Additional Groups Ready to File Suit over LANL Clean Water Act Violations

Additional Groups Ready to File Suit over LANL Clean Water Act Violations

Three community groups and two individuals joined with six other groups to re-send a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue for Clean Water Act violations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The Notice charges LANL and the Department of Energy with five specific violations of the Clean Water Act. These are the unauthorized discharge of contaminants and LANL's failure to conduct adequate, representative monitoring, report violations, have pollution control measures in place and comply with water quality standards.

The new individuals and groups include Gilbert Sanchez, Kathy Sanchez, SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), the New Mexico Acequia Association, and the Don Gabino Andrade Community Acequia. Original groups that signed on to the first Notice in May 2006 are Amigos Bravos, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group, Partnership for Earth Spirituality, Rio Grande Restoration and Tewa Women United. Matthew Bishop, of the Western Environmental Law Center, is legal counsel for the groups.

Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, said, "We joined this Notice because we are concerned about contamination from LANL impacting downstream irrigators and farmers. We want to hold LANL accountable for more than 60 years of contamination."

Numerous studies by the community groups, the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL itself show that New Mexico's future water supply is threatened by highly toxic pollutants, including PCBs at more than 25,000 times the New Mexico Water Quality Standard protective of human health. Other toxins of critical concern include hexavalent chromium, the same carcinogenic compound featured in the movie Erin Brockovich; perchlorate, a chlorine-based chemical linked to thyroid dysfunction; high explosives and numerous radioactive elements, such as americium, cesium, cobalt, plutonium, strontium and tritium, that have been detected in the regional aquifer.

The parties to the Notice ask that violations from prior and on-going toxic discharges be vigorously pursued. They want fines to be paid in full and allocated to complete and effective independent monitoring and remediation of the sites in question to prevent future contamination of regional waters.

Kathy Sanchez, of the Pueblo of San Ildefonso, said, "Our future drinking water supply is threatened. There are more than 1400 documented contaminated sites at LANL, and every time it rains or snows, these contaminants move through our canyons and springs to the Rio Grande. We want zero contaminants discharged from LANL and we want them to implement Best Management Practices for discharges and dumping."

Re-sending the Notice will allow for inclusion of the new corporate management for LANL, which is now responsible for dealing with LANL's toxic legacy. The corporation, Los Alamos National Security, LLC, includes Bechtel, BWX Technologies, Washington Group International and LANL's original managers, the Regents of the University of California.

Robby Rodriguez, executive director of SWOP, said, "LANL has a budget well over $2 billion. It is inexcusable that they are failing to clean up their toxic mess, which affects nearby Pueblos and small towns and cities along the Río Grande. We want Federal and State regulators to hold LANL accountable. LANL needs to take immediate and effective action to protect our waters."

Click here for more information about the 60 day Notice of Intent to Sue.

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