Chromium plume updated

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Investigators may have found the middle of the contamination

By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory reported “the highest observed” levels of the contaminant chromium VI in the regional aquifer under Mortandad Canyon.


In an interview this morning Danny Katzman of the lab’s environmental stewardship project said this morning, “We could be looking at a plume that’s stationary.”


In its update on the first readings from a new well in Mortandad Canyon, the laboratory said the first samples show a level that is 16 times higher than the New Mexico drinking water standard, and twice as high as previous elevated readings a little farther down the canyon.


The purpose of the test well at R-42 was to try to define the size, boundaries and direction of the plume of the contaminant that is thought to have originated in the main administrative area of the laboratory prior to 1972.


Katzman said models and calculations pointed to the location as a likely spot for either finding the backside or the heart of the plume.


“We’re not surprised to hit closer to the middle,” he said.


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