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Geese Tagged to Monitor Radiation With AM-Nuclear Waste, Bjt

July 3, 1990

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) _ Scientists have tagged about 500 geese in a program to reduce the chances a hunter will bag a goose contaminated with radiation near the Oak Ridge nuclear installation.

Some geese have staked their claim at several ponds on the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory compound, said Gordon Blaylock, an Oak Ridge environmental scientist.

Several ponds were used at one time as collection basins for nuclear waste, and Blaylock says those still are hot with radioactivity.

Those ponds are getting a closer look from Oak Ridge staffers, who tagged more than 300 geese last week in an effort to track their movement.

″As long as we control the small ponds, I don’t think you’re going to get a goose with a serious problem,″ Blaylock said.

In some cases, fences were put up to keep geese from walking into an area, while streamers attacked to rows of fishing line strung across the ponds are meant to deter geese.

During the past two years scientists have collared about about 500, or one- fourth, of the estimated 2,000 non-migratory Canada geese living near the government nuclear complex, Blaylock said.

The geese, introduced several years ago by the Tennessee Valley Authority, are mostly non-migratory but move within a limited area, he said. The birds’ movement patterns are of interest to scientists, Blaylock said.

The tags can be seen with viewing scopes, letting staffers track the birds’ movement without having to capture them again.

Other geese are tagged with leg bands, which direct that hunters return the metal bands to Oak Ridge and include information on the bird’s location.

Blaylock said Monday that six geese found living on a hot pond near the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge were presumed to be contaminated with radioactive cobalt-60. Those geese were killed for study rather than risking the possibility of contaminated birds leaving the area, he said.