Two-story Incinerator Found Buried in Hillside at Rocky Flats

NNSA Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Replacement CMR Building at LANL

* Workers at the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado recently discovered a two-story incinerator buried into a hillside as they continued cleanup operations at the former nuclear weapons facility. Although preliminary tests showed no radioactive contamination in the furnace, Kaiser-Hill, the contractor working on the cleanup, says that they will continue testing to ensure that the building is safe for removal and demolition.

Officials at Rocky Flats assumed that the furnace, measuring 25 by 13 by 13-feet, had been removed from the site after it was decommissioned in 1968. Rather, the incinerator was found buried one foot below the ground in an area that Kaiser-Hill had intended to search for buried hazardous materials. Records indicate that the incinerator was used to burn standard office waste. However, because trace amounts of depleted uranium have been found in pits where incinerator ash was buried, Kaiser-Hill says that they will investigate the incinerator thoroughly. John Corsi, spokesperson for Kaiser-Hill, said, "We're kind of on pause until we know exactly what we're dealing with."

Rocky Flats manufactured plutonium pits until 1989 when it was shut down in an FBI raid for environmental violations. Cleanup of Rocky Flats is expected to be completed in 2006, at which time the area will become a wildlife refuge.

LeRoy Moore, of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, said that the finding was only the first of many surprises sure to be found. Moore is concerned that Kaiser-Hill will neglect to remove other buried materials that are characterized as benign or non-existent. Moore said, "This [finding] just underscores that these characterizations are not thorough."

* The National Nuclear Security Administration (or NNSA) released the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed replacement Chemical and Metallurgic Research (or CMR) Building at Los Alamos National Laboratory (or LANL) this week.

NNSA and LANL claim that the current CMR Building is no longer useable due to its advanced age and consequent deterioration, and the fact that it is situated along a seismic fault. The Statement offers several alternatives for construction of a new CMR Building, including relocating it to Technical Area-55, which is within one mile of an approximate fault, or Technical Area-6, which is largely untouched forestland.

NNSA claims that work done at the CMR Building is necessary for virtually every program at LANL. The Building primarily houses research and development capabilities involving analytical chemistry, materials characterization and metallurgic studies. NNSA also claims that the CMR Building is necessary for valuable non-proliferation activities.

However, activists are concerned that, coupled with the proposed Modern Pit Facility and Advanced Hydrotest Facility that are being considered for LANL, new and revised operations at LANL will further compromise Northern New Mexico's health, safety and environment. Two public hearings will be held to discuss the proposed CMR replacement building. The first will be held on June 3 at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos. The second will be held on June 4 at the Cities of Gold Hotel in Pojoaque. Both will begin at 6:30 p.m. For more information, contact CCNS.

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