Dec. 12, 2015. Kansas City Plant:
Scores of workers have died after making nuclear weapons at the Bannister Road plant. A government review finds more radioactive materials used at the plant than was previously known. The federal government has paid $55 million to sickened workers, but a vast majority are still frustrated that they have not been compensated.
Click the image to download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
Nuclear Weapons Complex Misconduct
Dec. 3, 2015. POGO: Updated Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, focussing on Nuclear Complex
(see report at POGO)
Los Alamos Technical Area 54 Area G:
18 million cubic feet of radioactive wastes
click image for NWNM report on cleanup and jobs
LANL's Future: More Plutonium or More Cleanup?
Jay Coghlan speaking in Santa Fe, Oct.21, 2012
Area G- brief backgrounder: Source: Rebecca Moss, SantaFeNewMexican.com
For more than 70 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory dug thousands of deep and shallow graves across mesas and filled them with the radioactive waste, chemicals and solvents used to make nuclear weapons.
Workers disposed of the waste in these unlined pits before the widespread contamination that would follow was fully understood or governed by environmental laws. Radioactive particles that live longer than some civilizations mixed freely with the red soil.
Environmental groups and laboratory watchdogs for decades have fought with local and national leaders to suspend the continued toxic waste disposal on-site at Los Alamos. This battle has been most fiercely fought over the 63-acre swath referred to as Technical Area 54, or Material Disposal Area G.
It is the largest remaining disposal site at the lab, where underground pits dating to the 1950s have resulted in a vapor plume of volatile organic compounds and plutonium-239 has been documented at a depth of 200 feet, creeping toward the regional aquifer below.
LANL Consent Order Process
LANL Cleanup: Disposition of Hazardous Wastes
For Immediate Release December 20, 2017 Los Alamos Hires New Contractor - Starts Cleanup On the Cheap
Santa Fe, NM- Today the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the award of the new Los Alamos National Laboratory legacy cleanup contract to Newport News Nuclear BWXT-Los Alamos, LLC. The $1.39 billion contract is for ten years, which works out to $139 million per year...
Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, "This dooms the Lab to cleanup on the cheap. This 140 million dollars per year to the cleanup contractor is based on a revised Consent Order by the New Mexico Environment Department that was a give away to the Los Alamos Lab. The original 2005 Consent Order held the Department of Energy's feet to the fire to complete real cleanup or pay stipulated penalties. In contrast, the Martinez administration gave the biggest polluter in northern New Mexico a free pass, forgiving a hundred million dollars in possible fines that should have gone to our kids' schools. New Mexicans deserve an Environment Department under a new governor that aggressively protects the environment and creates new high-paying jobs thorough enforcing comprehensive cleanup."
View/download the full press release
For immediate release, October 27, 2017:
Santa Fe City Council: LANL Cleanup Order Must Be Strengthened & Expanded
and Plutonium Pit Production Suspended Until Safety Issues Are Resolved
Santa Fe, NM. On the evening of Wednesday October 25, the Santa Fe City Council passed a resolution requesting that the New Mexico Environment Department strengthen the revised Los Alamos National Labs cleanup order to call for additional characterization of legacy nuclear wastes, increased cleanup funding, and significant additional safety training. The resolution also called for the suspension of any planned expanded plutonium pit production until safety issues are resolved.
(view/download full press release)(view/download City Council resolution)
September 11, 2017: Talking Points: The 2016 LANL Cleanup Consent Order Should Be Rescinded
The 2005 LANL Cleanup Consent Order was all about the enforceable schedules. It required DOE and LANL to investigate, characterize, and clean up hazardous and mixed radioactive contaminants from 70 years of nuclear weapons research and production. It stipulated a detailed compliance schedule that the Lab was required to meet...
Under Gov. Martinez, NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn granted more than 150 compliance milestone extensions at the Lab's request, effectively eviscerating it.
A revised Consent Order was agreed in 2016, but was a big step backward in achieving comprehensive, genuine cleanup at the Lab. The revised CO was a giveaway by NMED to DOE and the Lab, negotiated to allow DOE's budget to drive cleanup, not what is needed to permanently protect our water...
