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Lab and NMED share a rocky road

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By Roger Snodgrass

While there are indications of an improved relationship between Los Alamos National Laboratory and the New Mexico Environment Department, there are continuing strains as well.

Some of them are beyond the abilities of the parties themselves to control.

In the laboratory’s performance evaluation report for this year, the Los Alamos Site Office credits itself and lab environmental management staff for having spent “much time with improving the regulatory relationships.”

One of the items that assesses the institutional management goes on to say that LANS, the management company that operates the laboratory, “was instrumental in developing a level of ‘trust' with the key regulator manager that allowed for weekly calls and open discussions on critical issues. LANS took on a subordinate role and did not argue or debate every issue, but instead improved documentation and treated the regulator with care and respect.”

The evaluation also complements lab management for taking a more aggressive approach about passing the “spot” checks that NMED conducts each year under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, when a team of state inspectors shows up unannounced.


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