Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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

Potential Release Sites

Legacy sites where hazardous materials are found to be above acceptable levels are collectively called potential release sites.


  • Environmental Communication & Public Involvement
  • P.O. Box 1663 MS K491
  • Los Alamos, NM 87545
  • (505) 667-3792
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Less than 10 percent of the total number of potential release sites need to go through the full corrective action process.

What are potential release sites?

Potential release sites are areas around the Laboratory and the town of Los Alamos at which hazardous materials from past activities have been found. Some examples of potential release sites include

  • septic tanks and associated drain lines
  • chemical storage areas
  • wastewater outfalls
  • material disposal areas
  • incinerators
  • sumps
  • firing ranges
  • areas contaminated by leaking storage tanks or spills

Where they are located

Potential release sites are found along mesa tops, canyon walls, and canyon bottoms. Most are located on property owned and controlled by the U.S. Department of Energy, but some are located within the Los Alamos town boundaries, on private property, Los Alamos County property, or U.S. Forest Service land.

Number of sites reduced by over 60 percent

Since 1989, the Laboratory has reduced the number of potential release sites requiring further action from the original total of approximately 2,100 sites by more than 60 percent. This has been accomplished by remediating sites that were found to be contaminated and by evaluating sites and confirming that any chemical elements are not present at levels that will harm human health, plants and animals, or the environment.

Path to completion

Only a small percentage of the total number of potential release sites (less than 10 percent) will need to go through the full corrective action process.

According to current project funding levels, the full investigation and remediation process for these remaining sites will take at least 15 years to complete. Work to date has focused on sites located in Los Alamos (townsite), at the head of Los Alamos/Pueblo watershed, and then continued on to the Mortandad and Water/Canon de Valle watersheds. Work will progress to the remaining watersheds until sites in all eight watersheds are investigated and remediated, as necessary.

Database entry and management

EP-DIV-SOP-20021, Potential Release Site Database Data Entry and Management (pdf) outlines the process for managing and entering information into the database. The database is a tool internal to the Laboratory, but if you need access, contact the Environmental Programs Division at (505) 606-2337.

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