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DOE work continues near condos

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By The Staff

The Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration will continue to do some remediation work on Los Alamos Canyon.

And the residents who live in the Los Arboles Condominiums on Oppenheimer Drive don’t seem to mind a bit.

“There’s no problem, none at all,” said Jim Stetzer, the board president of the condo association. This is the third time they’ve come through here.”

Asked about the possibility of radioactive waste, Stetzer replied, “All the properties were cleared during the last check. Our requirement is that they can only have access by foot. All the test holes are hand dug.”

According to lab spokesman Fred DeSousa, the work is a continuation of the Upper Los Alamos Canyon Aggregate Area Phase II project, which began in 2011 under a work plan approved by the New Mexico Environment Department.

“This project is part of an on-going effort to complete sampling and cleanup within the historic footprint of the buildings, waste lines, and outfalls that were used during the Manhattan Project,” DeSousa said.

“Our efforts are now focused on PCBs – a set of chemicals commonly used during that era for several purposes, especially in electrical transformers; plutonium particles remaining after previous cleanup projects, and other substances noted in the work plan. None of the areas presents an immediate risk to people or the environment but some exceed ‘screening action levels,’ which require us to take further action.”

DeSousa said sampling and remediation has been completed on most private and Los Alamos County property.

“These areas meet residential regulatory standards. Additional sampling and cleanup is anticipated in locations of former outfalls and associated drainages,” he said. “These areas will also be remediated to residential and/or recreational standards.”

DeSousa said soil sampling is expected to be completed by the end of September. Sampling results will be used to define the areas of soil that will be removed in the final cleanup effort as additional funding becomes available in the coming year.

“We have been in regular communication with the property owners and others interested in the project, and those updates will continue as we move toward completion,” he said.

According to the lease agreement between DOE and the property owner, the objective of the proposed fieldwork is to characterize the extent of contamination and/or reduce risk associated with a former sanitary waste line, the Bailey Bridge landfill, and a former construction debris surface disposal site.

The agreement stipulates that work will continue until August of next year.

Work will take place Mondays through Fridays, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

DeSousa said the work being done is quite a bit of ways from the dam and reservoir.

“Generally near the top of the canyon and on canyon slopes starting around Oppenheimer Drive, with scattered sites going all the way down to near the Trinity Development site,” he said.