.News Update 02/22/08

Invitation to Attend March 1 Community Event About DOE Plans for Expanded Bomb Production

February 22, 2008

In response to the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to expand nuclear weapons manufacturing at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a wide range of organizations and community leaders are co-sponsoring an all-day forum spotlighting the threat to New Mexico's residents and natural resources posed by the DOE's recent proposal for the "transformation" of its nuclear weapons complex.

Under the Bush Administration's proposal for the future of the nuclear weapons complex, LANL will remain the nation's only producer of plutonium pit "triggers" for nuclear warheads. However, that mission may be expanded from 20 pits per year to up to 80. An even more extreme alternative under consideration calls for the production of up to 200 plutonium pits per year at LANL.

At the higher level of production, LANL could increase airborne pollutants by 28%. Precious natural resources would be stretched to the limit as LANL's current water rights would be exceeded by 10%. In the event of a facility accident at LANL, the chances of fatalities would also increase.

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, "These figures are shocking, but what's even more troubling is that New Mexico residents in the Rio Grande corridor are doubly affected by the combined hazards at both the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The DOE has not looked at the cumulative environmental and public health impacts of the two facilities located within 60 miles of each other."

The forum is called "A Community Event to Protect Our Health, Children, and Water from the Nuclear Weapons Complex" and you are invited to attend. It will be held on Saturday, March 1 at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center on Rodeo Road in Santa Fe. The sponsors include the City of Santa Fe, CCNS, Faithful Security, the New Mexico Conference of Churches and Nuclear Watch New Mexico. There are many co-sponsors, including businesses and community-based organizations, all concerned about the impacts of the DOE proposal.

The forum will begin with a press conference at 10 am with Picuris Pueblo Governor Craig Quanchello; Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, who is a Mayor for Peace; Espanola Mayor James Maestas; Allen Sanchez, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops; and others. Afterwards, presentations will be made about public health and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons activities at both DOE facilities.

DOE has scheduled public hearings about their proposal at four locations in New Mexico. The first hearing will be held on March 10 in Socorro at New Mexico Tech. The second hearing will be held on March 11 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Two hearings are scheduled for Los Alamos, both at the Hilltop House. The first will be on March 12, and the other on March 13. The final New Mexico hearing is scheduled for Santa Fe on March 13 in the evening at the Chavez Center.

For more information or to volunteer for the March 1 event, please call CCNS at 986-1973.

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