Aug 21, 2008

Environment Dept. wants stricter stormwater standards for LANL

New Mexico Business Weekly

The New Mexico Environment Department is fighting an effort by Los Alamos National Laboratory to overturn state rules for discharging storm water into streams and rivers, requirements that are more stringent than federal standards.

The Department has filed a motion with the state Water Quality Control Commission to dismiss a petition by the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC that appeals the Environment Department’s more stringent requirements on storm water effluent from LANL.

The Department’s requirements for storm water discharges from various locations at LANL are based on a lower “hardness” value than has been proposed by the lab. Hardness values indicate the mineral content of the water. Low hardness values cause certain metals to become toxic to aquatic life at lower concentrations. Thus, using a lower hardness value in permit calculations results in more stringent effluent limits on toxic materials.

Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry said the requirements are necessary to protect aquatic life and he points out that new drinking water projects mean several New Mexico cities will be relying on this watershed for drinking water.

The Buckman Direct Diversion, planned by the city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County, will draw water from the San Juan-Chama Project and native Rio Grande water to provide drinking water for residents.

The Department of Energy and the University of California, which operates LANL with several companies as Los Alamos National Security, applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a permit for storm water discharges into surface waters at LANL in 2005 and revised the application in 2007. EPA issued a draft permit in 2008.

The state Environment Department issued a state certification of that permit to EPA in May 2008, as required by federal law. The state’s certification was conditional. It required EPA to apply a lower water hardness value in setting effluent limits for metals, including cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, silver and zinc.

DOE and Los Alamos National Security appealed the conditional state certification to the Water Quality Control Commission in July. But Environment Department officials said the appeal was not submitted within the required 30-day time limit and filed a motion to dismiss the petition for review.

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While we're on the subject of water, now would be a good time to mention that the LANL Daily News Bulletin published a link to Los Alamos County's 2007 Drinking Water Quality Report on Wednesday.

I'm no expert on water, but the report is only eight pages. What caught my attention was the Consumer Confidence Report on page six. In the Radionuclides section it lists detections of alpha emitters (plutonium is an example of an alpha emitter) of up to 12.579 pCi/L (picoCuries per Liter).

The MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) is the “Maximum Allowed”. In other words, the highest level of a contaminant that is allowed in drinking water. The MCL for alpha emitters is 15 pCi/L.

12.579 pCi/L is below the MCL of 15 pCi/L, so why did that catch my attention? The consumer Confidence Report lists the "Likely Source of Contamination" as "Erosion of Natural Deposits", but does not specify what isotopes were found in the drinking water. Knowing only the gross alpha, it seems odd to attribute it to natural sources. Or perhaps the contributions of each alpha emitter are known but were not published. Hopefully some of the blog readers can provide more information.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love terrorism. I show it by driving an SUV. I want to kill US soldiers. I have a "support our troops" sticker on my big truck. I negate my words by wasting gasoline.

Anonymous said...

Curry just wants people to notice him, so he picks the biggest (most obvious) target sure to chime with the Santa Fe crowd.

You want the problem solved NMED? Throw some money in the pot, take it to Washington, and get them to pay their fair share.

Let's see Udall get on that horse and ride!

Anonymous said...

This blog is dead

Anonymous said...

I agree. This blog is indeed d-e-a-d.

Anonymous said...

"I agree. This blog is indeed d-e-a-d." (5:23 PM)


Much like LANL, itself, which is slowly dieing under the weight of "for-profit" privatization from LANS/Bechtel.

Dieing blog, dieing lab, and an increasingly apathetic workforce which is running on incredibly low morale.

Hey, you don't suppose these things are all related somehow, do you? Nah, they couldn't be.

Anonymous said...

Watch the short YouTube video below to get a view of the swell buildings that contractors Bechtel and KBR have built for their headquarters in Washington DC. I'm pretty sure some of our new "for-profit" LLC top managers will soon be living in nice homes like the ones shown here some day. Just give them some more time to collect those big bonuses.

The Wrecking Crew, by Thomas Frank

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcEBg8aUtRE

Anonymous said...

Some interesting stuff in the latest campaign contribution listings:

www.chicagotribune.com/
news/politics/
chi-0707014obamacontributionsg3-htmlpage,
0,5077760.htmlpage

For McCain (R):

- Wallace, Terry C. Dr. Los Alamos NM 87544 Los Alamos National Laboratory/scie $250.00 05/30/2008 Mccain

- Wallace, Terry C. Dr. Los Alamos NM 87544 Los Alamos National Laboratory/scie $250.00 03/12/2008 Mccain


For Obama (D):

- Seestrom, Susan Los Alamos NM 87544 Los Alaos National Laboratory/physi $500.00 06/09/2008 Obama


Wallace is obviously a Republican (no big surprise here, given his mom) and Seestrom is a Democrat. However, you would think that with their big salaries these people could be a little more generously to their respective campaigns.

