Los Alamos Cleanup Lawsuit

Atomic Histories & Nuclear Testing

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Watchdogs File Suit for NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico has once again filed a lawsuit to pry loose the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports that evaluate contractor performance at its eight nuclear weapons sites. Approximately 57,000 people are employed by NNSA’s nuclear weapons production complex, 95% of them contractor personnel. NNSA and its parent Department of Energy have been on the independent Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars since 1992.

NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports grade contractor performance, award performance fees and contain no classified information. Nevertheless, NNSA seeks to hide how taxpayers’ money is spent from the public, issuing only terse three page summaries instead of the full and complete Reports. Nuclear Watch sued in 2012 to obtain the full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports, after which NNSA started releasing them within three working days. But NNSA has again been releasing only summaries since 2019, despite a Freedom of Information Act request by Nuclear Watch that the agency never responded to.

To illustrate the importance of these Performance Evaluation Reports, in its FY 2021 Los Alamos Lab summary NNSA noted that the contractor “[s]ucessfully made advances in pit production processes…” Plutonium “pits” are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons whose expanded production the Pentagon has identified as the number one issue in the United States’ $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program. NNSA has directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to begin producing at least 30 pits per year by 2026 and the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to begin producing at least 50 pits per year by 2030.

Continue reading

NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley CAREs – VIEW

UPDATE MARCH 2022: SETTLEMENT REACHED!

Feds agree to LANL waste cleanup and repairs to settle lawsuit

Federal officials would agree only to study the possibility of clearing out waste from the Area G pit and wouldn’t commit to following through, said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director.

“Ideally, the transuranic nuclear waste would go to WIPP, and the low-level radioactive materials would be buried in a landfill with liners and a leachate collection system. Capping and covering the on-site pit is problematic because it’s unlined and could allow toxins to leach into the groundwater,”

 | March 23, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory will do extensive waste cleanup and fix a long-broken monitoring system for polluted runoff to comply with a settlement of a watchdog’s lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Watch New Mexico agreed to a settlement in federal court last week to end six years of litigation for what the watchdog group characterized as neglect of longtime issues.

“It’s now a legal obligation on the part of DOE,” said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director. “I do expect DOE will be cooperative in this.”

Continue reading

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety: “Nuclear Watch New Mexico Settlement Moves Cleanup at LANL Forward”

This week Nuclear Watch New Mexico announced the successful settlement of its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) about its slow cleanup of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  After a six-year court battle, the settlement requires DOE to re-establish a monitoring station on the Rio Grande in order to protect the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, which provides about 40 percent of the drinking water for Santa Fe residents.  The monitoring station was destroyed in 2013 during a major flood event.  https://bddproject.org/  

The settlement also includes the cleanup of 158 corrugated metal culverts containing cemented radioactive liquid waste buried at the Area G dump; a feasibility study for the excavation of a waste pit, also at Area G; and the investigation, characterization and, if necessary, clean up of 290 specific dumps scattered across the LANL site.

To read the press release with a link to the Settlement Agreement:

NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico is announcing successful settlement of a lawsuit it brought against the Department of Energy (DOE) over its slow cleanup of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The watchdogs’ lawsuit alleged violations of a 2005 Consent Order, which was a site-wide cleanup agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and DOE to address radioactive and toxic wastes at the Lab. NMED has since sued DOE to terminate a revised 2016 Consent Order issued under the Martinez Administration that is far weaker than the original 2005 Order.

After a six-year court battle, NukeWatch’s settlement agreement requires DOE to:

  1. Reestablish a surface water flow monitoring station near where the Los Alamos Canyon meets the Rio Grande. This is critical because the Canyon has long been a known pathway for plutonium contaminants to migrate as far as 20 miles south to Cochiti Lake, a popular recreational area. The Buckman Direct Diversion Project (BDDP), three miles south of the Canyon, supplies drinking water directly out of the river to the City and County of Santa Fe. The original monitoring station warned the BDDP to close its intake gates as a precaution during stormwater events and allowed characterization of the radioactive contaminants in the stormwater flows.” However, it was destroyed during a 2013 flood and DOE had refused to reinstall it ever since, despite repeated BDDP requests. Meanwhile, during that same period of time, funding doubled for LANL’s nuclear weapons research and production programs that caused the radioactive and toxic pollution to begin with.

