Apr 14, 2008

Cap or Carry? Forum focuses on Area G closure

By ROGER SNODGRASS, Los Alamos Monitor Editor

The deadline is still about eight years away, but getting to the end of the list of cleanup chores at Los Alamos National Laboratory is about to require some agonizing decisions.

To get the public up to speed and involved in those decisions, the Northern New Mexico Citizen’s Advisory Board (NNMCAB) will host in Santa Fe another forum on Area G, the controversial radioactive and mixed-waste landfill at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
This time the educational forum will focus on the range of options under consideration for closing out the dump, with implications that extend far into the future.

“We’re getting very close to LANL making a firm, formal recommendation on what to do,” said NNMCAB chair J.D. Campbell in a telephone interview Friday. “What’s done over the next few years will remain for the next hundreds and thousands of years.”

Campbell calls the process for deciding the fate of Area G, “the most important closure activity for LANL.”

He said the LANL representatives would present a range of options, from designing an engineered cap over the landfill that would leave the waste in place to digging the whole thing up and hauling it somewhere else.

Three years ago, when the advisory board’s first forum on Area G took up the subject, Cambell said, the public clearly favored the removal option.

“We want to explain to the public what is involved if even a portion is dug up and transported elsewhere,” he said. “It is expensive, complicated and there are many time-related issues.”

He said a lot of people don’t realize how many “hundreds of thousands” of truckloads and truck trips and general disruption that would create.

The closure of Area G is the last, the biggest and most difficult cleanup milestone under the comprehensive environmental cleanup and remediation agreement worked out between the state and the laboratory.

Many other factors may become involved, including the continuing battle to fund the cleanup project, despite commitments and now threats of fines for missing milestones.
Area G is also known as the Low-Level Radioactive Solid Waste Storage and Disposal Area. Occupying 66 acres of Mesita del Buey, between Pajarito Canyon and Canada del Buey, it is located in Technical Area 54, north of Pajarito Road.

During the forum representatives of the laboratory and the Department of Energy environmental programs will provide the latest information about Area G, what it contains and how the various types of waste are stored there now.

Dave McInroy, a LANL program director will discuss in detail each of the available options for restoration or closure of Area G, including risks, costs, schedules and regulations, according to the meeting agenda.

A spokesperson for San Ildefonso Pueblo will discuss the topic from the point of view of the closest neighboring pueblo community.

A poster session will take place from 4-6 p.m. Wednesday in the Jemez Complex at the Santa Fe Community College. The program runs from 6-9 p.m., including a question-and-answer period.

CAB Forum on Closure Alternatives for LANL Material Disposal Area G.
Date: Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Time: 4PM - 9PM MDT
Category: Public Meeting
For information please call the CAB office at (505) 989-1662.


Eric said...

A small question.

What credence should I put in a plan that lasts hundreds or thousands of years when DOE has a 1 year funding cycle, DOE itself has only existed for about 30 years, nuclear fission has only been known for about 70 years, the U.S. and George Washington's wooden teeth have only existed for 231 years, and 2,000 years ago we had the Roman Empire?

Anonymous said...

LANL: The Environmental Story

Can we change the channel Pinky/Jim/whoever.

A blog should keep everyone asking questions, not just one-topic groups.

There has to be scandel out there somewhere???

Frank Young said...

There is. I'm working on a post right now.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know whether these public meetings have any impact, or are they just window dressing?

Anonymous said...

public meetings are to gather data to decide if decisions already made can be gotten away with.

Anonymous said...

"public meetings are to gather data to decide if decisions already made can be gotten away with." ~ 4/14/08 9:52 PM

I think this is one of the great truths of our time.

Anonymous said...

"To get the public up to speed and involved in those decisions, the Northern New Mexico Citizen’s Advisory Board (NNMCAB) will host in Santa Fe another forum on Area G"

If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you. This is the same outfit the DOE disbanded several years ago and reconstituted with its own hand-picked puppets. Don't you recall the contoversy that resulted...the lawsuit? Nah, probably not. We have selective memory around these parts. Back to sleep now. Zzzzzzzz...