For immediate release 1/24/06
DOE Manager To Hear Advisory Board, Citizen Concerns Regarding Nuclear Disposal;
Secretive Disposal Plans Face Scrutiny, Censure
Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 or 505-577-8563
On Wednesday, January 25 (tomorrow), local Department of Energy (DOE) manager Mr. Ed Wilmot will address the Northern New Mexico Citizen Advisory Board (CAB) regarding the CAB’s 30+ unanswered recommendations to the DOE, along with numerous information requests which are likewise unanswered.
The meeting will be held in the Jemez Complex of the Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Avenue, from 1:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Mr. Wilmot will be at the lectern from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. After a break for dinner, public comment will commence at 6:00 pm. The agenda for the meeting can be found at http://www.nnmcab.org/.
One of the CAB’s key recommendations has been to end the practice of disposal of nuclear waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). This 9/28/05 recommendation can be found at http://www.nnmcab.org/recommendations/recommendation-2005-10.pdf.
For more information on the dump itself and expansion plans for it, see http://lasg.org/waste/lanl-waste-index.htm and linked pages.
The DOE’s current plans to expand LANL’s nuclear dump site, and their own required justifications and analyses of those plans, have so far been withheld from the public and the CAB, however, as discussed below.
Prior to the CAB’s recommendation for the most part, some 90 New Mexico organizations, 275 New Mexico businesses, the City of Santa Fe, 74 national and international organizations, and about 5,000 New Mexicans have also requested closure of Area G. The City of Taos has subsequently also joined the call to close the dump.
The New Mexico Attorney General’s office said, in July 2001 and subsequently that operation of LANL’s nuclear and chemical waste disposal site, called “Area G,” has been illegal since late 1985.
Tomorrow, members of the Study Group and others will be present to support the CAB’s recommendation to end nuclear disposal at LANL and to renew the call for transparency and accountability in DOE decisionmaking. There will be some new visual materials and summary handouts available.
The prospect of continued nuclear and chemical waste disposal in shallow pits on LANL’s narrow, relatively moist and deeply-fractured mesas, adjacent to springs and streams, upstream from public water supplies – and concurrent with what is already a greater than $1 billion dollar “cleanup” program – raises quite a few questions.
By way of background, more than 90% of the waste to be disposed in the expanded dump sites (of which there are now four: three at TA-54 and one much larger one at TA-67) is expected to be newly-generated waste, not waste generated from building demolition or environmental cleanup. Waste disposal rates for the coming 6+ decades are not expected to be much below those of the past 6+ decades (see http://lasg.org/waste/lanl-doewaste.htm and the “expanded operations” alternative chosen by DOE at http://lasg.org/waste/lanl-waste.htm.) Much of this new waste, in turn, is expected to be made in LANL’s expanding plutonium operations.
Just a few of the issues facing DOE, the LANL contractor, the CAB, the state of New Mexico, and the public are:
Among the many technical issues in play:
o The period over which risks and hazards will be evaluated;
o The duration of assumed site control and constraints on intrusion scenarios after that;
o Whether future residential and agriculture land uses will be considered;
o What range of climate assumptions will be included;
o What assumptions about fracture flow will be included; etc.