Los Alamos National Laboratory. Photo Courtesy LANL
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
New Mexico Environment Department officials have notified Department of Energy Environmental Management and National Nuclear Security Administration Los Alamos Field Offices of their intentions to impose fines totaling some $222,313 for 13 violations of the Hazardous Waste Act observed during a hazardous waste compliance evaluation inspection which began April 29 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
A letter received by EM-LA manager Doug Hintze and NNSA manager Steve Goodrum from NMED says the Department has determined that LANL has violated the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Management Regulations 20.4.1 New Mexico Administrative Code or LANL’S RCRA Hazardous Waste Operating Permit as follows:
- Failure to store hazardous waste for less than one year from the date that the wastes were first placed into storage. Inspectors observed a 55-gallon drum storing hazardous waste gasoline and contaminated absorbents in TA-54, Building 8 with an accumulation start date of Jan. 30, 2018. $16,640
- Failure to remedy any deterioration or malfunction of equipment or structures discovered during an inspection which may lead to an environmental or human health hazard. The permittees shall mitigate such deterioration or malfunction within 24 hours. Inspectors observed numerous significant cracks in the asphalt and concrete base in TA-54, Area G, Pad 10. $10,000
- Failure to store hazardous waste in containers with all applicable EPA Hazardous Waste Number. Inspectors observed one 55-gallon container in TA-54, Building 8 storing hazardous waste gasoline and contaminated absorbents without a D018 (benzene) waste number. $9,923
- Failure to store containers of hazardous waste that are stored outdoors and are not being actively managed, are protected from contact with precipitation using weather protective equipment (e.g., containment shell, secured tarp) or are protected by the design of the equipment. Inspectors observed numerous containers in TA-54, Domes 230 and 229 with rain water on top of them. $120,000
- Failure to properly characterize waste. Inspectors observed containers W838404, W838405, W838992, and W846065, which had previously been described in a letter from LANL dated December 10, 2018, as containing Trace High Explosives (“HE”); however, the labels on the containers during the inspection described different contents. The operating record as well as the labels observed do not identify the waste as Trace HE. $24,000
- Failure to conduct an accurate waste determination. Inspectors observed in TA-54, Building 501, Site ID 3725: one 5-gallon bucket labeled nonhazardous “Draeger tubes”; one 5-gallon bucket labeled non-hazardous “pending analysis”; and one 5-gallon bucket labeled non-hazardous “testing fluid”. Waste profiles were provided for the containers, but they lacked specific information to make an accurate waste determination. $10,000
- Failure to maintain records supporting hazardous waste determinations. Inspectors observed a 5-gallon container storing waste nitric acid (W849655) in a Central Accumulation Area (“CAA”), located in TA-60, Bldg. 17, Site ID #6672. The label identified the hazardous waste number as D002; however, nitric acid is also an oxidizer and must also have the DOOl hazardous waste number. The Waste Profile for W849655 does not include the DOOl hazardous waste number. $4,375
- Failure to identify/mark containers of hazardous waste with the applicable EPA Hazardous Waste Numbers. Inspectors observed one 5-gallon container of waste oxidizing liquid (W849517) labeled as D002 and DOU; however, the hazard indicator label on the container included an oxidizer. The Waste Profile for W849517 also indicates the waste is an oxidizer. Based on this information, the hazardous waste number DOOl should have been included on the container. $4,375
- Failure to maintain a satellite accumulation area (“SAA”) at or near the point of generation. Failure to maintain an SAA at or near the point of generation. Inspectors observed that the point of generation is several hundred feet from the SAA. No penalty assessment
- Failure to identify the hazards of the contents of the waste. Inspectors observed one 5-gallon poly container storing hazardous waste which did not have the hazards marked on the container. No penalty assessment
- Failure to separate incompatible hazardous waste containers stored in an SAA by practical means. Inspectors observed the following: a) Site ID 3763, acids and bases stored adjacent to one another in a cabinet. The wastes were not separated in separate secondary containment or any other visible means. b) Site ID 592, sulfuric acid and liquid sodium hydroxide stored adjacent to one another in a cabinet. The wastes were not separated in separate secondary containment or any other visible means. No penalty assessment
