U.S. At-Sea Disposal
of Radioactive Wastes
(1946-1967)

Reference

Radioactivity in the Marine Environment, National Academy of Sciences 1971

Containerization and Packaging of Radioactive Wastes

95% of all containers dumped at sea by the US containing radioactive wastes were of the standard 55 gallon (200L) oil drum. Paper/rag wastes were compressed into bales and placed in the drum surrounded by high density material such as concrete. Solids such as plastics or metals were mixed in the drum with concrete, the ratio of concrete to waste depending on the levels of radioactivity. Sludges or resins were contained within a smaller drum then surrounded by concrete in the 55 gallon drum.

Some establishments packaged waste into steel-mesh-reinforced concrete boxes that varied in size from 20x20x44 inches to 5 x7x8 feet. Wastes and concrete were mixed together to achieve the desired specific gravity of 1.2

All packages/drums/boxes were capped with 4” or more of clean concrete, and those with internal air voids were fitted with vents to allow water to enter and equalize pressures during descent.

Atlantic Ocean

Year

Approximate Location

No. Containers,
All Types

Estimated Activity at
Time of Packaging (Ci)

1951-1958

42°25'N 70°35'W

4,008

2,440

36°56'N 74°23'W

432

6.5

Mid-Ocean

97

<0.1

37°50'N 70'35'W
38°30'N 72°06'W

23,000

8,000

1959-1960

38°30'N 72°06'W

5800

68,500 (Includes pressure vessel of Seawolf reactor – estimated 33,000 Ci of induced activity.)

between 36°44'N 45°00'W

228

456

and         36°50'N 74°23'W

204

24.5

Mid-Ocean

22

<0.1

1961-1962

36°56'N 74°23'W

137

15.6

1963-1964

36°56'N 74°23W

58

5.3

1965

36°56'N 74°23'W

6

4.3

1967

36°56'N 74°23'W

6

30.5

Totals


33,998

79,482.9

Pacific Ocean

Year

Approximate Location

No. Containers, All Types

Estimated Activity at Time of Packaging (Ci)

1946-1958

37°39'N 123°26'W

24,305

14,061

between 40°07'N 135°24'W and        54°10'N 141°09'W

38

03

1959-1960

between 40°07'N 135°24'W and        54°10'N 141°09'W

53

0.4

37°39'N 123°26'W

14,311

155.7

32°00'N 121°30'W

3,467

3.6

21°28'N 157°25'W

39

0.1

34°58'N 174°52'W

7

14

1961-1962

between 40°07'N 135°24'W        and 54°10'N 141°09'W

41

0.5

32°00'N 121°30'W

948

30

37°39'N 123°26'W

8,913

235.1

33°39'N 119°28'W

164

47.9

1963-1964

between 40°07'N 135°24'W        and 54°10'N 141°09'W

175

7.2

37°39'N 123°26'W

8

16.1

1965

between 40°07'N 135°24'W        and 54°10'N 141°09'W

14

<0.1

37°39'N 123°27'W

4

0.4

1966

between 40°07'N 135°24'W        and 54°10'N 141°09'W

40

88.7 (3H)

37°12'N 123°55'W

3

15.4 (3H)

Totals


52,330

14,677.3