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Affidavit

 

Eric Nuttall, Ph.D., hereby submits this Affidavit to the New Mexico Court of Appeals in support of the Appeal for the Approval of the Long Term Monitoring and Maintenance Plan (LTMMP) brought by Citizen Action New Mexico. If called upon to testify in this matter, I could competently testify to the following facts of my own knowledge:

  1. This affidavit is to support Petitioner's appeal for the performance of a five-year report for the feasibility for excavation of the Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) Mixed Waste Landfill (“MWL”) as set forth in the 2005 Final Order of the New Mexico Environment Department (“NMED”) in paragraph 5 of page 5 (“Condition #5”).

  2. I am a Principal Professional with Kleinfelder, Inc. in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have over 200 publications and presentations. I was a Professor Emertitus at the University of New Mexico for 34 years, where I taught environmental engineering and directed graduate student research with an emphasis on in situ remediation of groundwater using bioremediation and in situ chemical oxidation. I have performed extensive consulting for over 20 years with many industries, and national laboratories Los Alamos National Laboratory (“LANL”), and Sandia National Laboratory (“SNL”) in fate and transport of radioactive nuclear waste and management. (See attached resume). My experience with caps (dirt covers) comes from consulting with both LANL and SNL to cover radioactive waste sites, including the MWL at SNL. So I am familiar with their many studies and tests.

  3. I have collaborated with DOE national laboratories (LANL, SNL) on modeling and understanding radionuclide migration in groundwater (the "Yucca Mountain" project; colloid migration, with LANL). This would include published studies for contamination and remediation for subsurface uranium, nitrate contamination, solvents and heavy metals, such as chromium.

  4. In 2002 Congress funded the Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development (“WERC") to make an independent study of the corrective action plan for the MWL. I was on the Citizens Advisory Board (“CAB”) that preceded two major reviews that the Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored on the MWL. I was on the 2002-2003 WERC review for the MWL by experts throughout the state. A second WERC review was written by external reviewers from around the country. http://www.ieenmsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/finalreport.pdf,

  5. The Final WERC Report January 31, 2003 states:

The Panel felt strongly that the uncertainty of the contents in the MWL could eventually lead to the requirement (or choice) of excavation followed by subsequent final disposal of the MWL contents. ”http://www.ieenmsu.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/finalreport.pdf p.iv.

  1. In meetings I attended with the CAB, the discussions with Sandia engineers and environmental engineers demonstrated their intent that the MWL would be excavated.

  2. It was the intent of the WERC review boards, which preceded the Final Order for the MWL, that there would be a five year review and that Sandia would come up with a plan during each five year review to excavate and properly dispose of the MWL wastes.

  3. The WERC Final report stated (p.iv):

The Panel's strongest recommendation is to include a scenario that would be titled "Cover with Future Excavation". The suggested cover could be the current vegetative cover option, or the vegetative cover with a low profile bio-intrusion barrier. The Panel felt strongly that the uncertainty of the contents in the MWL could eventually lead to the requirement (or choice) of excavation followed by subsequent final disposal of the MWL contents.

  1. The U. S. Congress commissioned a study of the contamination issues at the Sandia MWL by WERC. Since the WERC hearings and recommendations, I have become aware of issues regarding unreliable data from defective groundwater monitoring practices prior to WERC. However, the WERC Expert Panel did not review the reliability of groundwater monitoring data provided by the Department of Energy/Sandia. WERC was not informed at the time about documents regarding unreliable data from a defective network of groundwater monitoring wells at the MWL and the contamination of groundwater. No references to the reports from the EPA (1994) and NMED 1998 Notice of Disapproval that documented unreliable groundwater monitoring were provided to the WERC. The knowledge of such information at present makes the 5-year review even more urgent to perform.

  2. There is a list of over 100 radioactive and carcinogenic organics, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals provided in the WERC reviews. (See WERC Final Report Appendix E).

  3. Based on my work in the radioactive waste business for 20 years, I can assure the Court that the wastes in the MWL will continue to transport and hit the groundwater. My prior work involves transport of the wastes at Los Alamos, in former East Germany where the USSR extracted half of its uranium, in Sweden and other locations.

