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Local group tries to quash water hearing

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By Tris DeRoma

The Communities for Clean Water, a local coalition of environmental and nuclear safety groups in New Mexico, have filed a motion to dismiss a New Mexico Environment Department hearing for a proposed ground water discharge permit.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory requested the permit for Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.
The hearing is set to be held at 9 a.m. April 19 at the Fuller Lodge Art Center.

The Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility went to an alternative disposal system about eight years ago and has not discharged water into Mortandad Canyon since.

According to attorneys for CCW, if the New Mexico Environment Department issues the permit, the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility will be exempt from hazardous waste laws.

“The basic point is, if the facility is not discharging, then there’s no grounds to issue a discharge permit. Under the statutes the discharge permit for a facility that doesn’t discharge, it never comes into effect,” Lindsay A. Lovejoy Jr., and attorney for CCW said. “However, if you have a state discharge permit under the New Mexico Water Quality Act, the laws provide that you’re not to be regulated under the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.”

The NMED has not responded to inquiries.

“It would be a very good thing if the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility was regulated by the state hazardous waste act. It handles hazardous waste, and normally it would be subject to that law and required to have a permit,” Lovejoy said.

The Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility is located at Tech Area 50 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.