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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Department of Energy prepares plan for final cleanup at UC Davis facility

Since 1996 UC Davis has been working closely with the Department of Energy to clean up the off-campus Laboratory for Energy Related Health Research Center and rid it of all toxic chemicals.

Past research activity at the 15-acre site, located 1.5 miles southeast of the main campus, generated a number of toxic byproducts that were disposed of at the site, according to a DOE fact sheet. Radionuclides, metals, volatile organic compounds and pesticides are among the contaminants of concern.

While the LEHR site was first surveyed in 1988, cleanup did not commence until 1996, and it is an ongoing process today.

“In 1998, UC Davis began an aggressive program to extract and treat groundwater contaminated by the campus landfills. Already, monitoring wells are showing a decrease in levels of chloroform, the primary contaminant,said a 1999 press release from the UC Davis News Service regarding the LEHR facility.

The program included an agreement between UC Davis and DOE that stipulated that both agencies would be responsible for long-term monitoring of contaminants at the site once cleanup was complete.

DOE recently proposed a plan for the last stages of cleanup at the LEHR site, and is looking for public input and opinion, said Vijendra Kothari, LEHR project manger for the Department of Energy.

DOE is working closely with UC Davis in order to complete the last stages of the cleanup at the site, Kothari said.

“It’s an ongoing process, and we proposed to do the remaining [cleanup],he said.90 percent [of the cleanup] is done already.

After the cleanup is complete, the DOE is planning to implement long-term monitoring and groundwork on the site, Kothari added.

The current proposed plan by the DOE deals with what residual contamination is left at the site, said a DOE contractor who asked not to be named because he was not speaking on behalf of the department. The DOE is responsible for monitoring the site until it is determined for free release, when it can be used for any purpose. This information was confirmed by Kothari.

The DOE plan includes a number of measures intended to mitigate the impact of residual contamination, including long-term groundwater monitoring, contingency remediation and land-use restrictions.

The DOE will be holding a public meeting this Thursday. In this meeting the proposed plan will be discussed, and oral and written comments from the public will be welcomed.

The meeting will be held at the Veterans Memorial Center clubroom at the corner of East 14th and B Streets in Davis. It will take place at 7 p.m.

For more information and access to documents regarding the LEHR facility visit lm.doe.gov/land/sites/ca/lehr/lehr.htm.


CAITLIN COBB can be contacted at city@californiaaggie.com 


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