  4. The wastes contained in the MWL are long-lived and highly toxic. The MWL wastes were not accurately characterized, inventoried as to amounts and locations of burial in the discrete pits and trenches, or for compatibility of the wastes. The wastes include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”), ignitable wastes, heavy metals, 270,000 gallons of reactor waste water and numerous radionuclides. The wastes were placed in 55 gallon drums and other flimsy containers such as glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic bags and cardboard cartons that readily deteriorate.

  5. There are 119 drums containing various levels of plutonium that has a half-life of 24,000 years. There are 20 tons of depleted uranium in the MWL (half-life 4 million years) that can be transported to the groundwater.

  6. The levels of tritium released from the MWL have not reduced by half as was earlier assumed by Sandia but are now ten times higher than earlier reported levels. This is due to the breakdown of flimsy containers disposed of in the MWL. The limited life for the containers placed in MWL will result in greater release and mobility for the wastes in the MWL. The fact that tritium levels were found to be higher at the MWL is an indicator that the SNL Fate and Transport Model (“FTM”), i.e., the computer modeling for movement of wastes beneath the MWL, was unreliable. The five year review is necessary to update the FTM as required by the Final Order.

  7. The contamination of the groundwater and Albuquerque’s aquifer by the release of wastes from the unlined pits and trenches of the MWL is assured. The release of the wastes due to factors such as the mixture of wastes, container breakdown, moisture entry, dirt cover breakdown, and the 24 hr. action of gravity assure that the wastes will remain an enduring threat until such time that the wastes are excavated.

  8. The types of chemical and radioactive wastes found in the MWL were present at other sites at SNL. The MWL was the disposal facility for chemical wastes from 1959 to 1962. These same types of chemicals were deposited after 1962 in the Chemical Waste Landfill (“CWL”) at Sandia. The chemical wastes in the CWL contaminated the aquifer. Excavation of the CWL was required, but not all of the chemical wastes could be recovered due to the length of time the chemicals were allowed to remain at the CWL without excavation and remediation.

  9. The dirt cover that was placed above the MWL wastes was improperly constructed because it lacks an impermeable liner to carry moisture away and to the sides of the MWL. Early warning monitoring for moisture penetrating or beneath the dirt cover that could enter into the MWL wastes cannot be accomplished because the neutron tubes for such monitoring were placed beneath the MWL pits and trenches. Dirt covers are known to accelerate the movement of volatile organic compounds to the groundwater. A dirt cover will break down within a 50 year time span or less due to many well known physical and biological factors. The dirt cover at the MWL is inadequate for the protection of the groundwater for MWL wastes that can remain toxic for millennia.

  10. The wastes in the MWL can be excavated at the current time without danger to the public and workers. Instrumentation to detect radiation at very low levels exists and prevents the exposure of personnel to extraordinary levels of radiation. The technology for retrieval and packaging of wastes, such as those found at the MWL, has been used at numerous other DOE sites such as SNL, Idaho National Laboratories, LANL and Hanford. Far greater amounts of waste and with much higher radiation levels than the MWL have been retrieved from those sites. The MWL is only 2.6 acres and the trenches are shallow to a depth of more than approximately 25 ft. This makes the MWL wastes accessible.

  11. There are a variety of ways to remove the wastes including remote robotic techniques. Technology and the facilities for handling and packaging the MWL wastes are located at Sandia. There are locations in New Mexico, Utah and Nevada that can receive the types of wastes contained in the MWL.

  12. To delay consideration of the excavation of the MWL at the current time, as required by the 2005 Final Order would allow the unnecessary continuing breakdown of containers, entry of moisture, release and spread of the MWL wastes from the unlined pits and trenches. Delay of excavation will complicate the retrieval of wastes at the MWL site and markedly increase the cost of retrieval of the MWL wastes.

  13. Delay of the five year review to the NMED and Sandia planned date of 2019 puts the public and environment at further risk. The 5-year feasibility review for excavation of the MWL is already 3 years overdue and should not be postponed any longer.

 

 

 

 

 

I hereby swear under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America and the State of New Mexico that the above statement is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

 

Dated this ___ day of _________, 2014.

 

 

 

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­____________________________

Eric Nuttall, Ph.D.

1445 Honeysuckle Drive, NE

Albuquerque, NM 87122

505 269-7840