Joni Arends’ files would probably fill a couple of the radioactive waste pits that have headlined the

New Mexico

Environment Department’s two-week public hearing on a proposed 10-year hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Arends says the opportunity for public involvement is unprecedented, and the permit, which has implications for groundwater monitoring, open-air burning of hazardous waste and nuclear waste storage, is also far-reaching.

From the end of a long table facing LANL scientists and NMED officials, bordered on one side by a glum-looking Pete Domenici Jr., Arends flips through a colossal binder before posing detailed questions often preceded by a long pause—partly because she’s playing a merciless game of catch-up.

“There’s an issue of fairness in all this,” Arends tells SFR. “Two hundred and twenty-one documents were just released to us in January.”

Activists requested those public documents from the NMED more than three years and one lawsuit ago.

“I’ve been sleeping about four hours a night,” Arends says. “This is 12 years of work coming to culmination in this room.”

In Santa Fe, hearings continue this week. For more on them and New


’s nuclear future, see