New Mexico Environment Department Recommends Excavation of LANL’s Material Disposal Area C

The comment period is open for the public to review the New Mexico Environment Department’s recommendation to excavate the 11.8 acre unlined dump, called Material Disposal Area C, or MDA C, at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  Public comments are due Monday, November 6th , scroll down to September 7, 2023 entry for MDA C, SWMU 50-009, Remediation entry.

According to LANL logbooks, MDA C first received radioactive, toxic and hazardous liquid, gases and solid wastes in 1948.  Disposal operations ended in 1974.  There are six disposal pits, one chemical disposal pit, and 108 shafts – all unlined allowing the buried wastes to migrate into the water, air, and soil.  Id., September 7, 2023 – NMED Statement of Basis MDA C.

In the ensuing 49 years, the contaminated waste has been migrating towards regional drinking water supplies.  The Department explained that volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are present directly below the dump at depths of approximately 600 feet below ground surface.  Some VOCs can cause cancer; others can react with other gases and form air pollutants once they are in the air.

As required by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act and its regulations, the Department prepared a Statement of Basis to show how excavation will protect human health and the environment.

The Department stated, “For maximum protection of public and environmental health and safety, and to ensure that the drinking water resource can be conservatively protected, [the Department] has determined that … excavation, plume monitoring, and institutional controls, along with a passive and active soil-vapor extraction system at MDA C to remove the waste and eliminate the VOC contaminate source detected in soil [], is the most appropriate cleanup measure.”  Id., p. 15.

LANL successfully excavated its oldest radioactive waste dump that operated from 1944 to 1948 on DP Road in Los Alamos, called MDA B.  It was excavated when LANL received $110 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  A large moveable tent under negative air pressure and with HEPA filtration was installed over the dump.  Earthmovers and other large equipment operated inside to carefully remove the waste from the deep trenches.  It was sorted, characterized and properly disposed.

One cleanup report described the extensive planning that was done.  The report concluded, “The one area where planning did not fail to meet reality was safety.  There were no serious worker injuries and the minor injuries recorded were those common to construction type activities.”  Oppenheimer’s Box of Chocolates:  Remediation of the Manhattan Project Landfill at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Public comments are due to the Environment Department on Monday, November 6th by 5 pm Mountain.  CCNS has prepared sample public comments you can use in support of excavation of MDA C.  230928 MDA C sample comment letter to NMED

  1. Friday, September 29th from noon to 1 pm MT ***  NEW LOCATION DUE TO RECONSTRUCTION OF GUADALUPE BRIDGE.  ***  Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, and others.

 Come and visit with us about the Back from the Brink campaign.   


  1. Tuesday, September 26thUnited Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons Day. Achieving global nuclear disarmament is the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.  It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, which established the Atomic Energy Commission (dissolved in 1952), with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.  To learn more:



  1. Help reach 2,500 petition signatures! Sign the Tewa Women United petition to Protect Vulnerable NM Communities:  Halt Radioactive Tritium Release from LANL.  LANL is proposing to vent four flanged tritium waste containers (FTWCs) by September 30, 2023 (the end of the fiscal year).



  1. Tuesday, October 3rd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm – WIPP in-person and virtual Community Forum and Open House at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Parks Hwy, Carlsbad, NM.


In-Person Registration:

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QUESTIONS:  For questions regarding this meeting and open house please contact the WIPP Information Center at or by calling 1-800-336-9477.


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