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,”
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.”
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
NukeWatch Denounces New Consent Order on Los Alamos Lab Cleanup
Santa Fe, NM.
Today, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a new draft Consent Order that in theory will govern cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Instead, the new Consent Order is a giveaway to the Department of Energy and the Lab who are intent on creating yet more radioactive waste from expanded nuclear weapons production.
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.”
See also: Notice of Intent Letter
LANL Cleanup Lawsuit Documents
|JOINT MOTION TO ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSE THE CASE PENDING PERFORMANCE OF A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT – Filed 03/01/22||Download|
|UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO LAWSUIT PARTIAL FINAL JUDGMENT – Filed 06/09/20||Download|
|DOE’S REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT – Filed 03/06/19||Download|
|INTERVENOR NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT’S REPLY IN SUPPORT OF MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGEMENT – Filed 03/06/19||Download|
|DEFENDANT LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL SECURITY, LLC’S REPLY MEMORANDUM OF POINTS AND AUTHORITIES IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT – Filed 03/06/19||Download|
|NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO’S RESPONSE TO MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT BY DEFENDANT U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY – Filed 12/12/18||Download|
|NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL SECURITY LLC’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT – Filed 12/12/18||Download|
|UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT DISTRICT OF NEW MEXICO LAWSUIT MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER – Filed 07-12-2018||Download|
Nuclear Watch New Mexico and New Mexico Environmental Law Center Lawsuit Resources
Second Amended Complaint as filed Sept 21
Motions to Dismiss
All documents electronically filed with the court on August 31, 2016
NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO, Plaintiff
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, and LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL SECURITY, LLC, Defendants
NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT, Intervenor
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
NukeWatch Response to NMED Motion to Dismiss
NukeWatch Response to DOE’s Motion to Dismiss
Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Response To Los Alamos National Security, LLC (“LANS”) Notice of Supplemental Authority