Workers from Los Alamos National Laboratory earlier this year where contaminated materials were unearthed during excavation. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos County announced late Thursday afternoon that additional “radiological Manhattan Project era materials” were uncovered Wednesday on the edge of DP Road during excavation being conducted for sewer infrastructure being installed to serve the Canyon Walk Apartment complex which is under construction.
The announcement comes less than a week after County Manager Harry Burgess briefed the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities board during a Zoom meeting on the events that have taken place since the unearthing of radioactive materials in February. See https://losalamosreporter.com/2020/06/21/burgess-briefs-rclc-board-on-dp-road-during-virtual-meeting/
A news release from County Public Information Officer Julie Habiger states that the site has been secured with no access allowed while an investigation is underway. The release states that the County is cooperating with Department of Energy/National Nuclear Safety Administration officials and “has been informed there is no threat to public health”.
“After an initial, similar incident in February, the County worked with DOE/NNSA to resume trenching for the lift station last week using construction resources provided by DOE/NNSA. Taking this precautionary step with technical expertise available on-site allowed DOE/NNSA to stop work and respond rapidly to this incident when it occurred,” the release states. “County officials will continue to be updated about this evolving situation and will provide more information as it becomes available.”
New Mexico Environment Department officials on June 17 gave the Department of Energy 30 days to to provide a schedule of preliminary screening plan (PSP) activities that “indicates that DOE understands the seriousness of this matter” including a timeframe for implementation for its implementation. See story
DOE/NNSA spokesperson Toni Chiri said in a statement late Thursday afternoon that during excavation work at the Middle DP Road Site Wednesday workers discovered “small amounts of uranium”.
“The material was sampled and is in a safe and stable configuration at the site. While this material is more concentrated than that found in nature, it does not pose a threat to human health. As a precaution, the excavation has been paused until a more detailed investigation of the area is completed and it is safe to resume work. As always, the safety of the public and our workers is paramount and we have taken steps to ensure Wednesday’s discovery poses no health risks. We are evaluating how and when to resume work,” Chiri said.