Lab Performs Canyon Cleanup Near Smith’s Marketplace

To complete cleanup activities at one of the few remaining legacy sites along Los Alamos Canyon, crews are using a specialized spider excavator to remove a small area of mercury-contaminated soil from the less than 45-degree-angled canyon-side slope. Courtesy/LANL

LANL News:

  • Reducing historical footprint through environmental cleanup

Los Alamos National Laboratory is performing a high-angle canyon-side cleanup on U.S. Department of Energy property just south of the new Smith’s Marketplace.

Work is scheduled to begin this month and will take about two months to complete.

“We are committed to reducing the Laboratory’s historical footprint and intend to continue to make progress on environmental legacy cleanup,” said Christine Gelles, acting manager of DOE’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office.

In collaboration with experts from contractor TerranearPMC, the Laboratory’s Environmental Remediation program is using a specialized telescoping crane and spider excavator to remove from the rugged, steep slope side of Los Alamos Canyon a small area of mercury-contaminated soil that derived from Manhattan Project and early Cold War era operations at former Technical Area 32 (TA-32).

“During the 1940s and 1950s, there was no understanding of the consequences associated with these types of releases,” said Dave McInroy, director for the Environmental Remediation program. “The complexity of this job demonstrates the Lab’s commitment to remedy all historical discretions.”

Work crews will mobilize the crane to the site where it will it be used to hoist the spider excavator onto the slopes of the canyon to remove the contaminated soil. The excavated soil will be placed in waste bags that will be lifted from the slope using the crane, loaded onto flatbeds and driven to a waste storage area on DOE property. From there, the waste will be shipped to a licensed disposal facility.

Before leaving the site, experts will evaluate results of confirmatory samples to ensure that the cleanup is complete and restore the project site.

This legacy cleanup project is a cooperative effort with Los Alamos County and the property owner, who were involved in establishing site access arrangements.

“This cleanup project is the final step in transforming this former county/schools site into property that can be used for economic development, which is beneficial in bringing new revenue to both the county and the school district,” County Manager Harry Burgess said.

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