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Uranium detected in New Mexico water wells

Aug. 25, 2010 at 1:59 PM

SANTA FE, N.M., Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Water wells in several New Mexico communities show uranium levels three to six times higher than federal recommended levels for drinking water, officials said.

Several private water wells around Pojoaque and Nambe have twice tested at elevated levels, The (Santa Fe) New Mexican reported Tuesday.

And in Espanola, two wells supplying water to the community were shut down after elevated levels were found by the state Environment Department, the newspaper said.

"We plan to shut them off completely and plan to blend other wells that we do have in this area," Espanola City Manager James Lujan said in a statement.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set 30 micrograms per liter as the safe drinking-water standard. Uranium levels in wells in the Pojoaque and Nambe area measured from less than 30 to 1,800 micrograms per liter, said Pat Longmire, a Los Alamos National Laboratory groundwater chemist who helped analyze the samples.

Studies are mixed about the health dangers of uranium exposure. The heavy metal accumulates in the bones and kidneys, but there is debate among health researchers about possible effects, the New Mexican reported.

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