LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Los Alamos and northern New Mexico citizens, advocacy groups and members of the media attended the Environmental Management Cleanup Forum June 16 at the historic Fuller Lodge, part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
More than 50 in-person and virtual attendees joined the event, which is held three times a year by the EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and its cleanup contractor Newport News Nuclear BWXT-Los Alamos (N3B). The forum is a cornerstone of stakeholder engagement for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) legacy cleanup mission.
Los Alamos County Council Chair Randall Ryti gave welcoming remarks for the meeting and emphasized the importance of continuing to offer a virtual option for public forums.
EM-LA leadership provided forum participants with updates on LANL legacy cleanup progress, and Troy Thomson, an N3B subject matter expert, presented an overview on cleanup of areas within a single watershed or canyon across LANL containing soil and debris contaminated from legacy operations during the Manhattan Project and Cold War era.
Brooke Baker, an N3B field technician and recent graduate of the N3B Nuclear Operator Apprenticeship Program, shared her experience conducting legacy cleanup work.
During a presentation on recent cleanup accomplishments, EM-LA Manager Michael Mikolanis highlighted two top priorities: the advancement of operations to control and further characterize a hexavalent chromium groundwater plume beneath LANL, and the completed shipments of transuranic waste (TRU) from Technical Area 54 (TA-54) Area G. He also discussed progress on a project to retrieve corrugated metal pipes to remove below-ground TRU waste.
Mikolanis shared his perspective on the recent wildfires in New Mexico.
“The Cerro Pelado fire was my first wildfire experience, and it was a good reminder that safety is the foundation of everything we do for the legacy cleanup mission — the safety of our workers, the public and the environment,” Mikolanis said.
Mikolanis also highlighted EM-LA’s role in the Justice40 Initiative, a key priority for EM.
“While we await further guidance from the Office of Management and Budget, EM-LA is actively engaging with stakeholders, pueblos in northern New Mexico, Los Alamos County, local communities and the public,” Mikolanis said. “As part of our Justice40 Initiative efforts, we will be conducting listening sessions to obtain feedback and values on questions specifically related to the legacy cleanup.”
The second half of the forum was dedicated to a public comment period, which focused on attendees’ input on cleanup priorities, and questions regarding the Justice40 Initiative, cleanup of soil and debris from legacy operations, and work and safety at TA-54 Area G. Area G is used to store, characterize and remediate LANL’s legacy transuranic and low-level waste before it is shipped offsite for permanent disposal.
EM-LA and N3B is set to conduct the next Environmental Management Cleanup Forum in the fall.
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