Senate panel hears plans for cleanup complex

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By The Staff

Los Alamos National Laboratory will receive $212 million in recovery act funding and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, $172 million in the national campaign to create jobs quickly while accelerating reduction of contamination left over from the Cold War.

Nationally, the Energy Department will spend $6 billion as part of President Obama’s stimulus package to clean up nuclear weapons sites at Cold War-era facilities, with more than half the money going to sites in Washington and South Carolina, a senior official told a Senate Armed Forces subcommittee Wednesday.

The government will focus on decontaminating and demolishing tainted facilities, removing radioactive waste and trying to restore soil and groundwater, Ines Triay, the department's acting assistant secretary for environmental management, told a Senate Armed Services panel.

New Mexico’s total of $384 million in recovery act funds through the Department of Energy will be used to decontaminate and demolish 35 buildings, reducing the cleanup footprint at LANL by 260,000 square feet, and accelerating preparations and shipments of transuranic waste from a number of sites around the country.

Triay said more than $1.9 billion will be spent on cleanup at the Hanford site, a former plutonium production complex on the Columbia River in southeastern Washington.

The site produced plutonium used in the first nuclear bomb. The government said there are more than 53 million gallons of radioactive and chemically hazardous waste in 177 underground storage tanks there along with 2,300 tons of spent nuclear fuel and nine tons of plutonium.

In South Carolina, the government will spend more than $1.6 billion at Savannah River Site to shut down nuclear reactors and ship more than 4,500 cubic meters of waste out of the state.

Triay told the Senate panel that cleanup projects have been delayed to pay for more urgent programs. She said the total cost estimate for necessary cleanup is $14.3 billion.

Other states receiving parts of the $6 billion in nuclear cleanup money include:

• Tennessee: $755 million for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to demolish and dispose of uranium enrichment plant buildings, buildings from the era of the Manhattan Project and highly contaminated uranium processing buildings; and restore soil to protect area groundwater.

• Idaho: $468 million for the Idaho National Laboratory to demolish excess nuclear and radiological facilities.

• New York: $148 million for projects at facilities in Brookhaven, West Valley and Niskayuna.

• Ohio: $138 million for demolition and remediation work at Miamisburg and Portsmouth.

• Utah: $108 million for waste removal along Colorado River.

• Illinois: $99 million for work at Argonne National Laboratory.

• Kentucky: $79 million for work at a uranium facility in Paducah.

• California: $62 million for work at the National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and the Energy Technology Engineering Center west of San Fernando Valley.

• Nevada: $44 million to install groundwater monitoring gear and demolish buildings at the Nevada Test Site.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.