State Unveils Draft Of New Consent Order For Public Comment

Resource Protection Division Director Kathryn Roberts and NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn discuss the newly released draft Consent Order with the Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board Wednesday in Albuquerque. Photo by Roger Snodgrass/

The NNMCAB meets Wednesday in Ballroom A of the Sandia Casino and Resort in Albuquerque. Photo by Roger Snodgrass/


Los Alamos Daily Post

Albuquerque – The New Mexico Environment Department released a draft revision to the current Consent Order between the state and the Department of Energy having to do with cleaning up hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Until a new agreement has been reached, the current consent order, signed in 2005, remains in effect, although it has been overtaken by broken deadlines.

NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn introduced the new document at a meeting of the Northern New Mexico Citizen’s Advisory Board, a Department of Energy Environmental Management site-specific advisory board. The NNMCAB is one of the community stakeholders that he has regularly relied upon for review and advice. The presentation kicked off a 45-day public comment period, which will end on May 16.

Along with the NNMCAB presentation Wednesday, NMED also issued a public notice that includes two other public meetings:

  • April 8, 2016 – RCLC – Espanola City Council Chambers, 9-11 a.m.; and
  • April 28, 2016 – (NMED) Los Alamos County Council Chambers, 5-7 p.m.

‘We recognize that there are areas where this document can be improved,” Flynn said.

Additional plans include scheduling meeting with individual stakeholders, as requested, “to solicit input, address concerns and answer questions about the Consent Order.”

Flynn said the draft document was an effort to gather the lessons learned during the first 10 years of the original Consent Order, which was signed in 2005, and apply them to the next phase of work. NMED has argued that DOE has failed to provide adequate support for the legacy cleanup activities, partly because they have not provided an approved Lifecycle Baseline an important planning protocol for executing DOE cleanup projects.

The new Consent Order emphasizes accelerated action over paperwork and real remediation over the former emphasis on work plans, investigations, corrective actions, interim measures, corrective measures evaluations and implementations. Milestones will not be the only measure subject to penalties.

A major change will involve the clustering of projects into logical “campaigns,” organized by related situations and risks, so that tasks that have mutual affinities can be worked on in a concerted way. Groundwater contamination projects involving well-drilling, hydrological analysis and complex data monitoring, for example, can be more easily addressed under a campaign approach.

As it stands now the draft consent order is a work in progress. No final date has been specified for completion, Flynn said, because it’s impossible to know what is going to be decided on a lot of different levels. “I’d rather pick dates that are important today and tomorrow,” he said.

Although the proposed document contains a number of what NMED officials term “enhancements,” the public announcement notes one aspect of the original settlement that remains in force: “Any scope of work not completed under the 2005 Consent Order will be carried forward by inclusion in the Draft Consent Order.”