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NMED listening session prompts earful

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By Roger Snodgrass

Los Alamos County officials and county residents got a few things off their chest Tuesday night at a meeting that was billed as a listening session.

The New Mexico Environment Department held another in what they expect to be multiple sessions in communities in and around Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief James Bearzi, whose relationship with Los Alamos has mostly to do with enforcing a court order on environmental cleanup, heard a few things that don’t always get said in public meetings.

One was, stop confusing Los Alamos National Laboratory and Los Alamos County.

“It’s important that the state recognize that the lab is the lab and the county is the county,” said County Councilor Mike Wheeler.

His complaint had to do with why the New Mexico Environment Department didn’t stick up for Los Alamos County this week, when the Santa Fe City Council took up the question of whether to accept solid waste from Los Alamos in the Caja del Rio regional landfill.

“It was important for Los Alamos because it would save a lot of money,” Wheeler said, “but nobody was there from NMED who could vouch for the county’s waste.”

Santa Fe’s governing body postponed the decision for later in the month.