DOE Releases Site Wide Environmental Impact Statement
The Department of Energy (DOE) has released a draft Site Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The SWEIS lays out the planned programs at LANL for the next five years and evaluates the environmental impacts of those programs.
One of the most dramatic shifts proposed in the draft SWEIS is expansion of plutonium pit production. A plutonium pit is the core of a nuclear bomb. The draft SWEIS states that LANL seeks clearance to raise the level of production from 20 to 80 pits per year. The SWEIS also indicates that expanded nuclear weapons operations will nearly double the amount of radioactive waste generated each year. According to the figures provided, the total amount of generated radioactive waste will increase from 260 to 510 cubic yards.
Copies of the draft SWEIS will be available for review at the public libraries in Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Espanola, as well as the UNM library in Albuquerque. Electronic copies are available on the DOE website at www.doeal.gov/LASO/nepa/update.html.
The draft SWEIS has not been finalized. DOE has set a sixty day comment period during which the public has time to review and comment on the document. The comment period ends on September 5, 2006.
Public hearings will take place from August 8 through the 10th around northern New Mexico in order for the public to submit verbal testimony. They will be held in Los Alamos on Tuesday the 8th, in Espanola on Wednesday the 9th and in Santa Fe on Thursday the 10th. The August 9th hearing falls on the same day as the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, Japan by United States. Through out the week of the hearings people will be commemorating 61 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, which killed tens of thousands of people instantly.
Comments may also be submitted over the telephone or in writing. Questions about the document, public hearings, or requests to be placed on the document distribution list, can be directed to Ms. Elizabeth Withers at 1-877-491-4957 or email@example.com.
Report Says LANL and Sandia Mismanage High Explosives
A recent Department of Energy (DOE) Office of the Inspector General report found that Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia National Laboratory did not always maintain control accountability and safety for a wide variety of explosives.
The report states that Sandia did not have adequate inventory records. Sandia could not account for over 410 items, including detonators, shaped explosives and bulk explosive powders, nor explain the presence of 190,000 pounds of explosive propellant.
The report also found that both Sandia and LANL kept larger quantities of high explosives than would be needed for current or future missions. Neither Laboratory was evaluating the stability and safety of the high explosive materials as required.
The report found that the lack of accounting controls occurred in large part because of mismanagement. It states, "There is increased risk that worker safety may be compromised and that extremely dangerous and potentially destructive explosive materials may be subject to theft or diversion."