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LANL preps for TA39 cleanup

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By Tris DeRoma

The Los Alamos National Laboratory will begin testing soil at the bottom of North Ancho Canyon for two weeks in June, in preparation for a cleanup of waste left over from three former storage areas at the site.  

Areas to be targeted include a section that was used for storing capacitors and two former waste stockpile areas. The area, because of its isolation and steep walls, is used to test explosives.

The soil, according to studies and reports done by LANL, contained higher-than-normal concentrations of PCPs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Once sampling has determined the extent of the waste’s location, the next step will be to remove a foot of soil at the site. If further testing still reveals higher-than-normal concentrations of the waste, the process will be repeated until all soil samples show concentrations that are small enough not to endanger human health.

“The accelerated corrective action (ACA) planned at Technical Area 39 by the Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office and its contractor, Los Alamos National Security, is moving forward with the availability of funding,”

Environmental Management Field Office Spokesman Steve Horak said. “This ACA, reviewed and approved by the New Mexico Environment Department, will remove polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminated soil from two waste stockpile areas resulting from a previous remediation and a small storage area. Field work is scheduled to begin in the middle of June 2017 and last through July 2017.”

The work activity is expected to take place in an area no larger than 1.5 acres, with about 5 percent of the activity taking place on a nearby, 100-year floodplain.

“Any disturbed areas will be revegetated with an appropriate native seed mix or plants within 30 days or at the beginning of the growing season after construction is completed,” said a LANL report assessing the impact the remediation will have on the area. Ancho Canyon is one of the major canyons in the area that drain into the Rio Grande River.

The sampling and remediation is expected to continue through the summer until mid-August.
Tech Area 39 is located on the bottom of Ancho Canyon off State Road 4  between the towns of Los Alamos and White Rock.