ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — New Mexico's top environmental regulator says it could take the federal government another decade and more than $4 billion to clean up the hazardous waste and contamination remaining at one of the nation's premier nuclear weapons laboratories.
Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn provided the estimate Wednesday to state lawmakers as he outlined proposed changes to a consent order that guides cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
It's been more than a decade since New Mexico and the U.S. Energy Department first signed the order. Flynn told lawmakers that it's time to move from investigating contaminated sites at the northern New Mexico lab to doing real work.
"Everyone is very eager to move forward and I think the priorities of the department as well as the communities are all in line," Flynn said. "We want to accelerate cleanup and we want to try to leverage more funding for cleanup. How we get there, there are differences of opinion, but I think we all share those same goals."
The Environment Department is reviewing roughly 30 public comments received over the last 60 days, but it's unclear when a final decision on the order will be made.