The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has issued a draft revised Consent Order (CO), which was the agreement in 2005 between the State and the federal Department of Energy (DOE) for fence-to-fence cleanup of legacy Cold War wastes at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The Consent Order was designed as a plan-to-make-a-plan with investigations of contaminated sites followed by cleanup decisions and remediation. Milestones and penalties were included to keep funding and cleanup on track.
Serious investigation and cleanup began under the 2005 Consent Order. From 2005 through 2010, DOE and its contractors, under NMED oversight, accomplished significant progressed towards cleanup of the Laboratory. Much investigation work was completed. A large plume of hexavalent chromium was discovered in groundwater. Remedies were completed at dozens of individual sites.
Little cleanup has been accomplished in the last few years. We fear that the new Consent Order, if adopted, would continue that downward trend. It does not have enforceable milestones for all cleanup projects from the beginning. Instead the new plan is for NMED and DOE to decide every 1 to 3 years which sites will be addressed for cleanup “Campaigns”. This may allow Los Alamos to never address all the sites, and revert cleanup back to the way it was done before the 2005 Consent Order with budget driving cleanup. This is contrary to the original purpose of the CO, which was to compel DOE and LANL to get additional money from Congress for cleanup.
NMED’s public notice for the draft Consent Order is available at
The new draft Consent Order is available at
Please let your voice be heard and turn in public comments. Copy the sample comments below and paste into an email. Please modify as you see fit, then email to the address below. If you don’t mind, please cc: us at: info(at)nukewatch(dot)org
The 45-day public comment period ends 5:00 pm May 16, 2016.
Comments should be submitted to:
Ms. Katherine Roberts
New Mexico Environment Department
Post Office Box 5469
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
the proposed new Consent Order
Withdraw this draft
- This draft represents a big step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine, comprehensive cleanup of the Laboratory.
- The Environment Department should keep the current 2005 Consent Order with necessary revisions to the cleanup schedule.
- I request that the Environment Department withdraw this draft Consent Order.
A 45-day comment period on this first draft is inadequate
- The March 30, 2016 draft document is a new Consent Order and, as such, thoroughly reviewing the document is a big task.
- I request that at least another 15 days be added to the public comment period.
The public deserves the opportunity to comment on all following drafts
- It seems likely that a later draft – after the Lab’s and the public’s comments are incorporated – could be substantially different from the current draft.
- I request that the public have the opportunity to comment on any further drafts of the new Consent Order.
Public participation must be put back into the new Consent Order
- The new Consent Order would expressly limit public participation requirements which would be opposite from the 2005 Consent Order.
- I request that all milestones, targets, annual negotiations, and modifications require the opportunity for public review and comment.
The current status of all areas of cleanup must be updated
- A current list of the status of all cleanup at Los Alamos must be included in the new Consent Order.
- I request that the next step for cleanup at every site be documented in detail.
- All previous 2005 Consent Order documents must be incorporated in to the new Consent Order.
All documents must be made public
- The State and the Lab must make all communications, documents, and submittals specified in this Consent Order readily available to the public.
- The State and the Lab shall notify individuals by e-mail of all submittals as specified in this Consent Order.
All future work must have enforceable deadlines
- The new Consent Order would institute a “Campaign” approach with enforceable cleanup deadlines for only one year at a time.
- I request that all cleanup work items have scheduled, enforceable dates.
- The new revised Consent Order creates a giant loophole for DOE and LANL to plead that they don’t have enough funding and therefore don’t have to do the cleanup. The original intent of the Consent Order was to make DOE and LANL get more funding for cleanup from Congress. The “I’m too poor” excuse should be eliminated from any final Consent Order.
The revised Consent Order cannot be open-ended
- Any new Consent Order must have a detailed, enforceable schedule of genuine cleanup milestones.
- I request that the public be given an opportunity for a hearing on the new Consent Order.