NMED Seeks Input on MDA B Cleanup Plan

NMED Seeks Input on MDA B Cleanup Plan

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) held a public meeting to discuss the cleanup of a six acre legacy waste dump at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), on December 7, 2006. The dump, named Material Disposal Area B (MDA B), is located just south of the Los Alamos town site, off DP Road across from many businesses and adjacent to a proposed site for residential housing.

MDA B was in operation from 1945 through 1948 as a multipurpose waste dump for chemical research for refining plutonium and plutonium metal production. No inventory records exist for the waste, however, MDA B is believed to contain both chemical and radioactive waste.

The waste at MDA B is buried in unlined trenches and much of it is believed to have been disposed of in cardboard or wooden boxes. LANL continues to dispose of low level radioactive waste in unlined trenches on site at Area G. They currently plan to expand Area G without the addition of a liner, despite state regulations.

Under the tentative cleanup plan for MDA B, DOE would remove all of the waste and contaminated soil in order to bring the site to the regulated residential level. This cleanup will take at least four years and may be completed by 2010. The plan states that the cleanup will be conducted beneath a tent, similar to those used to store waste destined for WIPP at Area G. The waste will be sorted and packaged for treatment and then transported to disposal sites at LANL or shipped off-site.

The inventory of the waste is not known, which could cause complications once cleanup begins. LANL has prepared an emergency response plan and is required to keep a copy on site. However, NMED does not review or approve this plan.

One of the concerns the community raised at the meeting was about the transportation of the waste after cleanup. The proposed plan does not provide the public with specific transportation routes. However, it states that at least four shipments a day will be taken off site. It is possible that this waste will be shipped to either Energy Solutions, formally known as Envirocare, a low level mixed waste dump in Utah or the Rio Rancho disposal site.

LANL is proposing to use commercial trucks to ship the waste. Therefore, any commercial truck route may be used. NMED does not have the authority to require a specific route.

NMED encourages the public to provide written comments regarding transportation routes or any other aspect of the cleanup plan. These comments must be submitted before January 26, 2007. Comments should be directed to:_ John Kieling, NMED Program Manager, Hazardous Waste Bureau, 2905 Rodeo Park Drive East, Building 1, Santa Fe, N.M. 87505. Kieling may be reached at (505) 476-6000 or john.kieling@state.nm.us.__After consideration of all written public comment, the NMED will approve, disapprove or modify the cleanup plan.

This CCNS News Update has been a continuation from last week, which focused on the proposed construction of residential housing on the land adjacent to MDA B. To read the first segment of this story, please click here.

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