Mar 13, 2008
SANTA FE—Los Alamos National Laboratory should clean up its "legacy of pollution" before it produces more plutonium bomb parts, New Mexico's environment secretary said Thursday.
Ron Curry said in a statement it's "unconscionable" that the U.S. Department of Energy and the lab's operators are considering funding additional plutonium pit production "while at the same time refusing to put the required funding towards cleanup."
"Before it looks at new missions, the lab must meet its cleanup commitments to the people of New Mexico," Curry said.
He issued the statement as the National Nuclear Security Administration holds a series of hearings on a proposal to consolidate operations from eight nuclear weapons sites around the country, creating "centers of excellence."
Los Alamos essentially would be reduced to nuclear design and engineering, and become the plutonium manufacturing center for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
The state Environment Department has wrangled with LANL over cleanup at lab sites, and has fined the lab's operator for dragging its feet.
The Department of Energy has informed the state agency that the lab's budget for next year won't be sufficient to meet the cleanup milestones outlined in a 2005 agreement, according to Deputy Secretary Jon Goldstein.
"Addressing and correcting LANL's legacy of pollution should be job number one for the lab," Curry said.