Environment Department Ignores Sandia’s Plan to Excavate the Mixed Waste Landfill

Even though Sandia National Laboratory stated it could completely excavate the Mixed Waste Landfill, the New Mexico Environment Department replied that continued sampling and monitoring would be sufficient to address its potential risks.  Sandia stated that it would take ten years to excavate the radioactive and hazardous waste dump.  The unlined dump, sitting above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer is located five miles from the Albuquerque Sunport and one mile from Mesa del Sol.

In 2004, the Environment Department held a contentious public hearing about a proposed modification to Sandia’s hazardous waste permit to determine whether to clean up the dump or put a dirt cover on it.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/snl-mwl-2/

Citizen Action New Mexico, Dr. Eric Nuttal, and others opposed the dirt cover because their research and analyses of the conditions on the ground and in the groundwater required that the waste should be excavated, treated and disposed of onsite or offsite in licensed facilities.  https://radfreenm.org/  and  https://radfreenm.org/index.php/sandia-national-laboratories-mixed-waste-lanfill/195-mixed-waste-landfill-facts

The hearing resulted in the Environment Department approving the installation of a dirt cover and requiring a Five-Year Review of the decision.

Nevertheless, despite a number of complicated delays and frustrating twists and turns, the Environment Department’s issued a 2016 Final Order for the dump that called for Sandia to meet one of two options.  The first was to install a landfill that meets hazardous waste management laws and regulations.  The waste would be excavated and placed in a licensed landfill with double liners and leachate collection systems beneath both the cover and the liners.  The second option was to excavate the radioactive and hazardous wastes, treat them and dispose of them onsite or ship them offsite.   2016-02-12 Final Order – MWL  The month, the Environment Department chose neither.

In January 2019, Sandia submitted the first Five-Year Review and stated:  “Complete excavation with offsite and onsite disposal are remedial alternatives that could be implemented, if necessary.”  Sandia explained that there have been significant changes over time that makes excavation of the 2.6 acre dump a reasonable option.  These include the decay of the radioactive cobalt-60 in the dump to levels where it no longer poses a threat to workers and the public; and use of conventional excavation approaches and streamlined waste management systems. Sandia MWL Five Year Rpt. Ex. Sum. 12-14-18 See p. iii of Executive Summary, pdf p. 8.  

In May 2019, the public had its opportunity to provide comments about the first Five Year Review.  Over 400 public comments were submitted, to which the Environment Department has provided written responses. 2021-07-09-MWL-RTC-table-5-yr-Review

On July 9th, 2021, the Environment Department approved the Five-Year Review without recommending either option outlined in its 2016 Final Order.  2021-07-09-NMED-approves-Five-Year-Report-for-Mixed-Waste-Landfill

For more information, please visit Citizen Action New Mexico at https://radfreenm.org/  and watch the new informative video about Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill Facts, with Eileen O’Shaughnessy of the Nuclear Issues Study Group, Dave McCoy of Citizen Action New Mexico, and hosted by Robin Seydel. https://radfreenm.org/index.php

Did You Know?  We are Podcasting! 



1.Every Friday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself “permanently” in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. JOIN Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, and others.  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.



2.  EVENT MAY BE CANCELED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER:  Thursday, July 22nd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm:  In-Person Open House for Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) Bulk Fuels Facility Remediation Project.  It will be held at the KAFB Groundwater Treatment System facility, located just inside the Ridgecrest Drive Gate near Bullhead Park.  Normal security procedures not required because this is a special event.  For more information, please contact Brannon Lamar, 377 Air Base Wing Public Affairs, at (505) 846-5991, or by email, brannon.lamar@us.af.mil.   GWTS22July2021OpenHouseINVITE.docx



3.  Wednesday, August 4th from 6 to 7:15 pm Santa Fe County Nuclear Waste Emergency Response Town Hall Meeting, with Santa Fe County Commissioners Hank Hughes and Anna Hamilton. Hondo 2 Fire Station, 645 Old Las Vegas Hwy., Santa Fe.

Town Hall Flyer 2-1



4.  Saturday, August 7th from 1 to 3 pm – Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration Event in Los Alamos, NM at Ashley Pond.  A two-hour vigil at the site of the first a-bomb’s creation to commemorate the bombings that fundamentally changed the world.   We must remind ourselves and others of the living hell created by that bomb in hopes that we can avoid any future use of such devices of death.  For more information, contact kenmayers@vfp-santafe.org



 5.  Sunday, August 8th from 2 – 9 pm – Taos August Peace Pilgrimage at Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Taos, NM. Free and open to the public – films, forum and ceremony.  For more information and to view the agenda, please visit https://tcataos.org/calendar/#event=67243093;instance=20210808140000


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