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New Mexico v. Richardson

ELR Citation: 29 ELR 21006
Nos. 91-2527 (JGP), -2929 (JGP), 39 F. Supp. 2d 48/(D.D.C., 03/22/1999) Request for preliminary injunction denied

The court denies New Mexico's request for a preliminary injunction and construction of a 1992 injunction to prevent shipments of waste to the waste isolation pilot plant (WIPP) in that state. The court first holds that the state cannot prove a likelihood of success on the merits. A previous injunction entered by the court in 1992 does not prevent the current shipment of waste to WIPP. The 1992 injunction addressed the matter before the court at that time and nothing more. Further, WIPP has interim status and can accept waste. Although the state repealed WIPP's exemption under the state's Hazardous Waste Act on February 23, 1989, the trigger date for WIPP's filing the application for interim status was July 25, 1990, the day the state received authorization to enforce state law in lieu of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). And WIPP filed both parts of its interim status application before the trigger date. Moreover, the waste in the proposed shipment is not hazardous under RCRA because the state environmental agency determined after sampling and analysis that the waste was to be managed as non-RCRA waste. The court also holds that the state failed to demonstrate that it will suffer irreparable injury in the event the injunctive relief is denied.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 22 ELR 21063, 21066, and 21262.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Lindsay A. Lovejoy Jr., Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
407 Galisteo St., Rm. 260, Santa Fe NM 87504
(505) 827-6000

Counsel for Defendants
Alice L. Mattice
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000