May 21, 2014

"Obama to declare Organ Mountains a national monument"  – Albuquerque Journal, 5/20/2014

President Barack Obama on Wednesday will designate 496,000 acres of federal land in five south-central New Mexico mountain ranges as a national monument, bypassing Congress to ensure the rugged but scenic country is protected for future generations.

The White House announcement on Monday was the culmination of more than a decade of grass-roots activism aimed at securing federal protections in the five ranges surrounding Las Cruces. The land, owned by the federal Bureau of Land Management, is home to ancient petroglyphs and lava flows, rare plants and animals, and vast recreational and hunting areas.

See also:

Antiquities Act of 1906, AS AMENDED

Cultural Resources, Archaeology And History of the Proposed Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, Doña Ana County, New Mexico: An Exploration of Significance and Risks for a National Treasure,  July 1, 2013, by Rebecca Procter , Ph.D., Jean Fulton, and Polly Shaafsma.

Economic Impacts of National Monument Designation, Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks, New Mexico, FINAL REPORT August 16, 2013, BBC Research & Consulting

S.1805 - Organ Mountains--Desert Peaks Conservation Act, 113th Congress (2013-2014)


NMED Responds to “Kitty Litter” Evidence as Cause of WIPP Radiation Leak

Last week, the news media was reporting that a scientist, James Conca, presented a hypothesis that the use of organic kitty litter in the shipping containers caused a chemical reaction resulting in the radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in February, 2014. Conca’s hypothesis was detailed in a May 10, 2014 Forbes blog post, “Nuclear Waste Leak Traced To --- Kitty Litter.”

The kitty litter hypothesis appears to have been correct.  On May 20, 2014 New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued an Administrative Order to the Department of Energy & the Nuclear Waste Partnership, requiring detailed proposals for the “expedited closure” of certain storage room at WIPP. On May 19, 2014, NMED issued an Administrative Order to the Department of Energy & Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) requiring the preparation of a plan for isolating and securing similar containers at LANL.  In the press release for the administrative order, NMED Secretary Flynn issued this statement:

“Based on the May 15th visual inspection, the Department of Energy (DOE) has indicated that the radiological release in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) underground did, in fact, originate from one of two transuranic (TRU) mixed waste containers packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The containers in question contain nitrate salts, which DOE postulated may have been the source of the release. As soon as DOE suspected that a container with nitrate salt mixed with organic kitty litter may have been the source of the release, the Environment Department required DOE to take immediate action to isolate and secure all nitrate salt bearing waste containers at WIPP, LANL and WCS.“

See also:

NMED’s WIPP Update on the NMED homepage.

State demands that DOE seal two rooms at WIPP” – Albuquerque Journal, 5/20/2014