Chairman Chuck Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican, and Co-Chairman Ben Ray Luján, a New Mexico Democrat, announced on Thursday that they will serve as co-chairs of the House Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, which held its first meeting of the 114th Congress to discuss the importance of raising awareness of environmental management issues.
Fifty years of government nuclear weapons development stemming from the Manhattan Project during World War II has affected communities across the nation and resulted in the need for environmental cleanup at numerous sites, a press release said.
“Our nation has a tremendous nuclear history, and with that has come an important nuclear cleanup mission,” said Fleischmann, who represents the city of Oak Ridge. “I am excited today to host the first meeting of the 114th Congress’ Nuclear Cleanup Caucus with co-chair Lujan and members from across the country who have districts that are impacted. I also want to thank Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Mark Whitney for taking part in this meeting. This Caucus will serve to promote the awareness of our nuclear legacy and build a stronger coalition to fight for the needs of our cleanup missions, and I am eager to get to work.”
“The Nuclear Security Complex has a number of legacies that are deeply rooted in its regional communities,” said Luján, whose New Mexico district includes Los Alamos National Laboratory. “First amongst these is the legacy of service by members of the local community in support of the national defense. However, there is also the legacy of nuclear waste, which continues to threaten the current and future health and environment of these communities that have given so much to our nation. Moving forward we need to honor the legacy of service by fulfilling our obligation to clean up this legacy of waste in a safe, effective, and efficient manner. I look forward to working with Representative Fleischmann, the rest of the caucus, and stakeholders, including the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, which I recently met with to discuss the importance of environmental cleanup and our commitment to advocating for the resources to address waste at LANL.”
The press release said the Thursday meeting provided the first opportunity for members who represent cleanup sites and stakeholders to come together to discuss the importance of advocating for environmental cleanup and raising awareness with their colleagues in Congress.
The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has completed cleanup of 91 of the 107 sites where nuclear waste was generated as part of the federal nuclear security and energy research, development and production complex. The 16 remaining sites are spread across 11 states and include a number of large and complex sites, such as Hanford and Savannah River sites and Oak Ridge, Idaho, and Los Alamos national laboratories.