The Energy Department will not contest $31,000 in state fines for leaving certain waste too long in temporary storage areas without prior approval at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico.
The nuclear-weapon lab has 30 days from April 5 to take issue with a penalty proposed in a New Mexico Environment Department notice of violation, according to a DOE report. The state agency’s Hazardous Waste Bureau could fine LANL and contractor Los Alamos National Security (LANS) $10,000 daily for each instance of noncompliance, and conceivably even take court action to suspend the site’s hazardous waste permit.
A lab spokesman confirmed by email Tuesday the Energy Department will not fight the penalty being assessed for violation of LANL’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permit.
The New Mexico Environment Department said in early April it planned to penalize the DOE facility for waste management infractions. Specifically, the lab had kept five containers of mixed-low-level radioactive waste and hazardous waste too long in temporary storage areas. Three containers were kept in a central storage area beyond the allowed 90-day limit. Two other containers remained in an area beyond the allowed one-year limit. Los Alamos had not sought any deadline extensions.
The waste storage infractions occurred after LANL suspended all waste shipments from Dec. 18 through Feb. 28, while it reviewed how it mislabeled a container of hazardous waste sent to contractor Veolia in Colorado for disposal. The break in shipments meant certain waste was stored longer than expected.
The Energy Department has said it is taking steps to prevent recurrence of such problems.