Order modified to include Intellus NM

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Lab: New environmental database draws criticism

By The Staff

The National Nuclear Security Administration and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, submitted a modification to the March 1, 2005 Consent Order and received approval for requested modification from the New Mexico Environment Department Hazardous Waste Bureau.

The Class 1* equivalent modification to the Consent Order was submitted to the NMED-HWB Oct. 22.

The modification added a new section, Section III.Z, Public Environmental Database, that requires the maintenance of a publicly accessible database containing data from environmental media collected as part of environmental investigation and monitoring activities. The NMED-HWB approved the modification Oct. 29.  The name of the database is Intellus NM,

The new Consent Order requirement replaces the Risk Analysis, Communication, Evaluation and Reduction (RACER) database which was terminated by NMED-HWB on Oct. 30.

“Adding this enforceable requirement to the Consent Order ensures that the laboratory will continue to make its environmental data available to the public,” said Pete Maggiore, assistant manager of the Environmental Projects Office for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office.

“We are pleased that the Environment Department approved the modification,” said Jeff Mousseau, associate director of the laboratory’s Environmental Programs organization.  “Our sampling and monitoring efforts are extensive and we support the enhanced accessibility and transparency afforded by Intellus NM.”

The Chromium Settlement and permit modification come despite many recommendations made by the New Mexico Community Foundation, who had acted as a third party with the lab and NMED.

NMCF was asked to step aside by DOE despite working in a third-party capacity for the past eight years.

In its final report, NMCF listed the following recommendations.
• Third-party involvement in Intellus NM
“In the current absence of an agreement involving a third-party in the Intellus NM Project, we ask that the New Mexico Environment Department restore this requirement without delay. We ask that when NMED renegotiates the Consent Order, that they utilize their leverage to the requirement for Intellus NM,” the report said.
• Establishing an independent third-party contract with audit support
“Once a third-party’s involvement is restored, a direct contract with Locus is essential for the management of Intellus NM. A neutral party’s ability to manage any LANL database whose purpose is to provide the public with a comprehensive, accurate and functional source of information depends on their ability to work directly with the software developer to make needed corrections and improvements.”
• A migration audit must be performed to ensure the completeness of data transferred from each data providers’ legacy databases to EIM and to ensure that environmental data are not being withheld from the public. Without the ability to conduct frequent audits of Intellus NM, and therefore third-party access to Locus’ migration scripts, finding errors and missing data within the Intellus NM database amounts to what is essentially an inefficient hit and miss exercise. An audit should be conducted without delay to remedy mounting discoveries that LANL data in monitoring reports are not available in Intellus NM. “
• Implementation of Intellus NM improvements and basic corrections for public usability

“We also strongly recommend that existing malfunctions within the database receive the utmost priority; in particular, the inability to plot exceedances using the mapping function is a highly demanded function for public usability that is currently not working.

“Given the current and incomplete state of the Intellus NM application, if needed improvements are not funded and implemented soon, we have serious concerns about the public’s ability to effectively use Intellus NM to obtain environmental data of interest. We also recommend that LANL allocate funding each year to be used for Intellus NM improvements. “
• Protecting the longevity of Intellus NM
“If Intellus NM is to exist as a transparent, comprehensive and accurate database for this and future generations, NMED must create and enforce a separate agreement that ensures LANL’s environmental data are publicly accessible for the lifetime of the lab.”
• Public training of Intellus NM
“We fear that without access to trainings, access to information about the significance of the data Intellus NM contains, and implementation of our Intellus NM improvements requests (which were prioritized based on each improvement’s ability to increase data accessibility and Intellus NM user-friendliness), this new tool will be unusable to the public.”