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The New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) recent public venting at LANL over radionuclide reporting in groundwater appears to be another subterfuge at hiding its own inadequacies in regulation. NMED clearly has no statutory authority to regulate radionuclides at DOE facilities. LANL provides large amounts of information to NMED as a courtesy. Environmental surveillance reports dating back to 1970 and many other reports are full of data on ground and surface water and are publicly available. For many years there were quarterly public meetings to talk about LANL water issues. If people would read what is already published, it is unlikely there would be an issue.
In the meantime, NMED is 10 years overdue in renewing its hazardous waste permit for LANL. The administrative record totals more than 1.5 million pages. (The first item in this record is a 1938 technical paper on milk anemia.) This is a gross waste of time, human resources and most importantly, taxpayer money. If NMED were a private entity, it would be fined many millions for being over 10 years behind schedule on a simple permit renewal and would probably be shut down. By contrast, the entire Rocky Flats Plant was cleaned up in 10 years. It is now a wildlife refuge with a gravel road leading into it.
The citizens and taxpayers deserve better than they’re getting from NMED. They should not be fooled by NMED’s claims on radionuclide monitoring.
A. John Ahlquist
Walnut Creek, Calif.