Bulletin #103a (renamed #104): Reminder! Important! Santa
Fe County takes up question of environmental impact analysis for
plutonium complex TOMORROW (11/30), 11 am
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November 29, 2010
If you live in Santa Fe County, please write the Santa Fe
County Commission right now! Ask them to vote yes on
requiring an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the huge
proposed plutonium building at Los Alamos National Laboratory
If you live in or near Santa Fe County, please come to the
County Commission meeting tomorrow at 11 am!
This is a big opportunity! Go to the County building at the
corner of Grant Ave. and Palace Ave (i.e. 102 Grant Ave.) in Santa Fe
and go up the stairs. Try to arrive a little early, and
remember parking can be tough.
It is very important to be there in person!
This is far more important than any Department of Energy meeting we
Ask the County Commissioners to support the Joint City/County
Resolution requesting a full environmental impact statement (EIS) for
the proposed Los Alamos plutonium complex. It’s on the
Commission agenda for tomorrow, November 30. Please write:
You can brief yourself using these new “Frequently
Asked Questions” (pdf), which is up-to-date. This
is the single best resource we have for most citizens right now.
Remember, this resolution only requests a full, proper EIS and
does not express opposition to the project. It only asks
NNSA to follow the law.
Our lawsuit gives citizens a big megaphone on this issue.
Please use it! This is not “business as usual!”
This single building would use more than twice the steel used in the
Eiffel Tower. It will cost almost as much as the total
assessed value of all real estate in Santa Fe County in 2008 ($6.4
billion) (pdf). It will require something like 1/10 of the
concrete used in Hoover Dam. It is by far the largest
government project in the history of New Mexico, except the
More talking points:
An EIS would help answer questions about this facility,
including questions about its long-term economic impact. What
would be the cost to tourism, and to property values, of building
and operating this facility, with the nuclear waste disposal and
nuclear transportation that would go with it? What would be
the cost to the identity and attractiveness of Santa Fe County?
How well would the area's status as a major tourist destination hold
up? Tourism is certainly far more important than LANL in the
region's economy, and far more important than the construction jobs
temporarily associated with this building. These are not
trivial questions, potentially requiring considerable research.
NNSA, not the County, should pay for that research, and it should be
done before CMRR-NF is a "done deal." NNSA may be
afraid of the answers, but we need to know. NNSA is required
to produce a mitigation plan for negative impacts, but if these
impacts aren't known there will be no plan.
NNSA has said that after construction there will be no new
jobs as a result of this building. So would the region be
better off with a plutonium processing center, or not? We
don't even know how many construction workers are expected to come
from out of state. We know that many construction workers will
need special nuclear certifications and must be recruited from afar;
what we don't know is how many of these "guest workers"
will be coming, where they will live, where their children will go
to school, or how these and other impacts will be paid for. An
EIS would be the foundation for any such discussion.
The health consequences of a major accident could be very
serious. The economic consequences could also be very serious,
and at lower contamination levels. At Rocky Flats, a health
advisory had to be, and may still be, attached to deeds of downwind
The incorporation of safety features into CMRR-NF design has
only occurred because of independent oversight and years of
political intervention, including by this organization. A new
EIS would greatly help with the process of internalizing
responsibility. No plutonium facility has ever operated
without serious environmental problems. To minimize these, or
to avoid them, an EIS is needed.
Since the 2003 CMRR EIS it has doubled in gross area,
increased its concrete requirements by a factor of more than 100,
and introduced the so-called "hotel" design concept which
makes future missions uncertain. Even those planning its
construction do not know all the missions proposed for this
building, because they have no "need to know." Its
environmental, traffic, social, and economic impacts are even more
mysterious, because they have never been studied in more than a
cursory fashion. Reasonable alternatives are not being
The proposed County resolution is not a referendum on the
pros or cons of this facility. It would merely ask for an
If CMRR-NF is a basically good, solid idea, examination of
alternatives and impacts via an EIS process can only improve it.
If it is a bad idea, NNSA, Congress, and the County need to know
that sooner, rather than later.
The last big plutonium facility built by the Department of
Energy (DOE) was only operated for one month (at Rocky Flats) before
design deficiencies crippled the building. DOE called it a
At present, NNSA is conducting a "supplemental" EIS
(SEIS) process for this facility. This process is meant to be
a "quick-and-dirty" way to provide better NEPA "coverage"
for the project, which continues. The SEIS process has a
number of defects. The SEIS examines just two alternatives to
building the proposed complex, one of which NNSA has already
abandoned. NEPA requires examination of all reasonable alternatives, not just one or two "straw men." Perhaps the greatest problem with the existing process is that
the Administration, in its negotiations with the Senate, has already
promised to build the facility. The "alternatives"
mentioned, supposedly the "heart" of the EIS process, are
not being seriously considered.
If you do not live in Santa Fe County but do live in Taos, Rio Arriba,
or Sandoval counties, please call your county commissioners and ask them to
sponsor a resolution asking for an EIS, preferably with a pause to
investment in the project in the meantime. If you live in an
incorporated town, talk to your town councilors to the same
end. The City of Santa Fe has already acted.
If you do not live in these environmentally affected areas, call
your congressperson and senator and ask them to halt funding for
this outrageous project.
Talk to your friends. Spread the word!
Encourage your friends to join with us by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trish, Darwin, and gang