Buckman Direct Diversion Board Approves Contract with Independent Peer Reviewer

News Release

For More Information, Contact:
Lynn Pitcher Komer—505-660-7682 cell
Rick Carpenter — 505-955-4206; 660-5696 cell

The Buckman Direct Diversion (BDD) Project Board yesterday approved a $200,000 contract with ChemRisk, LLC to provide an “efficient, effective, and transparent” independent peer review. Under the one-year contract, ChemRisk will review existing data, information, studies and published risk analyses to develop a report for area residents describing their potential exposure from LANL-origin contaminants that could possibly reach the Rio Grande. The report will focus on the tap water pathway including Rio Grande water diverted by the BDD Project and also compare this risk to risks of other public exposure pathways including LANL-origin contaminants and natural and man-made radiation exposures.

The BDD Board demanded an Independent Peer Review funded by LANL as one of six specific action steps to ensure water quality. The concept of a LANL-funded peer review conducted on behalf of the BDD Board was also supported at a Water Quality Town Hall in August 2008. The BDD Board secured funding from a grant by the U.S. Department of Energy through LANL.

“We are pleased to obtain the expert, independent perspective of ChemRisk and are confident they will provide a thorough, accurate, independent critique and overall summary of these risks. This is something our customers expect and deserve,” said Virginia Vigil, BDD Board Chair and Santa Fe County Commissioner.

ChemRisk is a scientific consulting firm providing state-of-the-art toxicology, industrial Hygiene, radiological health, epidemiology and risk assessment services to a wide variety of organizations that confront public health, occupational health, and environmental challenges. ChemRisk scientists have been leaders in the independent investigation of historical operations at U.S. nuclear weapons plants. Since 1999, ChemRisk has been conducting the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment Project for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For this project, ChemRisk will partner with AMEC Earth and Environmental, which has broad and in-depth experience in the hydrology, hydrogeology and geochemistry of New Mexico. AMEC has worked on projects throughout New Mexico including sites at Sandia and Los Alamos laboratories. Thomas Widner will serve as Principal Investigator for the BDD Independent Peer Review project. He is a Certified Health Physicist and Certified Industrial Hygienist with more than 25 years of experience in radiological health, occupational health, and health risk assessment. The team will also include toxicologists, a physician advisor, health risk assessors, health physicists and an environmental statistician.

ChemRisk was selected for the project by a review team consisting of BDD staff and consultants, and a public member appointed by the BDD Board.

ChemRisk will use National Academy of Science protocols for the independent peer review. An initial public meeting will be scheduled in January 2010 to solicit public comments. Following that meeting, a draft report will be prepared and distributed to the public for comments. A second public meeting is tentatively scheduled for August 2010, followed by a final meeting in November. The public will have ample opportunity to review and comment on the report.

ChemRisk will provide summary reports in English and Spanish for BDD customers as well as a detailed technical report.

For more information, persons can visit www.bddproject.org or www.chemrisk.com
For more information:

About the Buckman Direct Diversion Project – the BDD Project will provide a sustainable way for the City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County to access surface water supplies by diverting San Juan-Chama Project water and native Rio Grande water to reduce their reliance on over-taxed ground water resources.  Design and construction on the BDD began in September 2008 and is expected to be completed, with the project operational, by March 2011.