CCNS Letter To City Manager
August 16, 2000
Frank Di Luzio
City of Santa Fe Manager
Re: Interstate Nuclear Services
v. City of Santa Fe
Dear Mr. Di Luzio:
As you know, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) has
been monitoring the litigation between the City of Santa Fe and
Interstate Nuclear Services. We have noticed that the City Council
has gone into executive session several times to discuss the litigation,
and we understand that settlement discussions have been ongoing
for some time.
We would like to take this opportunity to advise you of our position
that any action of the City Council which would in any manner
nullify, void or rescind the wastewater discharge ordinance, or
allow it to be nullified, voided, or rescinded, or which would
affect the City's powers with respect to the operation of the
POTW, or which would alter or amend either those powers or the
ordinance, must be taken in an open meeting. [NMSA l978 Section
Please review example 77 of the Attorney General's Handbook on
the Open Meeting Act (p. 29) which is enclosed, indicating that
a vote in executive session which rescinded a rule involved in
litigation was void, despite the fact that it was an attorney-client
discussion and despite the fact that litigation was pending. This
is obviously so, because otherwise a City could undertake much
of its public business in executive session since so often rules,
ordinances and public policy are the subject of litigation. Nonetheless,
they also fall within the domain of the City's public policy,
and business concerning them, according to the law, should be
transacted in public at an open meeting.
Would you be kind enough to let us know your position on this
matter at your earliest convenience?
Acting Executive Director
cc: Peter Dwyer, City Attorney
Santa Fe City Councilors
Attorney General's Handbook on the Open Meeting Act
IV. Section 10-15-3: Invalid Actions; Standing
A state board with rulemaking authority meets in closed session
with its attorney to discuss the legality of its Rule X in light
of an action brought against the board by several licensees. The
attorney advises that Rule X is probably illegal and the lawsuit
could be avoided if Rule X were rescinded. The board votes in
closed session to rescind the rule. The action of the board is
of no effect because it was not taken in open session. In order
for the rescission to be valid and enforceable, it must be accomplished
at a properly noticed open meeting.
Nuclear Laundry Sues City of Santa Fe for Second
December 2, l998
Interstate Nuclear Services (INS), the "Nuclear Laundry",
filed suit against the City of Santa Fe on October 6th, 1998,
seeking to overturn the City's new wastewater discharge ordinance
which regulates the discharge of radionuclides to the City sewer
and wastewater treatment plant. Treated effluent waters from the
City's wastewater treatment plant are ultimately discharged to
the Santa Fe River, but the treatment does not remove the nuclear
The City's newly adopted Treated Effluent Management Plan calls
for the City to make extensive use of the treated effluent in
an effort to save over $27 million dollars in water rights purchases
over the next twenty years. "The Treated Effluent Management
Plan, which was adopted by the City earlier this year, includes
the option to discharge the treated effluent into the Rio Grande
in exchange for the right to draw San Juan-Chama drinking water,"
stated Patricio Guerrerortiz, Public Utilities Director for the
City of Santa Fe. "I believe that public perception of radioactive
contamination of this effluent may affect our ability to make
our reuse plans work. That's one major reason why we have the
limitations set forth in the wastewater discharge ordinance. This
treated effluent use plan is essential to the City's ability to
meet the water supply needs of our citizens in the future."
The plan also calls for the City to negotiate with major water
users who use drinking water for irrigation to instead use treated
effluent for irrigation, thus saving major amounts of drinking
water, and to recharge the treated effluent to the Santa Fe River.
The Nuclear Laundry, which for thirty years has washed nuclear
contaminated uniforms from Los Alamos National Laboratories and
Rocky Flats at its plant on Siler Road in the heart of Santa Fe,
claims the ordinance puts it out of business because the requirements
are too difficult to meet. INS uses 'dilution is the solution
to pollution' as its method of treating radioactive discharges,
simply increasing the amount of water it uses and discharges so
the concentrations of radionuclides would meet State standards.
The City ordinance is more rigorous. "The State standards
are already too easy to meet, and using up precious water to get
there is incredibly wasteful", says Leroy Romero, former
INS manager and now a board member of CCNS.
