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Key LANL programs funded with spending package

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By Tris DeRoma

Several of Los Alamos National Laboratory defense and environmental program received vital funding with  the $1.1 trillion spending package that was passed by Congress May 4 and signed by President Donald Trump May 5.
The funds in the appropriations bill will last through September.
LANL’s legacy cleanup, the replacement of LANL’s Chemical and Metallurgy Research Center and the life-extension program of the B-61 nuclear weapons program received funding.
“This bipartisan agreement makes robust investments in our economy and will create and preserve jobs in New Mexico at a time when we truly need them. New Mexico’s national laboratories, military bases, and WIPP will all receive critical federal investments”, said Sen. Heinrich (D-NM).
LANL’s legacy waste cleanup operation, received $194 million in funding, A $9 million increase over last year’s 2016 cleanup budget. This year marks the first whole year that Los Alamos has requested funding using a “lifecycle cost estimate” document, a key document U.S. Congress uses to determine how much funding it should give to a nuclear waste site on an annual basis. Los Alamos was the last site in the DOE nuclear complex to receive one.  Now that it has one, it’s going to enable the northern New Mexico’s congressional representatives to present to the congressional Appropriations Committee every year a clear, concise estimate of how much in annual funding Los Alamos is going to need to accomplish the cleanup for that year. “legacy waste” is mostly waste that occurred during the Manhattan Project and the Cold War at the site.
Sandia and Los Alamos National laboratories are working on ways to extend the B-61 nuclear missile’s life by at least 20 years.
In the May appropriations bill, the B-61’s life extension program received $616 million. It has been part of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal since 1963. Sandia is working on adding a guidance system to the tail and LANL’s role is to update the weapon’s other components.
The first completed unit is due in March of 2020. The project’s estimated overall cost is $8.1 billion. The National Nuclear Safety Administration is managing the life extension program of the B-61 program.
LANL also received $159.6 million for its Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project.
LANL will receive $196 million to keep operating.
“... This bill includes essential resources for our national labs, military bases, and public lands, and it invests in the health and education of Native Americans and families across the state. This budget agreement funds critical initiatives that make New Mexico healthier, safer, and more economically competitive, and I’m proud to have helped it get over the finish line,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said.
While Los Alamos County’s congressional representatives voted in favor of the bill, others in the state did not. Republican Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-2) did not vote for the appropriations bill May 3 when it was in the House. Pearce said he thought the bill was too “frivolous.” in light of the national debt.
“As I have said before, we must gain control of our nation’s frivolous spending habits so we can once and for all tackle our nation’s growing debt crisis,” Pearce said in a statement. “We have significant work to do to set our State and national economies back on the right track. For me, this means ensuring New Mexico has the budget certainty it needs and deserves. This bill was not the answer.”

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