A bulldozer removing debris in a large dirt field
Cleanup of the Middle DP Road Site in Los Alamos included removal of more than 5,917 cubic yards of waste and debris for disposal.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — The EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) and Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos (N3B), the legacy cleanup contractor at Los Alamos National Laboratory, have completed field work at the Middle DP Road (MDPR) Site.

The project is important to local officials, who plan to develop the area in Los Alamos.

The completed field work involved investigation and excavation of contaminated material for packaging and shipment to an offsite licensed disposal facility. Last month, EM-LA submitted the MDPR Site assessment report to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).

Employees taking samples at a work site

Work at the Middle DP Road Site in Los Alamos included air monitoring, site investigation, contaminated debris and soil removal, soil and debris sampling, confirmatory sampling and laboratory analysis, backfilling excavated areas with clean soil, waste disposition, reporting to Los Alamos County and stakeholder interaction.

Before submission, the report was reviewed and verified by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, which provides world-class expertise in scientific and technical reviews, and the evaluation of environmental contamination. NMED’s approval of the report is the final step in closing the cleanup effort and before Los Alamos County resumes development of the property.

“Cleanup of the Middle DP Road Site is of great importance to Los Alamos County in their economic development efforts,” said EM-LA Manager Michael Mikolanis. “Despite challenges, EM-LA and N3B remained dedicated to successful cleanup to ensure the site is safe for future county use, while maintaining accountability and implementing the cleanup budget effectively.”

The MDPR Site consists of two parcels of land DOE conveyed to Los Alamos County in 2007 and 2018. In February 2020, a Los Alamos County Public Utilities subcontractor encountered contaminated Manhattan Project-era laboratory debris during excavation of a new sewer line. The county immediately contacted DOE, and N3B placed the site in a safe configuration.

Radiologically contaminated materials, including metal items, debris and glass, were removed from the site. The contamination was identified as early Manhattan Project-era uranium and plutonium at levels that did not pose a public health risk.

2 large dumpsters in the middle of a work field site
Environmental remediation activities were part of the field work completed at the Middle DP Road Site in Los Alamos.

Since N3B began cleanup work at the site in April 2021, more than 5,917 cubic yards of waste and debris — approximately 370 roll-off containers — were removed for disposal. Project work included air monitoring, site investigation, contaminated debris and soil removal, soil and debris sampling, confirmatory sampling and laboratory analysis, backfilling excavated areas with clean soil, waste disposition, reporting to Los Alamos County and stakeholder interaction, culminating in cleanup to applicable regulatory standards to ensure the site was closed without controls.

“Middle DP Road is in the heart of the Los Alamos industrial district and very near downtown,” said N3B President and General Manager Brad Smith. “We’re pleased field work is done. This is a visible cleanup success that is shared by nearby business owners as much as it is by the rest of the community.”

-Contributor: Todd Nelson