Gov. discusses waste shipment process

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LANL: Accelerating TRU movement to WIPP is a priority

Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico Environment Department Secretary David Martin met Tuesday with senior U.S. Department of Energy officials to discuss high priority issues for the ongoing environmental clean-up efforts at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The meeting served as an opportunity for Martinez to meet Don Cook, deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s defense programs, David Huizenga, Acting Assistant Secretary for DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. Los Alamos Site Office Manager Kevin Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary Frank Marcinowski of the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Assistant Manager for Environment George Rael at LASO also participated in the meeting.
The governor told all parties at the meeting that the acceleration of transuranic (TRU) waste shipments from LANL to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad is a top priority of her environmental agenda.  
She also reiterated the importance of groundwater protection efforts and ensuring that storm water runoff from LANL and surrounding areas does not adversely affect drinking water systems, including the Buckman Diversion Project in Santa Fe.
“It is imperative that this administration works closely with the highest levels of management within the Department of Energy in order to maintain a cooperative relationship that advances New Mexico’s environmental priorities,” Martinez said. “In light of the recent Las Conchas Fire, it has become more important than ever to reduce the highest priority risks posed by wastes at LANL.”
Secretary Martin said, “We are very pleased with the level of cooperation from the U.S.
Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory to address some serious concerns we have with clean-up efforts at the lab in the face of likely lean federal budgets in the near term.”
The meeting included discussions on the challenges from potential federal funding cuts. DOE representatives acknowledged significant budget cuts will require reviewing priorities for environmental clean-up at LANL.
“Until the House and Senate FY12 spending bills are reconciled and signed by the president, we cannot fully assess the impact of the Department of Energy budget on these critical operations in New Mexico,” Martin said, adding that the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL will work together to achieve maximum clean-up efforts on limited funds.
“We are pleased to have had an opportunity to directly hear from Gov. Martinez about the need to focus our cleanup efforts on the highest risk priorities at the Los Alamos site,” Smith said. “The Cerro Grande and Las Conchas fires clearly highlighted the importance of removing the transuranic wastes from the site. The governor clearly has made this a top priority.  We appreciated the opportunity to discuss these concerns with the governor.”
The NMED and DOE agreed to begin a series of discussions for moving forward on the governor’s clean up priorities.