State Environment Department Recommends a Complete Cleanup of the
South Fork of Acid Canyon
Seven-fold Increase in Genetic Mutations Found in Children Born to
Chernobyl Clean-Up Crews
Radioactive Roads and Rails
State Environment Department officials stated that a complete
cleanup of the South Fork of Acid Canyon probably should be done.
Contamination, such as americium, cesium-137, strontium-90, lead and
mercury, has been found in the canyon. In 1997, Los Alamos National
Laboratory (or LANL) found weapons-grade plutonium at levels upwards of
10,000 times higher in the canyon than found in the backyards of Los
Alamos. Greg Lewis, director of water and waste management at the
Environment Department said, "These numbers are the highest that have been
identified on lab property and we want to see it appropriately dealt with."
From the 1940s through the mid-1960s, LANL dumped untreated and
treated liquid radioactive waste into the canyon. Located between the
skateboard park and the municipal swimming pool, the area is now a Los
Alamos County park. Hikers, joggers, and families use the canyon
recreationally. The Department of Energy (or DOE) and the County have
agreed to post signs indicating there is no unacceptable risk to
Proposed budget cuts by the Bush Administration may delay the
cleanup for several years. Lewis is concerned because the Acid Canyon
cleanup "is one of the first things that will come off the lab's 'to do'
list if the budget cuts go through." Although the state Environment
Department does not have jurisdiction over radioactive materials, DOE has
not ruled out a complete cleanup, providing Congress provides the funds.
DOE and LANL will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, May 23rd from
5:30 to 7 p.m. at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos.
* A study published by the Royal Society this week claims that
children born after the 1986 Chernobyl accident to men commissioned to
clean up the damaged reactor are seven times more likely to exhibit genetic
mutations than children born to parents who were not exposed to radiation.
The mutations were identified using DNA fingerprinting techniques.
These results mean that a high proportion of the world's radiation workers
exposed to even low levels of radiation may be risking the health, or even
lives, of their unborn children. The nuclear industry has claimed for
years that exposure to nuclear materials cannot effect the unborn children
of those exposed. The study, however, has shown that the radiation from
the stricken reactor negatively affected the sperm of the fathers, which
can cause a mutation of the DNA of their children.
Scientists working on the project studied the families of the men
who worked on the reactor cleanup that included one child born before the
Chernobyl accident and one born after. Although the children born after
the accident showed no physical deformities, the long-term effects of the
DNA changes are unknown. The changes may cause increased risk of cancer or
genetic instability in future generations.
found that even low-level exposure can cause genetic mutations,
meaning that radiation exposure from occupational or medical
procedures can adversely affect the mutation rate in offspring.
However, the study also found that the risk for genetic mutation
in children decreased as the fathers worked in environments
free of radiation.
Please join us for the following Radioactive Roads and Rails
Campaign activities. First, on Saturday, May 19th,
please join us at CommUNITY days on the Santa Fe Plaza, in
front of the old Woolworth's store. The Campaign is a national
project of Public Citizen and the Nuclear Information and
Resource Service to inform and educate the public about transportation
of nuclear fuel to the Yucca Mountain site. CCNS is working
with Public Citizen and Peace Action New Mexico to bring the
campaign to New Mexico. We will have a 20' inflatable mock
nuclear waste transport cask for presentation and an information
table. More than 100 non-profit organizations also will be
present offering information. We hope to see you there!
on Monday, May 21st, the Radioactive Roads and Rails
Campaign will be on the steps of the State Capitol Building,
East Concourse, for a press conference discussing Yucca Mountain
and releasing the results of the surveys of New Mexico emergency
responder along the north-south WIPP route conducted by CCNS
and the State Department of Health.
on Monday, May 21st, CCNS, Peace Action New Mexico
and Public Citizen will be offering presentations about the
transportation of nuclear fuel through New Mexico to Yucca
Mountain. The presentations will be in the Community Room
of the LeFarge Branch of the Public Library, 1730 Llano Street,
in Santa Fe. Please call CCNS at 986-1973 for more information.
LANL and DOE open house to discuss cleanup of the South Fork
of Acid Canyon will be on Wednesday, May 23 from 5:30
to 7:00 pm at the Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos. For more information,
please call CCNS at 986-1973.
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