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In my opinion, the point made recently by New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry, as reported by the Los Alamos Monitor on March 27 (“Head wants federal agency removed”), is well taken.
First, a little reminder of the competing roles of NNSA/DOE and EM/DOE in the cleanup of legacy wastes at LANL and throughout the U.S. nuclear weapons complex: On March 1, 2000, NNSA/DOE was assigned by Congress the jobs of managing the nation’s ongoing nuclear weapons enterprise, ensuring the availability of nuclear power plants for U.S. Navy ships and working to reduce global threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology.
But, NNSA/DOE is mandated to perform tasks related to the cleanup of so-called legacy wastes at the nuclear weapons sites only incidentally to any of these other primary tasks. Instead, cleanup of legacy wastes is assigned by DOE to its Environmental Management (EM/DOE) unit; presently, EM/DOE is expending approximately $7 billion each year out of the DOE $27 billion annual budget, approximately $200 million being spent at LANL (all numbers exclude ARRA funds.)
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