Environmental bill coming due

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State, federal and tribal council assess damages

By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos National Laboratory faces a new and potentially costly environmental appraisal, this one to determine real damages and whether there are lost resources that must be recovered.

A Natural Resources Trustee Council this week delivered a first decision clearing the way for a formal Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) at the lab.

 “Releases of a wide variety of hazardous substances have occurred over a broad geographic area and over many decades of site operations,” the trustees concluded in the executive summary an initial survey. “Hazardous substances are known to have dispersed from or migrated off the LANL sites. Thus a range of technical and legal issues will need to be addressed in subsequent stages of the NRDA.”

 “The first stage was a preliminary screening analysis to determine if we should continue through this process,” said George Rael, environmental projects manager for the Los Alamos Site Office of the National Nuclear Security Administration in an interview Wednesday.

“There was enough information,” he said. “Do we need to move to the next phase? The answer is yes, we do.”

The council’s preliminary evaluation came to the conclusion that three minimal prerequisites had been met.

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