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US Energy Department fined $304K over waste documentation

June 24, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has been fined $304,000 over missed deadlines in documenting waste shipments at Los Alamos National Laboratory, department officials said.

The New Mexico Environment Department cited the federal agency, the lab and the lab’s contracted operator Triad National Security LLC for eight violations dating back to 2017 involving documentation deadlines missed by a year or more, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

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“This has been a recurring issue that had not been addressed by the past administration,” environment department spokesperson Maddy Hayden said, explaining why the lab was being cited now for the older violations.

All violations occurred under former Republican Gov. Susana Martinez and previous lab operator Los Alamos National Security LLC. Triad took over lab management in November 2018.

Martinez pressed for laxer waste management during her tenure, the newspaper said.

The lab repeatedly violated the 1995 Federal Facility Compliance Order by failing to provide required information within 45 days after waste was shipped, resource protection director Stephanie Stringer said in a letter earlier this month. One violation was 392 working days past the deadline.

The violations were similar to incidents reported in 2011, 2014 and 2015, showing a long-term pattern, Stringer said.

The state’s citation is based on “administrative discrepancies that were identified, self-reported and corrected by LANL,” said Toni Chiri, a spokeswoman for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

It was unknown whether the nuclear security administration plans to challenge the fine.

The lab will continue to work with the state to meet all regulatory requirements for waste storage and shipments, Chiri said.