CMRR Scoping Meetings Scheduled for October 19 and 20

October 15, 2010

The Department of Energy (DOE) will hold two meetings next week to gain public input into what issues should be addressed in the new supplemental environmental impact statement for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The public meetings to address the "scope" of the supplemental document will be held from 4 to 7 pm on Tuesday, October 19 at the White Rock Town Hall, 139 Longview Drive, in Los Alamos County and on Wednesday, October 20 at the Cities of Gold Casino Hotel in Pojoaque. The public will have the opportunity to interact with DOE staff, ask questions, and discuss what should be the focus of the analysis in the new statement. It will supplement the one completed in 2003.

On October 1, DOE announced its plans to conduct a new environmental impact statement process for the CMRR Nuclear Facility, which opened a 30-day public comment period. Several non-governmental organizations requested an additional 30 days to provide comments given that the scoping meetings will be held almost three weeks into the comment period. The organizations wrote, "Unfortunately the comment period ends just ten days later. We believe that is not sufficient time for the general public to research, prepare and submit scoping comments after having the benefit of interacting with [DOE] officials." They also noted that another major scoping comment period is being held concurrently by the U.S. Air Force on its proposal to establish a Low Altitude Tactical Navigation (LATN) area for Special Operation Forces at Cannon Air Force Base. The flight area would cover Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. This makes it even more difficult for the public to respond within the ten days provided.

Some of the scoping issues include the fact that the CMRR Project has grown dramatically, with an estimated 50 percent increase in the size of the physical footprint and approximately a seven fold increase in the projected costs since the original DOE estimates in 2002. DOE has proposed several alternatives to be analyzed, including not building the Nuclear Facility, in which plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons would be manufactured.

Scott Kovac, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, "We appreciate that DOE is preparing a supplemental environmental impact statement and that two out of three of the alternatives under consideration are to NOT build the proposed Nuclear Facility. But given the amount of time and money spent on designing the facility to date, it will be difficult for DOE to consider the no-build alternatives in an unprejudiced manner. We request that in re-examining the purpose and need for the nuclear facility, DOE will find it to be the waste of money that it is."

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