Reminders About Area G Cleanup

By: Contributor
21 January, 2014

Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 9:53 AM, Bonnie Korman <bkorman@newmex.com> wrote:

Mr. Blankenhorn,

We appreciate your affirmative vote on the Santa Fe Resolution yesterday. You listened to us respectfully and you were open to re- considering your approach– commendable qualities in a public official.

In my understanding the approved Resolution is not really a plan, but a proposal for meaningful cleanup of Area G, and a statement of solidarity among affected communities.

We are sending the strongest message possible to the NMED about our need for a liveable environment, and our demands for a cleanup project commensurate to the dangerous levels of toxicity at LANL.

To my knowledge the RCLC has not been more than a PR tool for LANL until recently. The economics of jobs provided just does not show value for northern NM, aside from the outsized wealth of Los Alamos itself, and Bechtel Corp. And the toxic waste produced does affect all of our region disastrously and probably, in perpetuity. I thought Andrew Gonzales made these points very clearly and succinctly at the last RCLC meeting.

The good news is your, and the Board’s, recognition of some elements of the challenge that being downwind of LANL presents to Taos. And, even more hopeful, was the Board’s consideration of solar power to the County bldg. More power to us all!

Thanks,

Bonnie Korman

Editor:

As you know, the Taos County Board unanimously approved the Coss Resolution on Area G today.  I had hoped to wait and compare the alternate Resolution which the RCLC will consider at its next meeting on February 6, but there wasn’t support on the Board, and I had no trouble voting for the Resolution that was on the table.  I continue to believe that an alternate Resolution which would make some provision for an interim plan given the funding and time frame realities would be an improvement.  In the meantime, I am proud that Taos County has entered its Resolution which will add to the chorus of all of us who want to insure that Area G is properly handled.
 
Tom Blankenhorn

Subject: Vote YES on Area G cleanup

Dear Commissioner Blankenhorn,

I write as a constituent of your district to request that you vote YES on the resolution calling for a thorough cleanup of Area G at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

I have gathered from your public statements that a) you seem to believe that contamination problems at the Lab are “contained,” as witness some pamphlet put out by the Lab; and b) that you think a Resolution, passed by as many regional governmental bodies as possible, would have little influence over Lab policy. I would argue that if no local governments called for a thorough cleanup of Area G, they would have no influence at all.

When Mayor David Coss of Santa Fe first proposed this Resolution, since passed by the SF City Council and the Town of Taos, the bureaucracy he meant to influence was the New Mexico Environment Department, which is soon due to make a decision on Area G cleanup, choosing between a slap-dash cape-and-cover attempt to put a lid on the problem or the more thorough cleanup described in the Resolution.

The cap-and-cover solution chosen for the so-called cleanup of Rocky Flats in Colorado has been washed away by last year’s unprecedented floods, and untold plutonium contamination has flowed downstream through Denver and beyond. Climate change will bring increasingly more severe weather events. The recent Las Conchas fire was exponentially worse than the other two wildfires that threatened Los Alamos within the last 20 years. That fire came within only a few miles of Area G and its smoke reached Taos daily.

I hope that the presentation by Jay Coghlan at the RCLC meeting disabused you of the notion that the Lab is not seriously contaminated, since he based his presentation on information supplied by the US Department of Energy.

The Lab is currently run primarily by Bechtel, the same outfit that gave us the showers that electrocuted US soldiers in Iraq. I’m told by a long-time LANL employee that the efficiency of LANL’s organization has gone seriously downhill since Bechtel took over about ten years ago, at which time LANL became a for-profit organization. Since then there have been corners cut and belt-tightening for the sole purpose of siphoning more profit to Bechtel, at the expense of safety.

The Lab’s most profitable venture, from the perspective of Bechtel, is nuclear weapons, which offers Bechtel the greatest opportunity to steer taxpayer money into its corporate, out-of-state till. Money spent instead on cleaning up the mess at LANL would go more readily into the pockets of local New Mexicans hired for the purpose and would little profit Bechtel while better profiting New Mexico’s economy. So it is little wonder that Bechtel would downplay the need for cleanup at Area G while clamoring for more money for more and more genocidal bombs.

My contact at the Lab, by the way, is thinking of quitting her badly needed, high-paying Lab job, because she is frightened by how many of her colleagues now suffer from cancer. For the sake of future generations, please vote YES on the Resolution to do right by an Area G cleanup. Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,
Marilyn Hoff
Arroyo Hondo
776-8903

Dear Marilyn

Thank you for weighing in on the issue of Area G. I agree with you that given potential threats such as earthquakes, fire and floods, it is important that the legacy waste not be left buried at Area G.

The costs of digging up the waste and either encasing it or transporting it to WIPP would be a minimum of 6 billion dollars. This year’s cleanup funding is $250 million, and Area G is not under consideration for any of that. At current rates of funding, the cleanup is not likely to occur within any reasonably foreseeable time frame. In the meantime, it is critical for LANL to continue to monitor the site for any radioactive movement, and to consider some form of temporary capping to prevent infiltration from excessive rains.

The RCLC will consider an alternative Resolution to the one that is on tomorrow’s Board of County Commissioners meeting agenda at its next meeting in February. I would like that Resolution to include the acknowledgement of certain time frames and the inclusion of temporary measures. Tomorrow, I am going to propose that we table the current Resolution until we have seen the alternative that will be presented to the RCLC. Ultimately, I believe that we will pass a Resolution in favor of cleaning up Area G.

Tom

Dear Mr. Blankenhorn:

With all due respect I question your motives in your intention to ask for a tabling of the Mayor Coss Resolution calling for a thorough cleanup of Area G. You suggest instead the need for a “temporary” cap and cover, and maintain there are no funds to do more. Well, if the local governments downwind and downstream of LANL are dissuaded by your maneuver from calling for this thorough cleanup, there will be no incentive for the funds to be provided. In the annals of LANL’s traditional neglect of its own messes, this “temporary” cap and cover would quickly become a permanent reality and nothing more would be done. I believe you are introducing this prospective counter-proposal (which doesn’t seem to exist yet) as a strategy to derail Taos County from taking a stand on this issue. I will remember your actions in this regard.

Sincerely,
Marilyn Hoff
Arroyo Hondo

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