Maps of Plutonium contamination, 1980

 This page is a work in progress. It is based on the 1980 radiological study that was done by EG & G for the Field Command, Defense Nuclear Agency  (DNA).  The surveyers used germanium detectors suspended 7.3 meters above the ground from a boom on a tractor originally developed for a similar survey of Eniwetok.  The objective was to measure plutonium contamination in the upper part of the soil. Since the alpha radiation given out by plutonium can be blocked by a sheet of paper, and is only a hazard to humans if inhaled or ingested, a method for measurement was evolved by measuring the high energy gamma radiation given off by a short-lived isotope of plutonium,  a very distinctive type of gamma radiation of 59.5 keV only given out by Americium 241.  The limitations of this survey I cannot comment on.  I know very little about radiation, and I cannot say what their readings, done in nanocuries per square meter translate into a degree of health risk to people stationed on the island.  All that I can say with any certainty is that any particle giving out this 59.5 keV gamma ray is very dangerous to human beings if it is the air or in food or drinking water.  The bulk of the intense radiation was found in Launch Areas one and two, but hot spots were in many areas of the old island (pre 1962), including living areas and Sand island.                                  


more than 100, black       60-100, dark green  31-60, red      16-30  yellow    5-15  orange    

maps by MAK ( colors not too accurate) By tapping on maps, they will enlarge, and you can read the figures, which are accurate

Northwestern area, launch areas and swimming pool

Contamination, Redstone launch area (concrete was radioactive)  and the wharf area 

                                    Contamination around mess hall and recreation area

Below, when they bulldozed the contaminated fill back onshore to expand the island later in the 63 to 65 period, the guys doing the dredging and filling used the contaminated fill.  You can see that the land that once was water is now "hot" land.  And the Redstone launching pad is "hot" in such a uniform manner that one suspects that contaminated fill must have been used to mix the concrete.  Terry Scheidt's observed (in Radiation Survivor) that the bulldozer operators worked without personal protection.  The map of the launch area shows the shore line circa 1962.

The cleanup didn 't really begin until 1980. I don't think launch area 2 and the area around the taxiway was fenced off until then.  No indication anything at all was done out on Sand Island. 

         Map of radiological area after clean-up (1998)

1974 Scan of Sand Island showing "Hot Spots" as black spots