(view/download the complete talking points)
May 21, 2017: Lab Fire Highlights Ongoing LANL Waste Problems
"The incident highlighted, once again, a pattern of consistent mismanagement in the maintenance and cleanup of some of the most dangerous materials on Earth.
"This pattern of problems also has prompted the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to question whether the facility should continue to operate and handle increasing quantities of plutonium in coming years. On Friday, the board said it will hold a June 7 hearing in Santa Fe to question a number of experts about the lab's ability to safely carry out future nuclear missions at PF-4 (the "plutonium building")... The Department of Energy plans to increase manufacturing of plutonium pits at Los Alamos over the coming decades. Two test pits were built last year, and as many as 50 to 80 pits could be built each year by 2030, a significant ramp up in the presence and handling of highly radioactive plutonium.
"'Fattening up our already bloated nuclear weapons stockpile is not going to improve our national security,' said Jay Coghlan, the director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, in a news release issued Friday. 'New Mexicans desperately need better funded schools and health care, not expanded plutonium pit production that will cause more pollution and threaten our scarce water resources.'"
(see report, Santa Fe New Mexican)
May 10, 2017: Energy Secretary Perry Visits LANL, Promises Cleanup of Nuclear Wastes
from l.: Sec. Perry, Lab Dir. McMillan, PU Sciences' Yarbrough
Albuquerque Journal report:
"Perry said the US can 'No longer continue to kick the can down the road' when it comes to cleaning up long-term radioactive and hazardous waste at the nation's nuclear labs, and that he wants to send a clear message to Americans that 'their families are not going to live in fear of a country that's got waste scattered around places it doesn't need to be....' There are too many places where 'the lives and health of our citizens are in jeopardy, because the federal government has failed to respond appropriately by removing this waste in a timely way...' He wants to send a clear message to Americans that 'their families are not going to live in fear of a country that's got waste scattered around places it doesn't need to be... I want to get things done. I'm a realist, and I realize we're not going to clean it up overnight. We're going to make progress.'"
January 11, 2017 LANL operator earns $9.1M environmental management bonus
Los Alamos National Security received a $9.1 million bonus for reaching environmental management goals in its operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the federal fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The bonus amounted to 90 percent of the maximum award of $10.1 million.
(more) View/download DOE Award Fee Determination (PDF)
January 5, 2017 NNSA Releases Los Alamos Lab Performance Evaluation Report
Nuclear Criticality Safety Issues Still Not Fully Resolved
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has publicly released its fiscal year 2016 Performance Evaluation Report (PER) for Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the for-profit contractor that runs the Los Alamos Lab. The Performance Evaluation Report is NNSA's annual report card on contractor performance, and overall the agency awarded LANS $59 million in profit out of a possible $65 million. The grade was 85% for the incentive part of the award. In 2012 Nuclear Watch New Mexico successfully sued NNSA to ensure that the Performance Evaluation Reports detailing taxpayers funds paid to nuclear weapons contractors are publicly available. In 2016 the NNSA decided to put the LANL management contract out for competitive bid, but granted LANS a contract extension until the end of September 2018.
Despite the passing grade that NNSA gave LANS, there is still ample reason for public concern. First, it bears repeating that in February 2014 a radioactive waste drum improperly prepared by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) burst underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), contaminating 21 workers and closing that multi-billion dollar facility (a limited restart of operations at WIPP may occur this month).
Less widely known is the fact that LANL's main plutonium facility that produces WIPP wastes has only recently restarted operations after being shut down since June 2013 because of nuclear criticality safety concerns... (more: read full press release)
NukeWatch gets Santa Fe Mayor's Award For Environmental Protection
In addition to our work toward limiting and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, NukeWatch also works to protect Northern New Mexico aquifers from the radioactive wastes dumped over the last 70 years of atomic bomb production at Los Alamos Lab. Nukewatch was given the Santa Fe Mayor's Sustainability Award in the category of Environment for that work in October. (more) Left: Scott Kovac, Jay Coghlin, Mayor Javier Gonzales
Report: Los Alamos to end radioactive on-site waste disposal at Area G
"Amid concerns from regulators over hazardous waste and contamination, a new report says the Los Alamos National Laboratory will stop disposing low-level radioactive waste at its largest waste disposal area by October 2017.
