April 2015 3
ALLIANCE TO PROTECT OUR WATER
NEW ALLIANCE TO PROTECT OUR
Kirtland Air Force Base The jet fuel spill, recognized by the Air Force in 1997, is estimated at 24 million gallons by the NM Environment Department (NMED). The liquid plume of jet fuel is one mile long by one half mile wide and is more than 450 feet below the surface, poised above the groundwater aquifer. Included in the plume is Ethylene Dibromide, a carcinogenic chemical which has migrated more than a mile to the north towards Albuquerque's Ridgecrest wells and forty-plus other municipal drinking water wells. The Air Force still has no effective plan to remove the liquid jet fuel or dissolved plume. Toxic contamination could reach the wells in as few as five years (Jim Davis, NMED). The City of Albuquerque is on the verge of authorizing a subdivision for one half million people without considering possible water shortages from extensive contamination of the groundwater aquifer and reductions in San Juan/Rio Grande water due to the many claims on New Mexico Surface Waters.
he Water Groups is an alliance of Albuquerquebased community groups and individuals who have been working on three ongoing threats to Albuquerque's drinking water: aquifer contamination by Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories, and inadequate filtration of Albuquerque's tap water coming from the Rio Grande. Sandia National Laboratories For more than a half century Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) disposed of radioactive and chemical wastes, both solid and liquid, in unlined pits and trenches above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. Disposal sites of current concern are Tech Area-V (TAV) Tijeras Arroyo, and the Mixed Waste Landfill (MWL) where canisters containing metallic sodium and highlevel nuclear waste were disposed. Metallic sodium in contact with moisture could explode, spreading radioactive contamination and starting fires in the depleted uranium at the site. There have already been two uranium chip fires at the MWL. The New Mexico Environment Department has detected dangerous substances in the soil hundreds of feet below the surface of Tech Area-V, at Tijeras Arroyo sites and the Mixed Waste Landfill including Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), both of which are carcinogens, and can cause both Parkinson’s disease and organ damage. For more information about the contamination at TAV and Tijeras Arroyo, see Paul Robinson’s research at www.sric.org. For more information on the Mixed Waste Landfill, see Dave McCoy's research at www.radfreenm.org.
ACTION ALERT: What You can Do Contact the NM Congressional Delegation and ask them to protect our aquifer: Sen. Tom Udall 505-346-6791, Sen. Martin Heinrich 505-346-6601, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham 505-346-6781; Ben Ray Lujan 505-994-0499. Drinking the Rio Grande About forty percent of our tap water comes from the Rio Grande. Unfortunately the Rio Grande is contaminated and Albuquerque's current filtering system is leaving many contaminants, including plutonium from Los Alamos National Labs runoff, in the finished water. On Nov. 12, 2014, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (WUA) began releasing treated Rio Grande water into Bear Canyon Arroyo. Though the Water Groups would have preferred that this contaminated water not be released into the aquifer, Agua es Vida Action Team takes the position (and advocated for this position during the decision making period) that infiltration through layers of sand and dirt is preferable to direct injection into the aquifer, WUA's original plan.
Sandia Labs has covered the wastes at the Mixed Waste Landfill with a layer of dirt, but that does nothing to prevent contamination from seeping into the ground and down into the aquifer. Sandia Labs has proposed that their state permit for the MWL be modified to “Corrective Action Complete with controls.” If the state accepts this proposal there will be little chance that the many contaminants at the MWL will be disposed of properly. Secretary of the Environment, Ryan Flynn, has promised to hold a public meeting concerning TAV and Tijeras Arroyo contamination in 2015. At this time there is no commitment to clean up any of the SNL sites that threaten our aquifer.
ACTION ALERT: What You can Do Ask that a better filtering system be installed at the Alameda plant where water is taken in from the river and treated: Maggie Hart Stebbins, Chair of the Water Utility Board: District3@bernco.gov.
ACTION ALERT: What You can Do Thirty faith-based and community groups as well as businesses have requested that the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) hold a hearing concerning the Mixed Waste Landfill so that experts and the public can testify to the need to excavate the landfill from above Albuquerque's aquifer and dispose of the waste in a safe and legal way. Contact NMED with a request for a public hearing before April 13, 2015. Would you consider attending and/or speaking at the hearing? If so, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; we will put you on a list to be notified when we know the date and time of the hearing. Also, stay tuned to the Co-op Connection for more information.
This article is a collaborative effort of the Water Groups: Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Agua es Vida Action Team, Citizen Action, Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, Our Endangered Aquifer Working Group, and Southwest Research and Information Center. For more information email@example.com, 505-242-5511. EDITOR’S NOTE: The quality and quantity of our southwestern water supplies is one of the most critical challenges we face in New Mexico. While the Water Groups is a new alliance, many of these groups have been waiting their turn on the bag donation list. We bumped them up to this month to both honor their cooperative pooling of material and creative resources for greatest impact and to help them strengthen their alliance with some start-up funding. Individual organizations will not lose their place in the bag donation organization queue.
JIMMY SANTIAGO BACA AND THE
personal connections to the river and its cycles on April 12, from 12pm in this FREE reading.
Albuquerque Museum of Art and History: April 12, 1-2pm FREE!
The Rio Grande is a metaphor of the contrasts we experience in Albuquerque. The river is both an endangered river and abundant habitat for cranes and other birds. It is a place to experience nature in the midst of the city but it is also a resource at risk of being depleted by the city. Jimmy Santiago Baca will explore his
DONATE your BAG CREDIT!
The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History is located at 2000 Mountain NW in Albuquerque.For more information call 505-243-7255 or go to www.cabq.gov/cultural services/albuquerque-museum/events/.
BRING A BAG... DONATE THE DIME! THIS MONTH BAG CREDIT DONATIONS GO TO: THE WATER GROUPS: An alliance of 6 non-profit organizations, working cooperatively to address three ongoing threats to our water quality and quantity. IN FEBRUARY your bag credit donations totally $2,401.55 went to Explora Science Center and Childrens’ Museum.
WESTSIDE 3601 Old Airport Ave. NW 505-503-2550
Alamed a Blvd. Coors Blvd.
Jimmy Santiago Baca is the author of several books of poetry, including Spring Poems along the Rio Grande, which explores the inextricable links between the human spirit and the natural world, and his most recent Singing at the Gate, a collection of new and previously published poems that reflect over four decades of Baca’s life.
Old A irport Ave.
Old Airport Ave. Co-op Values Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Co-op Principles 1 Voluntary and Open Membership 2 Democratic Member Control 3 Member Economic Participation 4 Autonomy and Independence 5 Education, Training and Information 6 Cooperation among Cooperatives 7 Concern for Community The Co-op Connection is published by La Montañita Co-op Supermarket to provide information on La Montañita Co-op Supermarket, the cooperative movement, and the links between food, health, environment and community issues. Opinions expressed herein are of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Co-op.
La Montañita Co-op's monthly newsletter from April 2015