Second Buckman Water Quality Meeting Scheduled for September 30th

September 24, 2010

This week's Update is dedicated to the memory of Tom Widner, Principal Investigator for ChemRisk. He died unexpectedly in July. Widner was conducting two important public health reviews about the historic and current releases of contaminants from Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is sorely missed.

In response to public concerns about radioactive, toxic and hazardous pollutants from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) impacting Santa Fe's drinking water, the Buckman Direct Diversion Project Board hired ChemRisk to conduct an independent peer review of available information. Under the contract, ChemRisk will hold three public meetings to discuss the review and hear public concerns. The first meeting was held last January. The second meeting will be held on Thursday, September 30th at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center in the Community Room, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

ChemRisk is a national leader for the investigation of historical operations at Department of Energy nuclear weapons plants, including LANL. For the Buckman review, ChemRisk assembled toxicologists, hydrologists, health physicists, risk assessment specialists, a medical doctor and an environmental statistician. They partnered with AMEC Earth and Environment, which has worked on projects at LANL and Sandia National Laboratories.

In the summer of 2008, the Buckman Board held a Water Quality Town Hall at St. Vincent's Hospital in order to address concerns about water quality from the impending diversion of water from the Rio Grande into the Santa Fe water treatment and distribution system. The diversion site is located about three miles downstream from where the Los Alamos Canyon flows into the Rio Grande. Unfortunately the Los Alamos Canyon system contains 212 dump sites, some created during the Manhattan Project, which LANL has not cleaned up. During storm events, water flows over the dumpsites, releasing contaminants that can move to the Rio Grande.

On that hot summer evening in 2008, the meeting room was packed and the public had many questions and comments. One line of questioning was about nanoparticles, which are particles described as being 10,000 times smaller than a human hair. LANL conducts research on nanoparticles. Because of concerns about LANL disposal practices, participants asked about whether the Buckman filtration system could remove the extremely small particles.

At the September 30th meeting, the Independent Peer Review team will summarize their process, the preliminary results, and how the public may obtain the draft Review. A question and answer period will follow the presentation. The participation of the public will be considered part of the formal public review. Refreshments will be served.

For more information about the September 30th meeting, please visit the Buckman Direct Diversion Project website at

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