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Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Annual Site Environmental Report for Calendar Year 1997

To obtain a paper copy of PPPL-3337 email:

Authors: V.L. Finley and J.D. Levine

The results of the 1997 environmental surveillance and monitoring program for the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are presented and discussed. The purpose of this report is to provide the U.S. Department of Energy and the public with information on the level of radioactive and non-radioactive pollutants, if any, that are added to the environment as a result of PPPL's operations.

During Calendar Year 1997, PPPL's Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) completed fifteen years of fusion experiments begun in 1982. Over the course of three and half years of deuterium-tritium (D-T) plasma experiments, PPPL set a world record of 10.7 million watts of controlled fusion power, more than 700 tritium shots pulsed into the reactor vessel generating more than 5.6 x 1020 neutron and 1.6 gigajoules of fusion energy and researchers studied plasma science experimental data, which included "enhanced reverse shear techniques."

As TFTR was completing its historic operations, PPPL participated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Columbia University, and the University of Washington (Seattle) in a collaboration effort to design the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX). This next device, NSTX, is located in the former TFTR Hot Cell on D site, and it is designed to be a smaller and more economical torus fusion reactor. Construction of this device began in late 1997, and first plasma in scheduled for early 1999.

For 1997, the U.S. Department of Energy in its Laboratory Appraisal report rated the overall performance of Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as "excellent." The report cited the Laboratory's consistently excellent scientific and technological achievements and its successful management practices, which included high marks for environmental management, employee health and safety, human resources administration, science education, and communications.

Groundwater investigations continued under a voluntary agreement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. PPPL monitored the presence of non-radiological contaminants, mainly volatile organic compounds (components of degreasing solvents). Monitoring revealed the presence of low levels of volatile organic compounds in an adjacent area to PPPL.

Also, PPPL's radiological monitoring program characterized the ambient, background levels of tritium in the environment and from the TFTR stack; the data are presented in this report.

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