LANL reports big drop in number of waste violations

An inspector monitors radiation around waste containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2003, prior to shipping the nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. By filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy, state regulators now hope to dissolve the existing consent order regulating waste cleanup at the lab and impose tougher rules for disposing of transuranic waste.

State regulators are suing the U.S. Department of Energy for what they say is a failure to adequately clean up legacy waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and they will impose tougher rules for disposing of waste generated at the lab during the Cold War and Manhattan Project.

Critics have bashed the 2016 agreement for waste cleanup — known as a consent order — that was crafted under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, saying it weakened the original 2005 order by eliminating real deadlines and imposing few penalties for slow or deficient work.

The lawsuit, filed in state District Court, seeks to cancel the consent order, fine the Energy Department about $330,000 for not meeting its cleanup obligations and have the court oversee mediation between the two parties for a new waste agreement.

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