September 27, 1998
Tony Howard (Forbes) 202-225-3826
Vanessa Tietjen (D'Amato) 212-736-5185
LONG ISLAND -- The Department of Energy will be able to accelerate its hazardous waste cleanup program at Brookhaven National Lab, thanks to the $30 million in environmental restoration funds Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) and Congressman Michael P. Forbes (R,C,I-Suffolk County) have secured.
At an announcement today at Brookhaven Lab, D'Amato and Forbes detailed their efforts to secure a #5.7-million increase over the Energy Department's budget request for environmental restoration and waste management at BNL next year. The funds are included in the 1999 Energy Department Appropriations bill the House and Senate are scheduled to vote on next week.
Forbes and D'Amato have been critical of the Administration's efforts to cut BNL's cleanup program, which received $24.9 million in this year's budget and $28.3 million in 1997.
"This $30 million in cleanup funding is a 24 percent increase over last year and is a critical step in ensuring Brookhaven is safe for the community. For too many years, the Lab was a 'dumpsite of indifference.' By ignoring environmental degradations, the Lab lost the public's trust. Thankfully, the Lab's new management seems to have a greater sensitivity to the environment," said D'Amato. I'm pleased to have teamed up with Mike Forbes in getting these funds which will speed up the environmental cleanup by as much as two years."
"We need an aggressive environmental cleanup effort to protect the health and safety of the people living near Brookhaven Lab, and its employees. Only by removing all of the contamination can we restore the Long Island community's confidence in Brookhaven Lab and the world-class scientific research conducted there," said Forbes, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
D'Amato and Forbes convinced their respective Senate and House Appropriations Committees to make an exception to the committees' appropriations process by determining that BNL's cleanup was "of the highest priority" and therefore should be funded at $30 million.
With the additional cleanup funds, DOE can expedite the decontamination and removal of the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor (BGRR). The BGRR was completed in 1950 by the Atomic Energy Commission, operated for 19 years and has been decommissioned for nearly 30 years. According to DOE officials, the Graphite Research Reactor has been the source of radioactive contamination, including Strontium-90.
The environmental restoration funds will also be used to address other toxic waste cleanup sites at BNL. Radioactive tritium has been leaking undetected from BNL's High Flux Beam Reactor facility over the past 12 years, contaminating the soil and groundwater.