NNMCAB To Recommend That DOE Suspend Order Pertaining To Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

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The Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board (CAB) has voted to recommend that the Department of Energy suspend Implementation of Order 140.1 pending clarification of how the Order will be implemented at Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Management sites and how much implementation may differ from previous practice.

Order 140.1, entitled, “Interface With The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” was issued May 14 and effective on the date of publication. According to the Order, its purpose is to “emphasize line management accountability and establish clear requirements and responsibilities when working with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.”

CAB members discussed the Order during their Sept. 26 meeting in Taos and opted to recommend suspension of the Order after reviewing background information presented by Chair Stan Riveles. CAB members expressed concern that the terms of the Order appear to restrict the mission of the DNFSB and are worried about how effectively the DNFSB will carry out its safety mission in the future.

The CAB is requesting that DOE provide such clarification on several issues pertaining to the Order through the Environmental Management (EM) site manager, through DFNSB representatives at LANL and at public forums. It is also recommending that the DNFSB hold its next meeting in New Mexico as Representatives Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have proposed. The Order was released without advance public notice and without opportunity for public comment and CAB members wanted to know why it was put into effect without notice in the Federal Register or public hearings.

Some of the questions the CAB members want answered pertain to what direct and indirect effects restrictions of the DNFSB have on the CAB’s information and oversight mission and responsibilities. They are asking for a full accounting of the changes under the Order that will affect EM sites and how it is designed to benefit the public, nuclear workers and public health.

CAB members also want to know how the Order will affect the flow of information for the CAB to fulfill their advisory role with DOE/EM and what the actual impact of the Order will be on DOE/EM and its contractor. They are also asking of the Order conflicts legally with the statute that created the DNFSB.

Another question being asked is why the DNFSB been excluded from information regarding DOE Nuclear Hazard Category 3 or below. The CAB is also asking what are the  expected life-cycle costs and duration of the LANL clean-up.

An Sept. 19  letter from Acting DNFSB chairman Bruce Hamilton to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry says testimony by Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette and DOE senior staff at the DNFSB’s Aug. 28 public hearing confirms the Board’s apprehension that the Order “wrongly attempts to diminish the Board’s ability to perform its statutory mandate under the Atomic Energy Act as amended”.  The letter indicates that the Board plans to hold two additional hearings to solicit feedback from the public and stakeholders.