A recently released annual environmental report said the lab will end on-site radioactive waste disposal at the storage compound known as 'Area G.' the lab's largest disposal area... (more at ABQ Journal)
For immediate release, September 21, 2016 New Mexican Politicians Should Not Be Misled-
Energy Dept. Misrepresents Cost and Scope of Los Alamos Cleanup
"...The DOE report is far from honest. It intentionally omits any mention of approximately 150,000 cubic meters of poorly characterized radioactive and toxic wastes just at Area G alone (LANL's largest waste dump), an amount of wastes 30 times larger than DOE acknowledges in the 2016 Lifecycle Cost Estimate. In reality, DOE and LANL plan to not clean up Area G, instead installing an "engineered cover" and leaving the wastes permanently buried. This will create a permanent nuclear waste dump above the regional groundwater aquifer, three miles uphill from the Rio Grande. Radioactive and toxic wastes are buried directly in the ground without liners, and migration of plutonium has been detected 200 feet below Area G's surface..."
(read full press release PDF)
- Sept 21, Albuquerque Journal:
Nuke Watch: Lab cleanup report understates costs, waste amounts at Los Alamos
For immediate release, July 28, 2016 LANL Estimate of $2.9 Billion for "Remaining" Cleanup Leaves Nuclear and Toxic Wastes Behind and Kills Needed Jobs
"Santa Fe, NM. The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that the cost of "Remaining Legacy Cleanup" of radioactive and toxic wastes from more than 70 years of nuclear weapons research and production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will cost $2.9 billion through fiscal year 2035, averaging $153 million per year.
"That cost estimate clearly assumes that the Lab's major radioactive and toxic wastes dumps will not be cleaned up. Instead they will be "capped and covered," leaving some 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes at Area G, its largest waste dump. Those wastes sit in unlined pits and trenches, 800 feet above groundwater and three miles uphill from the Rio Grande (plutonium contaminants have been detected 200 feet below Area G). During this same period of time the Lab's nuclear weapons programs that caused the mess to begin with will cost ten times as much, even before expected funding increases for expanded production of plutonium bomb core "pits" and increasingly aggressive "Life Extension Programs" that give existing nuclear weapons new military capabilities..." (View/download full press release PDF)
For immediate release, July 19, 2016 Nuclear Watch NM Amends LANL Cleanup Lawsuit - Claims New Consent Order To Be Invalid
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico has amended its federal lawsuit against the Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) that alleges twelve violations of a 2005 Consent Order governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Those violations could result in potential penalties of more than $300 million dollars that would go to the state, if only the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) were to enforce them. Nuclear Watch now asks the court to declare the new 2016 Consent Order to be invalid because the requirement for the opportunity of a public hearing was not met."
(view/download full press release PDF)
For immediate release, June 29, 2016: NM Environment Dept. Finalizes Consent Order on Los Alamos Lab Cleanup; Surrenders Enforcement to Nuclear Weaponeers
"The new Consent Order is a giveaway to the Department of Energy and the Lab, surrendering the strong enforceability of the old Consent Order. The new Order is also clearly the opposite of the old Consent Order, whose underlying intent was to make DOE and LANL get more money from Congress for accelerated cleanup. In contrast, the new Consent Order allows them to get out of future cleanup by simply claiming that it's too expensive or impractical to clean up..."
(view/download full press release PDF)
Public comments on the proposed (revised) LANL Consent Order
On March 30, 2016, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released for public comment its proposed 2016 Compliance Order on Consent ("Consent Order") governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). If implemented, the revised Consent Order will almost certainly create serious barriers to achieving cleanup, especially given the Lab's known opposition to full and complete cleanup. In addition, the proposed revised Consent Order limits public participation opportunities; undermines enforceability by the Environment Department; puts the Department of Energy (DOE) in the driver's seat; and lacks a final milestone compliance date. The proposed 2016 Consent Order is potentially a giant step backwards if the goal is to achieve genuine, comprehensive cleanup at LANL.
