Monday, December 9, 2013

Critique of DOI's Draft Plan for LANL

Comments submitted to

 On page ii of the Executive Summary of the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan (November 2013) the LANL Trustees are listed as:

> DOE.
> The U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting through the Forest Service.
> Pueblo of Jemez.
> Pueblo de San Ildefonso.
> Santa Clara Pueblo.
> The State of New Mexico, acting through the Natural Resources Trustee of the Office of Natural Resources Trustee.

However, neither the US Department of the Interior (DOI) nor Cochiti Pueblo are included here, whereas they were included in the Pre-assessment Screen for Los Alamos National Laboratory (January 2010.) (See below)Both of these omissions are troubling, albeit for different reasons:

1) In the case of the DOI, its omission from among the Trustees leads one to question the seriousness of the entire Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan. Since the DOE has been recognized widely by the general public, as well as by the Trustees, as being the source of the resource damage being investigated and, presumably, will also be the source of any financial recompense made for damages, it behooves the Trustees to have explicitly included among themselves some other federal Executive Agency of equal or greater political weight than the DOE. The DOE has already been soundly criticized in the press and by the general public for its lack of diligence in the timely cleanup of the mess that it has created at the nuclear weapons factories and laboratories.

To have assembled a group of Trustees, the most politically weighty of which is the DOE, when it is the DOE who is responsible for the toxic mess that has been created and will be responsible for its cleanup, is to tacitly agree to the perpetuation of the status quo; i.e., to a situation in which the DOE continues to mismanage the cleanup and continues to obfuscate the problems that it is experiencing along the way.

2) In the case of Cochiti Pueblo, this is a troubling omission since, according to the Pre-assessment Screen, Cochiti Pueblo has suffered potentially serious resource damage due to past LANL operations; viz.,

quoting from the Pre-assessment Screen (January 2010)/ (p17):

"According to the 1999 SWEIS,"

"The major contributors to environmental impacts of operating LANL are
wastewater discharges and radioactive air emissions."

"> Historic discharges to Mortandad Canyon from the RLWTF have
resulted in above background residual radionuclide (americium,
plutonium, strontium-90, and cesium-137) concentrations, as well as
nitrates in alluvial groundwater and sediments."

"> Plutonium deposits have been detected along the Rio Grande between
Otowi and Cochiti Lake."
"Additionally, releases of plutonium have been detected in sediments within Cochiti
Reservoir and below in the Rio Grande as far south as Albuquerque (Graf 1994). Once
contaminants have been released to the environment, they can be remobilized and
transported over distances or into new media. For example, storm events can redistribute
sediment in stream beds, wind can shift contaminants in soil, and soil contamination can
be relocated by percolation of precipitation and groundwater movement."

"(Graf, W. L., 1994. Plutonium and the Rio Grande: Environmental Change and
Contamination in the Nuclear Age. Oxford University Press. New York, New York.
ISBN-13 978-0195089332.)"

Why has this important information, included in the Pre-assessment Screen, been omitted from the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan?

Why has Cochti Pueblo been excluded from the list of Trustees in the Draft Los Alamos National Laboratory Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan?

In my opinion, a public statement of the reasons for these omissions should be given now, and written into future versions of the Draft Plan.


Quoting from the Pre-assessment Screen (January 2010) / (p6)

"Natural resource Trustees for this site include the following."

"> The DOE acts as trustee for portions of LANL that are or have been owned
and/or operated by the United States. As such, DOE has trusteeship for natural
resources at LANL as a land management agency."

"> The DOI acts as a trustee for natural resources and supporting ecosystems that it
manages or controls. In this matter, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and National Park Service (NPS) act on behalf of
the Secretary of DOI as trustees for natural resources under the DOI’s
jurisdiction. As the authorized official for the LANL NRDA and Restoration
(NRDAR) effort, the BIA is delegated the authority to act on behalf of the
Secretary and consults with, coordinates with, and obtains the concurrence of the

"> The USDA, acting through the Forest Service, has trusteeship for various natural
and cultural resources of the Santa Fe National Forest (40 CFR § 300.600)."

"> The State of New Mexico, acting through the Natural Resources Trustee and the
Office of Natural Resources Trustee, and the Attorney General and the Attorney
General’s Office, holds trusteeship for a range of natural resources potentially
affected by releases from LANL (40 CFR § 600.605)."

"> Four federally-recognized Pueblos have been identified as holding trusteeship
over various resources that may have been injured as a result of releases from
LANL. These include Pueblo de San Ildefonso, Jemez Pueblo, Santa Clara
Pueblo, and Cochiti Pueblo."


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