The agency's preliminary "budget in brief" shows a proposed 46 percent reduction in funding for the lab's environmental management, which handles cleanup of legacy waste generated before 1999, including during the
A mile-long, highly toxic chromium plume under the Sandia and Mortandad canyons and the massive radioactive waste buried in Area G are the results of shoddy disposal that occurred around the lab before environmental regulations were enacted in the 1970s.
Watchdogs called the proposed cuts in LANL's cleanup program unprecedented.
"To have a 46 percent cut in
In a statement, the
The 2021 budget request "reflects an effective allocation of available resources, given other national priorities, to continue making strong progress on the Department's cleanup mission," the agency said. "It focuses on completing cleanup activities under the 2016 consent order, maintaining safe operations, [and] continuing successful management of groundwater contamination."
"Such deep cuts to LANL's cleanup budget would seem to be an insulting and dangerous proposition -- especially when the
The 2016 agreement between the
This consent order allows the agency to create whatever funding level it wants for cleanup without worrying about meeting hard deadlines, he said, arguing that the state must come up with a more enforceable order like the one crafted in 2005.
"If we were still under the 2005 consent order, it would be difficult for
State regulators said expectations for long-term cleanup would not change.
Little cleanup is likely to get done with such a pared budget because much of the money would go toward covering administrative and payroll costs, said
Contamination will remain near the regional drinking-water aquifer and other areas of the Pajarito Plateau around the lab, Arends said.
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