Thanks to all of you that sent in your comments.
See comments submitted by the public (PDF) See comment submitted by NukeWatch (PDF)
We await NMED's response to all submitted comments.
Los Alamos Cleanup At the Crossroads
March 18, Santa Fe:
Following protracted negotiations, threatened litigation, and claims of imminent and substantial endangerment, the New Mexican Environment Department (NMED), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory contractor agreed to sign the original Consent Order in March 2005. Its promise was fence-to-fence cleanup of Cold War legacy waste at Los Alamos. The 2005 Consent Order was designed as a plan-to-make-a-plan, with investigations followed by cleanup and with hundreds of specific milestones. The intent was to convince DOE to increase funding for LANL cleanup by making a complete cleanup schedule subject to enforcement. The Consent Order had a "final compliance date" scheduled for December 6, 2015.
For immediate release, Jan 20, 2016: NukeWatch Gives Notice of Intent to Sue Over Lack of Cleanup at Los Alamos
Santa Fe, NM.
Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico notified the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that it will file a lawsuit over their failure to meet cleanup milestones under a "Consent Order" governed by the New Mexico Environment Department. Formal notice is required before a lawsuit can actually be filed, which NukeWatch intends to do within 60 days or less. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing NukeWatch in this legal action to enforce cleanup at LANL.
Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch Executive Director, commented, "The nuclear weaponeers plan to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding U.S. nuclear forces. Meanwhile, cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed. We are putting the weaponeers on notice that they have to cleanup their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need. Real cleanup would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and environment while creating hundreds of high paying jobs."
(Read more- see full press release PDF) (see Notice of Intent letter PDF)
Albuquerque Journal North: Nuclear Watch to sue over LANL cleanup problems
Santa Fe Reporter, Dec 8, 2015: Los Alamos Cleanup Past Due As last deadline passes in existing cleanup plan, state and feds stalled in drafting a new plan
- Elizabeth Miller, 12/8/15. Excerpt:
"Had the cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory gone as planned, this weekend would have marked the closure of a decade-long effort to remediate the effects of a 70-year legacy of making and maintaining nuclear bombs. Instead, the deadline stated in the 2005 consent order, an agreement between the US Department of Energy and the lab on how and when to clean up radioactive and toxic waste stored on site, often in unlined pits, trenches and shafts, and the contaminated buildings that housed lab operations, for the last major project, a cleanup of the largest waste dump site at the lab, came and went on Dec. 6. Instead, that milestone is still decades and millions of dollars away, and the state and federal government are beginning discussions to draft a new plan and schedule for it.
"'It's delay, delay, delay,' says Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a watchdog group that took the occasion to sound the alarm on the practices and failures that they see bogging down cleanup at the lab. 'Under the Martinez administration, the [New Mexico Environment Department] granted more than 150 extensions, which is the opposite of enforcement, and essentially eviscerated the consent order and we see declining levels of funding for cleanup at Los Alamos.'
"The concern is that the longer this cleanup is postponed, the more it will fade from memory, and the less people will think to argue for a cleanup that could bring jobs to the area now, and protect its groundwater for the long term.
"'We hear that we can't afford to do cleanup and at the same time the US government is ready to embark on a trillion dollar modernization of nuclear forces, so budget arguments against cleanup ring pretty hollow in our view,' Coghlan says. 'Go ask the public what they want, and ask northern New Mexicans what they want. They want cleanup over weapons.'"
(see full article)
Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 7, 2015: LANL misses cleanup deadline set in 2005 for largest waste site
"Sunday's deadline focused on Area G, LANL's largest waste deposit site. A local watchdog group, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said comprehensive cleanup for the site 'is still decades away.' In a statement released Monday, Nuclear Watch stressed the need for public participation in the revised cleanup order, including a public hearing, and condemned a plan proposed by LANL to 'cap and cover' waste in Area G.
