U.S. Water News Online
SANTA FE -- The New Mexico Environment Department has
detailed what Los Alamos needs to do to improve its groundwater
The state agency contends deficiencies in the lab's network of
wells are impeding its ability to detect possible contamination.
"This system is supposed to be the backbone of enforceable cleanup
of the lab and a sentry system to alert local residents of
contamination issues," Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry
said. "That system, which has improperly drilled and constructed
wells, fails both missions too often."
A consent order the lab signed with the state requires
investigations and cleanup of contamination at the lab.
Los Alamos spokeswoman Kathy DeLucas said the wells in question
were drilled early in the project using conventional industrial
standards and in concurrence with the Environment Department.
"That early work was done to understand the basic workings of the
groundwater underneath the lab, the basic plumbing of the
groundwater," she said.
The lab's ongoing efforts will work closely with the state agency
"to evaluate and optimize the groundwater monitoring network,
including the reliability of data, well construction and installation
of new wells," DeLucas said.
The Environment Department's requirements include abandoning parts
of damaged or defective wells in key locations and rapidly assessing
groundwater monitoring capabilities in areas where cleanup and
closure activities are imminent.
That includes Area G in the lab's main waste management area,
where the lab still disposes of low-level radioactive waste.
The department said it was compelled to issue requirements because
of concerns over problems Los Alamos lab has had in placing,
drilling, constructing and sampling of its wells.
Accurate groundwater monitoring is crucial to protect the regional
aquifer -- the sole water supply for the lab and the towns of Los
Alamos and White Rock, the department said.
Monitoring also is key to finding a remedy for waste sites the lab
must clean up, the department said.
The Environment Department said several wells are damaged and need
to be replaced.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.