Video of the Court of Appeals Oral Argument about the Sandia Labs’ Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL),  held on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 10am, is up on our media page here.

In 2005 the New Mexico Environment Department promised the public in a Final Order for the radioactive and hazardous waste dump that a review for excavation would be made “every five years.”

Sandia has not performed the required excavation review and the Environment Department has not enforced consideration of excavation. Worse, The Department granted an extension until 2019 before any review takes place. Citizen Action is suing the Environment Department for failure to uphold its own Final Order.

Sandia Labs disposed of High-Level nuclear mixed waste in the MWL dump. Some canisters contained metallic sodium mixed with high level spent fuel from nuclear meltdown tests. If moisture reaches the sodium in the canisters, an explosion can take place spreading nuclear waste in Albuquerque.

Meanwhile the Environment Department plans to grant a Certificate of Completion of Corrective Action for the MWL even though radiation and hazardous chemicals are being found in the groundwater beneath the dump.

By not enforcing the 5-year excavation review Sandia Labs and the Department of Energy will escape discussion with the public of the serious issues of the feasibility of excavation, soil and groundwater contamination, defective groundwater monitoring, and the ineffective dirt cover over the wastes.


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!

Citizen Action has fought a decades long battle to ensure Sandia Labs cleans up one of America's most toxic and dangerous "dumps": the Mixed Waste Landfill.  Sandia and NMED have quietly ignored EPA regulations unambiguously requiring significant actions never taken.  The clock is ticking towards an NMED approval allowing Sandia to leave this dump's nuclear waste cleanup for future generations.  

Time is running short.

Citizen Action has just published Dave McCoy's Final Report on the MWL.

What follows is an email sent to New Mexico Environment Department by Professor Dr. Michael Barcelona of Western Michigan University.  His distinguished resume can be read here.


Date: Mon, 5 Jan 2015 16:11:47 -0500
From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Subject: Request for a Class 3 permit modification to module IV of Waste Permit NM5890110518-1

Dear Mr. Weckerle and Mr. Kieling,

I write as a very concerned citizen and ground water scientist to express my continued outrage over the shameful record of both oversight ( by NMED) and history of work at the Sandia Mixed Waste ( SWMU 76) Landfill dump by SNL-DOE.

I have also attached my resume which details the work that I was able to contribute to the USEPA's efforts to establish identification, monitoring, and maintenance guidelines for the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's oversight for hazardous waste sites. We did extensive work in establishing safe reliable sampling methods, selection of materials for wells, pumps, etc. and well construction techniques.

The documents are listed in the reports from the University of Illinois, Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan.

I can truthfully say that after working at hundreds of waste sites and some DOE and DOD sites, I have never seen a more troubling site than the Sandia MWL dump. The disposal of high level nuclear and chemical materials without adequate inventory, unlined waste sites with no effective cover, and the ridiculous monitoring well network that NMED told them was faulty in the early 1990's with repeated Notices of Denial through 1998 ( the Garcia report) borders on criminal in proportion to the continuing damage to the environment. The recent ( Sept, 2014) soil vapor monitoring results collected under the MWL dump Long Term Monitoring and Maintenance Plan ( LTMMP) alone show that many volatile organic compounds have been released that have appeared at depths up to 400 feet below land surface.

The dump has no doubt been leaking since it's inception in 1959.

-- I have read and agree with the numerous documents submitted to NMED, DOE and various citizen groups over the past 15 years by Mr. Robert Gilkeson, Registered Geologist, Mr David McCoy, (Citizen Action), and Ms. Joni Arends, (Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety), and Dr. Eric Nuttall, formerly of the University of New Mexico that have detailed the major issues on this and other sites (LANL Area G) that cry out for responsible action on the part of NMED. I strongly urge NMED to deny the permit modification request and reject the inclusion of the existing monitoring well network in the LTMMP.

I would also request that a public hearing be held to openly air the serious issues that are at stake if the status quo is allowed to continue.

Dr. Michael J. Barcelona,
Professor of Chemistry, Western Michigan University
3342 Wood Hall, 1903 W. Michigan, Kalamazoo, MI, 49008-5413,

269-387-2837, FAX 269-387-2909



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". 

To see a detailed inventory of the MWL, see here.  A detailed study by Citizen Action on the MWL defective monitoring wells is on our website here.

Please contact New Mexico Environment Department's Hazardous Waste Bureau (HWB) Chief  to request a public hearing for NMED's for the MWL Corrective Action complete. Send an email request for a public hearing to John Kieling at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Change Org is hosting a petition requesting The NMED take action now, simply executing their own rules.  As of Dec. 19, over 1400 people have signed this petition and commented.  Read these comments, and add your own and join the petition drive.  Citizen Action will be presenting these signatures to NMED.

Here are some of the issues:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. The MWL will remain a constant threat to human intrusion like children.
  9. Sandia publicly promised 5-yr reviews for excavation but has failed to perform.
  10. Sandia planned since 1998 to not excavate the MWL based on costs – not protection of the public.