Public Comments Due January 5 about Leaving High-Level Radioactive and Chemical Waste at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill


Runs 12/19/14 through 12/26/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Public Comments Due January 5 about Leaving High-Level Radioactive and Chemical Waste at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill

Public comments are needed about the plans of Sandia National Laboratories to leave high-level radioactive and chemical waste in the Mixed Waste Landfill in unlined, shallow pits and trenches, which threaten Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. Sandia submitted a request to the New Mexico Environment Department saying that they have completed cleanup at the Mixed Waste Landfill and asked for the hazardous waste permit to be modified. On October 8, 2014 the Environment Department made a preliminary determination that the cleanup was complete and issued a Certificate of Completion. Citizen Action New Mexico has prepared sample public comments for you to use. Comments are due to Sandia on Monday, January 5, 2015 to

Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill is a 2.6-acre dumpsite, located in southeast Albuquerque within the Kirtland Air Force Base. Dumping began in 1959 and ended in 1988. It contains an estimated 1,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive and mixed hazardous wastes from the reactor meltdown experiments and the research and development of nuclear weapons. Plutonium, cesium, strontium, depleted uranium, beryllium, PCBs and chlorinated solvents were disposed in plastic bags, cardboard boxes and steel drums and placed in the unlined dump. Groundwater is located about 400 feet below the dump. Evidence of groundwater contamination has been found. In 2009, a dirt cover was installed.

For decades, Sandia and the New Mexico Environment Department claimed that only low-level radioactive and chemical wastes were buried in the dump. New records uncovered by Citizen Action New Mexico clearly demonstrate that high-level radioactive waste from nuclear fuel experiments was buried in the dump. Some of the waste canisters can explode because they contain metallic sodium.

Following the 1979 Three Mile Island commercial nuclear reactor accident in Pennsylvania, Sandia was tasked with finding out what happens to high-level nuclear fuel during meltdowns. Sandia conducted dozens of experiments on nuclear fuel from around the world in its Annular Core Research Reactor and the waste was disposed in the Mixed Waste Landfill.

Citizen Action encourages the public to make comments that request a public hearing; ask the Environment Department to deny the cleanup certificate; and ask the Environment Department to order Sandia to excavate the dump and safely store the wastes away from the aquifer.

Dave McCoy, of Citizen Action New Mexico, said, “High-level waste disposal requires a deep geologic repository that won’t leak for 10,000 years. Leaving high-level waste in the shallow Mixed Waste Landfill for future generations is nothing short of an environmental crime. Please also sign the petition.”

For more information, please visit Citizen Action’s website at, and Sandia’s information in the Lobo Vault at and search for the Mixed Waste Landfill.


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