OIG to audit Sandia Mixed Waste Landfill

Dear friends,

The DOE Office of Inspector General has decided to conduct an audit in 2015 regarding the Maintenance and Management of Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL). Sandia Labs is trying to obtain a Corrective Action Complete status from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) for the MWL before the Inspector General audit takes place.

Written Public Comments about the MWL will be extremely important and should be sent by email to the Office of the Inspector General c/o David Sedillo at the following website:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Copy your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Demand the NMED not approve Corrective Action Complete and hold a public hearing for the matter.

The primary point to emphasize is that Sandia should protect public health and safety by excavation of the dangerous long-lived radioactive and hazardous wastes in the Mixed Waste Landfill. The MWL wastes lie beneath a dirt cover in unlined pits and trenches above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. The only factor considered by Sandia for management of the MWL has been the cost of excavation –not protection of public health and the environment. Remote robotic technology exists for excavation and safe storage of the radioactive and hazardous waste in the MWL.

The MWL contains hundreds of radionuclides, solvents, and heavy metals from nuclear weapons production and research and nuclear reactor meltdown testing. Canisters containing metallic sodium can explode and spread radiation outside the MWL. Many of the radionuclides will remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. The unlined pits and trenches hold Plutonium-239, Americium-241, Cesium-137, U-235, mercury, lead, PCE, PCBs, beryllium, cadmium. 270,000 gallons of nuclear reactor waste water with tritium and hexavalent chromium was dumped in Trench D. Storm water entered the pits and trenches for decades and has pooled around the dump. Contamination has already reached the groundwater from the MWL.

Sandia is supposed to review the feasibility of excavation for the MWL “every five years.” But Sandia and the New Mexico Environment Department are fighting in the NM Court of Appeals not to have to comply with their own order to review excavation. The Court of Appeals will hear oral argument for the lawsuit on December 15, 2014, 10 p.m. at the Court of Appeals which is next to the UNM Law School. The hearing is open to the public.

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. The MWL is nothing more than a dump and has no features of an engineered landfill. The Environment Department kept a 2006 TechLaw, Inc. report secret for years that disclosed that the dirt cover installed for the MWL is not protective. The Environment Department withheld an EPA report from the public that the monitoring wells for the MWL were defective.

For further information see www.radfreenm.org

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