.CALIFORNIA, DEPT. OF WATER RESOURCES.
C fl. LIB
TATE OF CALIFORNIA
he Resources Agency
partment of Water Resources
FEB 1 1972
PfB 1 R£C'D
ULLETIN No. 144-69
Annual Report fbi? FY 1968-69
NORMAN B. LIVERMORE, JR.
Secrefary for Resources
The Resources Agency
State of California
BSvrt. OF CALIFORNIA
MAR 18 1970
WILLIAM R. GIANELLI
Deportment of Water Resources
Measuring soil moisture depletion of plum trees with nuclear moisture gauge.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
The Resources Agency
Department of Wa ter Resources
BULLETIN No. 144-69
Annual Report for FY 1968-69
CopiM of this bulUtin at $1.00 Midi may b* ord«r*cl from:
OfRc* of Procuramont
P.O. Box 30191
Socramvnto, California 95820
MaU chKk* poyabU to STATE OP CALIFORNIA.
California rotldontt add 5 porcont (oIm lax.
NORMAN B. LIVERMORE, JR.
Secretary for Resources
The Resources Agency
State of Colifornio
WILLIAM R. GIANELLI
Department of Water Resources
This second report in the Bulletin No. 144 series covers activities of the
Department of Water Resources' radiological applications program during the 1968-69
The term "radiological" pertains to the study and use of atomic energy
in the form of radioactive isotopes and X-ray apparatus. The Nuclear Engineering program
of the Department was initiated in 1958, pursuant to House Resolutions 88 and 234,
1957 California legislative session. H.R. 234, among other provisions, directed appoint-
ment of a Subcommittee to ascertain, study, and analyze all facts relating to "....develop-
ment in the general field of peaceful use of atomic energy as these may relate to California
Clearly, the Legislature intended that the Department assume an active
role in studying and developing nuclear energy applications - primarily power for project
use, but in a broader sense all applications that might benefit water resources develop-
!^ ment. These include radiological applications.
The term "program" as used herein differs from the conventional meaning
of the word in Department usage. The radiological applications program in itself is not
productive of a result such as a plan, a design, or a recommendation for development of
a water resource. Rather, it applies to the application of nuclear phenomena as an aid
i in measurement, identification, tracing, or detection, and is thus a tool to be used in
I Department investigative programs or construction projects. Typical among such programs
I or projects are vegetative water use, soil salinity investigations, and nondestructive
inspection of construction materials.
This report includes brief descriptions of studies, investigations, and
* tasks related to water resources in which radiological applications have played a part and
may continue to do so in the future.
f This report series is intended to keep those concerned with planning and
development of water resources and the operation of water projects currently informed
on radiation-related activities.
William R. Gianelli, Director
Department of Water Resources
The Resources Agency
State of California
November 26, 1969
state of California
The Resources Agency
DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES
RONALD REAGAN, Governor
NORMAN B. LIVERMORE, Jr., Secretary for Resources
WILLIAM R. GIANELLI, Director, Department of Water Resources
ALFRED R. GOLZE , Deputy Director
JOHN R. TEERINK, Deputy Director
James K. Cummings , Chief
This report was prepared under
the direction of
Maurice B. Andrew Chief, Nuclear Unit
Irving Goldberg Associate Soils Specialist (Radiologic)
Radiological Operations Officer
Chapter I - Introduction 1
Chapter II - Radiological Applications 3
Soil Moisture and Density Gauges 3
Description of the Nuclear Method 3
Nuclear Gauge Applications 3
Vegetative Water Use 3
Soil Salinity Studies 6
Compaction Control 8
Radiotracer Applications 8
Littoral Transport Studies 8
Other Radioisotope Tracer Projects 9
Snow Management Research 9
Radioisotope Flow Measurements 12
Underground Nuclear Explosives 13
Chapter III - Radiation Protection Program 15
Summary of Department Activities 15
Measuring soil moisture depletion of plum trees with nuclear Frontispiece
1 Soil permeability Studies, U. S. Bureau of Reclamation,
Fresno, California 5
2 Delta Fish and Wildlife Protection Study 7
3 RIST Field Operations at Surf, California, February 1969 10-11
4 Radiographic Operations in Weld Inspection 16
The assistance provided by public agencies in helping to further the
Department of Water Resources' radiological applications program has been singularly
valuable. It has aided the Department in pursuing a more extensive program of study
and application than otherwise would have been possible. For the cooperation and counsel
provided by the following agencies, the Department is particularly appreciative.
