BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A proposed new lease between Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club (LASC) and the Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has the LASC in a quandary. The LASC has been leasing about 109 acres from NNSA since the mid-1960s and the current ground lease is due for renewal in March 2022.
LASC members were to meet Thursday evening to discuss the ramifications of the proposed lease.
A section of the proposed new leases states that “not later than two years prior to the expiration of the ground lease or within 120 days of notice of termination from (NNSA), the (LASC) shall provide an exit plan for removal”.
“(LASC) shall restore the premises to the condition it was in on the effective date prior to the structures and improvements being installed. If (LASC) fails to make such restoration by the 120 days, (NNSA) shall have the right, but not the obligation, to restore the premises at LASC’s expense. During this period of restoration all obligations, including the (LASC’s) obligation to pay rent, shall remain in force and effect,” the proposed lease states.
NNSA is proposing a seven-year lease term with a five-year option. LASC board members have been reviewing the proposed lease with great concern. The obvious question is how LASC could ever afford environmental remediation of the 109-acre property. The remediation issue has never been included in former leases and members are concerned about how LASC could determine what pre-existing legacy waste on the property which is part of a large portion of Rendija Canyon that is included in the 2016 Consent Order between DOE and the New Mexico Environment Department.
LASC members have expressed concern to the Los Alamos Reporter that daunting job of remediation would be beyond the club’s capability and that this requirement in the new lease will mean that the club will be forced to close at the end of the current lease. In agreements proposed to Los Alamos County Council connected to the transfer of other land in Rendija Canyon to the County, DOE has asked for inclusion of a condition that the land not be disturbed beyond a depth of six inches. LASC members tell the Reporter they are concerned that they would find munitions. It was not clear to some members the Reporter spoke to whether the required remediation would be from the effective date of the new lease and how the extent of remediation of the property would be determined.
LASC members have indicated that if they were to enter into the proposed lease agreement, there would be no guarantee that a new lease would be available to them in 12 years and that the cost of remediating the present site would bankrupt LASC.
The proposed lease states that NNSA has also disclosed all information it has on the state of contamination and remedial activities if any.
“(LASC) has had the opportunity to examine this information and to perform at its own expense any additional investigations of the LASC, environmental or otherwise, that it chose to undertake,” the proposed lease notes.
The Reporter requested copies of correspondence between NNSA and LASC from NNSA, however an NNSA spokesperson responded that “NNSA is not at liberty to release pre-decisional correspondence regarding lease discussions with the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club”.
The Reporter reached out to LASC president Tom Turner for comments but did not receive a response.