Las Vegas Laboratory Designated National Environmental Research Center

[EPA press release - August 2, 1972]

The Environmental Protection Agency's Western Environmental Research Laboratory in Las Vegas, Nevada, has been designated as the Agency's fourth National Environmental Research Center by Dr. Stanley M. Greenfield, EPA Assistant Administrator for Research and Monitoring.

The other three Centers are in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Corvallis, Oregon. The new Center, to be called National Environmental Research Center-Las Vegas (NERC-Las Vegas), has the assigned theme of environmental monitoring.

In making the designation, Dr. Greenfield cited the Las Vegas facility's demonstrated ability to handle their research and monitoring mission recently broadened under EPA. In a letter to Dr. Melvin W. Carter, Center Director, Dr. Greenfield said, "I am certain that all of the members of what is now our fourth NERC will rise to this new challenge to add to their already complex assignment, that of playing a key role in the research and development of new monitoring techniques."

The Las Vegas Center was founded in 1959 as a radiological health laboratory of the U.S. Public Health Service. Throughout its history it has developed and used new techniques for monitoring and sampling radioactive pollutants in the environment. In December 1970 it was made a part of the newly created Environmental Protection Agency and shortly thereafter was incorporated into the EPA's Office of Research and Monitoring and re-named the Western Environmental Research Laboratory.

Since then, it has expanded its research and monitoring programs into areas dealing with non-radioactive pollutants, adapting many of the techniques it developed for radiation surveillance. It maintains the EPA's air fleet of 12 specialized aircraft which are used in aerial remote sensing and sampling of air, water, and terrestrial pollution. It is playing a major role in EPA's National Eutrophication Control Program, using helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to conduct a 2 year survey of about 1200 of the nation's lakes to determine the degree of eutrophication. It operates an experimental farm as an outdoor laboratory for the study of environmental transport of pollutants through the food chain. This summer it is conducting an experimental series of Environmental Education Workshops for high school teachers from throughout the country.

The NERC-Las Vegas presently employs 246 persons and has an operating budget of $4.5 million. It occupies 6 buildings on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, as well as associated field facilities in the Las Vegas area.

Additional responsibilities will be assigned to the new Center as it further develops and expands its scientific and technical programs of research and monitoring for environmental protection.