California Department of Public Health
Bureau of Radiological Health
California Department of Industrial Relations
Division of Industrial Safety
California Division of Highways
Materials and Research Department
University of California at Davis
Department of Water Science and Engineering
U. S. Forest Service
Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
U. S. Department of Interior
Bureau of Reclamation
U. S. Department of the Army
Corps of Engineers
U. S. Atomic Energy Commission
E. 0. Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
In addition, the Department appreciates the cooperation of the many in-
dividuals and the private organizations who gave generously of their time for consultative
services and from whose experience in this emerging science theDepartment has benefited
Water resources development is a field in which the unique properties
of radioisotopes have found many applications. Such uses have resulted in improving
conventional practices and in making possible new measurements unachievable by other
means. Probably the application most beneficial to the Department is the use of radioiso-
tope gauging devices for determining moisture content and density of granular materials,
such as soils. These devices have contributed significantly to the improvement of
accuracy and dependability of soil moisture and density measurements. The Department's
investigations of vegetative water use and compaction control have been particularly
aided by utilization of nuclear moisture-density gauges.
Investigations in which radioisotopes are used as tracers have shown
promise of revealing information which cannot be obtained by any other known techniques.
An example is the knowledge of sediment drift gained by using radioisotopic tracers to
follow the movement of offshore underwater sediments. Use of radioisotopes to measure
fluid flow and to rate pumps and turbines has shown potential value as an alternative
to the conventional methods used by the Department. These applications are worthy
of continued evaluation. No immediate needs are foreseen for nuclear explosives, but
this is a technique that may ultimately find some application in excavation or ground
water resources development.
The widespread application of sealed radioactive sources to inspect
construction materials is an unquestionably valuable technique in the Department's
Because the use of radioactive material is subject to regulatory and
licensing control, a radiation protection program has been developed as an adjunct to
the applications program. This auxiliary program has functioned so successfully that
since it began about ten years ago thousands of man-hours have been spent in handling
potentially hazardous radioactive material without a single reportable instance of
The atom has been put to work, and its manifold benefits demonstrated,
in many of the widely divergent activities carried out by the Department of Water
Resources. Described in this report are radiological techniques which have been applied
to more than 10 investigative programs of the Department or of other agencies with which
the Department has cooperated. These uses range from development of a device to
measure soil compaction in earthwork construction to determination of the suitability
of a wildlife habitat - from making in-place measurements of the physical properties of
a snow bank on a mountain top to following the offshore movements of drifting sand
at the bottom of the ocean.
In addition to describing the beneficial uses to which radioisotopes have
been put, the report discusses several possible future projects connected with depart-
mental functions which might be benefited by radiological applications. Among these
are large-scale excavation by means of nuclear explosives and utilization of radiotracers
in rating high -head pumps and turbines.
The final chapter in the report describes the present functions of the
Department's radiological protection program.
Chapter I - INTRODUCTION
Recognizing the useful role which can be played by the application of
radioisotopes to engineering activities, the Department of Water Resources first made use
of radioactive materials as long ago as 1957. At that time radiation applications were
just emerging from their earlier status as laboratory curiosities. Demonstrably beneficial
results of radioisotope uses had been obtained by the late 1950's, a decade after they
Bulletin No. 144-68* described about twenty-five of the Department's
water resources-related activities in which radioisotopes have played a part. The
significant benefits of radioisotopes already being achieved are generally recognized
as indicative of the ultimate value of nuclear methods yet to be applied to the Depart-
ment's water resources development program.
This report describes current progress in radiation-related activities.
Radiological applications in which the Department has participated during the past
year may be conveniently divided into three categories:
Soil moisture-density gauges
Isotopes as tracers
The report's final chapter discusses the Department's radiation protection
program. This function is required under the provisions of the Department's Radioactive
Material License, which permits possession and use of radioactive material.
• "Radiological Applications Program - Annual Report for FY 1967-68", DWR Bulletin
No. 144-68, September, 1968.
Chapter II - RADIOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS
SOIL MOISTURE AND DENSITY GAUGES
Rapid, precise, portable, nondestructive — these are the characteristics of the radiation
scattering technique for soil moisture and density determination that make it valuable
for a number of water resources-related applications. The nuclear method is admirably
suited to determining rate of water use by a crop or compaction in an earth fill. This
is because it permits repeated accurate measurements of moisture content or density
changes over a long period of time to virtually unlimited depths of soil.
Description of the Nuclear Method
A detailed description of the nuclear method for determining moisture and density,
contained in Bulletin No. 144-68, may be briefly summarized as follows:
Soil moisture and density gauges consist of four inter-
connected components: 1) a sealed source of radiation,
2) a radiation detector, 3) a device for converting the
detectoi^s signals into recordable count rates, and 4) a
power supply. The detector is designed to respond
exclusively to radiation which has been affected by that
characteristic of the medium which is to be measured.
When the source and detector are placed at the point of
measurement, and the counting device started, a reading
can usually be obtained within one minute or less. By
means of a suitable calibration table, the appropriate
moisture or density value can then be recorded. The device
is then repositioned and another reading obtained imme-
diately. The portable device can easily be moved by one
man to several measurement locations in the field.
Nuclear Gouge Applications
Vegetative Water Use
Neutron soil moisture probes have been used principally in the San Joaquin District
by the Land and Water Use laboratory in Bakersfield, which has continued to develop
and accumulate information on vegetative water use. The laboratory also functions
as the key station for testing potential improvements in techniques and instruments
tiiat might eventually be used statewide.
The principal radiological accomplishments of the Bakersfield laboratory during the
past year have been:
Soil moisture depletion measurements to determine evapo-
transpiration rates of a plot of table grapes and a plot
of mechanically harvested canning tomatoes. The grapes
were measured twice a month and the tomatoes were mea-
sured approximately once a week. Eight moisture profiles
Development of a technique to determine evapotranspiration
rates for shallow-rooted crops by measuring applied irriga-
tion water and increase of soil moisture in initially dry
soil profiles. A memorandum report, "Consumptive Use of
Water by Spring Potatoes", describing this work in more
detail, was published in May 1969.
During the year, a new model of portable scaler, a component of the nuclear moisture
gauge, was delivered to the Bakersfield laboratory. This instrument weighs less
than the earlier scaler and is easier to maintain. However, the new scaler's greater
ability to resolve pulses aniving at a rapid rate proved to be somewhat of an in-
convenience. Its higher rate of resolution results in a higher apparent count rate
for high moisture content soils than was obtained when the previous system was
originally calibrated. Extremely careful field measurements of soils in this high
moisture range were necessary to revise the existing calibration curves. At year's
end, data which will become the input for the revised calibration were being pro-
cessed for the computer.
Joint investigations of vegetative water use utilizing neutron probes have been
conducted with the University of California, Davis, and the U. S. Bureau of
Reclamation, Fresno Field Division. Photographs of one of the Bureau of Reclama-
tion's installations are shown in Illustration 1.
The Department also contributes to the support of investigations by the Soil and
Water Conservation Division, Agricultural Research Service, Southwest Branch, at
Lompoc, California, which used neutron moisture meters in two investigations
during the year.
