Area G Resolution Unanimously Passed by Santa Fe City Council
CCNS NEWS UPDATE
Runs 12/27/13 through 1/3/14
(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:
- Area G Resolution Unanimously Passed by Santa Fe City Council
The Santa Fe City Council unanimously approved a resolution in early December requesting that the New Mexico Environment Department consider alternatives to leaving radioactive, toxic and hazardous waste buried at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Area G dump. LANL has proposed to the Environment Department that the installation of a “cap and cover” over the 63-acre dump will protect the ground water beneath it. The dump is estimated to contain a million cubic meters, or approximately 35 million cubic feet, of toxic waste.
Mayor David Coss introduced the resolution. He is also the chair of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities. He said that public comments at the monthly meetings consistently indicate that people don’t want Area G to become a permanent nuclear waste dump. At the City Council meeting, more than a dozen people spoke in support of the resolution. They stated that the dump must be excavated in order to protect groundwater.
Area G began operations in the late 1950s before there were laws protecting the land, air and water from pollution. None of the dumps, dug out of the volcanic tuff, are lined. Plumes of solvents and radioactive tritium have been found in the shallow water bodies below Area G. Pollution also has been found in the regional aquifer below the dump.
Santa Fe has a special concern because two of its water supplies are located just five miles east of the dump. Councilor Ron Trujillo declared, “This resolution has relevance for the City of Santa Fe. That nuclear waste is close to the Rio Grande. Should something catastrophic happen there I don’t want that hitting the Buckman [wells and diversion project].”
Communities downwind and downstream of LANL also have special concerns. Mayor Coss encouraged communities up and down the Rio Grande to pass similar resolutions. He said, “Santa Fe is the first but Santa Fe should not be the last” community to voice its concerns.
Teresa Chavez, of the Tewa Women United Environmental Justice Group, based in Espanola, supported the resolution. She said that cleanup would “result in a tremendous positive impact. Passing this resolution would be a step toward allowing the land and our people to heal.”
CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and Independent Registered Geologist Robert H. Gilkeson worked many hours to refine the resolution. They inserted protective wording that requires LANL to conduct field studies of the ground water below the dumps, as well as conduct seismic field studies of the LANL site, both as required by the hazardous waste laws and Department of Energy orders. They will continue to monitor the journey of the resolution.
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