Sandia to begin testing innovative arsenic-removal technologies in Socorro, N.M.

December 07, 2004

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Over the next few weeks researchers at the National Nuclear Security Administration's Sandia National Laboratories will begin testing innovative ways to treat arsenic-contaminated water in an effort to reduce costs to municipalities of meeting the new arsenic standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The testing is sponsored by the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership (AWTP), a multiyear-program funded by a congressional appropriation through the U.S. Department of Energy.

"The goals of the program are to develop, demonstrate, and disseminate information about cost-effective water treatment technologies in order to help small communities in the Southwest and other parts of the country comply with the new EPA standard," says Malcolm Siegel, Sandia Arsenic Treatment Technology Demonstration Project Manager.

The tests will be conducted at a geothermal spring used to supply drinking water to Socorro, N.M., a town of about 9,000 residents located 80 miles south of Albuquerque. Installation of test equipment will be completed in December by Sandians Randy Everett and Brian Dwyer, and regular operations will begin before Christmas following a preliminary "shakedown" period. Another member of the team, Alicia Aragon, will present results of laboratory studies supporting the pilot tests at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco next week.

AWTP members include Sandia, the Awwa Research Foundation (AwwaRF), and WERC, a Consortium for Environmental Education and Technology Development.

The Awwa Research Foundation is managing bench-scale research programs. Sandia will conduct the demonstration program, and WERC will evaluate the economic feasibility of the technologies investigated and conduct technology transfer activities.

Congressional support and design of the Arsenic Water Technology Partnership was developed under the leadership of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to help small communities comply with the new EPA drinking water standard for arsenic. The new regulation, which will go into effect in January 2006, reduces the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) from 50 micrograms per liter (μg/L) to 10 μg/L and is designed to reduce the incidence of bladder and lung cancers caused by exposure to arsenic.

Levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the Southwestern U.S. often exceed the new MCL. The new compliance requirements will impact small communities in the country that lack the appropriate treatment infrastructure and funding to reduce arsenic to such levels.

The pilot test in Socorro will compare five innovative technologies developed by universities, small businesses, and large well-established water treatment companies and should last about nine months. These treatment processes were chosen from more than 20 candidate technologies that were reviewed by teams of technical experts at Arsenic Treatment Technology Vendor Forums organized by Sandia and held at the 2003 and 2004 New Mexico Environmental Health Conferences.

Sandia is developing plans for future tests in rural and Native American communities in New Mexico and other parts of the country. These additional sites will be chosen through consultation with a number of agencies including the New Mexico Environment Department, the EPA, the Indian Health Service, the Navajo Nation EPA, and the Interstate Technology Regulatory Council. In addition, the AWTP will post a website application where interested communities can ask to be considered for a pilot.

The demonstrations will involve additional technologies reviewed at the vendor forums and others developed from the laboratory studies managed by AwwaRF. Educational forums will be organized by WERC at the start of a pilot demonstration to introduce community members to the program and after the test is completed to describe the test results. The first forum will be held on Dec. 15 as part of the meeting of the New Mexico Rural Water Association at the Holiday Inn Express in Socorro.
Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Release available at

Sandia media contact: Chris Burroughs,, 505-844-0948

Sandia Technical Contact: Malcolm Siegel, 505-844-5426

Sandia National Laboratories' World Wide Web home page is located at Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News Center button.

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories

Related Arsenic Articles from Brightsurf:

New map reveals global scope of groundwater arsenic risk
Up to 220 million people worldwide, with approximately 94% of them in Asia, could be at risk of drinking well water containing harmful levels of arsenic, a tasteless, odorless and naturally occurring poison.

River-groundwater hot spot for arsenic
Naturally occurring groundwater arsenic contamination is a problem of global significance, particularly in South and Southeast Asian aquifers.

Natural organic matter influences arsenic release into groundwater
Millions of people worldwide consume water contaminated with levels of arsenic that exceed those recommended by the World Health Organization.

New study finds inaccuracies in arsenic test kits in Bangladesh
Researchers at the University of Michigan have raised serious concerns with the performance of some arsenic test kits commonly used in Bangladesh to monitor water contamination.

Bayreuth researchers discover new arsenic compounds in rice fields
University of Bayreuth researchers, together with scientists from Italy and China, have for the first time sys-tematically investigated under which conditions, and to what extent, sulphur-containing arsenic com-pounds are formed in rice-growing soils.

Kids rice snacks in Australia contain arsenic above EU guidelines: Study
Three out of four rice-based products tested have concentrations of arsenic that exceed the EU guideline for safe rice consumption for babies and toddlers.

Arsenic in drinking water may change heart structure
Among young adults, drinking water contaminated with arsenic may lead to structural changes in the heart that raise their risk of heart disease.

Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean
In low-oxygen parts of the ocean, some microbes are surviving by getting energy from arsenic.

Parboiling method reduces inorganic arsenic in rice
Contamination of rice with arsenic is a major problem in some regions of the world with high rice consumption.

UN University compares technologies that remove arsenic from groundwater
A UN University study compares for the first time the effectiveness and costs of many different technologies designed to remove arsenic from groundwater -- a health threat to at least 140 million people in 50 countries.

Read More: Arsenic News and Arsenic Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to