Large drilling well going into the ground
EM crews drill a well for hexavalent chromium plume characterization and monitoring to meet a New Mexico Environment Department Consent Order Appendix B Fiscal Year milestone.

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – The EM Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) successfully completed several key legacy cleanup accomplishments in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, including meeting all regulatory milestones, exceeding transuranic (TRU) waste shipment goals and wrapping up field work for a priority cleanup project.

“The fiscal year 2023 achievements tell the story of real progress,” EM-LA Manager Michael Mikolanis said. “We have much more work to do, but we’re on a positive path here in Los Alamos, which sets the stage for an even more productive fiscal year 2024.”

Men stand by a table with a laptop on it in the middle of the field
Sampling activity at Middle DP Road Site prior to field work completion.

EM-LA and Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos (N3B), the legacy cleanup contractor at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), met all 14 of the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) Appendix B regulatory milestones agreed to with the New Mexico Environment Department through the 2016 Compliance Order on Consent that guides cleanup activities at LANL.

The milestones relate to hexavalent chromium plume characterization; Material Disposal Area investigation plans and a submitted preferred alternative for remediation; investigations of aggregate areas, which are canyons and drainage areas throughout LANL; and other ongoing initiatives to protect water quality and remediate contaminated soil.

Yellow, white, blue and black pipes
EM crews prepare to cut a 20-foot-long corrugated metal pipe containing cemented transuranic waste into five pieces to be loaded into standard waste boxes for characterization, shipment and ultimate disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

Additional FY23 cleanup highlights include:

  • Completing 59 shipments of TRU waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for disposal, beating an EM FY23 goal of 40 shipments.
  • Disposing of more than 4,300 cubic meters of TRU, mixed and low-level radioactive, hazardous and other waste.
  • Completing work at two aggregate areas: North Ancho Canyon and Threemile Canyon.
  • Conducting retrieval and initiating size-reduction activities for a set of buried corrugated metal pipes containing TRU waste to prepare them for shipment and disposal at WIPP.
  • Completing field work at the Middle DP Road Site, a project critical to economic development for Los Alamos County.
  • Treating nearly 42 million gallons of hexavalent chromium-contaminated groundwater.

“I’m proud of the hard work and dedication of the Los Alamos legacy cleanup workforce in achieving our accomplishments for FY23,” said N3B President and General Manager Brad Smith. “We’re establishing a strong foundation of safe performance. We’re excited to begin FY24 more focused than ever on maintaining a safety conscious work environment and staying on a path of continuous improvement.”

-Contributor: Brian Leugs