- Failure to take precautions to prevent the accidental reaction of reactive wastes. Inspectors observed, one 5-gallon container of water-reactive liquid waste. Site personnel, as well as documentation provided, indicated that the fire suppression system uses water, not foam. The container was not segregated or protected from potential exposure to water if the fire suppression system was activated. $7,500
- Failure to separate incompatible hazardous waste containers stored in a Central Accumulation Area by means of a dike, berm, wall or other device. Inspectors observed that one 10-gallon container of caustic hydroxide was located on top of a 10-gallon container of waste muriatic and sulfuric acids. $7,500
- Failure to mark or label containers of hazardous waste with an indication of the hazards of the contents. at TA-60, Site ID #6672, inspectors observed the following: a) One 5-gallon container of waste corrosive liquid (W849061) with the waste numbers DOOl, D002, D004, D006, D007, D008, D010, and D011. The container was labeled with hazard indicators oxidizer and corrosive, but not for toxicity due to heavy metal contamination. The Waste Profile for W849061 indicates that the waste exhibits the hazardous waste toxicity characteristics for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, selenium and silver. b) One 5-gallon container of waste flammable liquid (W849562) with the waste numbers D001, D009, D010, D018, and F003. The container was labeled with a flammable liquid hazard indicator, but not for toxicity due to heavy metal contamination. The Waste Profile for W849562 indicates that the waste exhibits the hazardous waste toxicity characteristics for mercury, selenium and benzene. c) One 5-gallon container of waste flammable liquid (W849465) with the waste numbers DOOl, D008, and F003. The container was labeled with the flammable liquid hazard indicator, but not for toxicity due to lead content. The Waste Profile for W849465 indicates that the waste exhibits the hazardous waste toxicity characteristic for lead. d) One 5-gallon container of waste oxidizing liquid with the waste numbers D002 and D011. The container was labeled with the oxidizer hazard indicator; however, it was not labeled with a corrosive or toxicity label, as indicated by the waste codes on the label. e) One 5-gallon container of waste water-reactive liquid (W849651) with the waste numbers DOOl and D003. The container was labeled with the dangerous when wet hazard indicator, but not for flammability. The Waste Profile for W849651 indicates that the waste contains dimethyl sulfoxide and tetrahydrofuran, which are flammable liquids. f) One 5-gallon container of waste corrosive liquid (W849464) with the waste numbers D002 and D010. The container was labeled with the corrosivity hazard indicator, but not for toxicity for selenium. The Waste Profile for W849464 indicates that the waste exhibits the toxicity characteristic for selenium. At TA-3, Site ID #1948, inspectors observed the following: g) One 5-gallon container of waste acetone with the waste numbers DOOl and F003. The container was labeled with the toxicity hazard indicator (which is not applicable) but not for flammability. No penalty assessment
- Failure to mark or label tanks containing used oil with the words “Used Oil” or with similar wording to identify the contents. At TA-3 at the compressor site near the LANL Power Plant, Bldg. 22, inspectors observed an unlabeled 500-gallon above ground used oil tank. $3,750Failure to mark or label fill pipes used to transfer used oil into underground storage tanks. At TA3, at the CGTG site near the LANL Power Plant, Bldg. 22, inspectors observed one 2000-gallon underground used oil tank in which the fill pipes were not labeled with the words “Used Oil”. $3,750
- The NMED letter, signed by Hazardous Waste Bureau chief John Kieling requests that LANL provide NMED within 30 days of receipt of the letter a written description of the actions taken to address the violations or a schedule for implementation of corrective actions not yet completed.
NMED may issue a Compliance Order requiring compliance immediately or within a specified time period or assess a civil penalty for any past or current violations of up to $10,000 per day of non-compliance for each violation, or both; or commence a civil action in District Court for appropriate relief, including a temporary or permanent injunction.
“Due to the nature and severity of the violations listed above, and LANL’s past history of noncompliance with 20.4.1 NMAC, NMED will propose a civil penalty for these violations in a separate Notice of Proposed Penalty letter, which is a settlement privileged document,” the NMED letter states.