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SANDIA LAB HAZARDOUS WASTE PUBLIC HEARING

I am Marlene Perrotte, a Sister of Mercy, and I am speaking on behalf of the Partnership for Earth Spirituality. Clean water is limited and finite. Contaminated/polluted water is not renewable. Clean water is not treated water nor is it contaminated diluted water.

This hearing is about renewing Sandia National Laboratories legal permission to contaminate our air up to 10,000 lbs. of hazardous waste per year into the air by open burning. Stark omissions of the permit—Clean-up 1) How is NMED addressing SNL’s release of radionuclides such as tritium 10 times the so called “safe emission rate” in this permit. 2) How is NMED holding SNL accountable for the cleanup of 1.3 billion gallons of water contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE) from our drinking water aquifer? This permit also excludes one of the most critical SNL hazardous site—the Mixed Waste Landfill not to mention the context of Kirtland Air Force Base.

SNL is within the boundaries Kirtland Air Force Base, two major Albuquerque National Security institutions that are threatening the water and air security of Albuquerque. It grieves me that New Mexico Environment Department gives Sandia National Laboratories legal permission to contaminate and pollute Albuquerque’s precious watersheds, soil and air. Legal does not make it ethical.

NMED should protect our endangered aquifer, the air we breathe and the land on which we live. NMED should not grant permits in the context of site-by-site degrees of pollution without considering the region site in its totality and its cumulative effect on the quality of water, air and soil. What is the cumulative current state of toxic contamination and hazardous waste? What are the corresponding deadly threats to public health and the watersheds/aquifer?

NMED’s permits needs to consider the cumulative effects on the life-water line of Albuquerque and be considered as a whole, not piecemeal. SNL is part of the KAFB site. They cannot really be separated. Appropriate technology is needed: 1) to address open burning on both sites, 2) to remove contaminants and 3) to filter and capture radionuclides. Technology costs money. Money rather than lives and the life of our aquifer and air!

The sustainability of this watershed/aquifer as a whole determines the life-line of this city and contributes to the future viability of the Rio Grande. The total watershed focus of Kirtland-Sandia Labs needs to be addressed as one corrective action management unit with concentrated areas, since the flow of water and air is not contained on these isolated sites, i.e., Tijeras Arroyo Groundwater, Technical Area-5 groundwater, Chemical Waste Landfill, Mixed Waste Landfill, the burn site groundwater.

This permit should focus on clean-up-jobs, clean-up- jobs, clean-up-jobs rather than limiting the amount of contamination and pollution. Clean-up means remove, not cover over, not dilute nor compromise. Clean Water is vital to New Mexico because living in the desert every drop of water is a life-source.

We, New Mexicans, are very concerned about water in light of the ongoing drought and the future projections of climate change. Growing numbers of people of faith are concerned about the toll of water and air pollution from SNL; the Kirtland Spill in Albuquerque, uranium legacy at Los Alamos National Labs that threatens the Rio Grande, the deregulation of the pit rule for oil and gas industry that limits protection of water and communities, the contamination leak at WIPP and the enormous uranium legacy in the Grants and Western New Mexico region. The permit hearing tonight is another one of the pollution challenges we face in New Mexico where we are part of a “sacrificial zone”.

As citizens, we cannot afford in time or money the continual incompetent responses to clean-up that continue for decades and decades without real clean up, or the continuation of more contamination and pollution. Enough is enough! We cannot afford to contaminate more water.

I’d like to end with the reflection that NMED employees are public servants paid by taxpayer dollars to protect the commonwealth of this state for the common good. NMED does not pay allegiance to a governor, or to corporations, not to any political party.

We citizens participate in public hearings not as exercises of futility but rather we expect accountability to the community-at-large for what is done to our sacred commons, water, air and soil.