The Santa Fe New Mexican from Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 15, 1988 · 3
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The Santa Fe New Mexican from Santa Fe, New Mexico · 3

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Monday, August 15, 1988
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Santa Fe, N.M., Monday, Augiat:i5I988:.THE NEW MEXICAN A-3 )'. i. A JR- Jr .t- - -w d jrw- - . -S Santa Fe accredited By DAVID ROYBAL The New Mexican Staff .The Santa Fe Detention Center Sunday won accreditation from a national panel meeting in Denver, Colo., becoming (me of only two county fails in New Mexico accredit-' ed by the group. Accreditation for three years was granted, after a hearing before representatives of the Commission on Accreditation of the American Corrections Association based, in Maryland. John Rees, local fail administrator, said the fail scored 100 percent in standards of mandatory compliance, and 98.3 percent in' nonmandatory standards. It means that we complied with over 98 percent of almost 450 standards covering every aspect of fail operation, Rea said. -He said the jaO fell Just short of total compliance with some admin-. istrative reporting standards. Rees is employed by Corrections Corporation of America which was hired by the county in August 1986. Corrections Corporation Of America pledged to obtain accredtation when it signed its county contract. . The Santa Fe fail never has been accreffited, Rees said. 1 think it means the people of Santa Fe can feel confident that their detention facility is being .operated in accordance with the highest professional standards of correctfonal operations," Rees said. The Bernalillo County Detention Center in Albuquerque is the only ' other. county fail in New Mexico accredited under adult standards. , Rees said the Santa Fe fail Is the only Jail in this state accredited tinder both adult and Juvenile standards. . "The Jail has a staff of about 65 foil-time and part-time employees. ' . Corrections Corporation of America operates the Santa Fie jail for a fee of S44.901 per inmate per day. That compares to about $100 per inmate when the Jail was operated by the county. ' ' The Jail averaged about 150 inmates daily last month, including 1820 Juveniles. The county's contract with Corrections Corporation of America expires in August 1989, and Rees Suggested that the company would seek to extend the contract. Md claimant wont sidetrack their cause Shota! by LhHc TOwtThe New Mexican Rafael Florae, above, father of Amador Fiona, weeds. his eon's garden while Fiona remains In ja9. Even a can opener la a luxury at the Tima AmarWa camp. Margarita, H&, a California graduate student struggles to open a can of coffee In a makeshift kltchm at the camp. . By K.G COMPTON , Tlie New Mexican Staff TIERRA AMARILLA - As Amador Flores approaches his third Month in Jail, Ids family and supporters prepare for the winter., on. land they've been ordered to ' vacate. On June 17, District. Judge Bruce Kaufman ordered Flores Jailed on contempt of court charges until he, Ms family and supporters leave the Tierra Amarilla land that is at the . center of a 3-year-old ffispute between Flores and a group of Arizona developers. Today, the New Mexico Court of Appeals will consider a request from Flores' attorneys to lift Kaufman's contempt order , and allow Flores out of Jail while his case is on appeaL But the Flores supporters who have set up a military-style camp on the disputed property say the situation now is out of Flores' and even the courts hands. No matter what the court decides today about Flores' fate in Jail, they are determined to claim the land under the Tierra Amarilla Land Grantofl832. Accenting to Pedro Arechuleta, the familys official spokesman, even if Flores is released from Jail or if he decides to comply with Kaufmans order Ms family and supporters will not leave the land. Amador has the keys to Ms freedom in Ms own mouth, Arechuleta said last week. . -"AD he has to do is tell (court officials) what they want to hear, and he can walk out But We told Mm when he went to Jail that he could do that and we were going to stay anyway. It's no longer up to Amador, if s up to us. Kaufman put Amador in Jail, and we're still here. If he lets him out, well still be here. Amador can get out anytime he wants to but we aren't going anywhere. Flores could not be reached for comment because Rio Arriba County Jail administrator Leo Rodela is limiting the prisoners visiting days and number of telephone calls, in Amador has the ketfs to his freedom in his own mouth. All Me has to do is tell (court officials) what they want to hear, and he can walk. out. But we told him when he went to jail that he could do that and we were going totfay anyway. It's no longer up to Amador, jrs up to' us ... 9 Pedro Arechuleta Flores family spolcesman accordance with Jail policy. , However, former LL Gov. Roberto Mondragon, a family friend who is serving as interpreter for Flores, says the 49-year-old prisoner is going crazy in Jail and seems to be deeply depressed. Last week. Archbishop Robert Sanchez of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe wrote a letter to Kaufman asking the court .to consider releasing Flores from Jail so he could be reunited with Ms family. Arechuleta said he speaks for a consejo (council) of 15 or 16 local residents. However, Tuesday afternoon, only Arechuleta, Rafael .Flores (Amadors father), and a . graduate student from California were at the camp, wMch consists of a shed, a small trailer, a camper and several tents, v On the west side of the campsite are logs and signs of buikfing tor a log cabin Arechuleta said will shelter members of the consejo for the Winter. Graduate student Margarita Hill of Davis, Calif., has drawn (dans for . a community center Arechuleta said the group intends to build on the Tand. In 1987, Kaufman ruled that the land was owned by a partnership of , Arizona investors calling itself Vista del Brazos, which purchased a 1 1,900-acre parcel that