SANTA FE – Nuclear Watch New Mexico says a highly touted new cost estimate for completing cleanup of decades’ worth of radioactive and hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory is based more on the likely stream of federal funding rather than the actual cost of dealing with the toxic materials.
Nuke Watch also said the report understates the amount of problem material on the lab campus by failing to note a huge quantity at LANL’s Area G waste dump that is likely ot merely be “capped and covered” rather than treated or removed.
The DOE’s Environmental Management Office in Los Alamos released a report last week that said it could take more than 20 years and nearly from $2.9 billion to $3.8 billion to finish cleanup of materials left over from nuclear weapons production in Los Alamos. It was the most detailed estimate yet on the expense of remediating the lab’s so-called “legacy” waste.
But Nuke Watch, in a news release Wednesday, noted that the report itself says the cost of completing cleanup by between 2035 and 2040 is “based on realistic expectations of annual funding for the remaining work” and that “annual funding is expected to remain constant throughout the duration of the cleanup mission.” Clean-up funding has range from $225 million to $189 million in recent years.