200 People Attend Final DOE Bombplex Hearing in Española
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ഊThe Misión y Convento in Española, New Mexico was filled to capacity for the final Department of Energy (DOE) hearing about their proposal for Complex Transformation, which is also called "The Bombplex." The DOE proposal includes plans for expanding the manufacturing of plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads from 20 to up to 200 per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
ഊOver 70 people signed up to give comments about the DOE proposal. Speakers included LANL workers, nursing mothers, poets, registered nurses, youth, downwind and downstream neighbors to LANL and federal, state and local elected officials. Written public comments are currently due April 10. Many expressed their concern that there is not enough time to prepare informed comments. Several community members spoke about how they had just learned about the proposal and requested additional time to review the lengthy document and educate their communities about the proposal. There is growing interest in the DOE proposal and its impacts to Northern New Mexico and the world.
ഊOn March 14, Senator Bingaman wrote a letter to Thomas D'Agostino, a DOE Administrator, requesting that the public comment deadline be extended to July.
He said, "President Bush's proposal to make change to the country's nuclear weapons complex deserves further public scrutiny. It makes sense to give local residents adequate time to understand the impact of such changes and to express their thoughts and concerns."
Senator Bingaman wrote the letter in response to concerns raised by Santa Clara Pueblo Governor Michael Chavarria and other community members.
ഊEspañola Mayor Joseph Maestas spoke at the hearing about the US need to become energy independent and create a post carbon, post nuclear energy economy. He said the Española Valley was a prime location for such work.
ഊIn preparation for the hearing, organizers held a community meeting the previous evening. The meeting was sponsored by and held at the Northern New Mexico College in Española. The College is a leader in facilitating progressive community dialogue. About 80 people attended the event to learn about the impacts from past, current and future operations at LANL to workers, public health and the environment. Speakers included Kathy Sanchez, of Tewa Women United; Marian Naranjo, of Honor Our Pueblo Existence; Sheri Kotowski, of the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group; and Dr. Maureen Merritt, a physician assisting LANL workers to obtain compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
ഊClarissa Duran, one of the lead organizers, said, "Bombs are just wrong. They destroy people and our earth…. LANL doesn't just owe our community the paychecks of our work force; LANL owes us compensation for all they have taken from us. There's a new generation that understands that technology like Northern New Mexico's Solar Energy Research Park and Academy is the way of the future. The time for bombs as a means to an end is over!"
ഊRobert Chavez, a 15-year old Santa Fe Indian School student, representing youth, said, "Life is as good as the water we drink and the air we breathe. No resources means no life. LANL is creating more and more waste and cleaning less and less."