Scientific research began at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL, Site) in March 1943 with the United States government’s effort to develop and test nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapons research included the handling of, use of, and experimentation with a variety of radioactive materials. These practices led to the release of radioactive and hazardous substances into the surrounding environment. In 2005 a consent order was signed by the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL for remediating the facility. A new consent order, replacing the 2005 order, was signed by NMED and LANL in June 2016 which will guide and govern the clean-up of legacy waste at LANL.
The Site is located approximately 60 miles north of Albuquerque and 25 miles northwest of Santa Fe. It is situated on approximately 27,500 acres (approximately 40 square miles) in north-central New Mexico.
State of New Mexico
Pueblo De San Ildefonso
Pueblo of Jemez
Pueblo of Santa Clara
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
The Trustees for natural resources for the Site established the LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustee Council. The objective of the Trustee Council is to determine if natural resources have been injured as a result of the release of hazardous substances at the Site and to implement the appropriate resource restoration actions. In addition to its role as Trustee, DOE, which owns and operates LANL, is a potentially responsible party.
Natural Resource Damage Assessment
The LANL Trustee Council has commenced implementation of the natural resource damage assessment for the Site. The goal of the assessment is to replace, restore, rehabilitate, or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and resource services lost due to releases of hazardous substances. The Trustee Council will conduct the assessment using the framework described in the LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan.
Damage Assessment Plan
In 2014 the LANL Trustee Council issued the Final LANL Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan. The Assessment Plan represents the Trustee Council’s current understanding of the activities that may be necessary to identify and quantify natural resource injuries resulting from the release of hazardous substances from the Site, and to determine the appropriate scale and scope of restoration compensation. Inclusion of an activity within the Assessment Plan does not guarantee that it will be undertaken, and efforts and analyses not included within the Assessment Plan may be deemed necessary at a later date. As such, the Assessment Plan is not intended to limit the studies that may be undertaken in the course of the assessment, but to provide a framework within which the Trustee Council will prioritize efforts and implement the Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
The LANL Trustee Council issued the Preassessment Screen for Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2010. To develop the Preassessment Screen, the LANL Trustee Council conducted a preliminary review of available data and documents. Based on this review, the LANL Trustee Council concluded that various operations at the Site have resulted in the release of hazardous substances that have likely injured natural resources and that was reasonable to proceed with a natural resource damage assessment. The assessment will address natural resources both at the Site and all other areas where natural resources may have been injured by release of hazardous substances at LANL.