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Press notice for immediate release August 26, 2011, 6:45 pm; full press release to follow this weekend

NNSA publishes "supplemental" EIS
for evolving Los Alamos plutonium megaproject


Would be most expensive government construction project in New Mexico history by far, dwarfing Manhattan Project effort here

In what has become a normalized, continuing effort to avoid any hint of democratic involvement, nuclear agency publishes at close of business on Friday

Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200

Albuquerque -- Late this afternoon the NNSA published its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the proposed $4 to $6 billion plutonium storage and processing complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). 

Called the "Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility" (CMRR-NF), this proposed building would dwarf, in constant-dollar cost any previous government construction project in New Mexico history.  Its purpose is to increase the speed with which LANL could manufacture plutonium warhead cores ("pits").  If approved by Congress and successfully built on schedule NNSA expects the facility to begin operations in 2023, after the stockpile has already been refurbished.

As per its usual practice, NNSA released this SEIS late on a Friday afternoon, to minimize public knowledge and discussion.  Study Group Director Mello: "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, normalized through long repetition."

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires EISs for major federal projects with significant environmental impacts, requires that EISs objectively consider "all reasonable alternatives" to its projects, and requires EISs "as early as practicable" in project development and certainly prior to federal commitment to the project.  The present SEIS, regardless of content, cannot meet those conditions.  Mello: "The release of this document during the Friday afternoon 'news hole' is a telling reminder of the insincerity of NNSA's 'public involvement' processes.  We are eager to review it's 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.  This 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."   

According to the draft SEIS and using an optimistic $5 billion total cost figure, this project will produce temporary New Mexico jobs at a rate of 1 job per $7.6 million spent.  No long term jobs are expected.  The 660 jobs to be created include 410 direct and 250 indirect jobs, averaging over the project.  Many of the direct new temporary jobs will be taken by out-of-state certified nuclear workers. 

Mello: "As a job creation program -- which is partly why New Mexico Democrats support this project so far -- this project stinks.  Tax cuts would have a much greater stimulative effect than such a wasteful project, which also produces no economically useful goods, services, or infrastructure.  This project is hugely dangerous to the future of New Mexico.  It is little more than a corporate attack on our tax dollars, under the false guise of national security.  But it would do nothing for national security either." 

Extensive analysis, testimony, and background on this project are available at http://www.lasg.org/CMRR/open_page.htm.

***ENDS***


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