One of these investigations employed neutron moisture meters to measure deep
penetration of rain water at naturally vegetated and artificially denuded sites. These
data permit estimation of the amount of water penetrating beyond the root zone.
From this information, methods are being developed to predict natural groundwater
recharge by means of vegetative, soil, and climatic parameters in a computer model.
Results obtained last year with the neutron moisture meter gave clear indications
of the passage of soil moisture waves downward through the profiles. The data
Illustration 1 SOIL PERMEABILITY STUDIES, U. S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION,
View of permeability test pit sheltered from precipitation by plastic cover.
View into permeability test pit.
View across permeameters in which barley crop is
also showed that in one 19-foot profile a depletion phase occurs at lower depths
in the profile at the same time the accretion phase of a succeeding cycle is
penetrating the upper part of the profile. In one instance, two annual accretion
phases were measured simultaneously in one profile.
Another investigation conducted last year by the Agricultural Research Service
under sponsorship of the Department of Water Resources had as its objective the
determination of relationships between evapotranspiration and various climatic,
soil, and plant influences. To develop a greater understanding of the evapotrans-
piration process, periodic neutron meter measurements are made of soil profile
water contents in native vegetation. From these measurements the effects of
changes in vegetation (burning off brush, mechanically clearing land) on soil
moisture profile conditions may be determined. The amount and distribution of
precipitation permit study of the source and movement of soil moisture. For example,
in a year of lower than normal rainfall, it is possible to measure the quantity of
moisture carried over from previous years which has been used in the evapotrans-
Soil Salinity Studies
Nuclear soil moisture gauges are also used in soil salinity studies. Such an
application during the year occurred in the Suisun Marsh study, a joint undertaking
by the Departments of Water Resources and Fish and Game as part of the Delta
Fish and Wildlife Protective Study. The objective of the maish study is to deter-
mine the effect of changes in channel salinity upon the soil salinity and hence
upon the forage and migratory bird population. Changes in the salt load will affect
forage production, which in turn affects the migratory bird population.
Because the soils are highly organic, gravimetric determinations of soil water
content are questionable when accomplished by the oven-drying procedures normally
used for mineral soils. Although the quantitative soil moisture results obtained
with the neutron probe in organic soils are not as reliable as those obtained from
a probe in mineral soils, changes in soil moisture which may be determined by
repetitive measurement of the soil moisture profile are reliably indicated. Soil
moisture changes are required to determine the change in salinity from data obtained
with electrical conductivity probes at the same time, date, and location. Additional
data are also being obtained on the volume weights or densities of these soils
through mathematical calculations based upon the soil moisture and electrical
conductivity readings. Illustration 2 shows some of the field activity required for
Without doubt neutron soil moisture meters have been of great benefit in this
measurement program. Data of comparable reliability could not have been obtained
at a reasonable cost without these instruments.
The past fiscal year has been one of concentration on the data collection program.
Although a report on the Suisun Marsh investigation will be completed by December
1969, the field measurements are expected to continue well into the 1969-70 fiscal
year and the data obtained thereby included in a supplemental report.
Illustration 2 DELTA FISH AND WILDLIFE PROTECTION STUDY
Overall view of instrumented study
site at Joice Island (DWR Neg. 3722-1).
Simultaneously measuring salt concen-
tration with conductivity meter and
soil moisture content with neutron
meter (DWR Neg. 3722-28).
Aluminum boat transports recording
instrumentation. White polyethylene
shield (right of center) provides addi-
tional personnel protection. (DWR
Following completion of the Thermalito Forebay-Afterbay embankment in the fall
of 1968, the Department's nuclear compaction control equipment was moved to the
North San Joaquin construction project at Byron. These instruments were intended
principally to assist in controlling density of the soil-cement to be placed on the
Clifton Court Forebay embankment.
