Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed CMRR Nuclear Facility Must be Retracted because Seismic Hazard is Underestimated and Misrepresented
June 3, 2011
Intensive research by Robert H. Gilkeson, Registered Geologist, discovered that the draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the proposed Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) possibly misrepresents the ground motions by a large amount, omits important seismic information about the potential of active faulting close to the proposed site, and makes assumptions because the necessary field studies have not been done, and must be retracted. The proposed Nuclear Facility is part of the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to enhance its plutonium complex at Technical Area 55, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project.
The draft statement used a value of 0.3 G as the peak ground acceleration value for the vertical plane, and not the value 0.6 G presented in the 2007 LANL Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis. "G" is the force of gravity on the Earth's surface.
To the knowledge of the LANL scientists, the last surface rupturing earthquake on the 32-mile long Pajarito Fault System occurred 1,400 years ago, but more recent powerful earthquakes may have occurred. Design work has focused on 7.27 Richter scale earthquakes, but analogous earthquakes indicate that design should be increased to a minimum of 7.5.
Further, there are six key parameters that must be investigated in order to characterize the seismic hazard. They are the fault locations, the fault geometry, the direction of the slip on the faults, the maximum magnitude of an earthquake, the rate at which earthquakes reoccur on the faults, and kappa, a key parameter for ground motions at specific LANL sites. In order to obtain this information, field studies must be conducted. LANL scientists recommended these studies in three key seismic reports written in 1995, 2007 and 2009. But those studies were not done. As a result, assumed values for the six key parameters were inserted into computer programs to estimate the seismic hazard for the design of the proposed Nuclear Facility. Moreover, Congress has appropriated and almost half a billion dollars has been spent on the design of the proposed Nuclear Facility without accurate knowledge of the seismic hazard.
Gilkeson said, "The draft supplemental environment impact statement must be retracted by the Department of Energy because it is incomplete, inadequate, underestimates and misrepresents the seismic hazard at the proposed CMRR Nuclear Facility. DOE must perform the field studies that are identified as important by the LANL scientists in order to calculate the seismic hazard. No more taxpayer money should be spent on the design of the CMRR Nuclear Facility until there is accurate knowledge of the seismic hazard."
Public comments are due on June 28, 2011. [Please see below for information about where to submit your comments.]
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To keep informed about all these matters, please visit the websites of the:
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability www.ananuclear.org
Cultural Energy www.culturalenergy.org/lanl.htm
Los Alamos Study Group www.lasg.org
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation www.napf.org
Nuclear Watch New Mexico www.nukewatch.org
Think Outside the Bomb www.thinkoutsidethebomb.org and
Union of Concerned Scientists www.ucsusa.org.
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Electronic comments have been bouncing. If your comments bounce, please email your comments to JTegtmeier@doeal.gov and NNSA LASO Deputy Manager Roger Snyder at RSnyder@doeal.gov. Over a week ago, DOE/NNSA/LANL was notified about the bouncing comments, but their IT staff have been unable to remedy the situation.