I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Plutonium lab at LANL still there 20 years after contamination found
John Fleck, the Albuquerque Journal’s science/water/all-around-smart reporter, makes some trenchant observations and asks insightful questions in a post today about Los Alamos’ old plutonium lab.
Known as the old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building, CMR “is still in use and a replacement remains beyond the horizon,” Fleck writes. “Uncertainty about U.S. nuclear weapon policy remains, and, in the meantime, workers are literally wrapping plastic around aging radioactive waste pipes to stop the leaks.”
Then Fleck goes on to lay out reasons for the federal government’s inaction. Here’s an excerpt of Fleck’s column:
In 1989, the Department of Energy told Congress that the old building was contaminated, with widespread corrosion, and asked for money to build a replacement.
A year later, Congress killed funding, saying the federal government needed to come up with an overarching plan for its nuclear arsenal and the infrastructure needed to maintain it.
In the two decades since, we have planned and replanned, formed commissions and task forces, that have never quite settled the question of what U.S. nuclear weapons are for, how many we need, and what sort of manufacturing and research infrastructure we need in response.
Assigning blame for a lack of leadership is hard. No presidential administration has ever taken the issue seriously enough to seize leadership and push for a solution. Congress has always found it easier to kick the can down the road rather than making the hard, and potentially expensive, decisions required.