Contractor to submit report on RDX to state in summer

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By Tris DeRoma

At a Friday meeting with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, contractors in charge of legacy clean up at Los Alamos National Laboratory said the company plans to submit a report about a toxic chemical that has reached the regional aquifer to the state next summer.

A project manager for the contractor, N3B, said the company will soon have a procedural plan to clean up RDX, a toxic chemical that is contained in a spill that is decades-old at the lab’s Tech Area 16.

Project Manager Pat McGuire said his company plans to submit a report next summer to the New Mexico Environment Department detailing all that the company knows about the spill, and how it is affecting the regional aquifer thousands of feet below the surface.

“This report is going to summarize a decade of information that has been gathered on RDX and its nature and extent in the environment,” McGuire told the coalition.

Included in the report will be a model that will predict the migration of the contamination within the aquifer.

“Based on that information, and working collaboratively with NMED, decisions will be made in terms of whether we go into a remedial evaluations process or not,” McGuire said.

Since the contamination was discovered, lab contractors have monitored the contamination, which has been determined to be a combination of a high explosive material, called RDX, and another chemical known as perchlorate.

McGuire assured the coalition that if the NMED advises N3B to not do anything, the contractor would continue to monitor the migration through a series of wells.

“No matter what happens, we will continue to monitor,” McGuire said.

Coalition board member Peter Ives asked if there was any present or future danger to humans down stream from the contamination. Officials already noted to the coalition that RDX has never been found in samples taken at Los Alamos drinking water wells located three miles away from the site, and they have been monitoring closely other areas of concern also, such as making its way to the Rio Grande.

N3B CEO Peter Legare told the coalition that his company’s goal would be to keep the RDX contamination from spreading.

“Our whole program is about making sure that RDX footprint doesn’t get any larger than it is now,” Legare said.