Report: Uranium plumes for Bluewater Mill site ‘stable’

April 14, 2019 GMT

GRANTS, N.M. (AP) — Uranium plumes in a major aquifer in western New Mexico believed to be coming from a closed mine aren’t growing, U.S. officials said in a report released last month.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded the plumes in the San Andres-Glorieta and Ancestral Rio San Jose alluvial aquifer appear to be “essentially stable.” The plumes are believed emanating from the former Bluewater Mill site, the Gallup Independent reports.

The report, completed in February, is based on 2017 information on groundwater data and contaminant plumes.


Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management site manager Bernadette Tsosie said the path of the San Andres-Glorieta aquifer plume remains 2 miles (3 kilometers) north of the nearest drinking water supply well for the Village of Milan and Grants, New Mexico. She said it is not expected to impact the municipal wells.

“The data suggests the plumes are not advancing,” Tsosie stated in a letter accompanying the 70-page report to the commission. “Instead, they appear to be essentially stable, as concluded in the 2014 report.”

The San Andres-Glorieta aquifer is part of the only regional aquifer capable of yielding large amounts of water to wells.

The U.S. Department of Energy is evaluating the impact of high-volume pumping wells in the San Andres-Glorieta aquifer.

The report is intended to address the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s concerns regarding uncertainty in flow and contaminant transport due to pumping from high-production municipal, industrial, and irrigation wells, Tsosie said.

The Bluewater Mill plume report is designed to make the public feel comfortable with the government’s response, Candace Head-Dylla of Bluewater Valley Stream Alliance said.

“The San Andres-Glorieta Aquifer is the aquifer that the people of Grants-Milan and downstream communities depend on for their drinking water,” Head-Dylla said. “This report suggests that the volume of water moving through the San Andres-Glorieta aquifer currently dilutes the contamination coming from the old Anaconda/ARCO/Bluewater mill enough that it does not currently exceed drinking water standards.”


Information from: Gallup Independent,