Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

In re Los Alamos National Security, LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy

03/14/2018
Case Number:NPDES Appeal No. 17-05
ELR Citation:48 ELR 41400

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (“Concerned Citizens”) filed an Informal Appeal with the Environmental Appeals Board (“Board”) under 40 C.F.R. § 124.5(b) seeking review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 6’s (“Region”) denial of Concerned Citizens’ request to terminate as to one outfall – referred to as Outfall 051 – a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permit issued for operations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico (“Los Alamos Laboratory”).

The Region issued the permit in 2014 (“2014 Permit”) authorizing Los Alamos National Security, LLC and the U.S. Department of Energy to continue discharges from eleven sanitary and/or industrial outfalls at the Los Alamos Laboratory, including the discharge of treated wastewater from the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility through Outfall 051. In its Informal Appeal, Concerned Citizens alleges that the Region erred in denying its subsequent request to terminate the 2014 Permit as to Outfall 051 because the Los Alamos Laboratory has not discharged liquid waste from that Outfall since 2010. Concerned Citizens asserts that permit termination is appropriate under 40 C.F.R. § 122.64(a)(4), which provides that after an NPDES permit is issued, “[a] change in any condition” requiring a reduction or elimination of any discharge is cause for permit termination. In response, the Region argues that Concerned Citizens failed to establish a change in any condition justifying permit termination.

Held: The Region did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in denying Concerned Citizens’ request to terminate the 2014 Permit as to Outfall 051. When the Region issued the 2014 Permit, discharges from Outfall 051 had not occurred since 2010 and would only be necessary if certain equipment became unavailable due to maintenance, malfunction or capacity shortage. Under these circumstances, the record supports the Region’s determination that Concerned Citizens failed to establish a change in any condition after the Region issued the 2014 Permit justifying permit termination pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 122.64(a)(4). The Board therefore denies the Informal Appeal.