Cleanup money cut
by John Upton
Feb 06, 2007 | 229 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Money to clean up toxic chemicals from soil and water at a bomb test site near Tracy is slated to be cut from $16.2 million in the 2006 fiscal year to $8.7 million in 2008.

Department of Energy spokesman John Belluardo said funding would decrease at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300 once groundwater treatment plants and other facilities have been built.

“By 2008, (the Site 300 cleanup) would be moving toward operations and maintenance mode,” Belluardo said Monday. “Essentially, the construction phase would be finished.”

A public meeting in Tracy on Wednesday evening will outline Lawrence Livermore’s planned environmental cleanup activities at Site 300, which in 1990 was added to the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of the nation’s most polluted sites.

The site’s contaminants include uranium, tritium, volatile organic compounds, percholates and nitrates.

Much of the contamination was caused when waste was dumped in four unlined landfills in the northwest corner of the 7,000-acre site between 1958 and 1988.

Belluardo said it would take decades to clean the site because much of the contamination is locked in clay that is buried in the rocks and soil.

“We’re continually searching for new technologies that can speed up the cleanup,” Belluardo said.

Tracy City Council voted 4-0 last year to ask Lawrence Livermore to spend $74 million to excavate and remove the waste from the contaminated landfills.

Activist Bob Sarvey, who suggested the council send the letter, on Monday criticized cleanup activities at Site 300.

“They’re not willing to spend the $74 million to take out the depleted uranium and the tritium,” Sarvey said. “They should be increasing the funding — not lowering it.”

Public works director Pat Weimiller told the council in an April 2006 report that contaminants at Site 300, which in the hills southwest of Tracy has been used for explosives testing since 1955, are not expected to affect Tracy’s groundwater or soil.

Lawrence Livermore’s annual budget will decrease from $1.25 billion in 2006 to $1.15 billion in fiscal year 2008, according to a congressional budget request published Monday. The 109th Congress never approved the Department of Energy’s 2007 budget request.

Weapons research funding will decrease from $1.07 billion in 2006 to $1 billion in 2008.

The science budget will decrease from $53 million to $43 million over the same period, while spending on energy efficiency and renewable energy will decrease from $4.8 million to $3.8 million.

No money will be spent on environmental cleanup at the lab’s site in Livermore in 2008, down from $13.1 million in 2006.

Site 300 public meetings this week:

WHAT: Tracy City Council will consider its position on a proposed biological laboratory at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300, and on a planned increase in outdoor explosives tests

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Tracy Community Center, 300 E. 10th St.

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WHAT: Appeal hearing against a San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District decision to allow Site 300 to increase the size and amount of outdoor test explosions

WHEN: 10 a.m. Wednesday

WHERE: District northern region office, 4800 Enterprise Way, in Modesto

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WHAT: Public workshop to provide information and answer questions on environmental cleanup activities planned at Site 300

WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Tracy Community Center, 300 E. 10th St.

To contact reporter John Upton, call 830-4274 or e-mail jupton@tracypress.com.

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