New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

DOE Oversight Bureau


The Sandia office of the DOE Oversight Bureau monitors a variety of environmental media at Sandia National Laboratories/New Mexico (SNL/NM) to assess the potential impacts of past and present activities.

General Environmental Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau provides verification and validation of projects conducted by Sandia Corporation to remediate environmental and human hazards from legacy waste and to monitor current activities for safe practices.

Air Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts independent continuous air monitoring to evaluate the presence of selected radioactive particles and tritium in the ambient air near SNL/NM. Ambient air is sampled with continuously running, low-volume air samplers drawing air through particulate filters and silica gel cartridges. The program also allows for emergency ambient air monitoring for releases related to demolition and decommissioning activities and/or emergencies like forest fires.

The DOE Oversight Bureau maintains four (4) air stations. Additionally, the Bureau maintains two (2) mobile solar-powered air-monitoring trailers that can be deployed for emergency monitoring.

air monitoring station

An air monitoring station at SNL

Direct Penetrating Radiation

The DOE Oversight Bureau monitors direct penetrating (DPR) radiation, or gamma radiation, in the environment at SNL/NM and in the vicinity for SNL/NM-sourced or ambient gamma radiation using passive electret ion chambers. The purpose of this project is to determine whether ambient gamma radiation on or near SNL is equal to background and also to determine if SNL/NM radiation levels obtained by their thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) compares to those levels obtained by the DOE Oversight Bureau as an independent verification.

DPR station at Oak Flats Campground

Chris Armijo collecting DPR data

Groundwater Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts verification and supplemental sampling of SNL/NM regional groundwater wells in cooperation with the SNL/NM Groundwater Section and Kirtland Air Force Base (KAFB) environmental group. The primary purpose of this sampling activity is to independently monitor and confirm groundwater quality at SNL/NM monitoring wells. The Bureau evaluates groundwater parameters to determine if there is any change in groundwater quality.

Stormwater Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts stormwater monitoring at co-located monitoring stations located down-gradient from operating facilities, areas of concern, solid waste management units, and corrective action management units at SNL/NM. The focus is on stormwater management assessment at construction and environmental restoration and remediation projects. The Bureau also conducts site evaluations in consultation with Sandia Corporation to determine compliance with National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans and to monitor activities after reportable spills at SNL/NM.

The DOE Oversight Bureau has been collecting stormwater samples from selected environmental restoration sites for approximately ten years. The current stormwater sampling program includes a total of 28 stormwater monitoring points, all co-located with SNL/NM monitoring stations. The program provides independent baseline contaminants of concern values for selected SNL/NM environmental restoration sites throughout SNL/NM. Sampling stormwater determines the potential impact to the environment from operating facilities or contaminated sites. Stormwater samples may indicate the movement of contaminants due to natural erosion processes or discharges from operating facilities.

single stage

A single stage stormwater sampler at SNL

Biota and Terrestrial Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts sampling of soils, sediments, and vegetation on SNL/NM and the surrounding area in a cooperative effort with Sandia Corporation. The Bureau conducts sampling of soils and sediments from 30 discreet locations throughout KAFB, the KAFB perimeter, and the surrounding Albuquerque metropolitan area.

The Bureau also conducts periodic sampling of fish tissue in the Rio Grande and associated reservoirs. This project attempts to identify biological impacts of SNL/NM-derived contaminants on the aquatic biota in these receiving waters; data are used by other bureaus and agencies, especially in developing consumption advisories.

Collecting a soil sample

Susan Lucas Kamat collecting a soil sample

Waste Water Monitoring

The DOE Oversight Bureau conducts semi-annual sampling of wastewater discharges from SNL/NM operations in a cooperative effort with Sandia Corporation and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. Analytes monitored include: total metals, fluoride, gamma-emitting isotopes, gross alpha and beta, tritium, and volatile organic compounds.

Split wastewater sampling @ station WW006 with SNL and ABCWUA

Collecting a waste water sample with SNL and Water Utility Authority personnel