About 40 people late Wednesday voiced concerns to regional pollution control officials about the toxins, specifically depleted uranium, released from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300 during outdoor detonation testing of explosives.
Tracy residents met with officials of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District in the council chambers at City Hall for an informational meeting to discuss a permit sought by the lab.
The lab has a permit to detonate no more than 100 pounds of explosives a day or 1,000 pounds a year. The lab, which conducts research and development of high explosives at Site 300 just 6½ miles from downtown, is seeking to increase detonations to no more than 350 pounds a day or 8,000 pounds a year.
Jim Swaney, permit services manager of the district, said the district is only examining air quality related to the site and not land-use issues.
Susan Sarvey of Tracy told Swaney and Glenn Reed, a senior air quality specialist, that the amount of uranium in the air is unknown and that children in the city are at risk.
"I’m concerned about radioactive material in my kid’s lungs," she said.
Reed said the district would examine potential cancer risks resulting from testing as well as acute health risks such as eyes tearing or burning nasal passages.
Reed also said that current guidelines allow 10 cancer deaths in 10 million people from pollution from a controlled environment at a specific site.
But pollution district officials acknowledged that no studies have been performed to determine whether Site 300’s outdoor explosives testing has had any previous health effects on Tracy’s population, Swaney said.
"We will consider all toxic compounds, including depleted uranium," Reed said. "We will try to determine the risks to (people). We will look at nearby facilities but not at the workers at the lab."
The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is responsible for worker safety at the lab, Reed said.
Loulena Miles, an attorney for Tri-Valley CAREs, an environmental group based in Livermore, said in a statement before the meeting that "it is questionable whether any high-explosive testing with the attendant tons of radioactive and toxic materials should occur in this vicinity at all."
Marylia Kelley, executive director of the group, suggested during the meeting that a full Environmental Impact Report should be conducted to determine the effects on "human health and the environment."
Dan Barber, who supervises the California Environmental Quality Act requirements, said it hasn’t been determine whether a full EIR would be required, but noted it’s unlikely.
Pollution district authorities originally granted the permit to allow the lab to increase its detonations, but Bob Sarvey of Tracy appealed. During a February hearing, district officials discovered that some information Sarvey sought had not been provided. The lab also did not tell the district that depleted uranium had been used in the detonations.
The permit was canceled. The district is now re-evaluating the permit application. The district will then issue a preliminary recommendation to either approve or deny the application, which will be followed by a public workshop.