U.S. Water News Online
ALBUQUERQUE -- A layer of contaminated sludge on a
47-year-old underground wastewater tank at Sandia National
Laboratories is too dangerous for a person to clean.
So members of Sandia's robotics research group have added snow
tires to a small robot in an effort to come up with a way to scoop up
The water tank, which sits nearly 30 feet underground, has leaked
4,000 gallons of potentially contaminated water beneath Sandia's
nuclear reactor area.
Sandia's federal managers reported the problem to the New Mexico
Environment Department last spring. The department has since
concluded there is little risk of the contaminants reaching
groundwater 400 feet beneath the site.
But Sandia officials say they are committed to finding a way to
clean up the mess.
No water remains in the tank, but it still has a layer of sludge
contaminated with hazardous chemicals, including mercury, lead and
Getting the sludge out of the ground is the best way to ensure the
contaminants don't reach groundwater, said David Wheeler, one of the
Sandia officials in charge of the cleanup.
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