Cold war administration building coming down

-A A +A
By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory will mark the occasion of its first stimulus-funded demolition with a ceremony Dec. 1.

The focus of attention will be a two-story, 22,000 square-foot building in Technical Area 21, also known as the DP Site. TA-21 is located at the end of DP Rd. on the eastern edge of the townsite and south of the county airport.

The demolition is part of the laboratory’s $212 million environmental cleanup and groundwater monitoring project with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Over the next two years 13 buildings will be demolished and decommissioned in the western portion of DP Site with a footprint of 105,000 square feet.

The largest and westernmost structure at the site is named Building 21-210. It was built in 1964 and primarily used for administration.

“A lot of pre-work has gone into preparing for the demolition,” said Fred DeSousa, a laboratory spokesperson. “You have to remove all the equipment for the buildings, take out the duct work, asbestos and lead paint. It’s better to get that out first, rather than try to pick it out of the rubble pile after the fact.”

A number of dignitaries have been invited for the ceremony, DeSousa said including New Mexico Environment Secretary Ron Curry, congressional staff, DOE and laboratory officials, as well as county and pueblo officials.

An environmental document prepared by the laboratory describing demolition plans at TA-21 mentions that the area has some potential for reuse under the property transfer law, but because of residual contamination is not currently planned for transfer to either the Los Alamos County or to the Department of Interior in trust for San Ildefonso Pueblo.

It is subject of a number of planning efforts, however, to identify options, such as industrial uses, after remedial actions have been completed.

DP Site was a center for both weapons work and non-weapons work, DeSousa said, like the heat source for the Cassini spacecraft, the plutonium-238 used in the early cardiac pacemakers, and the first americium-241 used in smoke detectors.

It was also the area where second generation weapons were built for the U.S. nuclear stockpile, weapons that were tested in the Pacific and the Nevada Test Site.

DeSousa said Building 210 was originally named the Plutonium Research Support Building. It also housed an electronics lab and several light laboratories and a conference rooms.