Map showing the areas on DP Road impacted by the radioactive material as well as the location of the new apartment complexes. Screenshot/LADP
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Multiple discoveries of radioactive material have been made on Los Alamos County-owned land off DP Road.
Thursday night, representatives of New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) provided an update to the public on the situation on DP Road and what is being done to address it.
NMED Resource Protection Division Director Stephanie Stringer provided some background on the site where the contaminated material was found.
In her report, Stringer said the land parcels were part of a land transfer between the Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos County.
Los Alamos County donated portions of the land to Bethel Development, Inc., to construct two separate affordable housing apartment complexes. One complex, Canyon Walk Apartments, is under construction while the Bluffs, which will be specifically for seniors, has not yet started development.
Canyon Walk Apartments is on a site that officials say hasn’t revealed any radioactive waste, but the Bluffs is going to be located on land where radioactive material has been found.
Stringer said while the County was doing trench work for a sewer line for these apartment complexes, material deemed to be contaminated was found. Radioactive material was discovered in February, May and June.
In response, Stringer said DOE is following various protocols.
“DOE has been heavily involved in helping the County get through the next steps in the issues,” she said.
Stringer added that a fair amount of sampling at the site has been done but DOE needs a comprehensive assessment of the site to be done. As a result, LANL is being looked at to do a preliminary screening plan.
Stringer added that the sewer trenches were backfilled with clean material and there is a storm water management plan in place to prevent any contaminated water from going off the site.
When asked if residents at the apartment complexes will be notified about the issue, Stringer said, “It’s a little early for this. We don’t know if there is enough contamination to trigger our regulatory authority.”
Additionally, Stringer was asked what monitoring will take place.
This, she said, remains to be seen.
“We are a little bit early on in the process to be able to speak to these questions,” Stringer said.
During public comment, Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety said she wished NMED would turn to Concerned Citizens of Nuclear Safety for resources. She noted that the nonprofit has a lot of information and expertise on this issue.
Stringer supported the idea saying, “We need to listen to the community and continue to do that.”