The Environmental Surveillance Section monitors the radiological environment around each of Pennsylvania's five nuclear power facilities. Routine sampling of air, milk, surface water, vegetation and fish are performed, both independently and in conjunction with the facility's self-monitoring program. Environmental dosimeters record levels of radiation exposure around each facility. Sample analyses are reviewed, recorded, compared to the facility's and archived. When anomalies are observed, an investigation is performed, including consultation with facility personnel and follow-up sampling to determine the source.
The Environmental Surveillance Section also conducts some limited monitoring programs around facilities that currently use or have in the past used radioactive materials. These include some of the sites undergoing decontamination and decommissioning, enabling the Decommissioning Section to better evaluate whether cleanup criteria has been met.
The Environmental Surveillance Section maintains a background-monitoring program to measure ambient levels of radioactivity. This includes: operating an Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Radiation Ambient Monitoring Station where air and precipitation are constantly monitored; obtaining monthly samples of processed milk from population centers; and monitoring some drinking water and surface water sources. These data provide valuable information for evaluating the potential impact of facilities using radioactive materials.
The Environmental Surveillance Section prepares a report annually, reviewing the year's activities and presenting analysis results and interpretations. This report is made available to the public.
The Environmental Surveillance Section acts as the primary interface between the Radiation Measurements Laboratory and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in matters concerning the laboratory's radioactive materials license. The Section is also responsible for overseeing the Department's radioactive materials licenses and ensuring compliance to license commitments.
The Section serves as the liaison between the Radiation Measurements Laboratory, and the Central and Regional Radiation Protection staffs, arranging proper sample submissions from other program areas and providing assistance in data retrieval.
Decommissioning and Environmental Surveillance Division staff serve in a number of Emergency Response Team roles, including Field Team Coordinator, Radiation Measurements Laboratory Liaison, Monitoring and Analysis Coordinator, Data Evaluation Coordinator, Alternate Incident Manager and Dose Assessor.