NMED’s Permit Allows LANL Loopholes for Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility


It’s time to break the silence about the permitting of the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Since 1963, the Facility has handled, treated and stored radioactive and hazardous liquid waste generated at the Plutonium Facility, where the triggers, or plutonium pits, for nuclear weapons are fabricated.

The New Mexico Environment Department has refused to regulate the Facility under the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act even though the law regulates hazardous materials “from cradle to grave.”

In May 2022, for the first time, the Environment Department did permit the Facility, but under a less strict law – the New Mexico Water Quality Act.  It is ground water discharge permit, DP-1132.

This permit provides many loopholes and is totally inappropriate for the Facility and for the construction and operation of two new radioactive liquid waste treatment facilities, all without any public process as required by the Hazardous Waste Act.

Under the Water Quality Act permit, the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration need only submit the plans and specifications to the Environment Department for review.  Unlike the Hazardous Waste Act, there is no requirement for advance public notice, no public review and comment, and no opportunity for a public hearing.

One of the new facilities will treat low-level radioactive and hazardous liquid waste.  The other is in the planning stages for treating plutonium-contaminated radioactive and hazardous liquid waste.  When CCNS asked Environment Department officials if they themselves had the technical expertise to review plans and specifications for a nuclear facility that handles, treats and stores radioactive and hazardous waste, they said no.  And when CCNS asked them the same question about the expertise of their technical contractors, they also said no.

Another loophole in the Water Quality Act is that it omits the seismic analyses for the new facilities built on volcanic tuff in a seismic zone on the eastern slope of an active volcano, above a sole source regional drinking water aquifer and the Rio Grande.

Again, in contrast to the Hazardous Waste Act, this permit omits analyses of the seismic vulnerability and risk in Los Alamos County and the surrounding counties from Taos to Bernalillo.

Our concerns are not unfounded.  Recall that the proposed Nuclear Facility, as part of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project, was eventually canceled because of the increasing cost to address the unresolved threats of seismic action within the Pajarito Fault System.

CCNS and Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) have challenged the issuance of DP-1132 before the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission.  The filings are available at:  https://www.env.nm.gov/opf/docketed-matters/ , scroll down to WQCC 22-21:  Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and Honor Our Pueblo Existence’s Petition for Review of NMED Ground Water Discharge Permit DP-1132.

Break the silence and express your concerns to the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission at its May 9th meeting.  https://www.env.nm.gov/events-calendar/?trumbaEmbed=date%3D20230501%26index%3D0

Stay tuned to nuclearactive.org and our social media channels.

  1. Friday, April 7th 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.



  1. Saturday, April 8th at 1 pm – Cindy Weehler, of 285 ALL, and Joni Arends, of CCNS, will be in conversation about the April 16th free Educational Conference about WIPP with Carol Boss on Women’s Focus on KUNM 89.9 FM.



  1. Sunday, April 16th from 1 pm to 4:30 pm – What is WIPP? Free educational conference – in-person in Santa Fe and on Zoom – in Spanish and English. Join people statewide to learn about the DOE’s pending application with the New Mexico Environment Department for the continued operation of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  There will be presentations about WIPP history, the facility, and proposed expansion of WIPP, NMED’s draft operating permit, and the ways in which the public can have a say in WIPP’s future.  For more information:  https://stopforeverwipp.org/home



  1. April 15th to 22ndShut Down Drone Warfare – Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico – “From Tax Day to Earth Day, Rise Up!” Co-sponsored by CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace and Ban Killer Drones.  Join for a week of peaceful resistance against drone warfare and out-of-control U.S. empire.  Why Holloman?  It is the largest-drone training base in the U.S. – training 600 or more drone pilots and operators annually.  For more information:  http://www.shutdowndronewarfare.org/ and listen to


Three great peace activists join us to discuss the upcoming protest at Holloman Air Force Base in April. Toby Blome, Colonel Ann Wright, and Ken Mayers talk about drones, the dangers, and the damage to people on the ground and people at the control. They also discuss the international ramifications of drones and their uncontrolled spread. With all that, they are protesting at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico and are encouraging people to come. There will be transportation, lodging, food, workshops, speakers, music, and yes non-violent direct action, specifics are a secret.  https://soundcloud.com/user-55976759/33023-veterans-for-peace-shut-down-drone-warfare-protest-is-coming


  1. Wednesday, April 19thComments about the draft hazardous waste permit for WIPP due to NMED. Stay tuned for sample talking points and comments you can modify and personalize to submit.



  1. Wednesday, April 19th from 5 to 7 pm – Virtual NMED meeting to modify LANL hazardous waste permit to add a new container storage unit at TA-60 (an infrastructure support technical area). https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/lanl-permit/ , scroll down to Permit News for March 13, 2023 entry.   

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