State, LANL partner in radioactive removal

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Waste transported > Barrel of highly radioactive material discovered in Santa Fe now stored safely at LANL

By Tris DeRoma

Gov. Susana Martinez and New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn held a press conference Thursday at the Los Alamos Laboratory to announce the successful removal and transport of a drum of radioactive material from Santa Fe to the lab.
The drum was discovered in May 2015, during an inspection of a warehouse by NMED. The warehouse, owned by Thermo Fisher, a company that manufactures medical instruments and smoke detectors, is located on Airport Road in Santa Fe.
The drum contained 8.63 curies of Americium, a highly radioactive material used in the manufacture of smoke detectors.
According to officials the drum had been stored at the warehouse for over 10 years. Though the material was stabilized and in a secure location, the warehouse is located in a residential area next to a church and a school.
“This material is not waste,” Flynn said. “It was stable and secure, but it was in a location we believed was not ideal, since it was in a residential area next to a school.”
LANL agreed to accept the radioactive waste and the state negotiated with Thermo Fisher to transport it at no cost to taxpayer, Flynn said. NMED estimated the cost of the operation would be more than $6 million, but most of that would be in transporting and securing the material.

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