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NMED’s Permit Allows LANL Loopholes for Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility

April 6th, 2023,

It’s time to break the silence about the permitting of the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Since 1963, the Facility has handled, treated and stored radioactive and hazardous liquid waste generated at the Plutonium Facility, where the triggers, or plutonium pits, for nuclear weapons are fabricated.

The New Mexico Environment Department has refused to regulate the Facility under the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act even though the law regulates hazardous materials “from cradle to grave.”

In May 2022, for the first time, the Environment Department did permit the Facility, but under a less strict law – the New Mexico Water Quality Act.  It is ground water discharge permit, DP-1132.

This permit provides many loopholes and is totally inappropriate for the Facility and for the construction and operation of two new radioactive liquid waste treatment facilities, all without any public process as required by the Hazardous Waste Act.

Under the Water Quality Act permit, the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration need only submit the plans and specifications to the Environment Department for review.  Unlike the Hazardous Waste Act, there is no requirement for advance public notice, no public review and comment, and no opportunity for a public hearing.

Another loophole in the Water Quality Act is that it omits the seismic analyses for the new facilities built on volcanic tuff in a seismic zone on the eastern slope of an active volcano, above a sole source regional drinking water aquifer and the Rio Grande.

Again, in contrast to the Hazardous Waste Act, this permit omits analyses of the seismic vulnerability and risk in Los Alamos County and the surrounding counties from Taos to Bernalillo.

Our concerns are not unfounded.  Recall that the proposed Nuclear Facility, as part of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project, was eventually canceled because of the increasing cost to address the unresolved threats of seismic action within the Pajarito Fault System

CCNS and Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) have challenged the issuance of DP-1132 before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission.  The filings are available at: , scroll down to WQCC 22-21:  Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and Honor Our Pueblo Existence’s Petition for Review of NMED Ground Water Discharge Permit DP-1132.

Break the silence and express your concerns to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission at its May 9th meeting.

Stay tuned to and our social media channels.


April 9, 2023 - Posted by | USA, wastes

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