DOE Plans to Bring More Plutonium to WIPP and LANL

Please help us to Speak Out against the DOE plans.

The Department of Energy (DOE) plans to bring more plutonium to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) under a proposal to deal with 13 metric tons of what has been declared "surplus plutonium." Three public hearings in New Mexico on the draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement are scheduled for Los Alamos on Tuesday, August 21st; for Santa Fe on Thursday, August 23rd; and for Carlsbad on Tuesday, August 28th. The hearings will be held from 5:30 pm to 8 pm, with public comments beginning at 6:30.

Click for the Fact Sheet with further information about the DOE plans to bring more plutonium into New Mexico and ways that you can help to stop this plan!

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Since 1994 DOE has spent billions of dollars and held dozens of public meetings and hearings regarding the handling of up to 50 metric tons of surplus plutonium so that it could not longer be used in nuclear weapons. Russia has also agreed to address the handling of a similar amount of plutonium from its nuclear weapons program. Yet the U.S. "disposition" program has failed, as plutonium has not been placed into a form to prevent its being used in nuclear weapons, nor is there any likelihood for such a result in the next few years.

Now, for the first time, DOE is proposing to ship up to 13.1 metric tons of that plutonium to LANL and WIPP. Under the current proposal, the Savannah River Site would process 6 metric tons of plutonium and ship it to WIPP for disposal with other contact-handled transuranic waste. Some or all of the remaining 7.1 metric tons in the form of pits, which are the triggers for nuclear bombs, would be shipped from the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas to LANL to be disassembled. The resulting plutonium oxide powder would then be shipped to the Savannah River Site to be fabricated into plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel to be used in two nuclear reactors operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

There are several alternatives that DOE should consider. One would be to disassemble pits close to their current location, thus minimizing transportation of plutonium oxide powder. Another would be to immobilize all of the plutonium so that it can be safely stored and would be difficult to introduce into nuclear weapons.

A new plutonium disposition site will be needed and require the development of technical standards before site selection begins. One option is to develop new geologic repositories for surplus plutonium, defense high-level waste, commercial spent fuel and Greater-than-Class C waste.

The Los Alamos August 21st hearing will be held at the Holiday Inn Express; the Santa Fe August 23rd hearing at the Courtyard by Marriott; and the Carlsbad August 28th hearing at the Pecos River Village Conference Center.

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