Precise control of moisture and density is absolutely essential in soil-cement
construction, because the surface application is used in place of riprap and is
occasionally subjected to high wave forces. Supplemental moisture and density
data provided by the nuclear devices should contribute to better control of the
embankment. Unfortunately, last winter's high water delayed placement of soil-
cement. The work had barely commenced by the end of the fiscal year. Therefore,
very little use of the nuclear devices was possible. They will, however, be used
as required from the present through the completion of the embankment.
Because of their extreme sensitivity and specificity, isotopic tracers are particularly
valuable tools for following the pathways taken by a material through its environment.
Radioisotopic tracers are thus useful in water resources-related activities. Although no
new tracer applications were initiated in Department activities during the year, progress
in some of the continuing investigations was followed with interest.
Littoral Transport Studies
The Department of Water Resources has been directly involved in a continuing series
of tests in which radioisotope-tagged sand is used to determine the mechanics of
offshore movement of sediment, particularly around headlands. This study, called
RIST (Radioisotopic Sand Tracer Study), is under the combined sponsorship of the
U. S. Air Force, the U. S. Navy, the U. S. Army, and the Department of Water Resources.
The basic objectives of the RIST study are to develop methods and equipment for
measuring sand transport and to obtain data that can be used to solve engineering
problems related to maintaining coasts and waterways. These data would result in
more precise knowledge of the characteristics of littoral material transport around
headlands or supposed natural barriers to littoral drift, particularly sediment movement
in the nearshore and offshore zones. Information will also be obtained on seasonal
changes in rate, direction, and distance of littoral transport; average velocity of
transport along a straight beach and around a headland; and the fundamental mechanics
of sediment transport.
The procedure is to label ("tag") with a radiotracer about 100 pounds of sand removed
from the t)each under study. The tagged sand is then deposited in the surf at high tide
and its movement is followed by four scintillation detectors housed in a 300-pound
cylindrical device that rolls along the bottom as it is towed behind an amphibious
vehicle. The underwater mobile detector system and the ancillaiy computer and data
treatment programs were developed by and are operated during field tests by Oak Ridge
In the past fiscal year, three offshore injections of tagged sand were made. The first
series of tests was conducted at Surf, California, in September and October, 1968.
These operations were based on a laboratory study made on a model beach in May,
1968. This model study proved valuable because the field work turned out to be the
most successful to that date.
In the first field test, a line source was constructed to extend from the beach face
parallel to and through the surf zone. This was done by placing discrete samples
of sand labelled with radioactive xenon in water-soluble bags at about 15-foot
intervals. In the first test with this line source, an injection of 40 liters of sand was
made under relatively calm conditions. In four days of monitoring, little movement was
observed except along the beach face. In a second test, the waves were higher and
the 40 liters of sand was rapidly dispersed. Two subsequent tests in which radioactive
gold was used to label the sand gave generally the same results. Patterns were re-
corded for a distance of 2,500 feet, although actual surveys covered approximately
2 percent of the total offshore area involved.
In February, 1969, radioactive gold was used in a field test conducted near Point
Conception, California, offshore from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The test was
proceeding most satisfactorily when an unfortunate mechanical breakdown of the
detector vehicle prevented most of the planned measurement program. Photographs
taken at the time of this test are shown in Illustration 3.
A third test also utilizing gold-tagged sand was conducted during the week of June 16,
1969. This test appeared to proceed without difficulty, and at fiscal year's end the
data obtained therefrom were being analyzed.
The project is progressing in orderly steps. Althou^ as yet no quantitative measure-
ments of gross littoral drift have been made, each experiment provides valuable
information that improves the next measurement. As each phase begins, these improve-
ments are evidenced by more sophisticated equipment, greater confidence of personnel
in handling the equipment and the data, and generally much more reliable results.
Other Radioisotope Tracer Projects
Although the Department of Water Resources currently has no official direct involvement
in them, a number of water resources-related activities wherein radioisotopes are
utilized merit close attention.
