) concrete block building that was used from the
mid-1960s to the early 1980s for handling of radioactive wastes. The site is owned by Iowa State University.
The building (except for the concrete floor slab) was demolished around 1988. The concrete floor slab predated
the rest of the building. Residual radioactive contamination was removed from the pad, as well as some soils
contaminated by a heating oil spill. Surveys and analyses in 1993 resulted in offsite disposal of an old cinder
block. The available data indicate that there is no public health threat under current land use.
The two-hectare (five-acre) tract of land at 13th Street and Stange Road in Ames was another area of concern. In
the early 1940s, wastes from the Laboratory and the Manhattan Project were disposed there. In 1946, the U.S.
Atomic Energy Commission (the predecessor agency to DOE) removed 226.8 metric tons (250 tons) of uranium
extraction wastes from the site for processing. In response to stakeholder concerns at a public meeting in 1995,
DOE agreed that the radiological portion of the site should be sampled to determine if a threat to human health
and the environment existed. In August 1995, DOE completed the sampling, which showed that contamination
levels were below "action levels" for thorium, uranium, and their decay products and, therefore, posed no threat
to human health or the environment. DOE then sent the sampling results to the Iowa Department of Public Health
in September 1995. DOE considered the radiological investigation closed. The Iowa Department of Public
Health did not formally respond to the sampling report; however, the Department did forward the document to
Iowa State University. In a November 2, 1995 cover letter, the Iowa Department of Public Health indicated that
it was waiting for Iowa State University, as the licensee, to review the sampling data and issue a written synopsis
of its conclusions. Once it received the University's conclusions, the Iowa Department of Public Health would
then write a site status determination. In 1999, no discussions between DOE, the Iowa Department of Public
Health, or Iowa State University occurred concerning this area. DOE assumes, based on the sampling results and
on the absence of a follow-on response from the University, that no further activities are required for this area.
Two remaining cleanup activities are the characterization and decontamination of Ames Laboratory Wilhelm Hall
and the remediation of the Iowa State University Fire Service Training Institute Site. During the late 1940's and
early 1950's, research activities on thorium-232 were conducted in Wilhelm Hall. Although these activities
ceased long ago, legacy contamination has been identified. DOE has controlled the contamination, which is
limited to remote sealed areas of the building. Initial characterization indicates that the contamination does not
pose a health hazard to current occupants of the building. At this time, Wilhelm Hall is an active facility. There
are no known plans or known available funding to conduct additional characterization activities and
decontamination of Wilhelm Hall prior to FY 2006.
The Iowa State University Fire Service Training Institute Site has a non-continuous layer of calcified soil, of
variable thickness, that is contaminated with areas of thorium decay products. The contaminated materials were
under a thin layer of topsoil. Iowa State University has undertaken action to characterize and remediate the site
by excavation of material. DOE has agreed to provide assistance with disposal of the contaminated soil. Iowa
State University's immediate plans are to continue to use the area as a training facility for fire fighters. The
excavated soils are expected to be removed in fiscal year (FY) 2000 or FY 2001, with no continuing monitoring
POTENTIAL LONG-TERM STEWARDSHIP ACTIVITIES
DOE assumes there will be no long-term stewardship activities for the actions currently planned to be completed
by the end of 2006, nor for the site areas remediated after their active use comes to an end.
EXPECTED FUTURE USES AND SITE RESPONSIBILITY
When DOE's lease expires, the land will revert to Iowa State University, for unrestricted use (unless Iowa State
University requests an alternate arrangement).
For additional information about the Ames Laboratory, please contact:
DOE Group Manager, Ames Group
9800 South Cass A venue
Argonne, IL 60430
or visit the Internet website at: http://www.extemal.ameslab.gov