includes the disputed 500 acres, in Ms ruling, Kaufman laid blame for the confusion at the doorstep of the Rio Arriba County Courthouse in Tierra Amarilla for allowing conflicting deeds on the same piece of property to be filed at the courthouse. Flores has been paying taxes on the land for more than 20 years, but attorneys for Vista del Brazos insist they possess dear title to the land dating back to the turn of the century. The case has garnered interest in local and national media so much interest, in fact, that a dozen of Flores fellow prisoners in the county Jail have written Rodela a letter objecting to the number of telephone calls and visitors Flores had been receiving. I told them that if they got phone calls and visits from the meffia Fd be glad to put them, through," Rodela said. But we have clamped down on. enforcing the existing rules so Amador wouldnt be seen as having special .treatment" ' Rodela agreed .with Mondragon . that Flores seems .depressed, but said his behavior has been exemplary. If I could let Mm out for good -behavior, hed be a free man today," Rodela said. But Judge Kaufman ordered him to stay here until the people get off that land, so I have no choice but to do what the Judge says." State awaits LANLs response on By TERRY D. ENGLAND lim New Mexican Staff A program now under way at Los Alamos National , Laboratory is aimed at finding and cleaning up , hazardous wastes, but the lab still is running afoul of . standards established by state regulations. On Aug. 1, the state Environmental Improvement Divirion cited the lab for 19 violations of hazardous waste handling. The citation carries a fine of $51,500. The state lists 19 violations, most related to storage of hazardous waste, said Boyd HamiltoA of the state waste management section. A storage area in one of the lab's technical areas is above capacity, and the lab . isn't meeting standards for discharging liquid wastes, . he said. Radioactive wastes are not included in the. hazardous waste materials involved in the violations, Hamilton said. The hazardous waste substances - include chemicals, heavy metals and compounds considered dangerous to health. Currently, the lab must send non-radioactive waste out of state for disposal because no facility in Nqw Mexico can handle it, he said. Despite the citations, the lab is cooperating, Hamilton said. , Theres a lot of pluses at Los Alamos in how the waste handling program is going, he said. "We've gotten good response from them in the last three to five years. Theyre diligent in the way they try to clean up sites. Officials at the lab are declining comment on the action until after a 30-day comment period is over.. . In previous statements, though, spokesmen have said that the state made no indication on how serious the problems were and have questioned whether the state can fine a federal facility for violations of hazardous waste rules. -The only response so far from the lab' has been inquiries about the action and possible options, state attorney Gini Nelson said. The action does not become final until the 30 days provided for in the Hazardous Waste Act have passed, she said. If they dont request public hearings, there won't be any, Nelson said. We don't know what (lab officials) are going to do. The challenge to the state's authority tn the matter is a common argument, she said. The Department of Energy says federal facilities cannot be fined by states because of sovereign immunity, but we dont agree, sh id. The University of California, which operates the lab under a contract for the energy department, might be forced to pay the fine, she said. If the federal government is exempt, the Department of Energy could be, but that might not apply to the contractors, Nelson said. It wouldn't apply to the . University of California, in that case. This is the second time the state has cited the lab for waste violations. In 1984, the state said the lab wasn't, complying with ' some regulation on waste. Negotiations are continuing on that case, with the lab offering expertise to the state instead of paying a fine. Nelson said. Under the law in effect in 1984, the state and lab could settle out of court If the case had gone to court, the judge could have set the penalties. The 1987 Legislature, however, gave the state authority to levy fines (Erectly. The question of state authority over federal facilities is being fought in several states,. Hamilton said. In California, a district court has ruled against the state. It's an Interesting game, he said. Lab faces costly, complex problems in cleanup of hazardous wastes The New Mexican . Los Alamos National Laboratory already has completed the first of five steps in the cleanup of its non-radioactive waste compiling a list of all potentially hazardous waste rites. The results from lab records and interviews with current and past employees fill two thick books. The cost' of cleaning up the sites, which are determined to be contaminated, is estimated at $40 billion to $130 billion, depending on whose report is believed. The laboratory's program to clean up its hazardous waste sites is funded by the federal Superfund Act . the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. The federal Department of Energy said Fine, we'll comply with the act and, in turn, ordered the. laboratory to comply, said Tom Gunderson, deputy director of the lab's Health, Safety and Environment Division. The current situation is that we don't landfill that is, bury any non-radioactive waste," he said We send it all off site for incinera tion." Off site means out of state because the material goes to a Commercial firm in Illinois.. We're allowed to ship non-radioactive waste under an agreement with the state, he said. We pack it and a send it out in trucks. I A stjgky area the Mb is facing is mixed waste, or material, both hazardous and radioactive. Currently, the (Environmental Protection Administration) has au thority to regulate' the non-radioac-tive part of hazardous mixed waste, and the energy department exerts