Snow Management Research
For a number of years, the U. S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and
Range Experiment Station, has been conducting snow management research into
methods for studying and solving such problems as delaying total water yield.
The research has resulted in development of a remote-controlled in situ snow
Illustrations RIST FIELD OPERATIONS
(Right) Loading tamp being lowered on LARC XV am- ^ ^'
phibious vehicle. These vehicles are capable of riding
out a 10-foot surf.
(Left) Mobile detector vehicle and instrument shelter on
deck of LARC XV vehicle.
(Right) Mobile detector vehicle containing scintilla-
tion detectors and auxiliary circuitry. Rocks on sea
bottom dented the surface reinforcement rods.
AT SURF, CALIFORNIA, FEBRUARY 1969
(Left) Mounted on bow deck of LARC XV, shielded
container holds water-soluble plastic containers of
sand tagged with radio-gold.
(Right) On-board instrumentation includes (from left) 400-
channel pulse-height analyzer and radiation detection
equipment, navigational equipment, and print-out devices.
(Left) Dr. David B. Duane of U. S. Amy Engineers,
RIST project director, tosses dye marker into surf to
determine feasibility of dropping tracers. Photo taken
approximately 20 feet above sea level.
density gauge. Measurements obtained with the gauge are permitting development
of predictive formulas for linking solar radiation with snow melt. The data have
shown that snow melts at densities lower than those commonly believed necessary
to produce melt. The system is being prepared for the computer to provide direct
read-out of the numerical values of interest.
Radiotracer experiments designed to measure movement of water downslope in
snowpacks have shown that large quantities of water move through dense snow
layers inside the pack. Heretofore, the water was thought to pond on such layers
and run downslope on top of even denser layers. The position of the water and its
speed affect the rapidity with which it reaches the streams.
The Department is watching work now underway to develop a radioisotopic method
to quantitatively evaluate water movement in trees. Radioactive phosphorus in
water solution is introduced into mature pine trees through freshly cut root tips.
The tracer moves up the trunk in a discrete narrow band, and its progress is followed
quite easily by portable survey equipment. The position and extent of tracer
movement is also occasionally checked by making auto radio graph pictures of the
cross section of trunks of tracer-treated trees that have been cut down. Microscopic
thin-section specimens are also obtained to show the extent of physiological
structures that transport the tracer-treated water. According to Forest Service
reports, these experiments produced estimates of water use by individual trees
that are in marked agreement with values obtained from measurements of inflow
and outflow for an entire watershed.
From these preliminary results it is apparent that additional development of the
radioisotopic water movement method would be desirable. With further study, this
tree tracing technique might some day prove useful as one of the methods for the
collection of data used in watershed management studies.
Radioisotope Flow Measurements
The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation is continuing to improve methods for measuring
flow rate in high-head turbines and pumps. A series of measurements has been
completed at Flatiron Powerplant, Colorado, on a 6-foot-diameter turbine penstock
and an 8-foot-diameter pump-turbine pipeline. Radioactive bromine has been used
to make several measurements of discharge values, with sufficient success to
encourage further woric.
The project will be continued by applying the equipment in a series of demonstra-
tion measurements in a few selected power and pumping plants under the jurisdiction
of the Bureau of Reclamation. Progress in these demonstration projects will be
followed with interest by the Department of Water Resources.
Neutron activation is a widely used and rapidly developing laboratory technique for
elemental analysis, but field applications are as yet less common. Using neutrons
to induce radioactivity into an otherwise stable material and tracing the movement
of the material by detecting the gamma radiation it subsequently emits has certain
marked advantages over conventional methods. The relatively high penetrating
power of both the incident neutrons and the emitted gamma rays makes feasible
the tracing of fluids moving in a great variety of media and minimizes sampling
errors or interference due to changes in chemical composition. Although only pre-
liminary results have been reported so far, there is reason to believe that a
practical system can be developed to apply the neutron activation technique to
water flow measurement.
