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Radioactive Duck Pond.jpg

Ducks swim in the radioactive Duck Pond.

Students fill Duck Pond with radioactive waste

Over the duration of spring break, students at the University of New Mexico who remained on campus might have noticed giant white tents that popped up, covering the University’s Duck Pond. These tents were used to cover up nuclear engineering students who used red solo cups to carry radioactive nuclear waste over to refill the pond, according to Bryce Adams, a student who participated.

The pond was drained after a student attempted to dye it green in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day. However, after the squirrels on campus started to ingest the dye, the toxins in the dye caused them to think they could fly: multiple complaints about squirrels falling out of the sky were reported, according to UNM Facilities Management.

“It was really a great bonding activity for the guys, and we figured no one would notice anyway. The challenge of it was fun too: we needed to run quickly before the cups disintegrated and burned our hands,” Adams said.

Three students who also participated in the haul reported that if you were to fully dip a hand into the pond, it would come out with the bones exposed. However, the engineering department did enforce safety precautions.

“Before spring break, we all got together for a craft circle and created pointy wizard hats out of tin foil. It was really nice to just sit around and do some crafts with my buds,” Adams said.

The waste seems to also be having an effect on the turtles and ducks. Their heads have shifted slightly to make room for a third eyeball. This is due to the steaming puddles that have been left in a straight line from the nuclear engineering department. These puddles were caused by red solo cups that disintegrated before reaching the pond, according to Samantha Bobby, a biology student who studied the aftermath.

“This is really a great opportunity for us to learn more about the impacts of nuclear waste. We now have about a dozen of these three-eyed turtles that seem to be thriving in the Greenhouse,” Bobby said.

Most students, however, have not seemed to notice a difference in the pond, including Rachel Roxxan, who the Daily Lobo spoke to in the hospital after she swam through the pond and was in critical condition.

“Everyone keeps asking me why I did it, but it honestly didn't seem to be all that different from normal,” Roxxan said. “What can I say: they double-dog dared me.”

The three-eyed ducks will be safely kept in a sanctuary in the Daily Lobo office at Marron Hall. UNM community members may show their support by volunteering at the sanctuary or donating at 

Maddie Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at or on Twitter @maddogpukite 

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