Public Comments Needed about Protecting Aquifer from Hexavalent Chromium

For twenty years, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has struggled to contain the cancer-causing hexavalent chromium plume in the regional drinking water aquifer below the nuclear weapons site. The horizontal and vertical reach of the deep plume covers an area of unknown size and the depth of the contamination is unknown. [LANL Faces Fine of Nearly $800,000.]

The New Mexico Environment Department groundwater and hazardous waste bureaus regulate the remediation of the hexavalent chromium plume.

The Environment Department’s remediation includes the installation of 1,000 feet deep wells to extract the hexavalent chromium waters for treatment and the re-injection of the treated waters back into the aquifer.

Last spring, the Environment Department raised concerns about the wells and whether the re-injected waters were “smearing,” or pushing the contamination further into the aquifer.

Then LANL released a draft environmental assessment (EA) about the remediation of the plume and recommended a “final” remedy for public review and comment.  Comments are due on Wednesday, March 13th.

CCNS and our colleagues have drafted a two-page sample comment letters you can use, modify and submit.  Ours is a long letter with four essential issues that the public must address. Please cut and paste as you wish.

(downloads WORD file)

The issues are:

  • the draft EA is premature and must be withdrawn;
  • the LANL proposal to use “adaptive site management” to remediate the plume has been used for nearly 20 years and it has failed;240308 CrVI sample public comment ltr
  • the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that these types of administrative processes require seating the public at the decision-making table; and finally,
  • the segmentation of the environmental analyses is inappropriate because NMED has yet to make its recommendation for the remedy.

The administrative procedures require the Environment Department to determine the proposed remedy and support it through its Statement of Basis for the decision.  Finally, those documents are released for public review and comment.

LANL has jumped in front of that administrative process by prematurely releasing the draft EA and a “final” remedy, contrary to how the administrative process works.  The draft must be withdrawn.

LANL has used adaptive site management for nearly 20 years and it has failed.

The public has been excluded from the decision-making table.   It is time for the public to protect the aquifer and be at the table.

By prematurely putting out its plan, LANL has segmented the EA into small parts in order to avoid looking at the bigger picture.  The EA must be withdrawn and a full environmental impact statement prepared when the proper time arrives.

For more information, click these links:    and ]

To download our sample comment letter, please click here:    240308 CrVI sample public comment ltr

  1. Friday, March 8, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, New Mexico Peace Fests, and others. Join us!



  1. Wednesday, March 6 to May 15 (Bi- Weekly) from noon to 1 pm Mountain Time – Climate Change and Human Health ECHO Program: Global Nuclear and Environmental Threats Critical to Climate Change and Human Health. 



  1. Thursday – Friday, March 7 – 8: International Uranium Film Festival at the Navajo Nation Museum, Window Rock, AZ.  For more information:    Schedule:   



  1. Wednesday, March 13th[Comment period extended from Feb. 12th to March 13, 2024.] Comments due about LANL proposed Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy of the Hexavalent Chromium Plume (DOE/EA-2216) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  For more information and to download the document:    Check back to CCNS’s website at for sample public comments you can use to craft your own. 



  1. Tuesday, March 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm – in-person and virtual WIPP Community Forum and Open House at Lawrence C. Harris Occupational Technology Center Room, 124 Seminar Room (OTC), Eastern New Mexico University – Roswell, 20 West Mathis. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office and Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO) will provide a short update about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) with an extensive question and answer period.  For more information and registration:



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