Today, Governor Susana Martinez visited Los Alamos National Laboratory on the one-year anniversary of the Las Conchas Fire, where she was joined by federal, state and county officials to mark the 1000th Shipment of Transuranic (TRU) Waste from the Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad.
"As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Las Conchas Fire bearing down on the city of Los Alamos as well as the lab, the 1000th shipment of TRU waste is an important landmark," said Governor Martinez. "We are working closely with our federal partners to uphold our commitment to the responsible handling of hazardous materials. At the same time, the 1000th shipment of TRU waste also marks a commitment to the surrounding community that we are doing everything we can to ensure their safety should the lab be threatened again.
The ongoing work of this program is a true testament to the many professionals who have spent years categorizing, separating, and handling the transuranic waste."
Governor Martinez applauded lab officials for an excellent safety record removing the low level TRU radioactive waste from the lab site.
"I am proud to say that each of these shipments has made it safely to WIPP for permanent repository without any associated safety issues," said Governor Martinez. "This achievement is truly reflective of the continued efforts of all those involved in the project."
In 2011, the Las Conchas Fire consumed more than 156,000 acres of land around Los Alamos and the lab site, making it the largest wildfire in state history at the time. Following the fire, Governor Martinez directed the New Mexico Environment Department to work with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize the removal of all above ground TRU waste that remains stored on the lab site. In December, New Mexico Environment Department Secretary David Martin and DOE officials signed a Framework Agreement that calls for all 3,706 cubic meters of above-ground TRU waste to be removed from the lab site by June of 2014.
"Eleven years passed between the Cerro Grande Fire and the Las Conchas Fire," Governor Martinez continued. "Not enough was done during that time to eliminate critical environmental threats. That was unacceptable. But, since the Framework Agreement was signed, I am pleased that the lab is on track to meet the June 2014 deadline."
In addition to Governor Martinez, speakers at the event included Frank Marcinowski, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Waste Management for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management, Laboratory Director Charles McMillan and Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover.