NNSA Issues Final SEIS for Nuclear
Facility Part of CMRR project
By John Severance
August 27, 2011 at 4:22 am /(Updated: August 27, 12:38 pm)/
National Nuclear Security Administration announced Friday it was
moving forward with its plans for the nuclear facility portion of the
Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project (CMRR) at the
Los Alamos National Laboratory.
An artist's rendering of the CMRR facility. Click on the
image to enlarge. <http://www.lamonitor.com/sites/www.lamonitor.com/files/imagecache/slide-600/CMRR.jpg>
The NNSA posted the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact
Statement (SEIS) on the DOE NEPA website.
The timing of the
release of the impact statement – late Friday afternoon –
did not go unnoticed by critics.
"It is unlikely that the
agency will receive any significant negative publicity for such
stunts, as most news reporters who cover NNSA expect such behavior,”
said Greg Mello, the director of the Los Alamos Study Group.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will issue a formal Notice of
Availability for the SEIS via the Federal Register, as required by
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations, in early
“DOE carefully considered suggestions,
alternatives and comments offered by stakeholders through NEPA’s
public input process,” said Kevin Smith, manager of NNSA’S
Los Alamos Site Office. “I am confident this document contains
the information and analyses needed to choose the right path forward
for providing the responsive infrastructure necessary to support our
nation’s nuclear security.”
The NNSA held a series
of meetings throughout the state to gather public comments concerning
the SEIS. And most of those comments were negative.
Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and Robert H.
Gilkeson issued a 43-page report in June, documenting their concerns
about the project. Their basis was that there was insufficient,
incorrect and misrepresented seismic information for design basis
related to earthquakes and it asked DOE to retract the draft SEIS for
“The data in the reports by DOE and LANL
show that the maximum power of the faults is M8, a great earthquake,”
Gilkeson said Saturday morning. “The hazard at the proposed
CMRR Nuclear Facility is based on a maximum energy of a 7.27
earthquake, which is more than 20 times below an M8.”
final SEIS calls for the NNSA to use the preferred alternative action
to build the CMRR Nuclear Facility in the lab’s Technical Area
55 and use an approach called the Modified CMRR-NF design
The press release says this is not the first time
NNSA has thoroughly investigated the environmental effects of the
proposed CMRR Project. It claims that LANL has conducted a new
site-wide seismic analysis of the geophysical structures that
underlie the lab area and NNSA has incorporated that information into
the design concept.
NNSA still has some decisions to make
There are two construction options for the
Modified CMRR-NF concept. One is the Deep Excavation Option, in which
a geologic layer of material would be removed and replaced with
low-slump concrete. The second is a Shallow Excavation Option in
which the facility is constructed in a higher geologic layer.
will determine whether to implement the Modified CMRR-NF, and whether
to use the Shallow or Deep option for construction of the planned
facility. The selected option will undergo engineering analysis and
independent review. A Record of Decision regarding NNSA’s
decisions on the CMRR-NF is expected in October.
eager to review its content, but the fact remains that it comes long
after full federal commitment to the project and hundreds of millions
of dollars in prior appropriations for this one specific project
only,” said Mello, whose Los Alamos Study Group currently is in
litigation with DOE and the NNSA. “The SEIS is a sham.
Because of the unprecedented scale of this project we need to look
beyond the specifics of this particular project to the broader
implications for our government, democracy, and social contract."
The projected cost of the project has ranged from $3.7
billion to $5.8 billion.
Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear
Watch New Mexico, added, “The NNSA and Los Alamos Lab seems to
pay little heed to wasting taxpayers’ money in these hard
economic times. … It would be far better if taxpayers’
monies were invested in getting Americans back to work, since the $6
billion Nuclear Facility will also produce no new permanent jobs.
Instead, it will just further entrench Los Alamos into the
diminishing nuclear weapons business, when now is exactly the time
that the lab should be diversifying its mission for job growth.”
The proposed CMRR project also faces another hurdle –
possible budget cuts.
In June, the House Appropriations
Committee voted to cut $100 million in FY 12 funding for the project.
The committee recommended allocating $200 million for the project, 33
percent below the budget request. The Energy and Water appropriation
bill was passed by the House and was sent to the Senate for
“It’s up the Senate and the super
committee,” Mello said.
The super committee was formed
last month when the federal government avoided a shutdown. Part of
the debt ceiling bill was that both chambers of Congress would
appoint three members from each political party and they would be
charged with coming up with $1.2 trillion in spending cuts this year.
Should the super committee fail, then automatic spending cuts would
go into effect that would drastically reduce defense spending.
CMRR would replace the 60-year-old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research
Building and consolidate existing capabilities at LANL.
full SEIS summary can be found attached with this story. The full
two-volume SEIS report can be accessed by clicking here <http://energy.gov/nepa/downloads/eis-0350-s1-final-supplemental-environmental-impact-statement>.