'Cleanup just keeps being delayed. If not corrected, cleanup simply won't happen,' said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch. 'Nobody ever thought cleanup would be fully completed by the end of 2015; nobody is under any illusions about that.'" he added.
For immediate release December 7, 2015 Deadline for Last Cleanup Milestone of LANL Consent Order Passes;
NukeWatch Calls for Public Seats at the Table in Negotiations
Santa Fe, NM. Yesterday, December 6, was the deadline for the last compliance milestone in the Consent Order between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Department of Energy (DOE) that governs cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Ironically, that last milestone required the submittal of a report by the Lab on how it successfully completed cleanup of Area G, its largest waste dump. But real comprehensive cleanup is decades away at current funding levels..." (view download PDF)
Santa Fe New Mexican, Nov. 18, 2015: Consenting to Cleanup New Mexico looks to leverage more funding amid discussions of new plan for LANL's mess
"Progress on cleanup of material at the Los Alamos National Laboratory left over from manufacturing the world's first nuclear weapons has been impeded by limited budgets, the discovery of new plumes of contamination and a guiding document that, according to the state, prioritized studying problems over fixing them.
With that document- the 2005 consent order agreed to by the US Department of Energy, LANL and the New Mexico Environment Department- riddled with unmet deadlines and unfulfilled goals and set to expire at the end of the year, the state is beginning discussions on a new approach aimed at producing more results..."
"Jay Coghlan said, 'My biggest fear is that through this revised consent order, the NMED is basically giving up on being in the driver's seat.' Coghlan said annual planning should be in the state's control, and pointed to 'the Department of Energy's presence on the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list for 25 years as justifying the skepticism.'" (Read the full report by Elizabeth Miller)
Update, Nov 13: LANL Consent Order Revisions At a meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities on Nov 13, Doug Hintze, the new manager of the Department of Energy's Environmental Management field office in Los Alamos, said priorities were safety, transparency and efficiency.
"We have stuff in the ground that we all agree should be gotten rid of. What do we do and what time does it take in order to get rid of it? Whatever funding we get, we need to be good stewards."
Nuclear Watch New Mexico said it will be "pushing for concrete milestones that are set from the beginning for all actions, for penalties when deadlines are not met, and for a new final end date. The revised Consent Order cannot be open-ended, and actual removal of the wastes (not cap and cover) is important."
Nukewatch Calling For Full Public Participation in LANL Consent Order Review
The 2005 Consent Order governing LANL cleanup is expiring in December- And little progress has been made.
The New Mexico Environmental Department is in talks with DOE and LANL on revisions / renewal to the 10 year-old agreement.
Nukewatch is calling for a full public comment period on changes to the 10 year-old order.
The 2005 consent order was LANL's agreement for "fence-to-fence" cleanup of Cold War-era legacy waste by December 2015. That hasn't happened, and all the agencies and parties involved have known for years the 2015 goals wouldn't be met.
Now, as milestones for progress established under the 10-year-old consent order are set to run out in December, the New Mexico Environment Department is working on a revised agreement with the federal Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory over the huge undertaking of cleanup of decades of hazardous waste at the lab.
New Mexico Environment Department officials say what they want is a more "performance-oriented" document that will generate actual cleanup or remediation of radioactive and other kinds of waste rather than focusing on preparatory work that only sets the stage.
(There has been cleanup work, notably demolition and other improvements at the lab's Technical Area 21- but LANL's Area G waste dump still contains an estimated 80 percent of the lab's buried waste. According to the 2005 consent order, the lab's final "milestone" was supposed to be a "remedy completion report," due on Dec. 6, on how Area G had been cleaned up. Nothing has yet been done. See our Area G file )
Nukewatch supports NMED's determination to get on with actual cleanup and remediation, but is calling for a full period of public comment on a revised agreement- so that, for example, alternatives to the lab's proposed 'cap and cover' remedy are fully explored prior to fixing cleanup modalities.
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of NukeWatch, said the rigorous public participation rules "get to disagreements before there is a done deal." Nuke Watch wants to assure that the public has "a role in defining a matter of public interest- cleanup at Los Alamos to protect our water supply... Can we be confident that the environment department is going to meet the genuine expectations of the public and that the lab will thoroughly be cleaned up? The answer to that is no."
