To: MDA H Focus Group
From: Joni Arends, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
Date: January 12, 2004
Re: CCNS Dissenting Opinion to Recommendation Reached at the October 8, 2003 MDA H Focus Group Meeting
Please find below the dissenting opinion of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) to the recommendation of corrective measure Alternative 2 (engineered ET cover) made at the October 8, 2003 meeting of the MDA H Focus Group.
CCNS requests that the MDA H Focus Group add the following to its recommendation: A provisions should be included in the contingency plan that if conditions change, a mandatory review of the chosen remedy must be done by LANL within ninety (90) days of the finding of changed conditions.
CCNS requests that the following changes be made to the December 2003 Draft Final Report on MDA H Focus Group Process:
1. The CAB should be listed as the Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board.
2. There are two dissenting opinions, CCNS and Zane Spiegel. The final report should note that and give a reference to the dissenting opinions at the back of the report within the Executive Summary (p. 1) and Recommendations (p. 11).
3. We question why a response was given to the concern found in the sixth bullet on p. 7 concerning the effort of the Focus Group being a PR ploy. No response was given for the other concerns.
4. Please spell out CCNS's name on p. 14.
5. Please correct the third arithmetic average on p. 15 to read 2.4.
6. With respect to the notes from the Fracture Flow Meeting of 11/10/03, how will those attending the meeting receive the results of the fracture flow modeling of Chlorine-36, the modeling straw man and a copy of the videotape of the meeting?
7. CCNS believes that George Rice's primary question areas have been mischaracterized in the seventh bullet of the Executive Summary. CCNS suggests the following language as a substitute:
In his draft and final reports, George Rice raised the following issues:
1. The lack of groundwater quality data at MDA H.
2. The lack of a determination about the full extent of the vapor-phase contaminant (tritium and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) plumes; has the plume reached the regional aquifer?
3. LANL's assumption that fracture flow was insignificant; the data is ambiguous and should be more fully evaluated.
4. At an infiltration rate of 10 mm/year, "the predicted concentration of RDX was above the EPA drinking water guidance." "Evaluation of Corrective Measures Study Report for MDA H, SWMU 54-004, at TA-54," August 7, 2003, p. 2.
5. There is provision in the preliminary contingency plan for reconsideration of the corrective measure if the water volume increases above predetermined levels.
6. "The proposed monitoring plan is not likely to detect episodic fracture flow through the vadose zone." Id.
7. "The recommended corrective measure alternative does not include features to minimize or prevent the transport of contaminants from the waste shafts by water flowing through fractures." Id., p. 3.
Because of the uncertainties associated with MDA H, including
CCNS believes that in order to protect the groundwater, the waste emplaced at MDA H should be removed from the ground and recycle those materials that can be recycled. We believe that the following issues remain outstanding:
- an inadequate inventory of MDA H
- a lack of information about groundwater quality at MDA H
- predicted concentrations of RDX exceeding Environment Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water guidelines at MDA H
- a lack of analysis of fracture flow, lateral flow, convergent flow and matrix flow in the vicinity of MDA H
- a lack of analysis of episodic fracture flow through the vadose zone at MDA H,
- a lack of information about the extent of the vapor-phase contaminant plumes, and
- the failure of institutional controls at other Department of Energy (DOE) sites.
1. DOE Institutional Controls - Long-term Stewardship, Environmental Covenants, Risk-Based End States. CCNS is concerned about the reliance on DOE/LANL institutional controls for long-term oversight of MDA H. Such reliance has already failed at other DOE sites, e.g., Weldon Springs in Missouri and Oak Ridge in Tennessee. Public health and environment protection are suffering as a result.
CCNS is very concerned about DOE's new proposal for "risk-based end states" (RBES), which is an inadequate approach to cleanup of contaminated air, soil and water. DOE/LANL is very concerned about spending resources on environmental issues unless there is a "regulatory driver." As far as we have been able to determine, there is no regulatory driver for RBES, other than DOE's self-regulatory process, through a DOE Order.
There is too much uncertainty regarding DOE's long-term oversight of its mess at LANL. The public cannot rely on DOE's institutional controls; we must demand that DOE/LANL cleanup their mess on the Pajarito Plateau now. There is no reasonable excuse for them not to.
2. Fracture Flow and Contaminant Travel Times. George Rice, groundwater hydrologist, raised the fracture flow issue in his August 7, 2003 report, which report was prepared for the MDA H Focus Group. Id., p. 16. LANL concluded in the MDA H Corrective Measures Study (CMS) that fracture flow is not significant. However, Rice reported, "this conclusion is not strongly supported by available information. Some of the information is ambiguous, and some appears to contradict this conclusion." Id.
CCNS remains concerned about the lack of information about contaminant travel times through Mesita del Buey.
CCNS believes that fracture flow at MDA H remains an outstanding issue that must be resolved before a technically based recommendation can be made.
3. Episodic Fracture Flow through the Vadose Zone. CCNS believes that episodic fracture flow through the vadose zone remains an outstanding issue that must be resolved before a technically based recommendation can be made.
4. Lateral Flow, Convergent Flow and Matrix Flow. CCNS believes that lateral flow, convergent flow and matrix flow remain outstanding issues that must be resolved before a technically based recommendation can be made.
5. Groundwater Quality at MDA H. There is no information about groundwater quality at MDA H. The nearest down-gradient Mesita del Buey monitoring well is approximately two miles east of MDA H. CCNS believes that information about MDA H groundwater quality must be made available before a technically based recommendation can be made.
6. Vapor-Phase Contaminant Plumes. Tritium and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including benzene, toluene and trichloroethene, have been found in samples taken from the MDA H shafts. The plumes are known to extend 100 feet from the waste shafts and to a depth of 250 feet. CCNS requested information from LANL as to whether the vapor-phase plumes have reached the regional aquifer in our August 2, 2003 memo to the MDA H Focus Group. LANL responded that it "will provide this information when the monitoring results are available for regional wells R-20, R-21 and R-32." "Response to CCNS Questions on the MDA H Corrective Measures Study Report," LA-UR-03-6687, September 2003, ER2003-0589, p. 1. CCNS awaits the data.
7. RDX Predicted Concentrations. CCNS remains concerned that the RDX concentrations are predicted to exceed Environmental Protection Agency drinking water guidelines at MDA H. In our August 20, 2003 memo, CCNS requested information about mitigation measures that LANL will take to prevent RDX migration. CCNS awaits the opportunity to review the modeling straw man.