One recent development which may go a long way toward making neutron activation
feasible is the commercial production of califomium-252. This man-made radioiso-
tope emits neutrons spontaneously and intensely. It can be used in remote environ-
ments because it requires no maintenance, no elaborate control system, and no
power supply. The AEC* indicates that "Although less than 50 milligrams of
califomium-252 are now in existence, several grams will be produced in the early
1970's and hundreds of grams could be made available by 1980. A few micrograms
are sufficient for many applications."
The neutron activation analysis technique, with special regard to developments in
the use of califomium-252, will be carefully observed for its potential in water
resources applications, particularly in water flow measurement.
Underground Nuclear Explosives
Use of nuclear explosives has been considered as an altemative to conventional
engineering means in water resources development. However, many problems stand
firmly in the way of its use for this purpose in the near future. In addition to somewhat
limited information on certain technical aspects of the detonation, stringent environ-
mental, economic, and legal limitations also exist.
It has been suggested that nuclear explosives might be used in construction for
intercepting the natural movement of water, for detaining water in storage, or for
conveying water. Also, the principal effect of nuclear detonation most likely to be
useful to conserve and store ground water would be the rabble-filled collapse chimney
that ordinarily results from a fully contained underground detonation. The chimney
might function in four principal ways: 1) In a zone where a confining bed constrains
the water, it might provide a highly permeable conduit, thus enlarging or prolonging
the water yield from the aquifer system; 2) It might act as a "big well" to present
a very large infiltration surface to the aquifer, thus increasing recoverable yield,
facilitating recharge, or allowing injection of fluid waste products at suitable depths
below land surface; 3) If it creates a suitable subsidence crater at land surface and
reaches down to a saturated zone, it might help store surface runoff and help accelerate
recharge of the zone; and 4) In massive impervious rock, it might afford underground
void space for storing usable water. This last would be practical only if not restricted
by the cost per unit volume of space.
Although the concept of creation of new underground voids capable of storing ground
water appears extremely attractive, it must be remembered that to date a nuclear
"Califomium-252, Its Use and Market Potential". Brochure published by USAEC,
Savannah River Operations Office, Aiken, South Carolina. May, 1969.
device has not been detonated with the specific objective of providing underground
storage of water. No reliable data based on controlled testing exist that can be used
to evaluate certain problems in California. For example, how effective would deep
nuclear explosions be in the relatively shallow saturated ground water reservoirs in
California? Will confining clay layers, severed or shattered by nuclear explosions,
tend to stay apart or will they blend together with time and tend to seal deeper
aquifers? What size cavities can be developed, and how many acre-feet of usable
new underground storage capacity can be created? What are the total costs of storing
water underground by use of nuclear devices, as compared to conventional artificial
recharge projects? How does one evaluate the impact of detonating nuclear devices in
populated areas? What systems must be established for payment of any damages to
man-made structures which might result from shock waves generated by nuclear
explosives? Will a nuclear device exploded near one of California's many active faults
trigger an earthquake?
Some consideration has been given to using underground nuclear detonations to drain
excess water collected this year in Buena Vista and Tulare Lake basins in San
Joaquin Valley. However, geological and hydrological conditions in the saturated
sedimentary materials beneath the valley floor do not appear favorable for creation of
large new underground storage spaces.
The Aquarius study, which is an investigation of the feasibility of applying nuclear
explosives to improve the ground water supply in Arizona, began during the past
year. It is being conducted jointly by the Atomic Energy Commission and the Depart-
ment of the Interior, in response to a request by the Governor of Arizona. Results of
the study will be read with interest.
More definitive information should result from test detonations that currently are
pending in other resource fields, such as natural gas. Beyond that, progress toward
general understanding and possible acceptance of nuclear detonation in the field of
water seems to rest on an experimental detonation of some demonstrably simple modi-
fication of a natural hydrologic feature.
