Drinking Treated Buckman Water Could Cause Cancer in More than One Person in 10,000

November 26, 2010

The preliminary draft report of the Independent Peer Review Team states that drinking treated water from the Buckman Direct Diversion Project could result in a lifetime cancer risk in more than one person in 10,000 despite their conclusion that "There will be no health risk to people drinking [Buckman] Project tap water." The Peer Review Team used the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) range of risk, which is set at one person in one million contracting cancer, a more protective standard, to the less protective of one person in 10,000. The Buckman Project is expected to begin diverting Rio Grande water in January 2011 at a location three miles down river from where contaminants from 67 years of operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) continue to flow into the river during storm events.

In response to public concerns about water quality, the Buckman Board, which is composed of elected officials from the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County, received a $250,000 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct the peer review.

The Review Team was tasked to determine whether LANL radioactive and chemical contaminants would have an impact on Buckman water quality. The Team is composed of ChemRisk, LLC, a San Francisco based risk analysis corporation, and AMEC Earth and Environment, based in Socorro, New Mexico.

The finding verifies public concern about LANL contaminants impacting Buckman water quality. As noted in the comments of CCNS, Healthy Waters NOW ASAP, and Robert H. Gilkeson, Registered Geologist, "Federal, state, and local government agencies have been on notice since at least 2002, [], that the Los Alamos/Pueblo Canyon dumpsites needed to be addressed before the [Buckman] Project came on line."

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, "It is shocking that more than one person in 10,000 over their lifetime could contract cancer from drinking Buckman water that has gone through the treatment process. We documented many problems with the preliminary draft report and question this finding. Nevertheless, the Buckman Project should not begin diverting water until the 212 dumpsites in Los Alamos/Pueblo Canyon have been cleaned up. It is time to bring all the parties to the table: concerned people; local, state and federal elected officials; DOE; LANL; the EPA, the New Mexico Environment Department, and others to address the cleanup. All cleanup work should satisfy the public."

A final public meeting with the Independent Peer Review Team will be held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center on Tuesday, December 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. More information is available at www.bddproject.org and www.chemrisk.com .

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