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Agenda Item No. 9c

Meeting Date: March 18, 2015

Staff Contact: Rick Shean, Water Quality Hydrologist 

 

TITLE: R-15-7 - Resolution Requesting the U.S. Department of Energy to Respond to Assertions made by Citizen Action New Mexico Regarding the Existence of High-Level Radioactive Waste in the Sandia National Laboratory’s Mixed Waste Landfill

ACTION: Recommend Approval

SUMMARY: 

As directed by Councilor Rey Gardu–o, Resolution R-15-7 directs Water Authority staff to request the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) to respond to assertions recently made by Citizen Action of New Mexico regarding the contents of the Mixed Waste Landfill at a future Water Protection Advisory Board (WPAB) meeting.

During the public comment period of the Feb. 2015 Water Authority Governing Board meeting, Mr. David McCoy, Executive Director of the local environmental advocacy group Citizen Action New Mexico (CANM), told the members that during a review of Sandia National Laboratory (Sandia) documents that CANM had acquired he had discovered that high-level radioactive waste was included with in the contents of Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL). The MWL is a regulated solid waste management unit that contains classified and unclassified wastes made of chemical and radioactive material from lab experiments, and was covered with an engineered soil cover by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2009. The existence of high-level and transuranic waste may be counter to previous claims by the DOE. CANM asserts that the existence of this waste requires excavation of the MWL, and relocation of the high-level and transuranic wastes to a deep, geologic repository.

The WPAB has listed the MWL as one of its top areas of focus for water quality protection in the Albuquerque area and wishes to hear the DOE and Sandia’s response to CANM claims about the contents in this impoundment.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:

None

 

 

 

ALBUQUERQUE BERNALILLO COUNTY

WATER UTILITY AUTHORITY

 

BILL NO. R-15-7

 

Resoultion

 

2 REQUESTING THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE) TO RESPOND TO

CLAIMS REGARDING HIGH-LEVEL WASTE IN THE MIXED WASTE LANDFILL AT

THE SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORY

5 WHEREAS, The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (Water

6 Authority) is concerned about the quality of the source waters that provide Albuquerque

7 with its drinking water;

8 WHEREAS, the Water Authority’s Water Protection Advisory Board (WPAB) has

9 listed the solid waste management unit at the DOE’s Sandia National Laboratory known

10 as the Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL) as one of its top areas of focus for water quality

11 protection in the Middle Rio Grande Basin;

12 WHEREAS, the environmental advocacy group Citizen Action New Mexico

13 (CANM) has made public the following assertions regarding the MWL:

14    1. CANM asserts that it is unique and will remain extremely dangerous to

15 Albuquerque residents for millennia to come if the wastes are not excavated, properly

16 stored and disposed of in a deep geologic repository;

17    2. CANM asserts that Sandia’s records show that the MWL contains 119

18 barrels of plutonium- and americium-contaminated waste; tons of depleted uranium; and

19 high-level mixed nuclear wastes from nuclear reactor meltdown experiments, nuclear

20 weapons testing, and the 1979 nuclear accident Three Mile Island;

21    3. CANM asserts that Sandia management memoranda from 1997 to 2001,

22 along with thousands of radioactive and hazardous waste disposal sheets, state that

23 canisters containing metallic sodium and high-level nuclear waste were disposed of in

24 shallow pits and trenches at the MWL;

25    4. CANM asserts that Metallic sodium is explosive in the presence of water,

26 so there is the potential for an explosion causing a breach in the MWL’s dirt cover and

27 spread radiation into Albuquerque’s air and groundwater;

 

1    5. CANM asserts that Sandia’s own records show that the MWL is leaking

2radioactive waste, solvents and heavy metals from shallow, unlined pits and trenches

3 into Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer;

4    6. CANM asserts that High-level nuclear waste such as that buried at MWL

5 requires deep geological disposal in an engineered facility, not shallow disposal in

6 unlined pits and trenches;

7    7. CANM asserts that MWL’s buried wastes lie above Albuquerque’s aquifer

8 stored in plastic bags, cardboard boxes, steel drums, canisters that will eventually

9 decay and corrode;

10    8. CANM asserts that Groundwater monitoring for the MWL dump has been

11 inadequate and does not support the decision to leave the wastes under a dirt cover;

12    9. CANM asserts that No complete inventory of the MWL wastes was made;

13    10. CANM asserts that Sandia possesses the technology to safely excavate

14 and store the MWL wastes.

15 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE WATER AUTHORITY:

16 Direct the WPAB to request a presentation and response from U.S Department

17 of Energy (DOE) to CANM’s assertions at a future meeting of the WPAB and follow-up

18 as appropriate.