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Wed Jul 15, 2015, 02:03 AM

Los Alamos will never be clean [View all]

ACID CANYON — A dirt trail shaded by ponderosa pines drops down the slope of this small canyon below the Los Alamos Nature Center and a recreation center.

The canyon became a dumping ground during the Manhattan Project. Old pipes, washing machines, culverts and other debris from the era were tossed into the canyon by nearby homeowners and Los Alamos National Laboratory staff.

The nature center, graced by new gardens and an expansive view of the Jemez Mountains, sits near the site of a chemical waste treatment plant used by scientists who built the first nuclear weapons. From 1943 to 1964, the treatment plant shed into the canyon more than 30 million gallons of treated and untreated liquid radioactive and chemical waste laced with tritium, strontium, plutonium and other radioactive materials that settled on rocks and soil. It was one of several canyons around Los Alamos used as dumping grounds by the lab during the Manhattan Project and the subsequent Cold War.

“The scientists knew this canyon was contaminated back in the 1950s and ’60s,” said Greg Mello, a former inspector with the state Environment Department and now a partner in the nuclear watchdog Los Alamos Study Group with his wife, Trish. “Their children played here.”

Read more: http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/los-alamos-will-never-be-clean/article_a3cc7ce1-8af0-5113-8f38-5d4aa673fd7a.html

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