LANL legacy waste cleanup funding would drop by 48 percent under President’s Budget. Photo Courtesy LANL
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The Department of Energy’s FY2021 Congressional Budget Request indicates a drop of 46 percent in funding for cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory taking it from $220 million to $120 million.
The budget in brief document indicates that DOE will continue to focus on surface and groundwater management.
“The Budget also continues activities to control migration of a hexavalent chromium plume beneath Mortandad and Sandia Canyons. DOE will plan and execute retrieval and repackaging of the below-grade transuranic waste,” the document states. It notes:
- Plume-Center Characterization activities will continue to investigate and develop corrective measures for remediation of the hexavalent chromium plume, and design will be initiated for the proposed remedies.
- Installation of New Mexico Environment Department approved groundwater remedies for the Royal Demolition Explosives plume in Cañon de Valle will continue.
- Implementation of the individual storm water permits will continue and investigation and cleanup of several aggregate areas will be completed.
- Demolition of slabs at Technical Area 21 will continue as well as retrieval and repackaging of the below-grade transuranic waste to include readiness activities and infrastructure needs in order to manage the processing and packaging of the waste at Area G.
“Consistent with the priorities established with the New Mexico Environment Department in the 2016 Consent Order, cleanup activities will continue to focus on surface water and groundwater management. The decrease from the FY 2020 Enacted level reflects initiation, startup, and operations of contact handled transuranic waste retrieval, treatment, and disposition activities with prior year balances,” the document states.
NMED public information officer Maddy Hayden told the Los Alamos Reporter in an email that NMED will DOE to its legal obligations to “fully fund legacy waste clean-up activities, irrespective of any proposed budget reductions”.
“Compliance with state and federal regulations is a minimum expectation of this Department,” Hayden said.
Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, in Los Alamos for the Democratic County Convention, told the Los Alamos Reporter that the legacy waste cleanup is a commitment and a liability that the United States has to address.
“It’s astonishing that the President’s budget dramatically cuts cleanup here, but it’s not surprising when you look at other agencies that the administration decided to cut by as much as 27 to 30 percent. We have some work in front of us but in this area, the Bipartisan Cleanup Caucus will get to work,” he said.
Congressman Lujan noted that the President’s Budget for cleanup at LANL cut funding for the last two fiscal years but the Congressional Delegation was able to get those numbers raised.
Los Alamos County Council chair Sara Scott told the Los Alamos Reporter Friday that concerned about the cut in funding and that the Council would be addressing the issue with the Congressional delegation and speaking directly with DOE. Council vice chair Randy Ryti met briefly with Congressman Lujan Saturday afternoon to discuss the issue.
The Reporter attempted without success to reach DOE Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office officials Friday for their comments.