LANL Grants a Whopping 15-Day Extension of Time until October 18th to Provide Scoping Comments
The privileges of the rich and powerful Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and its plans to expand the fabrication of plutonium pits, or triggers, for nuclear warheads continue. After 115 non-governmental organizations and individuals requested a two-month extension of time for preparation of informed scoping comments for a long-delayed draft sitewide environmental impact statement (SWEIS), LANL granted a whopping 15-day extension. Scoping comments are now due by Tuesday, October 18th. If you plan to email your comments, submit them before 11:59 pm Mountain time.
CCNS attended the two virtual scoping meetings this week to make comments and to renew the request for a longer extension of the comment period.
Broad and diverse comments were made about the impacts of expanded operations to frontline communities, equity, environmental and social justice, environment, health, water, wildfire, cleanup and related issues. Some commenters said LANL was no longer welcome.
Comments were made about the proposed transportation of 48 metric tons of plutonium pits from the Pantex site north of Amarillo, Texas to LANL for processing into powdered plutonium.
Under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), LANL is required to examine all the alternatives to its preferred course of action. We learned that LANL has inserted its program of fabricating 30 plutonium pits per year into its proposed No Action Alternative. What does this mean? It may mean that LANL will proceed according to the last SWEIS, finalized in 2008. We’ll have to wait and see what’s in the draft SWEIS.
Over the last 14 years, many changes have occurred. Below is a short list and does not include the issues raised by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board ( https://www.dnfsb.gov/ ):
- shutdown of the Plutonium Facility for three years,
- shutdown of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for disposal of transuranic waste from plutonium pit production (2014 – 2017) caused by the defective packaging of the waste by LANL,
- shipping waste containers to WIPP without filter vents (August 9, 2022),
- renegotiation of the protective and thorough 2005 New Mexico Environment Department Consent Order to a shadow of its former requirements (2016),
- wildfires and threats of wildfires (Las Conchas in 2011, Cerro Pelado in 2022),
- surface water and groundwater contamination (hexavalent chromium, radionuclides, heavy metals, VOCs, etc.) across the Pajarito Plateau (2008 to present),
- plans to vent tritium into the air from four Flanged Tritium Waste Containers, and possibly more containers (2022),
- plans to leave Cold War waste in place at Material Disposal Area C, located between the Plutonium Facility and the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility (2022), and
- plans to install new power lines and build a bridge across the Rio Grande from the Caja del Rio (to the east) to White Rock Canyon (to the west).
Commenters struggled to orient themselves in the virtual zoom meeting. The view and chat functions were disabled, leaving the viewer unable to do more than to view the presentation. CCNS and others argued against only holding virtual meetings. It should have been a hybrid with people being able to be seen on the screen and in person. By disabling the view and chat, people were unable to communicate as would have been done during an in-person meeting.
While the 30-minute LANL presentation was not recorded, the powerpoint is available at https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0552-site-wide-environmental-impact-statement-continued-operation-los-alamos-national-0 . The public comment portion was recorded, but when asked, LANL explained that it would not be publicly available.
CCNS asked in the Q&A function whether the public would have to request the transcript through the Freedom of Information Act. There was no response.
CCNS and other NGOs are preparing sign-on letters for NGOs and sample public comments you can use as a model for your scoping comments. Stay tuned!
- Serit Kotowski was presented with the Gallery Curator’s Educator Choice Award for her piece Sacred Trust: BROKEN at the Ink & Clay 45 show at Cal Poly Pomona last weekend! Congratulations, Serit!!! https://www.cpp.edu/kellogg-gallery/exhibitions/2021-ink-clay-45/index.shtml and http://nuclearactive.org/kotowskis-sacred-trust-broken-at-ink-clay-45-exhibit-at-cal-poly-pomona/
- Friday, September 16th from noon to 1 pm – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the corners of Alameda and Guadalupe in downtown Santa Fe. Join us to discuss next steps toward nuclear disarmament, including local recognition activities for the 60th anniversary of 13 Days in October 1962 – The Cuban Missile Crisis. https://defusenuclearwar.org/
- Today LANL posted its 2021 Master Campus Plan to the LANL Electronic Public Reading Room. https://permalink.lanl.gov/object/tr?what=info:lanl-repo/eprr/ESHID-603721 Is it because CCNS highlighted the hidden Plan in last week’s Update? http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-virtual-nepa-scoping-meetings-september-13th-and-14th-release-of-lanl-campus-master-plan/
- Wednesday, September 21st International Day of Peace. Do something for peace. One suggestion: Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners’ A Resolution Recognizing September 21, 2022, as The International Day of Peace and Urging the United States Congress to Reduce Funding to the United States Department of Defense and Reallocate Those Funds to Domestic Needs. It passed unanimously on September 13, 2022. https://www.santafecountynm.gov/documents/ordinances/Resolution__2022-070.pdf Send a note of thanks to your County Commissioner!
- Friday, September 23rd from 3 to 7 pm – New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will host an Open House / Los Alamos Community Engagement Meeting Notice at the NMED Oversight Bureau Office, located at 1183 Diamond Drive, Suite B, Los Alamos, NM. There will be NMED staff demonstrations and information areas throughout the office with opportunities to ask questions about activities at LANL within the Oversight Bureau purview. 2022-09-15 – COMMS NMED hosts Los Alamos Community Engagement Meeting and Open House (Final)
- September 24th from 4 to 8 pm. Celebration of community activist Allen Cooper’s life, from 4 to 8 pm at the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center, 202 Harvard Drive SE, Albuquerque, NM. “Come to this community celebration of our dear friend Allen’s life. Bring A Potluck dish to share, & a mask to protect yourself & others. Feel free to share your stories, memories, & photos if you have any!” https://www.abqpeaceandjustice.org/events
- Tuesday, October 4th – Public Comments due to the NM Environment Department about Remedy Selection for Area of Concern: The Tijeras Arroyo Groundwater at the DOE Sandia National Laboratory. For more information: https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/sandia-national-laboratories/ , scroll down to Tijeras Arroyo Groundwater (TAG).
Tags: 48 metric tons of plutonium pits from Pantex, alternatives, bait and switch, disabled view and chat, DOE, environmental and social justice, expanded plutonium pit production, extension request, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, frontline communities, LANL SWEIS, meeting transcript, National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA, NGOs, No Action Alternative, non-governmental organizations, scoping, seismic, sham, shutdown of Plutonium Facility, Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operations of Los Alamos National Laboratory, two virtual scoping meetings, U.S. Department of Energy, water, wildfire
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