Dissent Grows Over Proposed Triassic Park Hazardous Waste Dump

IFRAT Meeting Scheduled

* Citizens across New Mexico began voicing their concerns regarding Triassic Park, the first proposed hazardous waste dump in New Mexico, located in Chaves County. Public information meetings were held in Santa Fe, Roswell, Tatum, and Hagerman and drew citizens concerned that the project would only serve to further contaminate New Mexico, in an area already impacted with radioactive and toxic waste sites.

Triassic Park is expected to span 480 acres and dispose of such wastes as mercury, lead, benzene and PCBs. The corporation promoting the dump, Gandy-Marley, Inc., says that the dump would accept waste from facilities within a 150-mile radius, including Texas and Mexico.

Gandy-Marley says that the location was chosen because of the Triassic-era rock barrier beneath the surface of the earth. Their studies claim that the Triassic layer of rock is impermeable, which would prevent leakage from the dump. Also, their studies have found that no aquifer exists near the proposed site, although the Ogallala aquifer is within five miles of the site. Activists opposing the facility are investigating these claims.

In an informational video about the site, Gandy-Marley stated that there were no endangered or threatened species on the land. However, one citizen informed the Santa Fe audience that the area is the only nesting ground for the lesser Prairie Chicken, a threatened species. Other issues of concern include transportation, waste inspection, and environmental monitoring during and after operation of the dump.

The public has been given a short amount of time to read and comment on the draft operating permit for the site, which was released last month and contains over 1,300 pages. As Santa Fe citizen Coila Ash said, "We felt unprepared to come to this meeting and ask questions. We really need more time." The comment period for the draft permit is scheduled to end on August 14th, although activists statewide, and farmers and ranchers in Chaves County have requested an extension of time. Steve Pullen, of the New Mexico Environment Department, said that he is unsure that the request will be granted.

The Santa Fe New Mexican editorial board opposes the project. Environmental groups in both Northern and Southern New Mexico are also voicing their opposition to the plan. As Jaime Chavez, of the Water Information Network, said, "Our main concern is that this is being looked at as a way to improve the economy, and we think there are better ways to improve the economy than to put a dump in the community."

IFRAT Meeting Scheduled

A public information meeting of the Interagency Flood Risk Assessment Team (or IFRAT) will be held on Wednesday, July 25 at the Northern New Mexico Community College in Espaņola from 6 to 9 p.m. The IFRAT is a consortium of government organizations established to integrate communications and deliver information on the flood and contamination risks related to the aftermath of the Cerro Grande fire. The IFRAT will be discussing their risk assessment and how those results were achieved. For more information, please call the New Mexico Environment Department at (505) 428-2512.

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