Lead data study raises water quality concern

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By Roger Snodgrass

SANTA FE – A persistent critic of the groundwater monitoring program at Los Alamos National Laboratory said he has found traces of what he considers “an overlooked contaminant plume” under an old waste dump on the southern boundary of the nuclear weapons laboratory.

Bob Gilkeson, an independent geologist and former contractor at the laboratory, told the Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board Wednesday that he believes high levels of lead detected under an abandoned disposal area represents a threat to the regional aquifer that is “possibly larger than the chromium plume” that was discovered in the aquifer under Sandia Canyon in 2006.

“The laboratory believes that the values cited by Gilkeson are not representive of conditions at the site,” Danny Katzman, program manager of LANL’s water stewardship program said this morning.

He said a particularly high value used in Gilkeson’s evaluation was actually a non-filtered result, rather than what it was described in the database, a filtered result, and therefore was a highly misleading figure.

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