INS has not operated in Santa Fe since May, 1996, when the City
of Santa Fe closed it down amid allegations of illegal sludge
releases containing radioactive contamination and failure to disclose
tests revealing violations of City discharge requirements. Former
Nuclear Laundry employees, including Romero, testified at a public
hearing about INS orders to violate the laws regulating radioactive
discharges, including illegal dumping of sludge into the sewer.
The State nonetheless renewed the INS license but unless INS can
comply with the City ordinance, it cannot discharge to the City
"INS could recycle its water as is done elsewhere and wouldn't
have to discharge anything. But they insist on using up our limited
water to dilute their pollution, and then dumping it into the
sewer, then to the river, then to Cochiti Lake," states Romero.
The Nuclear Laundry could also go back to Los Alamos National
Laboratory, where they started out.
The INS lawsuit claims the City has no right to regulate the
discharges at all, and that the ordinance was intended to put
them out of business. It also attacks CCNS as having been the
spearhead for the ordinance and the efforts to shut down INS.
In addition to its attack on the ordinance, INS seeks money damages
from the City.
"Our role is to educate the public and our City officials
about violations of the laws protecting citizens from radioactive
contamination, and that's what we did and will continue to do,"
states Lee Lysne, Executive Director of CCNS. "Leroy Romero
came to CCNS to get help stopping the illegalities he perceived
at INS. It's too bad the State didn't listen to him, but we are
grateful the City Council understands the issue and enacted the
ordinance and is actively defending it. It seems that INS's real
goal is to intimidate the City into settling and throwing out
the ordinance. We are proud that the City Council won't cave in
to this kind of threat."
Santa Fe Passes Unprecedented Radioactive Discharge
Protection For It's Sewers.
Community organizing by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
and hard work by committed Santa Fe city staffers spurred the
Santa Fe city council on Wednesday, Feb. 12. 1997 to enact historic
regulation of radioactive waste discharge into the city sewer.
By a unanimous vote, the council rejected arguments from Interstate
Nuclear Services, the 'nuclear laundry', and enacted legislation
sponsored by Councilors Patti Bushee and Molly Whitted designed
to protect the city's economic interests from rad waste dumping.
INS, which has been shut down since May, 1996 because of permit
violations, has for 30 years laundered clothing contaminated with
plutonium and other long lived radionuclides and discharged its
wastewater into the Santa Fe sewer system. The sewer system discharges
into the Santa Fe River, which affects many downstream users from
traditional villages to Cochiti Pueblo.
"Over 2,000 citizens and businesses supported this ordinance
to protect us from rad waste dumping in the sewer," said
Lee Lysne, Executive Director of CCNS. "It appears that we
are the first municipality in the nation to enact legislation
of this type. Recent research shows that cities may enact regulations
such as these which are more stringent than state or federal laws
to protect the economic interests of the municipalities.
INS has claimed this ordinance will shut them down. We don't
believe it, but if so, our next plan is to make sure the nuclear
laundry doesn't just move elsewhere and pollute someone else's
river. We have secured cooperation from individuals and pro nuclear
groups who formerly opposed us to make a united effort to get
the nuclear laundries back on-site at the weapons facilities and
nuclear power plants which generate the waste. INS has 14 other
facilities, and their radioactive waste doesn't belong in anyone's
river. Here is a list of INS facilities in the United States.
Interstate Nuclear Services Inc. (INS) facilities in the US:
- 700 S. Etiwanda, Ontario, California 91761
- 210 Miller Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 39180
- 2424 Robertson Drive, Richland, Washington 99352
- 3050 Ualera St. #C, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819
- 295 Parker St., Springfield, Massachusetts 00151
- 811 S. Edisto Ave, Colombia, South Carolina 29205
- 2001 Laigh Road, Portsmouth, Virginia 23701
- 3061 Houston Ave., Macon, Georgia 31206
- 1006 3rd Ave, Morris, Illinois 60450
- 401 North Third Avenue, Royerford, Pennsylvania 19468
- 1310 Siler Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505
- 820 Jimmy Dean Ave., Osceola, Iowa 50213 (closed?)