CCNS invites the public to participate in a Workshop on the Fire that Ravaged Los Alamos National Laboratory Property, and to Discuss the Aftermath of the Fire on New Mexico's Watershed

Concerns of Contamination Cause Many Firefighters to Leave LANL

*In response to the potential threat to our watershed, on Saturday, July 8, the first of two public workshops will be convened at the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe with national and local experts and community members to attain a comprehensive view of the effects of the Cerro Grande Fire on our land and water.

The Rio Grande/Rio Bravo is the lifeblood of New Mexico, southern Texas and northern Mexico, providing water for 10 million people. Because of the Cerro Grande fire, a large forested area has been denuded and there is concern about rains, erosion and runoff of toxic materials from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Rio Grande /Rio Bravo Watershed. The purpose of the workshop is to broaden public awareness about the environmental and health risks that may result from runoff and to encourage independent oversight of LANL's measures toward protecting New Mexico's largest watershed. It is an opportunity for all of us to come together to develop a proclamation, from the people to our elected officials, so greater accountability and information can become available to all.

This workshop is being sponsored by Concerned Citizen for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) and Robert Alvarez of the Nuclear Policy Project/Fund for Constitutional Government. The first workshop will be held at the Eldorado Hotel Ballroom from 9am to 6pm, Saturday, July 8th. Workshop participants are expected to include representatives of the State of New Mexico, the Pueblos, LANL and the University of California, DOE, watershed and environmental organizations, independent scientific and health experts, farmers, lab workers and community members. In the morning session there will be a panel discussion with national and local experts defining the issues, especially as they pertain to the impacts of radioactive and other hazardous contaminants on the Rio Grande Watershed. In the afternoon session there will be breakout groups for people to identify community concerns in the aftermath of the Cerro Grande fire. The workshop breakout groups will address issues of health and safety, rehabilitation of habitat, and river and watershed concerns. Anna Hansen, Chairperson of the CCNS Board said, "We are looking forward to your participation. This is an extraordinary moment in history to protect our bioregion and learn more about how we can all work together to ensure the safety of our water."

*And in other news on the lab; about 100 firefighters plan to leave cleanup duty at LANL because they do not believe the lab, when they are told they are not in danger from contamination.

Firefighters from around the country have been camping out on LANL property while working on the fire and the rehabilitation efforts. Their tent campsite is spread out over half a mile and includes a food tent, all of which are situated at Technical Area 49, not far from dump sites. One dump site which continued to burn underground for almost a month after the Cerro Grande fire hit the lab's property, has wastes from the early days of lab operations and may contain toxic substances. The dump fire was finally extinguished, using robotic equipment on Tuesday, June 13th.

According to Bill Sweet, spokesman for the cleanup team, "They don't trust the DOE. We got folks who just don't have confidence in what the lab and the Energy Department are telling them." LANL and DOE officials as well as state environment department officials, had a safety meeting with firefighters at the camp recently to try to reassure them that the air they were breathing at their campsite does not contain high amounts of radioactivity or other hazardous materials in it. But, over 100 firefighters remained unconvinced and asked to fight other fires in New Mexico and to leave LANL property.

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