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

Expanded Plutonium “Pit” Bomb Production Rules Over Genuine Cleanup Los Alamos Lab Plans to Make Existing Nuclear Waste Dumps Permanent Without Eliminating Threat to Groundwater

The Department of Energy (DOE) has submitted a report to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) declaring its preferred plan to “cap and cover” radioactive and toxic wastes at one of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) oldest dumps. DOE’s $12 million cleanup-on-the-cheap plan for Material Disposal Area C will create a permanent nuclear waste dump above our regional groundwater. In contrast, DOE has asked Congress for one billion dollars for expanded plutonium “pit” bomb core production at LANL for fiscal year 2022 alone.

LANL used to falsely claim that groundwater contamination was impossible and even asked NMED for a waiver from even having to monitor for it. We now know that there is extensive groundwater contamination from hexavalent chromium (the carcinogen in the Erin Brockovich movie) and high explosives. Traces of plutonium have been detected 1,300 feet under Area C in regional groundwater monitoring wells. The dump also has a large toxic gaseous plume of industrial solvents known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which threatens nearby facilities. LANL is banking on a cap of less than five feet of soil and gravel to protect northern New Mexico from these wastes for a thousand years. But bomb-making plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years and is generally considered dangerous for 100,000 years. Finally, as an internal Lab document concluded, “Future contamination at additional locations is expected over a period of decades to centuries as more of the contaminant inventory reaches the water table.”

The Lab claims that the cap and cover will be protective for 1,000 years. However, Area C is loaded with radioactive transuranic (TRU) wastes, defined as wastes that contain manmade elements heavier than uranium on the periodic table (e.g. plutonium). Therefore, Area C should be required to meet DOE regulations for TRU wastes containment for 10,000 years. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which was built to dispose of transuranic wastes, meets DOE’s requirement of a reasonable expectation of containment for 10,000 years and is 2,150 feet deep. Area C is 25 feet deep at the deepest and should not be allowed to become a permanent dump for plutonium and other dangerous transuranic bomb-making materials.

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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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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