EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board Remands LANL’s Outfall 051 Permit Back to Region 6 for More Public Input and Action
In May 2022, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE), and Veterans for Peace – Chapter 63 appealed the federal Clean Water Act discharge permit for Outfall 051, which is connected to the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). On December 28th, the three-judge panel in Washington, DC ruled unanimously to remand the federal permit, or send it back, to EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas. https://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/Active+Dockets?OpenView and EAB DOE and Triad Remand Order 12-28-22
The non-governmental organizations argue that because hazardous waste is handled, treated and stored at the Facility, it is required to be regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act. http://nuclearactive.org/ , https://shuffle.do/projects/honor-our-pueblo-existance-h-o-p-e and https://nmvetscaucus.org/nm-veterans-for-peace-chapter-63/
The remand demonstrates that the Permittees, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), have been flip-flopping about whether they intend to discharge through Outfall 051. In 1998, LANL determined that it would eliminate all discharges from Outfall 051. From November 2010 to June 2019, no discharge was made. The treated wastewater was evaporated into the air.
DOE/NNSA seek a Clean Water Act permit as part of the showing needed to get the Waste Water Treatment Unit exemption from RCRA and the Hazardous Waste Act. In their 2019 permit application, they stated that Outfall 051 would only be used as a backup to the evaporation system. Later, they stated the outfall would be an “integral component” of the Permittees’ operations “in the future.”
Immediately after the public comment period for the EPA permit ended, DOE/NNSA began discharging from Outfall 051. This was an obvious attempt to prove that the Permittees should have a Clean Water Act permit for Outfall 051.
Does DOE/NNSA intend to continue discharging treated waste water from Outfall 051? CCNS, HOPE and Veterans for Peace believe that the Permittees must clarify whether they intend to abandon all the investments that have been made in the mechanical and solar evaporation equipment in order to discharge all of the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility output through Outfall 051. Even if the Permittees plan to discharge some of the output through Outfall 051, they have no Waste Water Treatment Unit exemption from RCRA and the Hazardous Waste Act unless the entire output is discharged through Outfall 051, which has not been the case for decades.
Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., attorney for CCNS, HOPE and Veterans for Peace, stated that, “DOE/NNSA must declare clearly their intentions with respect to discharges in the EPA remand proceedings. Based on their declaration, the public should comment, EPA’s Response to Comments should be revised, and EPA should act again on DOE/NNSA’s application for a permit for Outfall 051.” http://lindsaylovejoy.com/
- Friday, December 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 with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi and others.
- Friday, December 16th, 2022 – DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) released a draft environmental impact statement for its Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program. The proposed program involves shipping over 50 metric tons of plutonium pits in various forms from the Pantex Facility, north of Amarillo, TX, to LANL where the pits would be made into powder. From LANL, the powdered plutonium would be shipped to the Savannah River Plant, in South Carolina, for “treatment,” and then to WIPP for disposal – a total distance of 3,300 miles. The draft EIS is available to download from https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program Comments are due on Tuesday, February 14, 2023. Talking points and sample comments you can use to defend New Mexico from more nuclear waste generation and disposal should be available next week.
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Four public hearings about the DOE/NNSA Surplus Plutonium
Disposition Program will be held in January 2023.
They are listed below in chronological order.
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- Tuesday, December 20th, 2022 – NMED released the public notice, revised fact sheet, and draft hazardous waste renewal permit for WIPP. It is available to download from https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/ , scroll down to WIPP News. Public comments are due on Saturday, February 18th, 2023 at 5 pm MT. Stay tuned to CCNS and Stop Forever WIPP for talking points and sample comments you can use to defend New Mexico from more nuclear waste generation and disposal. They should be available next week.
- Tuesday, January 10th, 2023 – time uncertain – NM Water Quality Control Commission meeting at which the appeal of groundwater discharge permit DP-1132 for the DOE/NNSA’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at LANL will be heard. At time of posting, the WQCC agenda has not been posted.
Please submit a letter in support of sanctions against DOE/NNSA for hiring adjudicatory decision makers, while they were in the decision making process, in the DP-1132 matter. A link to a f sample DP-1132 public comment ltr 12-22-22 sample letter is available in the second to last paragraph here : http://nuclearactive.org/please-support-ccns-and-hope-request-for-sanctions-in-the-lanl-dp-1132-appeal-before-the-new-mexico-water-quality-control-commission/
- By Thursday, January 12th, 2023 – Who should be recognized as the 2022 Arms Control Association Person of the Year? The results will be announced on Friday, January 13th. All nominees have, in their own way, provided important leadership that helped reduced weapons-related security dangers during the past year. Vote here: https://www.armscontrol.org/ACPOY/2022
CCNS urges you to vote for Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, NM. For more information about the Archbishop, check these links out:
- Thursday, January 12th – Channel 27 (Albuquerque) – presentation by Stop FOREVER WIPP Coalition about the release of the draft hazardous waste permit for WIPP. More information available soon
- Tuesday, January 17th, 2023 at 9 am to 6 pm – virtual NM Air Quality Act permit public hearing about the LANL Beryllium Target Fabrication Facility. ABQ 22-41 (P). DOE/NNSA applied for a permit modification for expanded beryllium operations. https://www.env.nm.gov/events-calendar/?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D163077960
- Thursday, January 19th, 2023 from 6 to 9 pm Eastern – Augusta, South Carolina – in-person public hearing about the DOE/NNSA Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program at the North Augusta Municipal Building, 100 Georgia Avenue, North, Augusta, SC. First 30 minutes are a poster session, followed by a NNSA presentation and then public comment session. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program
- Thursday, January 24th, 2023 at Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock release. More details will be available soon at https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/
- Tuesday, January 24th, 2023 from 6 to 9 pm Mountain – Carlsbad, NM – in-person public hearing about the DOE/NNSA Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program at the Carousel House at Pecos River Village Conference Center, 711 Muscatel Avenue, Carlsbad, NM. First 30 minutes are a poster session, followed by a NNSA presentation and then public comment session. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program
- Thursday, January 26th, 2023 from 6 to 9 pm Mountain – Los Alamos, NM – in-person public hearing about the DOE/NNSA Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program at the Duane Smith Auditorium, Los Alamos High School, 1300 Diamond Drive, Los Alamos, NM. First 30 minutes are a poster session, followed by a NNSA presentation and then public comment session. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program
- Monday, January 30th, 2023 from 5 to 8 pm Mountain – Online (ZoomGov) public hearing about the DOE/NNSA Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program. https://pnnl.zoomgov.com/j/1606354491?pwd=bnJrdUhNYUtMWk04ayt2NFdpRUJYZz09#success or
Meeting ID: 160 635 4491
Dial in only – 1-551-285-1373
Tags: CCNS, Clean Water Act discharge permit, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Department of Energy, DOE, EAB, Environmental Appeals Board, EPA, flip-flopping, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, HOPE, Jr., LANL, Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Nuclear Security Administration, New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, NNSA, Outfall 051, Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, Remand Order, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, RLWTF, Veterans for Peace - Chapter 63, VFP – Chapter 63, Waste Water Treatment Unit exemption, “integral component