Jan 30, 2009
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The state Environment Department says runoff last summer from part of Los Alamos National Laboratory contained high levels of plutonium and other radionuclides.
The department measured elevated levels of plutonium, americium and strontium in the runoff that resulted from a large potable water spill and several storm events in Los Alamos Canyon in July and August.
In July, a water line break at the lab's Technical Area 21 triggered monitoring equipment maintained by the state in Los Alamos Canyon.
About 4 million gallons of potable water released over a 26-hour period eroded soil and carried contaminants into the canyon and beyond lab boundaries. Analysis of five samples showed plutonium levels about 100 times greater than levels detected during normal storm events in previous years.