Consensus Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Since the 1940s, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico--part of the nation's nuclear weapons complex under the U.S. Department of Energy--has disposed of its radioactive and other hazardous wastes on-site. Contaminants have been detected in groundwater beneath the site. This report assesses LANL's groundwater protection program, initiated nine years ago by New Mexico state law, which is now at about the halfway mark. The report finds that despite recent progress, LANL needs to address substantial technical challenges in understanding and quantifying its inventories of hazardous wastes and how contaminants from them can migrate to groundwater beneath the 40-square-mile site.