Sign the Petition for EIB Public hearing on TENORM Radioactive Waste/Radioactive Material Disposal in Rio Rancho NM

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) Pamela Jones Public facilitator, James Kenney Secretary of NMED, Rebecca Roose Under Secretary of NMED

Common Ground Petition Meme
Common Ground Petition Meme

  • Our Call to Action

    Sign the Petition for EIB Public hearing on TENORM Radioactive Waste/Radioactive Material Disposal.

    Dear Residents and Activists,

    As described below, in March 2018, a private corporation directed the transport and disposal of 288 tons, in 48 separate truckloads, of radioactive waste, in the form of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) into the Rio Rancho Waste Management landfill. The landfill is not licensed to accept dangerous TENORM within schools, homes and businesses located with a single one-mile radius. The TENORM was reported to have been stockpiled on ground surface and subject to mobilization via strong winds as well as soil infiltration to the landfill liner, risking groundwater contamination with any liner breach. Also, in August 2019, the same corporation directed the illicit discharge of at least 5,000 gallons of contaminated briny water containing high levels of radionuclides and arsenic into the Rio Rancho sewer treatment facility infrastructure. Both the TENORM and the contaminated briny water include radionuclide concentrations far above Maximum Contaminant Levels. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is aware of both dangerous disposals but has repeatedly neglected to address these hazards to public health and safety. Additionally, NMED's inaction may further embolden the corporation to conduct similar illicit actions. Therefore, we, the impacted citizens, are turning to the Environmental Improvement Board to request an investigative hearing and subsequent corrective and mitigative responses.

    Aerial Shot of Waste Management City of Rio Rancho Municipal Landfill

    The petition is directed to the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB), that they should hold a public hearing resulting in a full investigation of radioactive dumping in Rio Rancho.

    Sign the Petition to TAKE ACTION that the Environmental Improvement Board should hold a public hearing which would result in a full investigation into the March 2018 radioactive waste disposal in the Rio Rancho Waste Management landfill and the August 2019 radioactive brine water disposal into the Rio Rancho sewer treatment facility.

Petition by
Pause On Fracking NM
BELEN, New Mexico

To: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) Pamela Jones Public facilitator, James Kenney Secretary of NMED, Rebecca Roose Under Secretary of NMED
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned, join this petition to request a public hearing before the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB).

Hazardous TENORM has been dumped into a Municipal Landfill and radioactive brine has been discharged into public wastewater infrastructure

Sept. – Nov. 2009 – A pilot water desalination project at the briny water well site was reportedly successful, creating a concentrated radionuclide and arsenic waste stream, the basis of the TENORM.

Apr. 2011 – A final Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) for future water treatment projects described the same arsenic and radionuclide waste streams as hazardous and stated for future treatments, “The precipitate will be dewatered to the minimum practicable volume, placed directly in shipping containers, and disposed of in a licensed hazardous waste landfill. The concentrated stream will not be exposed to air or soil, and the handling facilities will have appropriate secondary containment and segregation from other parts of the treatment plant.” It is clear just how dangerous the TENORM was considered. However, as stated by water treatment proponents, all waste streams for the 2009 pilot project were conveyed to a single impoundment, thereby “blending” the TENORM with the existing contaminated evaporite salt.

Oct. 2011 – NMED stated in their review of the Apr 2011 PER that an issue for any proposed water treatment facility was the need to establish an agreement with a licensed landfill facility in Andrews, TX to accept hazardous material generated at the water treatment plant. Thus, NMED has demonstrated prior knowledge of this dangerous TENORM. NMED also recognized that there wasn’t a New Mexico facility at that time licensed to accept such dangerous TENORM.

Mar. 2018 - The corporation directed the transport and disposal of 48 truckloads, equaling 288 tons, of the TENORM into the Rio Rancho landfill.This is a direct violation of the landfill permit.

June 2019 – NMED denied the corporation's request to discharge the briny groundwater (the same ground water that formed the contaminated, radioactive “salt”) at the remote Rio West ground water well location, citing the fact that the Primary Discharge Permit (DP-1682) evaluation generated “significant public interest” (SPI). NMED did state that the corporation could discharge the highly contaminated ground water off site if they submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI).

July 2019 – The corporation responded that they would not file a NOI because there would be no offsite discharge. Instead, the wastewater would be reinjected into the extraction well.

August 22, 2019 – The corporation directed the transport and disposal of at least 5,000 gallons of the radioactive wastewater into the Rio Rancho Sewer system. A water quality report was attached to the August 22, 2019 email from the corporation to the Rio Rancho POC, but the email was sent to an incorrect email address. The report listed Total Radium at 85 pCi/L and Arsenic at 64 mg/L.

Sept. 3, 2019 – In an internal email communication, NMED stated that the corporation never disclosed the wastewater contaminants, but rather only told the City and their contract POTW operators that the wastewater was “brine”

Sept. 10, 2019 – In an email to the USEPA, NMED characterized the August 22nd disposal action as “illicit” and stated that the groundwater had “historic high levels” of radium 226 & 228, arsenic, and other contaminants. NMED also stated that, once again, it was clear authorities were not made aware of the material’s contaminated nature. NMED included an Excel spreadsheet listing the wastewater was historically described with Total Radium concentrations of, again, 85 pCi/L

Serious Concerns:
There is a serious concern that NMED has refused to identify who specifically directed the landfill and sewer treatment facility disposals. The concern is that there may well be a pattern and practice of knowing and willful intent to replace ensuring public safety with an effort to save money at all costs.

There is a serious concern that NMED has arbitrarily and capriciously attempted to reduce the briny water's historic total radium concentration (85 pCi/L) by appx. 75% apparently to protect the corporation at the expense of public safety. Using data in use at the time, the total radium soil concentration was appx. 7.05 pCi/G, well above the EPA maximum level of 5 pCi/G.

An issue with the sewer treatment facility is that NMED never addressed public hazards – were facility workers exposed to carcinogens during the course of their duties? Also, what was the final disposition of the radium & arsenic? Where did it end up; in the outfall into the Rio Grande? In the “cake” & to the landfill? Either would be a serious violation.

Landfill disposal: Was it exposed to a wind dispersal vector and also eventually buried where it would leach to the landfill liner, extracted in the leachate and redistributed onto the ground surface (the landfill sprays the leachate on the ground for “dust control”).

Impacted citizens do not feel the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has demonstrated the will to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. Therefore, as outlined above, we are requesting the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to convene an investigative public hearing, as expeditiously as possible, to resolve ongoing serious and immediate environmental, health and safety, and regulatory issues.