Up for gab: NMED holds first listening session on LANL

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By Roger Snodgrass

SANTA FE – The “listening session” on Los Alamos National Laboratory Tuesday night at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center brought out much the same group of commentators as other public forums on this subject.

Recent opportunities for input have included a series of meetings on transformation of the nuclear complex. Those were preceded by formal hearings on the draft environmental impact statement for the laboratory site.

Officials of the New Mexico Environment Department, partnering with the New Mexico Community Foundation, seemed to be searching for a deeper understanding of how the surrounding communities feel about the nuclear weapons laboratory.

“The discussion is not limited to environmental issues,” said the state’s Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief James Bearzi, who facilitated the discussions. He opened the door to social economic, cultural and political issues as well, “and everything else in between.”

While the listening session was not specifically tied to the department’s regulatory function, Environment Secretary Ron Curry welcomed the group by reiterating his strong opposition to any hint of renegotiating the Consent Order, which underlies the department’s role in a comprehensive environmental clean-up program at the laboratory.

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