In a formal statement, NMED said, "We've received Nuclear Watch's letter indicating that they believe that the revision of the CO agreement should be treated as a permit renewal instead, with public involvement to include full, year-long adjudicative hearings, and we are taking that point of view into consideration because we agree that active public involvement improves outcomes."
(There's a lot to this story- read more: "Consent order on Los Alamos lab clean-up facing changes", Mark Oswald, Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 9, 2015)
September 21, 2015: NukeWatch letter to NM Environment Dept. Secretary Flynn arguing for a legally required public hearing for the new Consent Order Note: Flynn never responded and the Environment Dept. finalized the Consent Order with Los Alamos Lab without a public hearing. NukeWatch is suing the Lab for violations of the old Order.
View/download letter (PDF)
Nuclear Watch New Mexico Press Release June 27, 2014: Missed WIPP Deadline May Put Real Cleanup at LANL Back On Track
"After granting more than one hundred extension requests to delay cleanup, we salute the New Mexico Environment Department for denying further requests. We encourage NMED to enforce what it already has, and make LANL comply with its legally mandated cleanup order. This in turn will drive increased federal funding for genuine cleanup at the Lab, creating hundreds of jobs while permanently protecting our precious water and environment." (View/download the 6/27 press release)
NukeWatch Presentation to Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board on LANL's Area G, February 12, 2014
Scott Kovac, Director of Operations for NukeWatch, gave a talk at the public meeting of the Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board on the problem of LANL's Area G, February 12th, 2014.
View the slide presentation See video
The Santa Fe City Council Has Unanimously Approved Resolution Asking LANL to Examine Alternatives to Planned "Cap and Cover" of Radioactive Wastes
Santa Fe, Nov. 8. Mayor David Coss, in his role as Chairman of the Regional Coalition of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Communities, presented a draft City of Santa Fe resolution at their monthly meeting Nov. 7, calling for LANL's consideration of other alternatives to their proposed Technical Area (TA)-54, Area G, remedial action plan...
The draft resolution urges LANL to execute full characterization and excavation of the wastes as well as offsite disposal of any high-level or transuranic radioactive waste and the reburial of remaining low level radioactive wastes in a modern landfill designed to control and prevent the migration of these wastes into groundwater aquifers and the Rio Grande.
"Full cleanup of Area G would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our precious groundwater and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of high paying jobs for twenty years or more," said Mayor David Coss.
Mayor Coss will ask the City of Santa Fe Council for approval of this resolution at their December 11th meeting, which is open to the public.
View/download Santa Fe Mayor's press release (PDF)
From the Nuclear Watch press release on the resolution: Scott Kovac, NukeWatch Program Director, commented, "LANL should quit paying games that cap and cover somehow represents genuine cleanup. For the same price as 5 years' worth of nuclear weapons work that caused this mess to begin with, Area G could be fully cleaned up. I echo the Mayor's words that this could be real win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting groundwater and the Rio Grande while creating hundreds of long- term high-paying jobs. I call on other local governments and everyone to pick up the Santa Fe Mayor's challenge."
View/download the Nuclear Watch press release (PDF)
In letters to state representatives Udall and Egolf, Santa Fe Mayoral Candidate Javier Gonzales endorsed the City Council resolution, and called for state legislative hearings on dealing with hazardous waste at LANL's Area G. View letters (PDFs): To Rep. Udall, to Rep. Egolf.
Los Alamos Comments on Area G Nuclear Waste Site Nov.11, Troy Wilde, Public News Service-NM:
In a written statement, LANL said: "Under the Consent Order, the final remedy at Area G will be decided by the state of New Mexico after receiving input from the public. As that process continues, our sampling and monitoring to date- the results of which are all public- have shown that the buried material is safe where it is, now and for the foreseeable future."
