Enough is Enough! LANL Must Comply With the Law

On Thursday, November 19th, CCNS filed a Petition for Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of a Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unpublished decision that declared CCNS did not have standing to challenge a Clean Water Act permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  The Tenth Circuit’s decision is in conflict with U.S. Supreme Court decisions and with decisions throughout the Courts of Appeals.  200423 CA10 decision

Standing is a legal principle to ensure that the entity bringing a lawsuit is the one who has or will suffer the injury.  In our case, meeting the standard means asserting that our experience of the Rio Grande valley is diminished by our fear of the Rio Grande becoming contaminated by LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The Facility is not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs hazardous waste from cradle to grave.

The Tenth Circuit referred to the standing principle, but then added the requirement that CCNS needed to show that contaminants from the Facility actually reach the Rio Grande – eight miles away.  In settled law on standing, CCNS members would only need to show that their use and enjoyment of the valley is diminished by their fear that the Facility is not properly regulated

The Facility handles, treats, and stores hazardous waste. Therefore it must comply with the federal RCRA law, as implemented by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.

RCRA provides an exemption for facilities that hold a federal Clean Water Act permit.  The Clean Water Act requires a discharge in order for a permit to be issued. LANL stopped discharging treated industrial waters from the Facility’s Outfall 051 a decade ago this month.  Yet LANL has applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to renew the permit, even though it no longer discharges.  http://nuclearactive.org/comments-needed-for-lanl-industrial-wastewater-discharge-permit/

CCNS argues that because Outfall 051 no longer discharges, it cannot have a Clean Water Act permit and must have a hazardous waste permit—one that would cover the tank systems that handle, treat and store the liquid wastes and would reduce the risks to people in the valley.

CCNS asks why a small non-governmental organization must spend its resources to require a federal regulator and a nuclear weapons facility to comply with the law.  This is happening at a time when the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is raising ongoing concerns about how LANL handles, treats, and stores transuranic, or plutonium-contaminated, waste, such as there is at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  DNFSB Los Alamos Week Ending October 30 2020, http://nuclearactive.org/at-lanl-four-waste-drums-discovered-containing-potentially-incompatible-chemicals/ , http://nuclearactive.org/ccns-asks-why-lanls-area-g-waste-handling-lacks-proper-safety-documents/  , https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/letters/potential-energetic-chemical-reaction-events-involving-transuranic-waste-los

Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., represents CCNS.  http://lindsaylovejoy.com/


1.December 1st – Giving Tuesday – Please support the production and distribution of the weekly CCNS News Update and this Did You Know? Thank you!

As alternatives,

  • join our amazing group of monthly contributors at http://nuclearactive.org/
  • give mutual funds, stocks and securities
  • give through an IRA Charitable Rollover
  • leave an estate gift, such as a bequest, or other planned gift

Contact CCNS for more information at ccns@nuclearactive.org or (505) 986-1973.


2. December 2nd and 3rd 10:30 am – 3 pm MST – virtual U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meeting “to review information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) non-site-specific geologic disposal research and development (R&D) program.”  https://www.nwtrb.gov/


3.Wednesday, December 9th from 4:30 – 6 pm MST – virtual LANL training for its Electronic Public Reading Room as required by the NM Environment Department hazardous waste permit for LANL, Section 1.10. For more information:  envoutreach@lanl.gov or call 505-667-3792.

LANL Electronic Public Reading Room and the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Electronic Public Reading Room can be accessed at http://eprr.lanl.gov.

The handbook for the Triad EPRR can be accessed at:

WebEx Link: https://lanl-us.webex.com/lanlus/j.php?MTID=md7d124bec1218bd3639955cbf5421a52
Meeting No.: 133 546 9742
Video address: 1335469742@lanl-us.webex.com
Call In No.: 1-415-655-0002
Call Access No.: 133 546 9742


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