DOE Agrees to Conduct an Enhanced Supplemental Analysis of CMRR Project and October 6th Semi-Annual Public Meeting

October 1, 2010

In May, Nuclear Watch New Mexico asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct an analysis to determine whether a new or supplemental environmental impact statement was needed for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Around the same time, CCNS and other non-governmental organizations collected signatures on letters to DOE asking for a new or supplemental CMRR environmental impact statement because of significant new circumstances. Copies of the letters were submitted to the New Mexico congressional delegation.

On October 1, DOE announced its plans to conduct a new environmental impact statement process for the CMRR Nuclear Facility, which will begin with new scoping meetings in mid-October. The public will have the opportunity to present comments, ask questions, and discuss what should be analyzed for in the new statement that will replace the one completed in 2003. Two scoping meetings will be held from 4 to 7 pm on Tuesday, October 19 at the White Rock Town Hall, in Los Alamos County and on Wednesday, October 20 at the Cities of Gold Casino Hotel in Pojoaque.

Another important CMRR public meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 6 in Los Alamos from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Hilltop House, 400 Trinity Drive. The meeting is the result of a 2005 settlement of an appeal by community groups of an air permit issued by the New Mexico Environment Department for the CMRR Project. The permit allowed the release of air emissions during construction activities. The settlement required DOE and LANL to host the public meetings every six months about the latest CMRR developments.

CCNS, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Loretto Community, Tewa Women United, Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group, Peace Action New Mexico, and the New Mexico Environmental Law Center brought the appeal of the permit.

The permit would have allowed for the construction of the entire CMRR Project, which included the first two phases, called the Radiological Laboratory, Utility and Office Building, and the third phase, called the Nuclear Facility. The Parties agreed that the Environment Department would issue an air permit allowing for the construction of the first two phases. The Parties also agreed that DOE and LANL would be required to request a revision of the construction permit from the Environment Department prior to initiating construction of the third phase for the Nuclear Facility.

Over the course of the last five years, DOE has presented the latest news about the CMRR Project. Most recently at the March meeting, DOE announced that in response to on-going seismic concerns, it proposed to remove 225,000 cubic yards of the geologic formation below the proposed Nuclear Facility and expressed the need to provide a lay down area for a batch concrete plant. These are some of the significant new circumstances DOE gave to explain why a new environmental impact statement was needed.

To learn more about the semi-annual meetings and the presentations by the community groups, please visit:

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