For Immediate Release: July 24, 1997

Contact: Lee Lysne 505-986-1973

Independent Auditor Cancels LANL Audit because of DOE Interference

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety takes DOE back to court for violation of Clean Air Act Settlement

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) has taken the Department of Energy (DOE) back to court less than 6 months after a court approved Consent Decree settled a CCNS lawsuit directed at DOE violations of the federal Clean Air Act at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). At issue is the settlement stipulation requiring that DOE/LANL submit to an independent audit by outside experts to determine whether LANL is in compliance with the Clean Air Act. The Consent Decree resulted from a law suit filed by CCNS to force LANL to monitor its radioactive air emissions in accordance with the law. CCNS President Caron Balkany said Dr. John Till, leader of the independent audit team, shut the project down because he would not cave in to lab demands that would have limited the scope of the audit. "The Consent Decree expressly prohibits DOE's interference with the independent audit, " Balkany said.

CCNS's attorney, Carol Oppenheimer said, "The lab still thinks it is above the law. After 5 years of violating the Clean Air Act, it is still looking for loop holes to evade its legal obligations. This community and its citizens are entitled to the independent audit required by the Consent Decree and we intend to get it."

Oppenheimer today filed in court two motions directed to other actions by the lab. According to CCNS Executive Director Lee Lysne, "DOE is reneging on its agreement to pay for CCNS to monitor the audit and has also refused to provide the proper radiation detection equipment for the equipment loan repository which was created for community use. The equipment the lab has purchased for public use will only detect contamination in the ambient air, not in soil, water or vegetation. This is totally unacceptable, particularly in light of new information released earlier this week by the New Mexico Environment Department DOE Oversight Bureau confirming that radioactive contamination has migrated off-site from the lab into surrounding areas. It is a sad state of affairs when citizens have to repeatedly sue the government to make them keep their promises."

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