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Keeping the Water Flowing Without Glowing: Suit Filed Against LANL

February 8, 2008

Santa Fe, NM - Trying to keep the rivers flowing without glowing is the goal of a number of groups and individuals that filed an environmental lawsuit against Los Alamos National Laboratories Thursday in Santa Fe. The labs are one of the United States' main sites for research on nuclear weapons.

Michael Jensen is with Amigos Bravos, one of the groups alleging that the laboratories have violated the Clean Water Act a number of times over the years. He says data from the state and from the labs as well have found levels of toxic compounds in area watersheds that are tens of thousands of times the level considered safe for human health.

"That the violation is 25,000 times over the standard is just extraordinary."

Jensen believes part of the problem is that the current regulatory process is inadequate, and says the LANL should redirect some resources into finding ways to clean up area water contamination, an effort which could also create jobs and boost the local economy.

"We need to go beyond the business as usual 'just issue a permit and expect them to live up to it,' mindset and just say, 'No, it stops now.'"

Jensen says increased run-off from the laboratories since the Cerro Grande fire is partly to blame. That major forest fire eight years ago caused serious damage to the laboratories and the surrounding landscape.

National Laboratories officials had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.

Jensen's group is also concerned about plans to divert what it says is contaminated water from the Rio Grande river to Santa Fe for use as drinking water.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NM