ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico regulators on Wednesday unveiled a draft proposal aimed at getting the federal government to clean up tons of hazardous waste and contamination left behind by decades of nuclear research and development at one of the nation's premier laboratories.
The proposal comes after missteps by Los Alamos National Laboratory resulted in a radiation leak in February 2014 that derailed the federal government's multibillion-dollar cleanup effort at the northern New Mexico lab and other defense-related sites across the country.
New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn outlined the proposal Wednesday, saying the goal of the new consent order is to accelerate cleanup and leverage more federal dollars for the work.
Flynn said the current order, which was signed by the state and the U.S. Department of Energy in 2005, is outdated and hasn't been working.
Criticisms have been focused on its piecemeal approach and long-term goals and deadlines that were missed.
"This is our effort to get the process moving forward," Flynn said. "We've tried to make it more flexible."
That's one reason Flynn said the department didn't want to include a final date for finishing all the cleanup work at Los Alamos.