Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Delivering science and technology to protect our nation and promote world stability

Corrective Actions Process

The general process for evaluating and remediating potential release sites is called the corrective action process.


  • Environmental Communication & Public Involvement
  • P.O. Box 1663 MS K491
  • Los Alamos, NM 87545
  • (505) 667-3792
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Corrective actions

The Laboratory's corrective actions process refers to the way in which the Laboratory investigates, stabilizes, and when necessary, remediates sites where hazardous chemicals or radioactive elements are found within Laboratory boundaries or at the sites of former Lab activities in or near the town of Los Alamos.

Steps in the corrective actions process

Each step proceeds after approval from the New Mexico Environment Department:

  • Collect and evaluate existing data and information about the sites
  • Determine what sites need to be further investigated
  • Develop plan to collect and evaluate data and information that do not already exist about the site
  • Confirm what, if any, contaminants are located on the site

If we confirm that hazardous or radioactive elements have been "released" at a site (in other words, if they exist at that location), we then go on to determine the "nature" (the origin, type, and amount of chemicals, either natural or man-made, that are present in the environment) and "extent" (the way a chemical is distributed in the environment) of the contamination.

  • Conduct risk assessments—human health and ecological—if necessary
  • Determine and complete appropriate/approved cleanup activities
  • Document all decisions and conduct stakeholder involvement activities
  • Implement any necessary long-term surveillance and monitoring activities

There are two possible outcomes when site remediations are performed:

  • The site is restored to natural conditions, i.e., before LANL began operations, by removing contamination to levels that will not affect human health and the environment.
  • As much of the contamination as possible is removed and long-term stewardship activities are implemented, such as containing the contaminants on the site, restricting access to the site, and performing surveillance and monitoring as long as necessary.

Corrective actions are complete at a potential release site when the project has demonstrated and documented to the regulatory authority's satisfaction that the site poses no unacceptable risk to humans and ecological resources, such as plants and animals.

All corrective actions at the Laboratory are subject to the requirements of the Compliance Order on Consent.

Corrective Actions Program accomplishments

To read the detailed descriptions of accomplishments, read chapters nine and ten in the 2010 Environmental Surveillance Report (pdf).

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