Radioactive & Hazardous Waste Committee Hears From LANL

BeierschmittDr. Kelly Beierschmitt, Los Alamos National Laboratory Deputy Operations Director, presents an overview of LANL Friday at a meeting of the Interim Committee on Radioactive and Hazardous Waste at UNM-LA. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

Bridge.jpgA photo of a slide presented by Triad at an Aug. 8 subcontractors conference depicting plans for the location of a new bridge to replace the Omega Bridge. Photo Courtesy LASG

Roads.jpgSlide from LANL presentation to subcontractors. Photo Courtesy LASG

Chandler and boys.jpgRep. Christine Chandler, far right, Sen. Carlos Cisneros, center, and Sen. Richard Martinez Friday at the Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee meeting at UNM-LA. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


The Legislative Committee on Radioactive and Hazardous Materials, meeting at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Friday morning heard from Dr. Kelly Beierschmitt, Deputy Director of Operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Beierschmitt described the diverse mission of the Lab and said the outlook has been pretty strong over the last five years and expect it to continue for another five years. He said the Lab is hiring 1,000 people a year and some 500 are retiring annually.

“They love the community and they don’t sell their homes so what I have is needs that exceed the demand for the communities in which we work and live. We expect hiring to continue at that pace for the next five years and with the pit production mission we expect 1,400 additional staff. The outlook is very positive from the economic standpoint but it’s very challenging for humans finding a place to live, homes and transportation,” Beierschmitt said.

He said an Aug. 8  subcontractor conference was hosted by Triad at Buffalo Thunder Resort to try and inform the community that Triad has more work than they can do and that they can’t accomplish it without construction subcontractors. The conference was attended by some 700 participants.

“There is $5.5 billion in construction work that will be taking place over the next five years. Not all of that is to support the pit mission. For example we have 18 roads, I need a roofing contractor to come in and fix my leaks and I’d rather do that on a best value contract that allows the contractor to make those capital investments in the workforce,” Beierschmitt said. “It’s going to take all of us as community to meet the future needs of Los Alamos and we’ve begun having those discussions with (Economic Development) Secretary (Alicia) Key, (Environment) Secretary (James) Kinney, the mayor of Santa Fe, the chamber, Espanola, the universities.”

Rep. Christine Chandler asked Beierschmitt if he could describe what is going on in terms of the Site Plan for the Lab. He responded that traditionally the Site Plan has always described what’s going on within the fence line.

“We began having discussions with the business community, the city council, the County Manager here in Los Alamos, the Mayor of Santa Fe, chambers in Espanola and in Santa Fe County,” Beierschmitt said. He noted that when he moved to the area in July of last year, there were only seven homes for sale in Los Alamos and White Rock.

“That’s hard when we have growth and we also know that if we just ignore the growth we can’t be thoughtful and planful in the way you manage the growth. The Site Plan has also looked at different options for dealing with transportation. We’re exploring options with the development corporation in Los Alamos County to consider providing for leased space on that resource development campus,” he said.

Chandler asked if there was some kind of document that was going to be produced in connection with the site plan. Beierschmitt said they would be very transparent with the plan for certain zones in the central campus and that he was expecting that plan to be 80 percent complete probably around the holidays.

Chandler asked if there was going to be a process for public input.

“This is a community that has a lot to say about a lot of things. I would like the community to be involved in the discussion,” she said and went on to ask Beierschmitt how he would envision that happening. Beierschmitt said he would probably want to consult his public affairs people.

Chandler said there has been some discussion about a bridge to somewhere and developing a new road from White Rock to somewhere. She asked Beierschmitt if he could discuss that and whether or not he would expect that some of that would be in the Site Plan. Beierschmitt responded, “It’s obvious that we don’t build roads”.

“We have the Los Angeles style traffic jams every afternoon and it will get worse before it gets better. So a we have discussed with the business community or Los Alamos County, how we might collectively consider those traffic problems, an ‘all of the above’ strategy is coming to light,” he said. “Things like increased mass transit, other routes, and then there was connector road envisioned two or three times – had four different options for coming off the White Rock area and then connecting down south around the Santa Fe area. That’s an option that I would say the community ought to reconsider when they start trying to figure out the transportation issue. It may not be the only option.”

Chandler told Beierschmitt that the discussion of the road was widely reported in the newspapers.

“I am concerned as an elected official of the state that contractors are getting heads up on these kinds of ideas before some of the people who represent the community. I’m getting a lot of questions from members of the public on this topic as you might imagine when its in the newspaper from a contractors’ meeting and we didn’t have access to that information. I would like to get the same information that is being shared with the contractors,” she said.

At the end of the presentation, Chair Angelica Rubio told Beierschmitt  the Committee has a responsibility to know and understand what is happening.

“The issue of transparency is very important in that the public needs to have a say in what’s going on with the Lab,” she said.

Slides shown by Triad at the Aug. 8 subcontractors’ conference referred to by Chandler included maps showing a proposed construction of the Omega Bridge, a proposed shipping and receiving facility on San Ildefonso Pueblo and the location of new buildings, parking structures and more being proposed throughout the Lab. Those were not included in Friday’s presentation to the Committee.

A Los Alamos County official confirmed Monday to that Triad officials have been meeting with County staff and Councilors since last April or May, however no report on those meetings has been presented at Council meetings and Triad as of yet has not given a presentation at a Council meeting as of yet.

In June, Triad began discussing alternate routes to the Lab at all-hands meetings and there was correspondence between Council Chair Sara Scott and LANL Director Thom Mason about the issue. At that time Scott responded to emails from residents expressing their opposition to the route saying she had checked with County staff and there was no specific planning underway regarding alternate routes to either Santa Fe or Albuquerque but that there were ongoing discussions at the Laboratory regarding shorter routes to Santa Fe or Albuquerque.

“The County has and will continue to engage in site planning discussions with the Lab. Please recall that one of the seven strategic priorities adapted by Council in February is protecting and maintaining our open spaces, recreational and cultural amenities”, she wrote.

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