Scott Kovac, director of research and operations with New Mexico Nuclear Watch, says some of the contaminants from Los Alamos have already reached the aquifer. Kovac adds the amount of radioactive nuclear waste in Area G is about the size of the Empire State Building. LANL says removing the nuclear waste would cost upwards of $30 billion and take 30 years to complete. However, Kovac says his organization believes it can be done for much less. "We estimate that the lab could excavate the waste, sort it out- recycle- ship it to different waste sites for around six billion dollars," he says. (See "Cost Comparison Debunks LANL's Outrageous Cleanup Estimate", right column.)
Extracts From the Area G Corrective Measures Evaluation Report
The Corrective Measures Evaluation Report for Material Disposal Area G, Consolidated Unit 54-013(b)-99, at Technical Area 54, Revision 3 was released in September 2011. It's document numbers are ERID-206324, LA-UR-11-4910, and EP2011-0284. This is the document where LANL states its preference to leave the one million cubic meters of radioactive and hazardous waste buried in place at the Lab at Area G.
The full document is available at LANL's Electronic Reading Room site(download doc)
WARNING It is 153MB! (If you have trouble downloading the full document from the LANL site, which is often the case, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To help make things a bit more accessible and manageable, NukeWatch is providing outtakes from the Area G Corrective Measures Evaluation Report:
- Inventories of the pits and shafts. (PDF 244kb)
This outtake lists the Area G Subsurface Disposal Unit Information for the Pits and the Shafts. It's a good history of what is known about the wastes, and lists the dimensions of the pits and shafts, giving a good picture of the size of the problem.
- Total Excavated and Inventories of the Pits (PDF 139kb)
- Geologic Cross sections from under Area G. (PDF 7.4mb)
This gives the locations of regional and intermediate wells in the vicinity of Area G and the lines of section for geologic cross-sections of the complex ground under Area G. Of particular interest is cross-section A-A' (Figure E-2.1-2), that shows an unknown vertical feature discovered when Well R-22 was drilled. Check out the vertical red feature with the question mark that intersects R-22. This gives an idea of how complicated the geology and how many questions that are still unanswered.
- The breakout of the $29 billion estimate to remove the waste. (PDF 66kb)
This includes $9.7 billion in "Contingency" and $7 billion in "Professional Management"
Plutonium found at 240' below surface at Area G-
Moving toward aquifer
Map: Radionuclides (pCi/g) detected above background values in subsurface tuff at MDA G click to open-
Let us know if you have any questions or find anything in particular of interest.
April 23, 2017: LANL's Area G at center of nuclear cleanup effort Very good reporting on the current status of LANL's nuclear weapons waste, stored now above ground awaiting WIPP shipment.
Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican
2016 Compliance Order on Consent Effective June 24, 2016
This revised Consent Order will create serious barriers to achieving cleanup; limits public participation opportunities; undermines enforceability by the Environment Department; puts the Department of Energy (DOE) in the driver's seat; and lacks a final milestone compliance date. The 2016 Consent Order is potentially a giant step backwards to achieve genuine, comprehensive cleanup at LANL. (PDF)
2005 Compliance Order on Consent
The 2005 consent order was LANL's agreement for "fence-to-fence" cleanup of Cold War-era legacy waste by December 2015. Issued pursuant to the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, the Consent Order set the requirements for a comprehensive investigation of environmental contamination and provides for the identification of cleanup alternatives and the implementation of cleanup measures. (NMED, DOE, UC Regents)
The agreement of the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to address the highest risk above-ground transuranic waste currently in Technical Area 54 at LANL. (PDF)
List of LANL Consent Order Extensions
This is the list of extensions to requirements of the Consent Order requested by LANL and approved or denied by the NM Environment Department. These extension requests were in response to prioritizing the Framework Agreement and the 3706 Campaign over the Consent Order.
March 22, 2016, Santa Fe: Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board:
Area G Hearing
The board will hear from its own staff and from LANL, DOE and NNSA officials on new and residual management and safety issues concerning Area G, Los Alamos National Laboratory's hazardous waste disposal area. ("New" includes the 59 potentially explosive waste barrels destined for WIPP now stored at Area G.)
Session 1: 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Session 2: 6:45pm - 9:00pm
Santa Fe Community Convention Center
201 West Marcy Street, Santa Fe.
- Read more at the DNFSB website.
