2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 2 Dec 2002 17:10:45 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] State Mandates Cleanup at Lab
New Mexico
State Mandates Cleanup at Lab
By JEFF TOLLEFSON | The New Mexican 12/01/2002
The New Mexico Environment Department last week issued an order that
commits Los Alamos National Laboratory to a schedule for investigation
and remediation activities throughout the 43-square-mile facility.

The lab faces penalties and lawsuits if it doesn't comply.

Until now, the lab has essentially run its own cleanup program,
occasionally prodded by state regulators. With this move, state
officials say, New Mexico is following in the footsteps of other states
that have placed legally binding cleanup orders on nuclear facilities.

At least one nuclear watchdog group is hailing the Environment
Department for finally stepping up to the plate and asserting its
authority over the nuclear weapons laboratory - and doing it while
defending a lawsuit brought by the lab in federal court challenging
state authority to mandate cleanup.

"We salute the Environment Department for having the guts to issue this
final order in the face of the Los Alamos lawsuit," said Jay Coghlan,
who heads Nuclear Watch. "They definitely stuck to their guns."

The Environment Department has encountered charges that the 300-page
order is heavy on investigation and light on actual cleanup activities,
but Coghlan said such criticism is unwarranted. The establishment of a
strict, enforceable schedule will make the Environment Department and
the lab accountable to the public, he said.

Laboratory officials call the order duplicative and unnecessary, saying
they will continue their own "accelerated" cleanup plan while continuing
to fight the draft state order in federal court.

"As part of our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship, the
laboratory believes it is more appropriate to use funding to clean up
areas contaminated by Cold War and earlier operations than to focus
those resources on duplicative studies," Jim Holt, associate director
for operations, said in a prepared statement this week. Laboratory
officials could not be reached for further comment.

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