As for me, I'll gladly donate the full $2,300 campaign limit to any politician who is willing to work at kicking out the LANS LLC privateers and returning LANL back to non-profit management status. It would be money well spent, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Actually, 10:11pm, the blog is in trouble because nothing is posted that is interesting or that anyone actually working at LANL gives a shit about. It long ago stopped being a LANL blog.

Anonymous said...

8/23 11:30 pm: "the blog is in trouble because nothing is posted that is interesting or that anyone actually working at LANL gives a shit about. It long ago stopped being a LANL blog."

Too true, but not surprising since the blog owner was never a LANL employee, doesn't care about LANL employees, and lives far away from LANL.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic, but I don't know how to suggest a new post.

Has anyone noticed ageism in the CPD II process? As far as I can tell, any scientist under 35 in my division was automatically mapped into Scientist 2, whether or not they bring in funds, lead a project, etc. This seems a sure way to get rid of all the young people at LANL. Anyone else have problems with the way CPD II is being implemented?

Anonymous said...

When Frank has nothing new to post he seems to resort to putting up endless stories about LANL contamination. That's not his fault. He's trying to keep the blog refreshed with stories and those types of stories are easy for him to find.

Help give Frank some variety and more compelling content. When you see an interesting story about LANL in the news, hear a juicy rumor or come across a particular interesting LANL memo, pass it along to Frank so that everyone can see it and comment about it.

The idea of a healthy blog should be to keep people informed about what is really going on around them. I suspect lots of LANL workers hear things (some true, some false) but none of it has been passed along to this blog of late.

Don't be a reader who occasionally leaves anonymous comments. Help Frank out with compelling content if you want to see this blog survive.

Anonymous said...

It's the end of the summer doldrums.

The sheep have eaten their fill of fresh grass and are lazily sleeping in the meadows below, waiting to be sheared.

Some of the flock will soon be gone. Unbeknown to the sheep, a few of them have been selected to be fattened up for slaughter and sold off by the wealthy sheepherders.

Not all flock loses come from a sell off. Stealthy wolves in sheep clothing hide behind the bushes at night looking for the most vulnerable of the flock to pick off. In addition to this, stress from the newly aggressive heading dogs brought in over the last two years has taken it's toll on many of the sheep. Some of them look rather sickly and beaten down. They may not make it through the winter.

Overall, it's been a very good year for the shepherds of LANS. They'll soon see a richly deserved bonuses come harvest time. Many of these shepherds will use the big bonus to buy a nice wagon with deluxe wooden wheels and a covered top.

The great circle of life continues at LANL.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone else have problems with the way CPD II is being implemented? (10:23 AM)

I'm hearing about a fairly significant amount of "redlining (i.e., staff with current salaries near or over the max bounds). Redlining for researcher staff may be running around the 20% mark. These unfortunate people will see no raises for many years to come. As far as younger staff all being stuffed into Level II, I wouldn't doubt it for a minute.

The way I see it, though, LANS really doesn't give a crap if the research staff at LANL is unhappy with their salaries. In fact, they probably view the exit of researchers as a good means to help balance the LANL operating budget. Balancing the operating budget is their chief concern right now, and not promoting science. However, the LANS desire to balance the budget doesn't mean they'll be cutting back any manager salaries or reducing the ridiculous ratios of staff to management.

It's also been rumored that our new Bechtel overseers feel that the LANL research staff are: (a) too large, and (b) overpaid. From the way things have been going of late, I'm assuming they don't feel the same way about the many construction managers that LANS has been hiring away from Bechtel. The salaries in those CPD I positions are very high.

Let's face facts. Privatization is clearly going to be the death of LANL. LANS should go ahead and take the word "Laboratory" out of the name LANL. Bechtel has more profitable plans now that they own the place.

Anonymous said...

Correct about LANS not wanting many if any of the research staff around. They are all a pain in the ass. They are smart and motivated. AND, many have international reputations. They have long lists of publications and are often fellows of their professional societies. SO, they have strong grounds to fight improper CPD classifications, low raises, and/or terminations.

There is a similar attitude toward those of us who bring in WFO money. The problem with WFO projects is that there is outside review (the sponsor). Most failures of WFO projects stem from the actions of upper management causing cost overruns due to their changing the tax structure, mandating shutdowns (Admiral Butthead's standdown resulted in a number of WFO sponsors withdrawing their funds), forcing WFO project leaders to employ incompetents, etc.

Anonymous said...

"However, the LANS desire to balance the budget doesn't mean they'll be cutting back any manager salaries or reducing the ridiculous ratios of staff to management."

On the contrary, LANS has a performance metric to reduce overhead rates, and that's exactly what's going to happen on Oct. 1. So expect to see some managers trolling around looking for program codes to charge their time on.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what you can do if you do not agree with your CPD II classification?

Anonymous said...

8/24/08 10:23 AM wrote "Has anyone noticed ageism in the CPD II process? As far as I can tell, any scientist under 35 in my division was automatically mapped into Scientist 2..."

Heck if the scientists under 35 were not such self-entitled, lazy babies, perhaps they would be mapped a bit higher.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/world/25nuke.html?hp


In Today's NYT Los Alamos looks good.

