Further Discussion of the Proposed Nuclear Facility at LANL

October 22, 2010

The Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking input into issues that need to be addressed in the supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2010_register&docid=fr01oc10-59.pdf The need for a supplemental EIS reflects how large the CMRR Project has become since the original EIS in 2003: the physical footprint is about 50 percent greater and projected costs are approximately seven times higher, possibly as much as five billion dollars.

Two public meetings, held this week in White Rock and in Pojoaque, allowed the public to ask questions of DOE staff, and comment on issues raised by the Project. Cultural Energy posted an audio of the "public forum" at www.culturalenergy.org/lanl.htm .

One of the main concerns voiced by the speakers was whether a supplemental EIS is sufficient to address the dramatic increases in size and cost. Many suggested that an entirely new EIS is needed.

Recent studies of seismic hazard have compelled engineers to plan further excavation to a depth of approximately 125 feet below the proposed Nuclear Facility, to be filled with at least 225,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Some speakers noted that economic and cultural injustices are magnified by the proposed expansion at LANL. They observed that no studies have been done for the health effects on those living in surrounding communities.

Several participants raised questions about the validity of the mission itself and asked that the DOE consider alternatives to new construction. They suggested that the proposed CMRR would divert funds from the development of climate change technologies, as instituted by the Pentagon since 2003.

Funds for the new building may also delay promised clean-up work under the Compliance Order on Consent regulated by the New Mexico Environment Department and the individual storm water permit regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, "We are concerned about the quality of water to be diverted from the Rio Grande through the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, which is located about three miles downstream of LANL. DOE has been on notice for more than two decades that clean-up is a priority. EPA has identified 60 'high-priority' dumpsites in Los Alamos and Pueblo Canyon that have a potential to discharge contaminants during a storm. Nevertheless, the Buckman Diversion Project expects to send treated water into the faucets of Santa Feans in January, making it urgent for DOE to make cleanup of these sites the priority, not a new Nuclear Facility."

DOE will accept public comment until November 1, 2010. E-mails may be sent to mailto: NEPALASO@doeal.gov .

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