Need for an Information Repository in the Española Valley as part of NMED Hazardous Waste Permit for LANL

March 19, 2010

In a little more than two weeks, the New Mexico Environment Department will hold a public hearing about the draft hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). This is the first time in over 20 years that a formal hearing has been held about the permit. The hearing will begin on Monday, April 5 at 9 am at the Santa Fe Community College, Jemez Rooms. It is currently scheduled to last for two weeks. Most of the parties believe that more time will be needed because of the complexity of the issues, the number of witnesses who will present technical testimony and the amount of public interest in the permit.

The current permit was issued in 1989 and expired in 1999. It has been administratively extended by the Environment Department for the past 11 years. The draft ten-year permit only addresses hazardous waste operations at four technical areas, which include the old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building at TA-3; the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at TA-50; the facility radioactive waste dump, including Area G at TA-54; and the Plutonium Facility at TA-55.

The hazardous waste regulations require LANL to establish an Information Repository. Early drafts of the permit required LANL to establish both a physical and virtual, or electronic, Information Repository. Yet the latest draft of the permit, which will be the subject of the hearing, only requires a virtual repository.

This is an important issue for the downwind community of Española. Many in the Española Valley are working to make sure a physical repository is again required in the permit and that it be located in the Valley. For many it is a matter of restorative justice. It includes education to inform the surrounding communities about the who, what, and where they are impacted by from the operations at LANL; the military and nuclear industry; and how to make comments and decisions that address the issues.

Marian Naranjo, Executive Director of Honor Our Pueblo Existence, which is based at Santa Clara Pueblo, said, "The vision for the Repository is that it will contain permit documents, regulations, and maps, as well as computers, printers and a copier. It will provide a venue for people to become familiar with the complexity of the LANL site. And there will be opportunities for all who are interested to learn more about the permit, the permitting process, the Compliance Order on Consent, and the databases that contain historic and current environmental sampling results."

For more information about the hearing, please visit the New Mexico Environment Department website and search for the LANL permit. Also please visit the CCNS website and sign up to receive updates about the hearing.

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