Groups Ask Judge to Declare New LANL Consent Order Invalid

On behalf of Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NukeWatch), the New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed an amended complaint in its federal case to obtain “reasonable but aggressive” cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Infographic of LANL missed deadlinesThe amended complaint asserts that the Consent Order signed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on June 24, 2016 is invalid.

Here’s why: the Lab’s 2005 Consent Order had a final cleanup deadline; the new Order has no final deadline for corrective action. A change of a specific final compliance date to no date is essentially an extension of the final compliance date, and therefore a ‘Class 3’ modification, which requires a public hearing. NMED refused to hold a public hearing on the proposed Consent Order this Spring, thus its new Consent Order is invalid.

Read the amended complaint, filed on July 19, 2016.


Unlike the 2005 Consent Order, the 2016 Consent Order does not contain a schedule for completing cleanup of hazardous contamination at the Lab, nor does it contain a final deadline for completion of all corrective action. The 2016 Order also voids nearly $300 million in fines for which the Lab was liable under the 2005 Consent Order.

This complaint amends the original complaint, which was filed on May 13.

Here’s a recap of what NukeWatch is asking a federal judge:

  1. Enjoin the Defendants (the DOE and the Lab operator) to take action to come into compliance with the 2005 Consent Order according to a “reasonable but aggressive” schedule ordered by the Court.

  2. Impose on the Defendants a civil penalty not to exceed $37,500 per day for each of 12 violations of the 2005 Consent Order.

  3. Render a declaratory judgment that the 2016 Consent Order, executed by the DOE and NMED, is contrary to New Mexico’s Hazardous Waste Act and the 2005 Consent Order and is therefore invalid. [This request is new to the amended complaint]

  4. Award Nuclear Watch New Mexico its costs of litigation.


Read the amended complaint, filed on July 19, 2016.

Posted on 07/19/2016 • PermalinkBack to top


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