By Eve Andrée Laramée. Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL), the “birthplace” of the atomic bomb, is situated atop Pajarito Plateau, nineteen miles Northwest from Santa Fe. The lab property is divided by several arroyos that flow into the Rio Grande. During the Manhattan Project and the following Cold War years, more than 17,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive and other toxic wastes were buried directly in the ground and arroyos surrounding the labs in cardboard boxes, plastic containers and steel drums. In 1994 plutonium - one of most deadly substances known to mankind, used in nuclear weapons - was detected in the Rio Grande. Since 2000, other radioactive materials were detected in the drinking water, ground water and deep aquifer water including strontium-90, tritium, polonium, uranium, technicium, among others. The rate of brain and nervous system and thyroid cancers are considerably higher in this region than in other state and national reference populations.