From 1959 until 1988, Sandia used the site, now known as the Mixed Waste Landfill, to dispose of radioactive wastes such as cobalt 60 and depleted uranium, and hazardous wastes such as lead.
After studying the site for more than a decade under a federal law that requires the lab to take stock of contaminated sites, Sandia decided that excavating, inspecting, and moving the landfill would be too dangerous. "It’s dry waste, in a dry, functioning landfill," says John Gould, a physical scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy, which oversees the lab. "It’s not going anywhere."
Dick Fate, deputy project manager for Sandia’s environmental restoration project, says that neutron probes installed underneath the landfill will monitor changes, and that Sandia will excavate the site if it becomes necessary.
But the Albuquerque-based nonprofit Citizen Action has petitioned the New Mexico Environment Department to clean up the site after the short-lived radionuclides have decayed. "This isn’t a landfill; landfills are planned," says Citizen Action’s Sue Dayton. "This is a dump." She wants the waste excavated and placed in monitored storage. In August, however, the state issued an "initial approval" of the long-term stewardship plan, stipulating the addition of a 3-foot dirt cover and an animal-intrusion barrier.
The New Mexico Environment Department is currently accepting comment, and a public hearing will be held in Albuquerque on Dec. 2, 2004.
- After attack, the country’s oldest park ranger is back at work
- Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s criticism of Trump wins him national prominence
- Emotions run high over monument designation in Utah
- BLM moves away from landmark Northwest Forest Plan
- How Utah coal interests helped push a secret plan to export coal from California
- Melissa McDowell on Ranch Diaries: How to have a clear head and rested heart
- Harold Johnson on We should be proud of delisting grizzlies
- Mark Rozman on Study finds surprising source of Colorado River water supply
- Doug Johnson on In this season of potential megaburns, nix the campfire
- The Taylors on Latest: The BLM to study surgical sterilization of wild horses