Senators welcome LANL cleanup funds

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By The Staff

An extra $17 million for environmental cleanup activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been cleared for release, the Department of Energy informed New Mexico senators Thursday.

The funding was contained in a defense bill containing supplemental appropriations for the current fiscal year.

Sen. Pete Domenici’s (R-N.M.) announcement said he had worked to secure the funding within a recently enacted emergency supplemental bill and that it would allow progress in environmental remediation at the lab.

“The new characterization wells that can be drilled using this funding are an important step for the lab to meet its remediation goals,” Domenici said.

Shortfalls in the environmental cleanup budget have threatened stipulated milestones in the consent order between the laboratory and the state.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said in a release that he was pleased to see the money released.

“My view is that we need to be setting aside more federal funding so that we can make greater strides in environmental cleanup at DOE sites,” Bingaman said. “But I’m glad this funding has been released for LANL.”

Domenici also noted that the Senate Energy and Water Development Subcommittee earlier this month gained full-committee approval of its FY2009 bill that would provide $245 million in DOE Environmental Management and Cleanup funding to LANL. The Senate funding level is $83 million over the FY2009 budget request and approximately $76 million over the newly adjusted FY2008 funding level.