Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585

November 24, 1998

The Honorable Bob Miller
Governor of Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada 69101

Dear Governor Miller:

Thank you for your letter dated October 29, 1998. We share your concerns regarding ground-water contamination from past underground nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site. The Department of Energy has undertaken an aggressive program to address your concerns, and we appreciate the opportunity to report on progress thus far.

The regional ground-water model developed by the Department's Nevada Operations Office indicates that the most likely potential route the contamination may take is southwest from Western Pahute Mesa on the Nevada Test Site towards Oasis Valley, Nevada. To better assess tile model results, the Department has initiated installation of eight deep ground-water monitoring wells in the area between the Nevada Test Site and Oasis Valley, Nevada. To date, we have completed construction of eight drilling pads and 35 miles of new roads to support this program. This work has been completed nearly one full year ahead of schedule. The wells will range in depth from 2,000 to 5,000 feet and provide both the Department and the State of Nevada with a new ability to monitor ground water quality. Using the results from these activities, the Department will be better able to determine what, if any, additional steps are required to address this issue.

To expedite this program, the Department is providing $6 million in additional Rinds for the Nevada Operations Office for fiscal year 1999. Further, we are seeking additional funds in fiscal year 2000 to complete the program. As you know, however, the Department must live within the constraints of the Balanced Budget Agreement between the President and the Congress, and additional resources are scarce.

If you have further questions, please contact me or Mr. Robert M. Alcock, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, at (202) 586-5450.


James M. Owendoff
Acting Assistant Secretary for
Environmental Management

Governor Miller's letter of October 29, 1998