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Guest Column: A Low-Tech Treatment for Bee Plague BY AARON E. HIRSH

Flowering Tree was incorporated in 1989. Its purpose is to do research and education on all topics that pertain to the ideas
of Permaculture. Permaculture...........permanent culture.......coined by Bill Molison. Permaculture is a way of looking at the world based on the laws of nature, It consciously imitates these working ecosystems to create diverse inter-related cultures.

Flowering Tree was started in Santa Clara Pueblo by: Roxanne Swentzell, Joel Glanzberg, Brett Bakker.

These are a few of the things Flowering Tree has been involved with:Sustainable Homestead Rox Patio

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  • Traditional Crafts
    and More........


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Roxanne Swentzell Using Chainsaw on Property
 
 

January 30, 2009 Contact: Marissa Stone, NMED
Communications Director

For Immediate Release (505) 827-0314 or (505) 231-0475

Environment Department Confirms High Levels of Radionuclides in LANL Storm
Water and Suspended Sediment

Elements Observed Do Not Pose Immediate Health Threat but do Indicate
Importance of Clean Up

(Santa Fe, N.M.) -- The New Mexico Environment Department has confirmed that
sediment and storm water within a Los Alamos National Laboratory watershed
last year during a flooding event contained plutonium238, plutonium
239/240, americium241 and strontium90 at elevated levels. Department
investigators measured elevated radionuclides resulting from one large
potable water spill as well as several storm events that occurred in Los
Alamos/Pueblo Canyon during July and August.

A water line break last summer on July 5 at Los Alamos National Laboratory
Technical Area 21 (TA-21) triggered automated storm water sampling
equipment maintained by NMED in Los Alamos Canyon. Approximately 4 million
gallons of potable water released over a 26 hour period eroded soil and
carried contaminants into Los Alamos Canyon and beyond laboratory
boundaries. Staff from NMED's Department of Energy Oversight Bureau
collected five samples of water during the event and radiological analysis
of those samples showed high levels of plutonium in the suspended sediment.
Concentrations of plutonium239/240 (Pu239/240) ranged from 89 to 160
picocuries per gram (pCi/g) and averaged 114 pCi/g. These levels are 100
times the levels detected during normal storm events from 2005 to 2007. The
flows from the water line break did not reach the Rio Grande.

"Our study again shows that LANL must focus greater efforts on measures to
protect the environment, the watershed and the drinking water supplies of
Northern New Mexico. This will mean measures to prevent the movement of
contaminants into the canyon and downstream as required in the clean up
order. We also support the installation of an early warning system to detect
the flow of contaminants into the Buckman Diversion," said NMED Secretary
Ron Curry. "The department's scientists will continue to monitor the
environment to ensure the health of New Mexico residents is protected."

These high levels indicate that flooding resulting from the water line break
mobilized contaminants in soils at and below TA-21. Facilities at TA-21 were
historically used by LANL to process plutonium and are known sites of
contamination. This site is the location of old drain lines from a building
that was part of the "DP West" plutonium processing facility at TA-21. In
addition to radionuclides, chemical contaminants such as heavy metals and
organic compounds are present at the site. NMED has ordered additional work
at several sites at TA-21 - including the one inundated by the water line
break. All are being addressed in the fence-to-fence clean-up order signed
in 2005 by DOE, LANL and NMED.

The department also collected a water sample on July 26 from the Rio Grande
at Buckman Landing - the location of the Buckman Direct Diversion -
following a rainstorm in northern New Mexico. The department collected that
sample to reflect what might happen in the future during normal storm water
flows in the Rio Grande. Plutonium was not detected in that sample although
americium was found at levels that might reflect contributions from
atmospheric fallout.

Plutonium-239 is a manmade radioactive element produced since the 1940s as a
result of nuclear weapons research. It has a radioactive half-life of
24,000 years and is particularly harmful to lung tissue and internal organs
if inhaled.

The department continues to work with LANL, the City of Santa Fe, Buckman
Direct Diversion Board and staff, and local communities to investigate and
implement efforts to reduce the flow of contaminants washed with storm water
from LANL property. In addition, the department is working with agencies to
increase surface water monitoring efforts along the Rio Grande.

NMED is reviewing LANL's most recent proposal for arresting contaminated
sediment flows within the Los Alamos/Pueblo Canyon system, and expects to
issue a decision within the next 30 days. "I expect DOE and the Laboratory
to move quickly to execute the work we order," added Curry.

An earlier report
(http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/OOTS/documents/PRBuckmanReport9-26-08revbyDE.p
df ) concluded that contaminant levels from legacy waste are low where
construction will occur in the channel at the Buckman Direct Diversion site.

Note: a Curie is a unit of radioactivity. A picocurie is one trillionth of a
Curie.

For more information, call Marissa Stone at (505) 827-0314.





 

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