Chapter III - RADIATION PROTECTION PROGRAM
Use of radioactive material is limited by specific regulations set forth by the U. S. Atomic
Energy Commission. The authority to regulate possession and utilization of radioactive
material has been delegated by federal law to the governments of a number of states. In
California, the regulatory agencies are the Department of Public Health and the Division
of Industrial Safety.
SUMMARY OF DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES
Authority for supervision of radioactive material in the Department of Water Resources is
vested in a Radiological Operations Officer whose duties and responsibilities for the
radiation protection program have been discussed in detail in Bulletin No. 144-68.
The following activities were carried out under the jurisdiction of the Radiological
Operations Officer during the past fiscal year:
1. The Department of Water Resources' Radioactive
Material license, bearing an expiration date of April 23,
1969, was renewed on June 9, 1969. The new license,
which expires April 23, 1974, includes six radioisotopes,
a total of nearly 2,800 millicuries contained in 27 sealed
2. A number of amendments to the Department's Adminis-
trative Manual's radiation safety section were submitted.
These were approved and released by the Department's
Management Analysis Office in October, 1968. In June,
1969, an extensively revised version of this section was
submitted through channels for approval. These revisions
are intended not only to update the regulations but to put
the section on specific radiological protection rules in a
more convenient booklet form.
3. In November, 1968, a 2-day training program qualified
13 new Radiological Operators in accordance with provi-
sions of the Department's Radioactive Material License.
At the 1968-69 fiscal year's end, a total of 17 active
Radiological Operators had been trained and were fully
lustration 4 RADIOGRAPHIC OPERATIONS IN WELD INSPECTION
Radiography on Edmonston pumping plant discharge line
showing remote control cable connected to a shield
containing radioactive source (on wood crate). Radiation
survey meter visible on platform next to crate.
Operating remote control source positioning device,
Wind Gap Pumping Plant discharge line. Cables pass
through inspection port at right.
Operating remote control source positioning
device, Angeles Tunnel surge chamber. This
device is connected to shield in background,
photo to right.
Arrow 1 shows position to be occupied by radioactive source
when run out on cable from shield in background; arrow 2
shows reinforcing steel weld wrapped with a film packet.
qualified to work with radioactive materials in specific
4. The number of individuals subject to film badge
monitoring requirements grew during the year from 40 to
nearly 70. This increase stemmed primarily from an inter-
pretation of the State radiation protection regulations made
by the Division of Industrial Safety in April, 1969. The
DIS interprets the language of the personnel monitoring
regulation to include in the film badge monitoring program
Department inspectors who might inadvertently be exposed
to radiation. Photographs of some of the operations required
in radiographic weld inspections are shown in Illustra-
tion 4. As an additional safeguard for our personnel, five
kits containing portable survey meters and pen-type self-
reading pocket dosimeters were distributed to the following
divisions of the Department:
South San Joaquin Division
Wind Gap Pumping Plant
A. D. Edmonston Pumping Plant
Tehachapi-West Branch Division
Angeles Tunnel Surge Chamber
Provision has been made for supplying welding inspectors
in the Mojave-Santa Ana Division with similar kits during
the next fiscal year, when radiography of welds begins.
These survey instruments are in addition to those with
which gauging operations are conducted by Radiological
Operators in the Northern District, Red Bluff; in the
San Joaquin District, Fresno and Bakersfield; in the
Central District, Sacramento; at the Technical Services
Office, Bryte; and in the North San Joaquin Division,
Clifton Court Forebay.
5. The Department entered the 10th year in which its
personnel and contractors incurred neither reportable
injury nor overexposure to radioactive material. The film
badge records did indicate four instances of small but
significant exposures received by individuals being
monitored. Although the amounts of radiation recorded
did not exceed the statutory limit, or even the administra-
tive guidelines set forth in the Department's Administrative
Manual, informal investigations were nonetheless conducted
by the Radiological Operations Officer, and steps initiated
to lower the average exposure of these individuals.
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