Agency hits lab with fines -- updated

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NMED > Civil penalties proposed to settle violations

By The Staff


The New Mexico Environment Department sent a letter to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, stating it plans to fine the lab $21,333.

NMED conducted a hazardous waste compliance evaluation and based on that inspection, it issued a notice of violation, dated March 1.

According to the letter, the NMED is proposing to assess a civil penalty of $21,333 to settle the violations alleged in the notice.

NMED spokesman Jim Winchester said the state entity would not comment on the proposed fine.

Lab spokesman Fred DeSousa said in a statement, ““The Notice of Violation (NOV) resulted from an April 2012 state inspection and all of the conditions have since been corrected.  Although the conditions presented no immediate risk to people or the environment and did not involve a release of hazardous waste, we take very seriously all of the requirements under our permit and the regulations.  In addition, the Laboratory has implemented a number of corrective actions to improve our compliance, including training and  strengthening our internal processes and procedures.  We are in discussions with the Environment Department regarding resolution of the NOV.”

The letter, which was addressed to LASO acting manager Juan Griego, cited the violations:
• Failure to properly fill out an inspection record form — $690
• Failure to place the time on two inspection record forms —$1,380
• Failure to perform a hazardous waste determination on 13 containers of wastes —$13,513
• Failure to perform a hazardous waste determination on pharmaceutical wastes- $5,750

The NMED also said it was requesting a meeting with appropriate LANL representatives in order to negotiate a settlement.

Another letter elaborated on the violations.

The first violation is associated with the weekly inspection form for Friday, July 22, 2011, associated with a site located at TA-54- 231, LANL allegedly failed to complete seven boxes on the report. According to NMED, the boxes are required to be completed during each daily inspection when waste is being handled.

The second violation had to deal with the alleged failure to appropriately complete weekly inspection forms. This violation is associated with two weekly inspection forms for the weeks of June 3 and December 28, 2011.
The time of inspection was not entered in either form per the permit condition.

The third violation had to deal with the alleged failure to make a hazardous waste determination.
This violation is associated with 13 unlabeled 85-gallon over pack drums located at TA-54, Area G.

The fourth violation had to deal with the fact that pharmaceutical wastes were not undergoing a hazardous waste determination at the Occupational Medicine Facility and were instead being recycled by EXP.

Meanwhile on Thursday, a facility located at Technical Area 3 was temporarily evacuated due to a chlorine smell that occurred while performing maintenance on a water treatment system, according to a statement from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Spokesman Kevin Roark said the facility was cleared for work and reoccupied after a short period of time.

Roark said there was no chlorine spill, no injuries and no damage.

Los Alamos Fire Department and the LANL Hazardous Materials team responded to the incident.