New Mexico In Focus | Mixed Waste Landfill (12-5-2014)
- Category: Mixed Waste Landfill
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On December 5 2014, PBS' weekly program: New Mexico In Focus did a segment on Sandia Labs' Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL). Host Floyd Vasquez interviewed Citizen Action New Mexico's (CANM) Executive Director Dave McCoy, CANM contributor Dr. Eric Nuttall, and UNM professor David Correia.
The New Mexico Environment Department has given conditional approval to Sandia’s request to have the landfill categorized as fully compliant. Problem: the MWL is not fully or partially compliant.
Watch this discussion for an introduction as to why. The EPA Inspector General's report Mr. McCoy cites can be read here. McCoy's cited Techlaw report can be read here. Both directly contradict Sandia and NMED statements and conclusions by which NMED determines the MWL is "compliant".
Here are some of the issues:
- Canisters disposed of in the MWL contain metallic sodium and high level spent fuel from nuclear reactor meltdown experiments. The canisters can corrode and catastrophically explode, breaching the dump’s dirt cover and spreading large volumes of radiation into Albuquerque’s air, soil and water – the equivalent of a dirty bomb
- The MWL contains hundreds of solvents, heavy metals and radionuclides -- the most toxic waste on the planet from nuclear weapons production and nuclear reactor meltdown testing. Plutonium-239, Americium-241, Cesium-137, U-235, mercury, lead, PCE, PCBs, beryllium, cadmium.
- The very large inventory of extremely toxic chemical & radioactive waste is in unlined pits and trenches above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. Sandia National Laboratories stalls cleanup by saying it’s “too dangerous to excavate.” But Sandia developed remote robotic systems that are available.
- The radioactive wastes must be monitored forever, but there is no plan for that. No reliable groundwater monitoring network was in place to the present time.
- The dirt cover over the wastes will not be protective. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “All landfills will eventually fail and leak leachate into ground and surface water.” The dirt cover will be breached by water, insects, animals and potential human intrusion.
- The land can never be used for any purpose. It must remain under institutional control forever. Sandia plans to abandon monitoring after a few years.
- Poses a forever threat to human health & the environment. As well as to the groundwater. There is no risk analysis made for the full release of contamination from the unlined pits and trenches
- The MWL will remain a constant threat to human intrusion like children.
- Sandia publicly promised 5-yr reviews for excavation but has failed to perform.
- Sandia planned since 1998 to not excavate the MWL based on costs – not protection of the public.
Citizen Action will have its day in court concerning the New Mexico Environment Department's negligence in not reviewing the status of the Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL) every 5 years. Please attend if you can!
Please note: the date was changed on Dec. 10.
Where: The Court of Appeals, just west of the UNM Law School, in the same parking lot.
When: January 21, 2015 at 10:00 am.