EM-LA’s Hintze Addresses NNMCAB Recommendations For Changes To Consent Order Appendices

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Department of Energy Environmental Management Los Alamos manager Doug Hintze, far left, responds to recommendations from the NNMCAB Consent Order Utility Ad Hoc Committee Thursday. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com


Northern New Mexico Citizens Advisory Board members meeting in Ohkay Owingeh Wednesday presented recommendations to Department of Energy (DOE) Environmental Management Los Alamos officials for what they felt would improve the utility of the 2016 Consent Order between the New Mexico Environment Department and DOE on legacy waste cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The recommendations were introduced by Beth Beloff of Santa Fe and Robert Hull of Los Alamos. NNMCAB chair Stan Riveles, who also worked on the recommendations was not present.

Board member Beloff said the goals of the recommendations are to promote transparency with regard to both lifestyle planning and progress as well as risk analysis in order to accelerate cleanup and strengthen public support for EM-LA, to lead better and more clearly informed decisions on how to prioritize campaigns, and to inform the public and stimulate feedback on what risks issues are of greatest concern to the communities represented.

The NNMCAB ad hoc committee that prepared the recommendations appeared to be asking for supplementary information to be presented in Consent Order appendices which they felt could lead to “great transparency and public support” for the Consent Order process. The committee also wants to present EM-LA with a “relative ranking” of the CAB’s concerns that it wants them to take into account when prioritizing targets and milestones for the coming fiscal year.

The committee is recommending that the major campaign projects for cleanup are explicitly based on four risk/issue categories:

  • Minimize Human Health Risk
  • Remediate Contaminated Groundwater
  • Minimize Ecological Health
  • Characterize All Potentially Contaminated Sites

EM-LA Los Alamos Field Office Manager Doug Hintze told the CAB the Consent Order took many months to negotiate.

“From the big picture I would tell you I agree with just about everything you said in your recommendations except for you tying it to the Consent Order. You could take all of those recommendations and include them in the public participation program without putting them into Appendix C or B,” he said. “The Consent Order already states in there that this is what needs to be accomplished and we will be using the project plans that come with the activities as measures of how far you go along.”

Hintze said he has already on several occasions given the lifecycle cost estimate with the narrative that shows the updates every year with the schedules and the costs associated with each campaign.

“That does not need to be done in an Appendix C. That should be part of the routine public transparency – that we should be making sure that everybody gets. Everything you said can be done without having to be put into the Consent Order. In my belief it’s going to be extremely difficult to get both the parties to agree for all of these things,” he said. “I think we would be more successful because we are already talking about it  – to enhance the public participation – provide those as things that need to be part of the public participation program because we can do that without needing the lawyers to get involved,” he said. “But when you start talking about changing the Consent Order it will be a long time.”

Hintze said Appendix B is the only thing it specifically says in the Consent Order has to be updated every year with the new milestones. He said most of the ad hoc committee’s recommendations indicate lack of communication

“Because all of this information should be out with the public right now…. My only comment is it will be extremely difficult if you tie it only to the Consent Order because the lawyers will be involved on both sides and the hands will get tied very quickly,” he said.