Feds Settle Nuclear Violations with New Mexico

New Mexico has reached agreement with the federal government over February 2014 nuclear incidents at Carlsbad and the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The U.S. Department of energy agreed in the settlement to make $74 million in improvements at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at Carlsbad and to the labs at Los Alamos. The improvements will be made to New Mexico’s roads, water infrastructure and emergency response measures.

Two years ago, the New Mexico Environment Department found the federal government had violated state hazardous waste permits at both sites. It identified 24 violations at Los Alamos resulting in $36.6 million in civil penalties and 13 violations at the Carlsbad site resulting in penalties totaling $17.7 million.

“LANL and WIPP are critical assets to our nation’s security, our state’s economy and the communities in which they operate,” said New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez. “The funds New Mexico will receive through this agreement will help ensure the future safety and success of these facilities, the people who work at them and their local communities.”

The largest funding will be $34 million to help the New Mexico Department of Transportation make repairs to New Mexico roads used for the transportation of transuranic waste to WIPP in the southeastern portion of New Mexico. The first project will be repairs to the WIPP North Access Road which is a nearly 13-mile stretch of road between Highway 62-180 and the WIPP site. Another $12 million will be spent on improving DOE owned transportation routes at the Los Alamos National Laboratory used to ship the waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at Carlsbad. Still another $10 million be spent on replacing aging potable water lines and installation of metering equipment for the Los Alamos potable water systems.

The remainder of funds will go to an offsite emergency operations center near WIPP, training for local emergency responders, installation of engineering structures in canyons in and around Los Alamos to slow storm water flow, and increased sampling and monitoring capabilities for storm water runoff in and around Los Alamos.


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