[ RadSafe ] FUSRAP in Western NY

Marvin Resnikoff radwaste at rwma.com
Mon Mar 7 09:01:28 CST 2011

The subsurface for the original paved road, Buffalo Ave, was smoothed out with U tailings.  The gamma levels through the pavement and some adjacent properties are definitely detectable;  I know because I was out there with county personnel.  As you see from the attached article from the Niagara Gazette, Buffalo Ave was going to be torn up  and new sewer lines and road surface were to be laid.  It therefore was an opportune time to remove the U tailings.
Marvin Resnikoff

--- On Mon, 3/7/11, K. L. McMahan <kb60127 at comcast.net> wrote:

From: K. L. McMahan <kb60127 at comcast.net>
Subject: [ RadSafe ] FUSRAP in Western NY
To: "'The International Radiation Protection (Health Physics) MailingList'" <radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu>
Date: Monday, March 7, 2011, 7:29 AM

Last week I sent a very brief response to a RadSafe post that pointed to an
article in a local Buffalo, NY, online publication, Artvoice. The Artvoice
article commented on radioactive material that was excavated during road
construction activities on Lewiston Rd. in Niagara Falls, NY. At the time I
read the Artvoice article, I remembered from somewhere in the murky past
that work had been done in that area under a government program called
FUSRAP, so I posted a link to the Army Corps of Engineer's web site as a
source of credible information about that program's activities at the site
in Western New York (WNY).


The writer of the Artvoice article wrote to me privately and stated his
intention to attribute the radioactive material in the roadbed to the FUSRAP
site, using my name as the source. I objected rather vociferously, first
because that's not what I'd said, second because environmental remediation
is not my area of expertise, third because any third-year HP undergrad would
know that you'd need at least some isotopic analysis to begin the process of
determining the source, and fourth because he'd googled my name and found
that I work at ORNL, and he wanted to use the credibility of that name to
bolster the statement. But he wrote back several times and insisted that he
was going to "quote" me anyway. I posted some of those e-mails to RadSafe.
But it was a comment by him - that he hadn't originally attributed the
radioactivity to FUSRAP - that really piqued my interest. So I spent some
time this past weekend reading the history of WNY, the FUSRAP program, and
subjects beyond. 


I'll say up front that many of you are much more familiar with what has been
happening in this area than I am. But some of you wrote privately and said
that you, too, were not very familiar with FUSRAP. Below I am placing some
additional links in case you would like to do some followup.


Briefly, the history of WNY and its radioactive material is much broader
than what is covered by the FUSRAP program. So my original attribution to
FUSRAP as the "source material" for the Artvoice article was indeed
presumptuous, or at best the sloppy use of a single acronym to describe what
are multiple areas. The Artvoice author may be angry about FUSRAP material,
but he may also be angry about any number of industries that have operated
in WNY and have left a traceable footprint not only on their original sites,
but in some cases in areas outside those sites. The region was home to many
metallurgical industries, and this resource - the facilities and population
that knew how to make it work - drew WWII millitary attention and resources
to the area to do some of the front-end processing of natural uranium into a
form that was useful for feedstock for the calutrons here in Oak Ridge. WNY
was only one of several such processing locations needed for the war effort.


What I discovered in my reading, though, is that an enormous effort has been
made to find, characterize, triage, and where necessary remediate those
areas. A cast of agencies is involved, including the Army Corps of Engineers
(ACE), USDOE, the State of New York and NIOSH. I had some trouble locating
reports of the environmental monitoring that has been done offsite, but
finally found them on the DOE's Office of Legacy Materials website. Here's a
link to the portal page for WNY:




If you read some of these documents, you'll find that, indeed, radioactive
materials have been found offsite. Since at least the 1970's extensive work
has been done to map the locations and quantify the material and determine
where and if remediation is indicated. In many cases it's watchful waiting,
since there's no harm where it is under roads, although the State of NY
keeps an eye on that in case they need to go digging. Analyses *have* been
done to try to determine the source of the material that is in these
roadbeds - including on Lewiston Avenue (and other roads) in Niagara Falls,
NY, which was the subject of that recent Artvoice article (bless Buffalo's
heart, the roads get really bad quickly with all of the snow treatment and
removal that goes on, and apparently Lewiston Ave. is in a poor condition
due to the long lead time to handle the rad material). The analyses show the
materials to be natural uranium in equilibrium with its daughters -
indicating it is neither the feedstock material that was sent to Oak Ridge
nor the tail end from that processing which is stored on the FUSRAP site
(which has a signature dominated by U daughters and very little U). Instead,
the material used in the roadbed is attributed to a commercial site that
produced uranium-based material for ceramic colorings (I have in my mind a
picture of Fiesta Ware, but that's a different rabbit trail I haven't
traveled). Anyway, the bottom line is that since the material does NOT have
the signature of FUSRAP, it doesn't fall to FUSRAP/ACE to interst themselves
in it - that responsibility falls to the State of NY. 


Now having said all that I'll end this way-too-long post with a link to the
NIOSH EEOICPA site. Many of my colleagues have invested a great deal of
effort in this program, which investigated the dose histories of workers
involved in the production of wartime nuclear materials. A listing by site
of the dose reconstruction efforts is found at:




A number of the reports are for facilities in the WNY area (see AWE, LOOW,
Linde Ceramics, etc.). They describe the personnel dosimetry programs for
the workers, and retrospectively evaluate external and internal doses for
the worker population. My very quick impression is that a broad brush was
used where actual monitoring was not available, such that the doses
calculated would be favorable to an applicant. I'll probably spend more time
reading the reports. But not this morning, as I'm already late leaving for


Kim McMahan

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