N.M. secretary wants Los Alamos lab fined

December 22, 2006

A New Mexico official proposed fining Los Alamos National Laboratory, alleging it hasn't lived up to a legal agreement on handling Cold War nuclear waste.

New Mexico Environment Secretary Ron Curry proposed fining the lab $1,000 a day for what Curry alleged is its failure to determine the extent of the pollution in a dump with unlined pits of hazardous and radioactive waste, the (Santa Fe) New Mexican said.

Lab spokesman James Rickman said the lab will clean up the contamination as agreed to in a consent order LANL signed with the state in 2005.

"We remain committed to cleaning up contaminated sites," Rickman said. "We understand (Curry's) concerns and drilling of the remaining four holes will commence in January."

Curry said the state agency agreed to four holes being drilled instead of the 11 his department originally proposed.

"All cleanup activities under the consent order are subject to state approval precisely because the lab has had a strong record of delaying cleanup and a poor record of environmental protection," Curry said in a statement.

The area is called Material Disposal Area C. Waste was dumped into seven disposal pits and 108 shafts from 1948-74.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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