Anonymous said...

"8/24/08 10:23 AM wrote "Has anyone noticed ageism in the CPD II process? As far as I can tell, any scientist under 35 in my division was automatically mapped into Scientist 2..."

Heck if the scientists under 35 were not such self-entitled, lazy babies, perhaps they would be mapped a bit higher.

8/25/08 8:55 AM"

Give it brake Mr Troll.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8/25/08 7:03 AM wrote:

"So expect to see some managers trolling around looking for program codes to charge their time on."

Indeed that game has been played many times at LANL and even more often at LLNL.

I am retired, but when I was there I fought hard against non-participating managers charging my WFO accounts. I threatened to go to Audits and Assessments more than once. That is called "career-limiting behavior."

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/25/world/25nuke.html?hp

"They traced the route of the defective parts from Pfeiffer Vacuum in Germany to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico,..."

Humm, defective parts. Ok LANL, are you sure those pits you've made will really work?

Or, perhaps they meant Los Arzamas :)

There's so much speculation & innuendo in the article, it's difficult to sort out the facts.

Frank Young said...

Maybe someone who shares my warped sense of humor could report these pumps as Suspect/Counterfeit and Defective Items.

Send a copy of the paperwork to me and I'll make a blog post out of it.

Anonymous said...

"I threatened to go to Audits and Assessments more than once. That is called "career-limiting behavior."

I say f*ck-em. If managers and the like are going to do illegal things, then I will report their acitivities on the blog - DOE and others do pay attention.

Anonymous said...

8:55 AM - you said it brother. We calls them folks "millenial". Full of shit and arrogant as hell. They tell us managers "we are entitled to have a life". Right, well welcome to Scientist 2 Land folks.

Anonymous said...

Well, we got a lot of Scientists 2's in C-IIAC. Yowza!

Anonymous said...

" 8:55 AM - you said it brother. We calls them folks "millenial". Full of shit and arrogant as hell. They tell us managers "we are entitled to have a life". Right, well welcome to Scientist 2 Land folks.

8/25/08 7:06 PM"

For people without a sense of humor,
this is called a joke.

Anonymous said...

8:26 PM - you need to take a look in B, there you will find a CandyLand of 2's.

Anonymous said...

I am retired, but when I was there I fought hard against non-participating managers charging my WFO accounts. I threatened to go to Audits and Assessments more than once. That is called "career-limiting behavior." (11:51 AM)

LANS recently issued a memo about this type of activity and Mike has also discussed it.

The new LANS policy makes it very clear that you can only charge codes you actually work on. To do otherwise is considered fraud and grounds to be fired. The new policy says you can even have your salary confiscated for flagrant code charging abuse.

We'll see if LANL managers are somehow exempt from this new code charging policy.

Anonymous said...

The key idea behind CPD II is to begin the process of reducing the salaries of LANL researchers over time. It's felt by LANS that most of the research staff are overpaid.

Yes, you can file a protest. No, it won't change anything. The LANS attitude appears to be: "If you don't like it, then go ahead and leave."

More items like this are coming. Just wait until you have to start forking over a large percentage of your salary to keep TCP1 afloat.

Anonymous said...

Suppose a researcher needs funding to protect their job at LANL and to help support the lab's enormous overhead monster with more cash.

The TSM take on the task of writing an excellent proposal for a WFO or DOE Office of Science project. However, it takes the researcher 4 months to complete the proposal and get it through the broken LANL/NNSA bureaucracy. And while writing this proposal and shepherding it through a broken system, this researcher charges their time to what, exactly?

Seems to me that LANS policy crack-down on charge code usage may have the effect of turning large segments of the research staff into charge code "criminals" who must somehow work under the radar.

This system is unworkable and dishonest. But, then, perhaps LANS and Bechtel really don't want to encourage the research staff to bring in more DOE and WFO projects at LANL. Could that be the answer?

Anonymous said...

It has always been illegal to mischarge as you describe, 10:16. It was just widely ignored before.

Anonymous said...

"It has always been illegal to mischarge as you describe, 10:16. It was just widely ignored before." - 2:28 PM

According to the latest LANS policy, in addition to being fired they added the option to deduct money from your wages for any time that was charge to the wrong code.

Since this would naturally include all the bloated overhead taxes, a TSM who charged to the wrong code for six months might have to fork over about $200 K in any future earnings. Ouch! That's a liability that can't be ignored.

Anonymous said...

And while writing this proposal and shepherding it through a broken system, this researcher charges their time to what, exactly?

If you ever have been a postdoc you would know. The day has 24 hours and you are only paid for 8.

Anonymous said...

9:23 PM - you must mean being a postdoc at a university since most postdocs at LANL work much less than they are paid for.

Anonymous said...

6:33 AM - hey, we suffer to come to LANL so back off.

Anonymous said...

"6:33 AM - hey, we suffer to come to LANL so back off.

8/27/08 7:04 PM"

For those without a sense of humor,
this is called a joke.