CCNS Hotline - May 17, 2000

Information about the Los Alamos fire may be found on the New Mexico Environment Department's website at :

We are very concerned about the fire at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the surrounding areas. Please call Bill Richardson at 202 586-6210, Senator Pete Domenici at 988-6511, Senator Jeff Bingaman at 988-6647, Representative Tom Udall at 984-8950, Representative Heather Wilson at , Governor Gary Johnson at 827-3000, and New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Pete Maggiore at 827-2855 and ask them to protect our health and safety by implementing the following measures as soon as possible:

1. The AIRNET and NEWNET air monitoring systems should include monitoring for plutonium and other alpha and beta emitters;

2. Aerial surveillance and sampling for radioactive and hazardous materials should begin immediately. Uranium isotopic composition readouts should be made available to the public. Data should be fully disclosed to the public, fire fighters and emergency responders as soon as possible. We question why federal "Sniffer" planes have not been deployed to take samples from the smoke plumes;

3. Accurate, timely and full disclosure of credible information should be released to the public as soon as it is known;

4. The use of the precautionary principle, an environmental term meaning that certain action should be taken when certain exposure levels to toxic materials are reached, should be used in all decision making processes;

5. A plan to protect the Rio Grande River from contamination from ash and other toxic materials should be implemented as soon as the embers have cooled. The trees and vegetation that slow stormwater runoff are gone. There is a serious danger that stormwater runoff will scour the canyon bottoms, which served as dumping grounds in the early years of LANL's operations. Contaminants could be released and washed into the Rio Grande River during summer rains;

6. Soil and water sampling should begin as soon as possible so that citizens know what is in their soil, gardens and orchards, as well as in their wells;

7. Children, the elderly, pregnant women, and the infirm, and other vulnerable populations are more susceptible to the dangers of inhaling or ingesting radionuclides and hazardous air particulates. Resources should be made available to public health facilities to protect these people;

8. Training for medical personnel to identify and diagnose symptoms from exposure to radionuclide and hazardous materials should be implemented immediately;

9. The largest minority population of any DOE site surrounds LANL. Environmental justice principles must be included in all cleanup analyses;

10. Radioactive and hazardous wastes that are not currently in safe, secure, fireproof storage, especially the thousands of drums of WIPP waste at TA-54, should be moved into secured, fireproof facilities as soon as fire conditions allow them to be safely moved. Plastic domes are inadequate protection against sparks.

During this emergency, CCNS is communicating with the public, documenting the previous functions for buildings that have been damaged or burned; and participating in meetings with government officials and community people.

New Mexico Environment Department (NMED )has taken chemical air samples and those results will be reported mid-week. Their website is located at: The federal Environmental Protection Agency has set up its portable laboratory at the National Guard Station in Espanola to take samples and analyze them on-site.

Five Russians, including two nuclear physicists, a sociologist, a lawyer, and a student, from the Movement for Nuclear Safety will be speaking at St. John's College on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. Call 989-7342 for more information.

With respect to WIPP, NMED will be holding a hearing on proposed changes to the WIPP permit on Thursday, May 18 at the Santa Fe Hilton, 100 Sandoval from 2-5 p.m. and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Fact sheets are available at the downtown public library, the Marketplace, and the Ark.

A community forum about framing our concerns about the Los Alamos fire will be held at Cloud Cliff Bakery on Thursday, May 18 at 7 p.m. Call 983-6254 for more information.

Joni Arends
Waste Programs Director
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety