CWP News | CWP Admin
DOE seeks advice on LANL cleanup
March 10, 2010
March 10, 2010
Staci Matlock | The New Mexican
Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010 – 3/8/10
The U.S. government needs a few good men and women.
No, not to fight wars on foreign soil. The U.S. Department of Energy is recruiting volunteers to help advise the agency on radioactive waste site cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board serves an important function in advising and making recommendations to DOE regarding waste management, stabilization of waste dump sites, nuclear materials and future land use among other critical issues. LANL legacy waste sites must be cleaned up by 2015 under an agreement with the state Environment Department.
Robert Gallegos, who works with the city of Santa Fe’s Water Division and is vice-chairman of NNMCAB, said he thinks the board has performed an important role in LANL waste site cleanups. “The biggest thing we can do is ask the questions and then bring LANL experts to forums so they can answer questions from the public,” said Gallegos, who has served three years on the board. “I’ve seen the board do that over and over again.”
“We’ve looked at the whole cleanup issue, as far as the joint investigation the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL are doing. We’re provided with a lot of data as far as the groundwater monitoring wells.”
DOE strives to make sure the board has people with diverse viewpoints, according to Menice B. Santistevan, executive director of NNMCAB. The NNMCAB is primarily made up of people who are directly affected by cleanup activities. Members are appointed for two-year terms. Board members are not paid, but receive a federal per diem for travel and meals, according to DOE.
Gallegos estimates it takes 10 to 20 hours a month to serve on the board. He thinks the time is worth it. “There’s big impacts to the surface water from the waste sites. The cleanup issues have long reaching impacts and will be expensive,” Gallegos said.
Gallegos said there is a lot of technical information to learn and digest, but anyone with an interest in waste cleanup shouldn’t be intimidated. The average citizen can understand questions such as whether to cap a waste site or remove the waste. “This is a good way for people to get involved and really understand the issues. I encourage people who have even half an interest, if they want to learn a lot and make a difference to try for this board.”
For more information or to apply for the NNMCAB, call Santistevan at 505-995-0393.
Contact Staci Matlock at 986-3055 or [email protected].