Facts About the Consent Decree Settling the Clean Air Act Lawsuit Brought by CCNS Against the Department of Energy
In 1994, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) filed a citizens' lawsuit against the Department of Energy, CCNS v. DOE, (D.N.M. Civ. No. 94-1039-M) for Clean Air Act violations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). 40 CFR 61, Subpart H.
The federal district judge found for CCNS, based upon DOE's admission that 31 of 33 "major" stacks and associated quality assurance programs were not in compliance with the Subpart H regulation. In January 1997, facing $2.5 billion in possible penalties and the potential shutdown of many of its facilities, the Department of Energy (DOE) settled the landmark Clean Air Act citizens' lawsuit with CCNS.
Under the settlement provisions of the Consent Decree, up to four comprehensive independent audits will be performed to verify whether LANL is in full compliance with the Clean Air Act (Subpart H).
The parties agreed that Dr. John Till, of the Risk Assessment Corporation, and his Independent Technical Audit Team (ITAT) would perform the audits. The ITAT is comprised of Dr. John Till, Risk Assessment Corporation; Jill W. Aanenson, Scientific Consulting, Inc.; H. Justin Mohler, Independent Consultant; Arthur S. Rood, K-Spar, Inc.; and Helen A. Grogan, Cascade Scientific Inc. Dr. Till determines the scope of depth of the technical audits.
CCNS's consultants in the audit process are Dr. Arjun Makhijani and Bernd Franke, of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. DOE must pay for CCNS's technical consultants to monitor the ITAT in order to safeguard the independence of the audit process.
The audit schedule:
The first audit was to verify LANL's 1996 Subpart H compliance. During the first audit, the ITAT found that LANL "did not meet certain regulatory and technical requirements and was not in compliance with 40 CFR 61, Subpart H, for 1996."
The second audit was to verify LANL's 1999 Subpart H compliance. The ITAT concluded that LANL was in compliance with Subpart H. CCNS and IEER replied that the statement of compliance should have been conditional because LANL did not perform uncertainty calculations and that the relatively low dose estimate for 1999 (0.32 mrem) was partly the result of the fact that the main beam at the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) did not operate during 1999.
The ITAT has determined that a third technical audit will be conducted to verify LANL's 2001 compliance. The third audit began in June 2002. CCNS will continue to report the progress of the third technical audit.
If substantive deficiencies that require corrective actions are identified in the third audit, a fourth audit will begin no later than the end of 2003.
DOE paid $150,000 to the U.S. Treasury in compromise of CCNS's civil penalties claim.
DOE was required to fund $450,000 to the University of New Mexico's Masters in Public Health Program to establish an environmental health curriculum related to the Clean Air Act.
DOE was required to fund radiation training for individuals appointed by the counties, cities and Pueblos surrounding LANL, as well as CCNS members.
DOE was required to make available a repository of radiation detection equipment so that individuals who have completed the radiation training course can borrow the equipment to evaluate citizen concerns about radioactive contamination in the surrounding communities.
For five years (March 1997 to March 2002) DOE must operate two additional AIRNET stations, one located at LANL's Technical Area-33 (TA-33) and the other in Santa Fe. DOE is required to submit raw data and analyses from these AIRNET stations to CCNS and place a copy in the Los Alamos Reading Room.
For five years (March 1997 to March 2002) DOE must place thermoluminescent dosimeters (TLDs) capable of detecting gamma and thermal neutron emissions around LANL, including Technical Area-53 (TA-53) (LANSCE), TA-18 (experimental area for special nuclear material), TA-50 (the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility), TA-54 (LANL's Area G dump), and TA-15 and 16 (the firing sites). DOE is required to submit TLD raw data and analyses from these TLDs to CCNS and place a copy in the Los Alamos Reading Room.
Through September 2002, DOE must fund the Northern New Mexico portion of NEWNET, an on-line gamma radiation air monitoring program providing the public with "near real time" data. NEWNET may be found at newnet.lanl.gov.
Former LANL director Sig Hecker was required to use his influence to persuade the Environmental Health and Safety Panel, which advises the University of California President's Council on National Laboratories, to hear environmental issues raised by CCNS, LANL employees, and members of the public. LANL staff was required to provide staff assisstance to follow-up on the meeting.
DOE is required to pay CCNS's attorney fees and costs.
December 18, 2000. Minor revisions, August 21, 2002.
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