Re: LANL Contract Not Renewed Dec 22. Jay Coghlan, Director, Nukewatch:
"As the trillion dollar modernization moves forward, note how hollow the DOE infrastructure is because of contractor greed, incompetence and waste. I expect this to limit the scale and timing of "modernizing" the DOE nuclear weapons complex, including Life Extension Programs and new production facilities such as the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 Plant and plutonium facilities at Los Alamos.
"There could also possibly be developments in the first quarter of next year related to Lockheed Martin's illegal lobbying activities that would shake up its grip on the Sandia Labs (the Sandia contract is also scheduled to be put up for bid). In short, 2016 could be a very fluid and unstable year for the DOE nuclear weapons complex, even as it seeks to put the B61-12 into production and move forward aggressively on the LRSO warhead."
December 18, 2015 - Chromium Plume Update: Some Cleanup, Some Patience
"More than 40 years after contaminated water was dumped into canyons around Los Alamos and nine years after they started studying the problem, the US Department of Energy now has a short-term strategy for dealing with a plume of toxic chromium thatŐs been moving slowly off Los Alamos National Laboratory and toward San Ildefonso Pueblo and the regional aquifer. Not quite undertaking a total cleanup of the contamination, the feds rather intend to do enough to stop its migration. Generally, according to a plan released this week, they'll watch for its next move..."
(more: Elizabeth Miller, SFReporter.com)
To Nov. 20, 2015: Public Comment Period on Chromium Contamination Assessment Now Closed
See the public comment filed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico: view/download PDF Comment was invited on DOE's Environmental Assessment proposing to address chromium groundwater contamination at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
See DoE page for more info including draft Environmental Assessment.
- More info and docs on our Watchblog post:
Public Meeting to Discuss Chromium From Los Alamos That Has Reached Our Aquifer
- Santa Fe Reporter: LANL works to pull chromium contamination back across property line and out of aquifer - Excerpt: "The fact that it's 1,000 parts per billion 3 miles from where they dumped into the canyon is kind of scary, because it seems like there might be a lot of it out there," says Scott Kovac, operations and research director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico. "Chromium is very soluble; it's an indicator, like a canary in a coal mine... They dumped chromium in the upper part of Sandia Canyon from the '50s to the '70s, and it's already in the aquifer, so you can't tell me that the rest of the stuff [won't get there, too]. The conclusion has to be to remove all the sources."
NMED/DOE Oversight Bureau Presentation on LANL's Chromium Contamination
"The chromium contamination at Los Alamos is one of the most significant contamination issues within the DOE complex..." (2:20).
The plume is moving at around 100 feet per year (25:00).
Chromium concentrations are increasing in the water table. Plume is displacing native groundwater (34:30).
Cost Comparison Debunks LANL's Outrageous Cleanup Estimate
Can it possibly cost $29 billion to clean up 51 acres? (That's $568.6 million per acre!) The answer is yes if the source.
NukeWatch has run cost comparisons between the estimate for Area G and two other excavation projects at the Lab. At six acres, excavation of Materials Disposal Area B is almost complete, so we have hard costs. (It is around $22.7 million per acre.) An evaluation of Materials Disposal Area C was released this September. The estimated costs for excavation of the 11.8-acre site came out to be $66.7 million per acre. Read the Cost comparison here.
Clean Up, Don't Build Up Nuclear Weapons Programs! Hundreds of Jobs Could Be Created That Protect the Environment
New Mexicans should push their politicians to vigorously lobby for comprehensive cleanup at LANL. Unlike nuclear weapons programs, cleanup would be a win-win that permanently protects the environment and creates hundreds of high paying jobs. See Nukewatch's latest Fact Sheet on this important issue (PDF).
"Nuclear weapons production and testing has involved extensive health and environmental damage. A remarkable feature of this has been the readiness of governments to harm the very people they claimed to be protecting in building these weapons. Secrecy, fabrication of data, cover-ups in the face of attempted public inquiry... have all occurred in nuclear weapons production and testing programs."
- Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research(ref)
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.