Press notice for
immediate release August 26, 2011, 6:45 pm; full press release to
follow this weekend
for evolving Los Alamos plutonium
Would be most expensive
government construction project in New Mexico history by far,
dwarfing Manhattan Project effort here
has become a normalized, continuing effort to avoid any hint of
democratic involvement, nuclear agency publishes at close of business
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."
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.
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.