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"Forget the Rest" blog
THEM!
And radioactive plants, as well. They are not very radioactive, and they are found in certain areas only. Most, but not all, of these contaminated areas are on Lab property.

The total number of such radioactive areas is unknown to us, although the Laboratory has identified hundreds of sites potentially contaminated with radioactive and/or hazardous materials.


Radioactive anthill, Los Alamos, NM, 1999.

Click on this picture for a larger image.

Despite the expenditure of at least one-half billion dollars so far, only a handful of these contaminated sites have been cleaned up. Incredibly, LANL has no firm plans to remediate or even stabilize most of these sites. Instead, the lab is spending most of its ample cleanup funds conducting "studies," mostly trying to show that no actual cleanup or other action will be necessary.

The case of contamination in the canyon bottoms (where all these pictures were taken) flood events will sooner or later wash these contaminants into the Rio Grande.  Great floods, such as those which often occur after forest fires like the recent Cerro Grande Fire, could flush the canyons quite quickly. For LANL, Cochiti Reservoir seems to be the de facto dumpsite of last resort.

In this section of our web site you will find a small gallery of photographs taken in some of these areas.  None of the areas are behind fences. The units of radioactivity that you will see displayed in the photos are milliroentgens/hour (mR/hr). The highest readings we found in our brief survey were about 0.24 mR/hr, which is approximately 10 times background.  Where small objects, such as leaves, are presented to the active window of the measuring device, the relatively-high readings obtained are impressive. Alpha-emitters like plutonium and americium, which are very dangerous if inhaled, are not easily measured with an inexpensive geiger counter such as the one shown in these photographs.  The full spectrum of radioisotopes involved is not yet known to us -- or, in all likelihood, to LANL. The photographs were taken by the Los Alamos Study Group in the spring of 1999 in cooperation with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

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(Click images below for full screen versions)



Radioactive Cattails near Los Alamos

Cattails in a contaminated LANL wetland



Radioactive Redcurrent near LANL

Radioactive redcurrant ("radcurrant?"),
unfenced LANL canyon.



Radioactive Oak

Radioactive new oak leaves and flowers,
unfenced LANL canyon.



Radioactive Oak Bushes

More radioactive oak buds, unfenced LANL canyon.



Radioactive Chamisa Bushes

"Hot" chamisa in recreation area,
Bayo Canyon, Los Alamos County.



Radioactive Chamisa Wood

Radioactive chamisa wood,
Bayo Canyon, Los Alamos County.



Radioactive Waste Disposal Site

Radioactive waste disposal site in a recreation area,
Bayo Canyon, Los Alamos.



Another Radioactive Waste Disposal Site

Another LANL radioactive waste disposal site
in Bayo Canyon.



Radioactive Waste Disposal Site Marker

Closeup of monument in photo #8. Inscription says:
"BURIED RADIOACTIVE MAT
NO EXCAVATION PRIOR TO 2142 AD."


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