DOE Proposes Quadrupling Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

DOE Proposes Quadrupling Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

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. DOE seeks to raise the level of pit production from 20 to 80 pits per year, which will nearly double the amount of transuranic waste produced. While not directly considered, the SWEIS also includes the possibility of a future Modern Pit Facility at LANL. This facility would be capable of producing 450 plutonium pits per year.

DOE did not make cleanup a priority, and instead tied it to increased weapons and waste production. The proposed expanded operations would annually generate a total of 860 cubic yards of transuranic waste, 12,000 cubic yards of low-level radioactive waste and 2,750,000 pounds of chemical waste. LANL would discharge 163,000,000 gallons per year of industrial and sanitary waste water into the canyons which flow to the Rio Grande. The draft SWEIS has not been finalized. The public has an opportunity to review and comment on the document. The comment period ends on September 5, 2006.

Copies of the draft SWEIS are available 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.

Educational workshops are being held around Northern New Mexico. They will be held in Taos on Wednesday, August 2nd; in Dixon on Thursday the 3rd and in El Dorado on Saturday the 5th. Please see below for more information. 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 from 6:30 to 9:30 pm in Los Alamos on Tuesday the 8th, in Espanola on Wednesday the 9th and in Santa Fe on Thursday the 10th. Please see below for more information.

The August 9th hearing falls on the same day as the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, Japan. It has been 61 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, through which the United States killed tens of thousands of people instantly.

The hearings also fall during the preparation for and on pueblo feast days. There are 14 pueblos within a 50 mile radius of LANL. Despite their close proximity, the draft SWEIS states that there will be no disproportionate and adverse impacts to these communities.

Comments may also be submitted over the telephone, in writing or by email. Please see below for more information.

Peggy Prince of Peace Action New Mexico, said, "public comment about the future of LANL will have a huge effect on the work that they are allowed to do. Comment will influence the future of Northern New Mexico, its environment and the health and safety of its people."

For more information about the Draft SWEIS Click Here

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