authority over the radioactive part, Gunderson said. There's a lot of uncertainty on how to dispose of mixed hazardous waste." The energy department's response to. the Superfund act is its own , Environmental ' Restoration Program. -Gunderson said the pro-, gram has five parts: Identification of areas with potential contamination: Our people are looking at old records and interviewing retired and current employees, Gunderson said. Someone might say Yeah, in 1953 we spilled something at this place.' We'll record where that site was. A rite can be anything from a . small spot to several acres, he said. : Investigation of the site. Feasibility studies. At this stage, options on how to dean the site will be discussed and how much it will cost. Any cleanup . . will have to meet both state and federal standards. The actual deanup work. Verification and monitoring. A report prepared by the Department of Energy for a congressional committee estimates the cost of deaning up contaminated rites and r meeting standards on solid or liquid wastes could cost several billion dollars. Those figures are projections over the next several years, - Gunderson said. it's like a personal or family budget, he said. The Department of Energy and Congress have a list of projects. The high-priority items must be jdoner first, those that pose - )he greatest risk to people. Our people are looking , at old records and interviewing retired and current employees. Someone might say JYeah, in 1953 we spilled, -something at this place We'll record where that site was. 9 Tom Gunderson LANL health, safety official Trade-offs must be made, just as in any business, he stud. The estimates on cleanup were made in the Glenn report, named for Sen. John Glenn, IK)hio, chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The committee asked the energy department for an assessment on heaith, environmental and safety measures at all nuclear defense labs. The report; and a comment on it by the General Accounting Office, sparked national debate because the estimates for meeting all the criteria were between $40 to $70 billion (the energy department) and 4100 to $130 billion (the General Accounting Office). In all- honesty, the (energy department), doesn't have a sterling reputation in Congress. Gunderson said. The request (by Glenn's committee) is a way of getting a good indication of the actual problems at ail facilities. You can go down one-two-three-four and list what you'd .like to do. Then if you have a billion dollars that will pay for fixing the first 75, you can establish a priority on what will be fixed first The energy department report covered -all 14 of the laboratories and facilities involved in nuclear defense, not just the Los Alamos lab. Some of those buildings, built in the 1940s and '50s, need extensive improvements, both reports, said. . Budget projections for remedying the problems are divided into two sections: fiscal year 1988 to fiscal year 1995 and beyond 1995. One of the biggest problem areas the General Accounting Office pointed to was cleanup of contaminated sites. For over 30 years, hazardous and radioactive wastes have been disposed at many (energy department) locations, the agency said in its report to Glenn. In many cases it was disposed in a manner that allowed it to enter the environment" The General . Accounting Office report said groundwater at Los Alamos has been contaminated with radioactivity greater than -background standards. Gunderson denies that claim, saying that the statement contradicts a 1986 report from the same agency that said No contaminants - resulting from the laboratory's operations have been reported that exceed drinking water standards. The lab also has asked for an exemption from state groundwater standards, said Boyd Hamilton of the state Environmental Improvement Divirion's waste management section. Because the water table is so far below the waste sites, contaminants pose no threat, and no water monitoring by the state ever has showed groundwater carrying heightened levels of contamination, 1 Gunderson said. Qther items mentioned in either the General Accounting Office or energy department reports include: Waste water treatment: The lab is building a new plant to treat sewage from areas where most of ' the people are concentrated, Gunderson said. The complex will replace several smaller plants that are getting old but won't treat industrial waste. Air monitoring: Gunderson said the General Accounting Office believes air sampling monitors should be placed away from walla. Some lab monitors are right next to them because that's where the . power outlets are, he said. ' v Liquid discharge monitoring: The General Accounting Office said, lab monitoring equipment Isn't monitoring some chemicals, allowing potential contamination. Gunderson said the lab has to . have discharge permits for all liquid discharge. To get the permit, lab officials will meet with state and federal officials and try to agree on acceptable levels of substances. Neither the state nor the federal agencies has complained about the quality of the liquid discharge, he said. . - ' Asbestos: The lab has about 100 miles of asbestos-covered pipes and four acres of other asbestos use. To replace all of that would be expensive, so lab officials will replace asbestos only in buildings where a lot of people work or where usual activities a fork-lift hitting a pipe, for example coukl damage the coating and send fibers - into the air. Relocation of non-explosive operations: Scientists often detonate conventional explosives in isolated areas daring research. Some buildings are on the periphery of these areas, and the- lab would like to reduce the rtyk of. someone being hit with shrapnel or flying debris by rekxatingthe offices. Precautions are taken during the tests, Gunderson said, but over the long term, lab officials would like to moveamany people as possible, away frem such sites. It's a pie-in-the-sky kind - of I thing, he said. 1 1 1

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