EPA Public Meeting on July 30th about Major LANL Discharge Permit

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Runs 7/19/13 through 7/26/13

(THEME UP AND UNDER)  This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety.  Here is this week’s top headline:

  • EPA Public Meeting on July 30th about Major LANL Discharge Permit

A draft permit allowing for the discharge of 11 industrial outfalls at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) into the Rio Grande Basin will be the topic of an informal public meeting held by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday, July 30th.  The meeting will begin at 6 pm and take place at the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, 60 Entrada Drive, in Los Alamos.

The EPA is proposing to renew the major groundwater discharge permit for LANL for five years under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program, which is part of the Clean Water Act.  The EPA is proposing to allow effluent from industrial sources such as cooling towers, sanitary facilities, the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, and the High Explosive Waste Water Treatment Plant into the canyons of the Rio Grande Basin.  The impacted canyons are Los Alamos, Sandia, Mortandad, Ten-Site, Canada del Buey, and Canon de Valle.

LANL is proposing to eliminate six industrial outfalls that have operated for decades.  There are also proposed changes to some of the effluent limits for the discharges containing arsenic, copper, cyanide, selenium and zinc.  Nevertheless, the draft permit does not require the installation of green infrastructure and low-impact designs in order minimize the impact of the discharge into the canyons.  The draft permit also allows for the discharge of what is called “other waste water.”

EPA opened a 45-day public comment period on June 29th, 2013.  Written public comments are due Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 to Diane Smith, at EPA’s Permit Processing Team, by email at smith.diane@epa.gov.  The draft permit may be found on the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/region6/water/npdes/publicnotices/nm/nmdraft.htm

Under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, the State of New Mexico is required to certify to EPA that it agrees that the final permit will “reasonably ensure that the permitted activities will be conducted in a manner that will comply with applicable New Mexico water quality standards, including the antidegradation policy, and the statewide water quality management plan.”  The certification process is handled by the New Mexico Environment Department, Surface Water Quality Bureau.  Written public comments about the Section 401 certification may be submitted to Bruce Yurdin, a manager with the Surface Water Quality Bureau, by email at bruce.yurdin@state.nm.us.  The EPA will issue the permit until after the Section 401 requirements have been met.

The public meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 30th, beginning at 6 pm at the Holiday Inn Express in Los Alamos.

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.



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