Triad National Security personnel at the DP Road site Friday afternoon. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
The New Mexico Environment Department has notified the Department of Energy Environmental Management and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Offices that is “extremely concerned’ with the discovery of radiological contamination and potentially hazardous waste unearthed at DP Road in Los Alamos Feb. 14 “and the potential threat to human health and the environment”.
In a letter dated Feb. 28 and signed by Kevin Pierard, Chief of the Hazardous Waste Bureau, NMED has asked that N3B, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s legacy waste cleanup contractor and Triad National Security, LLC, the LANL management and operating contractor provide NMED with a list of information concerning “potentially hazardous debris discovered by Los Alamos County on Feb. 14.
The letter stated that NMED was notified by phone call with DOE that on Feb. 14, Los Alamos County utility workers found debris and an old crucible while digging a utility trench on property previously owned by DOE. It said Los Alamos Fire Department personnel and a Hazardous Materials team were deployed to the scene and took preliminary readings and determined that there was no imminent and immediate threat to human health and the environment.
“But the Haz Mat team found that radiologic values were greater than the background threshold. Subsequently the DOE deployed a Radiological Assistance Team to conduct additional assessments of the area and notified NMED that uranium contamination was confirmed at the site and that access to the site was controlled with the use of locked fencing,” the NMED letter stated. “On Feb. 24, NMED was notified that the discovered waste and debris was near former Material Disposal Areas but that the land had been previously been transferred from DOE to Los Alamos County. DOE stated that additional radiological contamination was identified – plutonium and americium by the RAP team but that the extent of contamination or presence of hazardous waste constituents had not yet been identified and that investigations were ongoing.”
The letter stated that to ensure that the N3B and Triad are managing potentially hazardous waste or newly-discovered Solid Waste Management Units or Areas of Concern in compliance with the 2016 Compliance Order on Consent, the Hazardous Waste Act and state regulations, NMED is requesting “all information and documentation on the potential sources of contamination” including: the known site history; any previous investigations at the site and when the land was transferred to Los Alamos County; all sampling and analytical data related to the site itself and material moved off-site; a summary of any future sampling and analytical plans including work plans based on a conceptual site model, analytical data and risk assessments; all documentation related to the management of materials removed from the site; a timeline of the site activities undertaken by the N3B and Triad from the discovery by Los Alamos County Feb. 14; and a schedule and timeframe for the investigation at the site including waste characterization activities and any potential voluntary corrective actions or remedies.
Los Alamos County Manager confirmed Monday that he will be meeting with NNSA officials Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue and the path forward.