DOE needs to clean up its waste

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By The Staff

Dear Editor,

DOE needs to remember its requirement to clean up the environment before it creates more waste.

The Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club asks that all work and expenditure toward nuclear pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) be halted until the DOE recommits itself and its funds to the nuclear cleanup of LANL on the schedule to which it had previously agreed.

In 2005, after protracted negotiations, the DOE acknowledged its responsibility in cleaning up and reclaiming the LANL site following decades of contamination of the area around Los Alamos. The New Mexico Environment Department had found an expanding plume of contaminants that was projected to reach the Rio Grande – a lifeline for much of New Mexico. The agreement established a timeline that all agreed upon. Now DOE officials are reneging on those agreements on the basis that funding is not available to maintain the schedule.

We observe two points:

1. There apparently is money to begin pit production but not sufficient money to meet earlier environmental cleanup commitments. We understand that the two funds are likely in different budget lines but after all, money is money. To claim there is money for LANL in one budget (nuclear production) but not in another (nuclear cleanup) and transferring between them is not possible requires not sophistication but naivet. And neither of us is nave.

2. The U.S. government often asks its citizens to trust its actions. Now we are being asked to trust that pit production poses no danger while simultaneously being asked to ignore that a previous and related trust is being violated. Essentially, we are being asked not to be trusting but to be fools.

Taking these actions would remove much uncertainty that the DOE and the United States government would live up to the commitments it made to the nearby communities, the Rio Grande watershed and the State of New Mexico.

The webpage for comments is www.complextransformationspeis.com. Deadline is April 30.

Ken Hughes, Conservation Chair

Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club

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