Another truck uncovered at TA-21

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By John Severance

Workers cleaning up Material Disposal Area B at Technical Area 21 off DP Road have finished 80 percent of their excavation.
And surprise, surprise, guess what excavators have unearthed in the past month?
Another truck.
“This one was really mangled,” said Patricia Jones, who works in the environmental programs division for the Recovery Act projects at LANL. “Nobody took a photo of it.”
There were photos taken of another truck unearthed a couple of months ago that were published in the Los Alamos Monitor.
For years rumors have been circulating about a truck, which hauled the original device to the Trinity Bomb site in 1945 and was later buried in a landfill at what is now known as TA-21 just off DP Road.
Jones said the second truck was located pretty close to the first truck that was unearthed.
When asked if it was “the truck,” Jones laughed and said, “I don’t know.”
Jones spent Tuesday calling on businesses along DP Road to give an update on the project.
Three areas of MDA-B that already have been excavated and had waste removed have been found to have trace amounts of radioactive contamination. These areas are scheduled for open-air remediation.
“We are just waiting for a still day when the wind is not blowing,” Jones said.
The three areas are located behind the two moveable enclosures and between a moveable and fixed enclosure.
Jones said crews will use an excavator and hand tools to remove the soil and because of their proximity to the work, will wear full protective gear including supplied air. Crews will monitor the level of contamination during the operation with air monitors at the worksite and work closely with air monitoring personnel to ensure public safety.
“Our absolute No. 1 priority is the safety of the public and our workers,” Jones said.
Jones said the trace amounts pose no hazard to the public, but “project management determined that removing the contaminated soil is the responsible thing to do.”
In all, about 20 cubic yards of soil will be removed in each location. And Jones said, “if the contamination in all three areas was gathered together, it would be about the size of a grain of sand in a wheelbarrow full of soil. Similar trace amounts of contamination are cleaned up in other areas of Los Alamos.”
Workers have unearthed some other items besides the parts of two trucks. Also uncovered were two artillery shells, jars of beryllium, a toothbrush, a 1946 calendar, and an empty bottle of Dan’s Whiskey. All items were packaged and disposed of as low-level waste.
The project’s funding of about $90 million is provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which is helping accelerate environmental cleanup across the Department of Energy’s weapons complex.
The landfill is known as Material Disposal Area B. The six-acre site contains a series of trenches used from 1944 to 1948 to dispose of hazardous and non-hazardous waste from Manhattan Project-era labs and buildings.