Nevada Test Site and Contaminated Water


Contaminated groundwater

The Pahrump Valley Times has an article today about the Nevada Test Site (currently called the Nevada National Security Site aka NNSS) and a problem about contamination in Nye County.

Nye County Commission Chairman Gary Hollis reportedly has told a Nevada State senate panel that “the nuclear testing program at the Nevada Test Site has created a legacy of contamination that Nye County and its residents will have to live with for generations to come.”

Since I live in Nye County anytime I read about contamination it captures my interest.

Then I read “Hollis said we have been denied access to even test the water to determine if it even is contaminated.”

Well, shades of Erin Brockovich! Remember that true story portrayed in the movie about “Erin’s exhaustive investigation uncovered that Pacific Gas & Electric had been poisoning the small town of Hinkley’s Water for over 30 years. It was because of Erin’s unwavering tenacity that PG & E had been exposed for leaking toxic Chromium 6 into the ground water. This poison affected the health of the population of Hinkley. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spear-headed by Erin and Ed Masry, the utility giant was forced to pay out the largest toxic tort injury settlement in US history: $333 million in damages to more than 600 Hinkley residents. [See the official website of Erin Brockovich]

Hinkley is located near Barstow, California, not all that far from Nye County.

“The federal government is concerned pumping even uncontaminated water could exacerbate the spread of radioactive contaminated water off the NNSS near Pahute Mesa, Darrell Lacy, director of the Nye County Nuclear Waste Project Office told the committee.”

Our very own Nevada District 36 Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, introduced a letter of concern from Kathy Keyes, a homeowner in Sarcobatus Flat.

Just where is Sarcobatus Flat, you ask?


Sarcobatus Flat, Nye County, Nevada


Sarcobatus Flat is in Nye County. “Several dirt roads access the area from Highway 95, which is mostly in Nye County, Nevada, east of Death Valley, between Beatty and to north of Scotty’s Junction.”

“The Pahute Mesa range is directly behind my property. I have several concerns regarding the DOE finding contaminated water outside the NNSS in this area, first being my health I used and drank this water daily from 2004-2009 and second being my property value,” Keyes wrote.

Pahute Mesa
Map showing Pahute Mesa, Nye County, Nevada


Aerial photo of Pahute Mesa, Nye County, Nevada

Goedhart says, “the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads underground at the NNSS from 1951 until 1992. He said the subsurface contains more than 93,000 curies of radiation.”

What’s that? Radiation? Glory be.

“A former Nye County geo-hydrologist, Tom Buqo, estimated that the underground tests polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water, the same as the amount of water the Southern Nevada Water Authority is allowed to withdraw from the Colorado River in 16 years.”

Hollis said Nye County has been denied money to do water testing near Pahute Mesa under its independent science program to verify if the contaminants migrate farther, but the county doesn’t have the money to drill five wells 2,000 deep.

So, what’s the problem you ask?

Just think about the water contamination in Hinckley, California and compare it with water contamination in Pahute Mesa, just a few miles north of Pahrump. And, I think, it’s downhill from there to Pahrump.

Glass of water anyone?

Related posts:

  1. Nevada Test Site Radioactive Groundwater
  2. Water fluoridation bill passes Nevada Senate Finance Committee
  3. Las Vegas Elite Water Hogs
  4. Sheriff DeMeo Saves Our Water Rights
  5. Paul Reeves for Congress site is now up

About Featheriver

Born and raised in Oklahoma. Improved in California. Out to pasture in Nevada. Born in 1933, Korean War Vet in USAF. Occupation: Criminal Law and Torts. Retired California Lawyer. Now live in Pahrump, Nye County, Nevada.
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