LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Nov. 1 (UPI) — Toxic waste from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory is trickling toward the state’s underground water aquifers, officials say.
The deadly waste is leaking from underground burial sites used to store the radioactive waste generated by the building of nuclear bombs, with some of it reaching to within several hundred feet of the edge of the Rio Grande River, one of the most important water sources in the Southwest United States, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Monitoring sites set up by the New Mexico Environment Department have detected organic compounds such as perchlorate, which is used in rocket propellant, as well as the radioactive byproducts of nuclear fission, the newspaper said.
Although the levels of contamination found aren’t high enough to trigger health warnings, state officials say no one knows how the waste is slipping through scrambled layers of rock on the 40-square-mile Los Alamos complex.
Laboratory officials told the Times the waste isn’t jeopardizing anyone’s health.
“We are seeing no human or ecological risk,” Danny Katzman, director of the lab’s water stewardship program, told the newspaper.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International