The New Hazardous Waste Facilities at LANL

On May 5th, 2022, the New Mexico Environment Department issued a new groundwater discharge permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory under the New Mexico Water Quality Act.  It is discharge permit DP-1132.  The facility, located near the Plutonium Facility, handles, treats and stores radioactive and hazardous liquid wastes from operations across the LANL site.  2022-05-05 – WPD GWQB DP-1132 FinalDP

On June 6th, CCNS and Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) appealed DP-1132 to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission arguing that the Environment Department does not have subject matter jurisdiction under the Water Quality Act to issue the permit. , scroll down to Water Quality Control Commission, Case No. WQCC 22-21 CCNS and HOPE Petition for Review of NMED Ground Water Discharge Permit DP-1132.

The organizations argue that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as implemented by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, must regulate this facility because it handles, treats and stores hazardous liquid waste.  The hazardous waste laws have additional requirements for handling liquid waste in tanks, a public permitting process, and seismic analyses because the facility is located within the Pajarito Fault System.

For the tank systems, the regulations require LANL to submit an assessment by a professional engineer, attesting to the design, structural integrity, and compatibility of tank systems.  The equipment must be supported and protected against physical damage and excessive stress due to settlement, vibration, expansion or contraction.  There must be corrosion protection, as recommended by an independent corrosion expert.

Since the May 2000 Cerro Grande fire, LANL has been working to reconstruct the facility, as well as plan and construct a new low-level radioactive liquid waste treatment facility and a new transuranic, or plutonium, liquid waste treatment facility.  Both would assume functions now performed by the existing facility.

But the Water Quality Act does not regulate the construction or operation of waste management facilities.  Nevertheless, under the Water Quality Act regulations, LANL is attempting to construct new facilities, and claiming that, so long as the existing volume and contaminants in the discharge are not exceeded, no Environment Department approval is required.

So LANL will construct the two new liquid waste treatment facilities, accept hazardous waste, and put them into operation under DP-1132 without any further proceedings and, equally clearly, without meeting the standards of the hazardous waste laws and regulations.  Once built, these new facilities, noncompliant with the RCRA, would stand as a fait accompli, defying any attempt to bring them into RCRA compliance.  CCNS and HOPE are attempting to stop this evasion of the hazardous waste laws.

Attorney Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., represents CCNS and HOPE.  To view the pleadings, go to

  1. Friday, September 30th from noon to 1 pm – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Guadalupe in downtown Santa Fe. Join us to discuss next steps toward nuclear disarmament, including local organizing efforts for Defuse Nuclear War.



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  1. Tuesday, October 4thPublic Comments due to the NM Environment Department about Remedy Selection for Area of Concern: The Tijeras Arroyo Groundwater at the DOE Sandia National Laboratory.  For more information: , scroll down to Tijeras Arroyo Groundwater (TAG).



  1. Tuesday, October 18thScoping Comments due to DOE/NNSA/LANL about the Notice of Intent to Prepare a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. and



  1. Saturday, October 22nd at 11 am Mountain – White Mesa Ute Community Spiritual Walk & Protest: Protecting Our Communities, Health, Environment & Indigenous Sacred Landscapes.  The 11 am rally will be followed by the spiritual and protest walk to the White Mesa uranium mill.          WhiteMesaWalk_Poster_For-Community

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