Evidence that LANL toxins are polluting community waters includes:
- PCB contamination has been detected in LANL stormwater at 40,000 times over the EPA’s water quality standard that is protective of human health;
- Chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) has been detected in the regional aquifer supplying Los Alamos County at 24 times the New Mexico groundwater protection standard;
- Plutonium has been detected in the Buckman well field, the source of 40% of Santa Fe’s drinking water;
- A “do not eat” fish advisory for White Rock Canyon, below LANL on the Río Grande was issued;
- One drinking water well supplying Los Alamos County shut down because of perchlorate contamination;
- 1,4-dioxane has been detected in groundwater flows;
- LANL continues to be fined by New Mexico Environment Department for failing to clean up its toxic waste which it had agreed to as part of a 2005 New Mexico Environment Department Consent Order.
Methods to Monitor Toxic Threats at Los Alamos National Labs Are Fatally Flawed
LANL’s current program for monitoring groundwater pollution is fatally flawed and has failed to provide reliable data on the scope of toxic pollution in the regional drinking water aquifer—a claim supported by a 2007 National Academy of Sciences report.
According to the report:
“The [LANL groundwater monitoring] plan is not adequate to provide early identification of potential contaminant migration with high confidence, because LANL’s understanding of pathways for contaminant transport, especially inter-watershed pathways, is not yet adequate to support such confidence.”
Furthermore, the NAS report notes that the wells used to test for toxins in the regional aquifer “appear to be compromised in their ability to produce water samples that are representative of ambient groundwater for the purpose of monitoring.”
Inadequate monitoring of surface water and groundwater has been a major hurdle to enforcing LANL’s compliance to federal and state regulations. CCW maintains that independent monitoring of toxic pollution entering water is vital to ensuring that the full scope of the contamination problem is understood and that LANL remains accountable to the public.