LANL Ships Waste Offsite Illegally, Again and Again
Posted by Scott Kovac Nov 14, 2018
New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to LANL for several problems. The first problem was that the Lab sent a drum to a disposal company offsite that was improperly labeled. It should have been labeled “flammable liquid, corrosive.” The Lab also mislabeled two containers by failing to note that they had lead inside. LANL also sent a container with flammable and toxic liquids with the incorrect container number and label on it. These violations occurred in 2015. The NOV reports several other shipping manifest discrepancies in 2016 and 2017. NMED is happy with the Lab just correcting the manifests. These were mistakes by the old contractor, Los Alamos National Security (LANS).
Possibly more serious violations occurred under DOE’s watch in 2017 and 2018 when LANS failed to characterize waste before shipping it to local landfills, including the Santa Fe landfill.
LANS is supposed to record information for each waste stream on a Waste Profile Form (WPF) accompanied by sampling and analysis data or historical acceptable knowledge (AK) documentation. These documents are collectively referred to as the waste characterization documentation. The Lab failed to produce Waste Profile Forms for several shipments, including:
a. Eight roll-off bins of construction debris from a re-roofing project were sent to the Santa Fe Landfill from the Lab’s explosives facility (TA-16) prior to the generation of a WPF.
b. Approximately fifteen demolition bins and eight miscellaneous dumpsters were sent to the Santa Fe Landfill (also from TA-16) prior to the generation of a WPF.
c. Approximately 265 tons of waste concrete and 240 tons of waste asphalt were sent to the Los Alamos Landfill (also from TA-16) from April 2017 to November 2017 prior to the generation of a WPF
d. Multiple 20-yard bins of waste asphalt were sent to a disposal facility in Albuquerque from TA-40, a detonator firing site. The bins were not tested for high explosives prior to demolition activities or and no WPF was generated prior to disposal.
e. Approximately 40 tons of concrete and 18,000 cubic yards (“cy”) of soil from a renovation project at TA-50, the Lab’s radioactive waste treatment facility, between March 13, 2016 and December 12, 2016 was excavated prior to the generation of a WPF and was later determined to be Low Level Radioactive Waste.
f. A water tank TA-69 was sandblasted in order to remove potentially lead- based paint and generated nine 55-gallon drums of paint sludge and sandblasting material. A WPF was not generated prior to the sandblasting.
NMED seems to be letting the Lab off lightly by just requiring LANL to submit a corrective action plan to ensure that future construction projects are not mis-characterized. Are there radioactive-detecting portal monitors at these landfills?
But NMED states that it may: (1) issue a Compliance Order requiring compliance immediately or within a specified time period or assess a civil penalty for any past or current violations of up to $10,000 per day of non-compliance for each violation, or both; or (2) commence a civil action in District Court for appropriate relief, including a temporary or permanent injunction. Any such order may include a suspension or revocation of any permit issued by NMED.
Unfortunately, the public may never know the outcome. The NOV states, “Due to the nature and severity of the violations listed above, and LANL’s past history of noncompliance…, NMED will propose a civil penalty for these violations in the Notice of Proposed Penalty letter, which will follow as a separate, settlement privileged document.”