members discuss effects of Clean Air lawsuit
unified message was presented by various speakers at the Concerned
Citizens for Nuclear Safety (or CCNS) April 11th meeting at Hotel
Santa Fe where an in-depth discussion focused on the settlement
provisions of the CCNS Clean Air Act citizens' lawsuit against
the Department of Energy (or DOE) and Los Alamos National Laboratory
Westerly of CCNS gave a brief history of the lawsuit. "In 1994,
CCNS filed a suit against the U.S. DOE and LANL, alleging LANL's
lack of compliance with radionuclide emission standards under
the Clean Air Act." The Santa Fe-based nuclear watchdog organization
contended that LANL was not in compliance in 31 of its 33 stacks
district court ruled in favor of CCNS, and under the terms of
the settlement, LANL must comply with up to four independent audits
of its radioactive emissions air monitoring program. Under the
settlement, DOE must pay for these audits.
settlement was prompted to avoid $2.3 billion in potential lab
fines or possible shutdown of some facilities.
first audit was conducted in 1997, and its findings have been
released. Among the compliance deficiencies the final report notes:
* A lack of documentation of radionuclide inventory;
* An absence of independent verification of calculations; and
* Certain environmental sampling techniques and assumptions were
not described or documents.
second audit, which will address issues raised from the first
audit, is just beginning, said a representative from the LANL
public affairs office.
needed, a third audit will commence in 2002, and a fourth in 2003.
part of the panel of experts to address the group's questions
were Dr. John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corporation (RAC),
who is leading the audit team, and Dr. Arjun Makhijani, of the
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, CCNS' independent
consultant that monitored the process and the final report from
the first audit.
Till noted that the primary objective of the first audit was to
determine deficiencies in compliance, find weaknesses and make
recommendations to address them and bring common stakeholders
together in the process.
commented that through the audit, the experts were able to determine
regulatory deficiencies, issue specific procedural suggestions
beyond regulations that made sense, scientifically and technically,
and provide other observations about the LANL processes. "I can
state that this is the most thorough compliance for an audit Los
Alamos has ever done. We made some significant recommendations
for improving programs, and everyone benefits if we can make them
better," Dr. Till said. He noted LANL's cooperation and called
the audit a ground-breaking process for all parties involved.
He also mentioned that he is a strong advocate of the public being
able to understand the dose and risk hazards that they may be
Makhijani said his group agreed with the report's findings with
the exception of one area, which was the compliance of the 10
millirem exposure standard used for passerby, or jogger, scenario.
While Dr. Makhijani noted there was no documentation to suggest
non-compliance and that the "flat terrain" modeling that was used
to deliver the data and analysis could be disputed, which therefore,
could bring the result into question. "I believe they should address
the models, considering exposure to individual," he said, noting
the complex terrain of mesas and canyons and ever changing weather
patterns around LANL.
Stavert of the LANL Air Quality Group, who was also part of the
panel, said, "This was beneficial for LANL. Being accountable
to the public and CCNS has taught us something." He said that
more areas of concern will be addressed as the audit progresses.
Some EPA requirements don't always make sense, he said, but LANL
must still comply with them, and "all members of the public must
be protected and we totally agree with that."
said the audit started a dialogue that wouldn't have happened
five years ago.
presentations were followed by numerous questions from the audience
of about 100 people.
Makhijani commented on the nuclear industry. He said, "There are
many good people and good scientists in it, but the nuclear industry
isn't currently a good steward of the environment and more improvements
could be made in the process."
Santa Fe meeting was held to kick off the second audit.
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