Atari dig raises safety concerns

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – Alamogordo’s Atari dig and documentary is getting a lot of national attention, but some local residents aren’t thrilled that people are going to be rummaging through a landfill.

They’re worried about what that’s going to do to the environment and their health.

Saturday a historical landfill in Alamogordo will be the site of a Hollywood documentary.

Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment plan to excavate a portion of the dump in hopes of uncovering thousands of Atari video games that were supposedly buried there in the 1980s, but not everyone is thrilled about the idea.

“I’ve had a few people voice a few concerns just kind of concerned what exactly they’re going to dig up over there,” said resident Melissa Parkison.

Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea says she’s heard similar concerns.

“There is some genuine concern and I would say even a level of fear with some local citizens,” said Galea.

But what could they possibly be afraid of?

“There’s concern about existing waste in that landfill being disturbed and if it is disturbed what potential does it have for contamination, especially to the outside public,” said New Mexico Environment Department Communications Director Jim Winchester.

Wednesday, the New Mexico Environment Department hosted a public meeting to alleviate some of those fears.

They say all of the correct steps have been taken to assur the dig is safe.

“Based on working with the City of Alamogordo, with the permit team and by taking various soil samples, the location they are digging does not pose a significant health risk,” said Winchester.

The department says they’ll have inspectors at the dig site Saturday to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The city also says they will be monitoring the excavation process. They say residents have no reason to worry.

“It will happen and it will happen safely,” said Alamogordo Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Rentschler.

The mayor says the dig has been in the works since 2011.

Crews will begin excavating the landfill at 9:30 Saturday morning.

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