    Continue reading

NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico is announcing successful settlement of a lawsuit it brought against the Department of Energy (DOE) over its slow cleanup of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The watchdogs’ lawsuit alleged violations of a 2005 Consent Order, which was a site-wide cleanup agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and DOE to address radioactive and toxic wastes at the Lab. NMED has since sued DOE to terminate a revised 2016 Consent Order issued under the Martinez Administration that is far weaker than the original 2005 Order.

After a six-year court battle, NukeWatch’s settlement agreement requires DOE to:

  1. Reestablish a surface water flow monitoring station near where the Los Alamos Canyon meets the Rio Grande. This is critical because the Canyon has long been a known pathway for plutonium contaminants to migrate as far as 20 miles south to Cochiti Lake, a popular recreational area. The Buckman Direct Diversion Project (BDDP), three miles south of the Canyon, supplies drinking water directly out of the river to the City and County of Santa Fe. The original monitoring station warned the BDDP to close its intake gates as a precaution during stormwater events and allowed characterization of the radioactive contaminants in the stormwater flows.” However, it was destroyed during a 2013 flood and DOE had refused to reinstall it ever since, despite repeated BDDP requests. Meanwhile, during that same period of time, funding doubled for LANL’s nuclear weapons research and production programs that caused the radioactive and toxic pollution to begin with.

    Continue reading

Nuclear Watch NM Amends LANL Cleanup Lawsuit – Claims New Consent Order To Be Invalid

Santa Fe, NM

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.

Read More…

Nuclear Watch NM Files Lawsuit Over Lack of Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab

Santa Fe, NM.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), the for-profit operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, over their failure to meet cleanup milestones under a 2005 “Consent Order” they agreed to with the New Mexico Environment Department. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing NukeWatch in this legal action to enforce cleanup at LANL.

Read More…

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 also: Notice of Intent Letter 

Resources

Nuclear Watch New Mexico and New Mexico Environmental Law Center Lawsuit Resources

Amended Complaint

Second Amended Complaint as filed Sept 21 

Lawsuit Complaint 

Notice of Intent 


Motions to Dismiss

All documents electronically filed with the court on August 31, 2016

NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff
vs.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, and LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL SECURITY, LLC, Defendants
and
NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, Intervenor
Case 1:16-cv-00433-JCH-SCY

DOE Motion to Dismiss (PDF)

  • DOE Attach 1 Motion to Dismiss Memorandum (PDF)
  • DOE Attach 2 2005 Consent Order (PDF)
  • DOE Attach 3 2016 Consent Order (PDF)
  • DOE consent motion for page limit (PDF)
  • Order granting additional pages limit (PDF)

LANS Motion to Dismiss (PDF)

  • LANS Motion to Dismiss Memorandum (PDF)
  • Exhibit A March 2005 Consent Order (PDF)
  • Exhibit B NMELC Notice 01-20-2016 (PDF)
  • Exhibit C NMELC Additional Notice 05-05-16 (PDF)
  • Exhibit D NWNM CO Comments 05-31-2016 (PDF)
  • Exhibit E June 2016 Consent Order (PDF)
  • Exhibit F Framework Agreement Jan 2012 (PDF)
  • LANS request for judicial notice 8-31-16 (PDF)

NMED Motion To Dismiss (PDF)

  • Attach 1 2016 Consent Order (PDF)

NukeWatch Response to LANS Motion to Dismiss 

LANS Reply 

NukeWatch Response to NMED Motion to Dismiss 

NMED Reply 

NukeWatch Response to DOE’s Motion to Dismiss 

DOE Reply 

Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Response To Los Alamos National Security, LLC (“LANS”) Notice of Supplemental Authority