Subj: Los Alamos firesite
Date: 5/12/00 9:41:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Chuck brought this to my
Long and technical, but quite understandable: Los Alamos National Laboratory -- 1996 BASELINE ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT REPORT
Skimming through this report, various surface and subsurface contaminants are mentioned:
Radioactive liquid waste
plutonium metal production facilities
volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds
And a few quotes:
"More than 30,000 test shots have been performed at one of the active firing sites, expending an estimated 1.0 to 2.0 Metric Tons (1.1 to 2.2 tons) of depleted uranium. All the experiments have been above-ground detonations."
"...beryllium-containing weapons initiators were tested, and in some experiments uranium components were used."
"Experiments included structural testing of fuel elements made of uranium-loaded graphite, which were tested until they failed."
"Established in 1948, one of the retired sites consists of several pits and shafts that contain a diverse mixture of contaminants, including low-level, transuranic, hazardous, and mixed waste. The Laboratory's low-level radioactive disposal area is also part of this field unit. A material disposal area in this field unit was used in the early 1960s for experimental purposes and presently contains large amounts of various waste materials, including plutonium and lead. This unit contains the Laboratory's Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, which was built in 1963."
The disturbing aspect is that over the last 55 years the trees and brush which have overgrown these areas have almost certainly absorbed many of these contaminants. When they burn (as is happening now) the contaminants are released into the atmosphere. There is one (anecdotal) report from Santa Fe (well south of the fire site) that measured background radiation has risen from the normal 10 millirem/hr to 35 mr/hr, even though the smoke plume from the fire was not blowing toward Santa Fe.
So far there media coverage has not mentioned this hazardous contamination.
Fast forward to 25 minutes on this RealAudio File to hear Richard Hoagland interviewed on this matter and reporting his own visual observations of the fire.