CCNS to Present Groundwater Experts at NMED Public Hearing for LANL Hazardous Waste Permit

April 2, 2010

The on-going detection of contaminants from the waste dumps at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) made it necessary for CCNS to bring groundwater experts to testify at the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) hazardous waste permit hearing for LANL. Protection of groundwater is a key component of the permit. Despite problems with the groundwater-monitoring networks, pollutants are being detected that threaten public health.

The public hearing begins on Monday April 5, 2010 at 9 am at the Santa Fe Community College, Jemez Rooms, and may go on for two or more weeks. CCNS will present groundwater experts Dr. Michael Barcelona and George Rice on Wednesday, April 14 and Thursday, April 15.

Dr. Barcelona is a Professor of Chemistry at Western Michigan University. He has received many international awards for his expertise in groundwater contamination issues. In 2008, he received the Fulbright Senior Lecturer Award. He has been a Senior Advisor on groundwater contamination issues to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for more than 20 years and has reviewed and/or coauthored many EPA guidance documents on groundwater monitoring.

Dr. Barcelona will testify about the many problems with the LANL groundwater-monitoring program. Defective networks of monitoring wells have been installed that allow large plumes of contaminated groundwater to migrate many miles below the 40-square mile site.

George Rice is a groundwater hydrologist with more than 20 years experience in groundwater contamination investigations. In 2004, using LANL and NMED data, he investigated about whether LANL contaminants could reach the Rio Grande. Rice determined that LANL pollutants could travel a distance of eight lateral miles from a discharge pipe through the geological terrain to the springs at the Rio Grande in less than a decade.

Rice will testify about what is needed for a groundwater well monitoring network to detect LANL pollutants around the waste dumps, including Area G at Technical Area 54.

Groundwater issues have been addressed in the past by independent scientific bodies, such as the National Research Council; the Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General; and the Environmental Protection Agency Research Laboratory in Ada, Oklahoma. Each body has made findings and recommendations about what needs to be done in order to detect contamination sooner; nevertheless, DOE, LANL and NMED have basically ignored the findings.

On Monday, April 5, DOE and LANL will begin with their case to renew their hazardous waste permit. NMED will follow a few days later. For more information about the hearing and a schedule, please visit:

CCNS will present its case beginning on Wednesday, April 14. We invite you to attend the hearing.

Back to News Index