By SUZIE SCHWARTZ
No Environmental Review for LANL Expansion?
As many of your readers know, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a stovepipe agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), is planning a massive expansion at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to increase its unnecessary plutonium pit production mission to 30-80 pits per year (ppy).
Plutonium “pits” are the fissile cores for detonating nuclear warheads. Plutonium is a heavy metal and radioactive, lasting more than 240,000 years. Plutonium pits have been described by DOE officials as the “linchpin” of the United States nuclear weapons stockpile.
LANL was the original pit factory, creating the original plutonium atomic bomb, tested at the Trinity Site, the uranium bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, and the plutonium bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, which, essentially, was a plutonium pit.
Subsequently, the DOE established the Rocky Flats Plant west of Denver. It became the DOE’s site of mass production of pits in order to fuel the Cold War. 70,000 pits were produced there.
After Rocky Flats was raided and shut down by the FBI for environmental crimes circa 1989, the pit mission was transferred back to LANL. In the late 1990s, LANL was instructed to make 20 ppy by DOE mandate. However, since then, LANL has been able to produce only a handful of pits due to cleanup, nuclear criticality safety and seismic issues, and corporate mismanagement.
Fast forward to the present mandate for 30-80 ppy to be built at the LANL and Savannah River sites, concurrently with transporting and dismantling the thousands of perfectly “usable” pits we have stockpiled.
The NNSA has stated it will not conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact Study (PEIS), typically required by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations for projects involving two or more locations.
It also appears that NNSA will not conduct a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for the huge LANL expansion. It plans to move forward with what is called a Supplement Analysis (SA), which is not an environmental study, but assesses whether a new environmental review is necessary at all. A Supplement Analysis has no enforceable requirements for public review and comment or impact mitigation.
The existing SWEIS for LANL was completed in 2008 and analyzed the production of up to 80 plutonium pits per year in a new facility The study assessed a limited number of alternatives, now obsolete, and depended on a variety of assumptions now known to be false.
NNSA’s new plan is for the production of a minimum of 30 plutonium pits per year, in what is already a 42-year old facility with serious ongoing unresolved problems.
LANL’s massive plutonium pit expansion plans and associated infrastructure will affect Northern New Mexico’s peoples, cultures, health, safety, economy, environment, and climate. Yet Senators Heinrich and Udall and Congressman Lujan have stated they fully support NNSA’s plutonium operations expansion for LANL, with only a Supplement Analysis, as opposed to any sort of environmental nation-wide programmatic environmental review, followed by a site-specific environmental review for LANL.
Our Democrat delegation tends to be fairly progressive on a number of important issues facing our country and the planet, but in regard to this, the seldom mentioned nuclear weapons industry, they are failing us.
It is imperative that our New Mexico delegation lead Congress on behalf of its own constituents and the whole country, change its stated position, stand up to DOE/ NNSA and act now to demand a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the two sites, followed by a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement to address all of the potential impacts of expansion.
New Mexico needs a fresh look!
If you would like to sign the petition, circulate a copy or learn about other ways for your voices to be heard and responded to, please contact Suzie in Taos: 575 770- 2629, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Petition to Senators Tom Udall & Martin Heinrich & Representative Ben Ray Lujan
|The Peoples, cultures, health, safety, environment, economy, and climate of Northern New Mexico are directly impacted by nuclear weapons operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), which has ongoing safety issues. In the long term, current plans are to leave much of the 75 years’ worth of radioactive, toxic, and hazardous waste buried onsite.|
|As your constituents, we, the undersigned urge, our leaders to act now to demand that the Department of Energy (DOE) conduct a Programmatic Environmental Impact State followed by a NEW Site-Wide Environmental Impact Study (SWEIS) for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) before any expanded plutonium pit production and associated infrastructure projects begin. The current LANL SWEIS was completed in 2008 and analyzed the production of 20 plutonium pits per year in a new facility. The new plans are for the production of a minimum of 30 plutonium pits per year, in a 40-year old facility. New Mexico deserves a fresh look!
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