Heinrich makes visit to LANL

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By John Severance


Martin Heinrich has made plenty of trips to Los Alamos in the past.

But on Friday, he made his first trip to the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a U.S. Senator.

“We talked about cleanup and a number of issues related to my committees,” Heinrich said in a brief phone interview Friday. We went through some budgetary issues and covered a broad spectrum of issues associated with the lab today.

“Most of the visit was presentations by staff at the lab. There was not a lot of back and forth.”

After being sworn in at the beginning of the year, Heinrich also got the following committee assignments --  Energy and Natural Resources,  Intelligence, and Joint Economic Committee.

And he has been busy getting acclimated to his new role as Senator.

“I look at this as a whole new set of opportunities to work Los Alamos,” Heinrich said. “I had a great visit today and we are continue to work hard with Los Alamos. We talked about cleanup and an number of issues related to my committees. We went through some budgetary issues as well.”

Lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said, “"We were grateful for the opportunity to reacquaint the Senator with the Lab's vital national and global security missions as well as its important roles in the economy of Northern New Mexico, and to update him on our environmental cleanup efforts."

Monday, Heinrich and Senator Tom Udall sent a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting at least $255 million for cleanup at LANL and $222 million to operate and maintain the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad.

In the letter, they write, “The completion ofthe cleanup of defense legacy wastes at Los Alamos is an important

commitment that Congress and DOE have made to the comunity and the State of New Mexico,

and we believe it shouìd remain a top funding priority for DOE. To make the most efficient use

of available resources, the New Mexico Environment Department and DOE agreed to focus

environmental priorities on areas that pose the greatest risk, including the removal of the 3,706

cubic meters of above­ground TRU waste from Area G by June 30, 2014. Environmental

protection also remains a h gh priority, including protection of water resources and monitoring of

area groundwater and storm-water  flows to the Buckman Direct Drinking Water

Diversion on the Rio Grande. To keep the efforts on schedule and assure all obligations and

deadlines are met, we urge the administration to request at least $255 million in 2014 for Los

Alamos in DOE’s Defense Environmental Cleanup budget.”

After a month in his new job, Heinrich had these impressions of Washington.

“The last month has been productive,” Heinrich said. “We avoided the fiscal cliff. We passed legislation not to default and raised the debt limit. We are seeing bipartisanship in immigration reform. I hope we can continue to foster a more productive environment. I can say personally on the Senate side, it is less contentious than on the House side.”