New York Times Features Los Alamos Cleanup

New York Times Features Los Alamos Cleanup

The Gun Site at Los Alamos

While the Atomic Heritage Foundation is working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to restore the "Gun Site," where the gun-type uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima was developed and tested, $212 million is going towards the cleanup of a dump at TA-21, a 65-year-old, six-acre site. This project is part of a larger, $6 billion stimulus program to clean up the "toxic legacy" of the country's nuclear weapons program, the New York Times reported on October 23. The program is projected to cost up to $260 billion and will result in teardowns of a number of buildings dating to Manhattan Project days.

The dump at TA-21 is the laboratory's oldest and was only used between 1944 and 1948. The age of the site and the lack of knowledge of what lies inside complicate the cleanup, as workers had to first sift through records and interview former lab workers seeking evidence of any dangerous materials they might encounter. They also took soil samples to gage the levels of plutonium potentially buried there. Approximately 156 people are currently part of the cleanup crew, which officials predict will ultimately employ close to 300 people.

When the cleanup is completed, new homes will replace the once top-secret Manhattan Project structures on the mesa.