NMELC files federal lawsuit against LANL on behalf of Nuclear Watch

On behalf of Nuclear Watch, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday, May 12 over the failure of Los Alamos National Laboratory to comply with a 2005 Consent Order to clean up contamination.

“Los Alamos National Laboratory managers and the U.S. Department of Energy face a potential $487,000-a-day fine if a federal court agrees with allegations that they failed to meet the terms of a hazardous waste agreement with the state.” Continue reading “Nuclear watchdog group sues feds, LANL over 2005 accord”, published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on May 13.

Read the federal complaint, filed May 12, 2016
Read the May 5, 2016 Notice of Intent to Sue (Additional Violations)
Read the January 20, 2016 Notice of Intent to Sue


05/13/2016 • Back to top

Community group asks EPA to revoke uranium mine permit

In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) granted an “aquifer exemption” to Hydro Resources, Inc. The permit would allow the uranium mining company to pollute the Westwater Canyon Aquifer near the Dine’ community of Church Rock. The aquifer has been identified as a ‘likely future source of drinking water by the Navajo Nation. But circumstances for the mine have just changed in a major way.

On May 4, NMELC Staff Attorney Eric Jantz sent a letter to Ron Curry, Administrator of EPA Region 6, asking that the agency revoke the permit. The letter focuses on three major issues: 2) Hydro Resources’ parent company recently sold the proposed mine to Laramide Resources. Laramide has no experience mining uranium. And “according to Laramide’s last available financial statement, Laramide had working capital of only $103,891 and accumulated losses of over $90 million.” 2) The New Mexico Environment Department terminated the groundwater discharge permit for the Section 8 site. Without both state and federal permits, Laramide cannot begin mining. Read the letter to Secretary Curry and the Letter terminating the state groundwater discharge permit.

The Eastern Navajo Dine’ Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), on whose behalf Eric sent the letter, formed in 1994 to fight the proposed Hydro Resources mines. NMELC has represented the group since 1996.

05/05/2016 • Back to top

Pit Rule Upheld

New Mexico communities will have to live with legacy of contamination for good of industry profits.

Now the bad news – the state Supreme Court declined to review a Court of Appeals decision upholding the Martinez Administration’s oil & gas Pit Rule. The Pit Rule, originally adopted in 2008, was amended in 2013 at the behest of the oil and gas industry by Martinez appointees on the Oil Conservation Commission.

The Martinez Commissioners gutted nearly every substantive provision of the 2008 Rule, and added a provision that allows for oil and gas companies to construct multi-acre “frack lakes” to hold the toxic drilling wastes from multiple oil and gas wells. They based their decision to gut the Rule on economic harm asserted by the oil and gas industry as a result of the Pit Rule. See fact sheet.

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05/04/2016 • Back to top

A Win in Santolina Court Case

Judge in Santolina case blocks developer from shutting down public interest appeals.

We’ve just learned that state District Court Judge Nancy Franchini threw out the majority of the motions by the Santolina developer to shut down our appeal! It’s especially great news, given how badly the public was treated during the “public process” in front of the Bernalillo County Commission. This means that we can continue to appeal the flawed “Level A” planning process for the Santolina mega-development in court, even as our clients challenge the developer’s effort to move its “Level B Master Plan” forward in front of the County Planning Commission.

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05/04/2016 • Back to top

Adios, Uranium Resources

In November, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) announced its intent to sell off its Crownpoint and Church Rock properties to a “junior” uranium company, Laramide Resources.

URI first proposed opening up in situ leach uranium mines in the Diné communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock in 1989. Fortunately, their plans to quietly begin production was disrupted when Crownpoint residents Mitchell and Rita Capitan learned about the project…

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05/04/2016 • Back to top

Judge Says Appeal against Santolina Development Can Move Forward

“...the people who are going to be affected are watching, and asking, ‘when will one of these institutions protect us?’”
Roberto Roibal, Southwest Organizing Project

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Today, parties were notified that state District Court Judge Nancy Franchini ruled against Santolina developer Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WALH) in its effort to shut down an appeal by three public-interest groups. The judge’s decision allows the public-interest groups and individuals to pursue their appeal of the Level A Master Plan and zoning change for the proposed mega-development.

The SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), Pajarito Village Association and New Mexico Health Equity Working Group appealed the decision to the Second District Court of New Mexico last year. The groups are represented by the non-profit New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC).

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04/29/2016 • Back to top

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