Support Representative Garamendi’s NDAA Provisions for Plutonium Pit Accountability

In the face of continuing problems and escalating costs for expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons, U.S. Congressman John Garamendi, of California, has offered common sense provisions to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for plutonium pit accountability.

Garamendi’s provisions require:

  • An integrated master schedule for the overall plutonium pit production effort of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), including timelines, required resources, and budgets for planned work;
  • A holistic programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production that accounts for all simultaneous pit production at multiple sites; and
  • An independent review of plutonium pit lifetimes.

The provisions were adopted all at the same time without debate or controversy into the House NDAA bill.  After the bill passes the House, it will head to the Senate.

The provisions are important to hold the Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA accountable.  The federal agencies do not have an integrated master schedule for the overall expansion of plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the only facility with the capabilities to fabricate plutonium pits.  Since 2017, the escalating budget for LANL has doubled from $2.4 billion to nearly $5 billion dollars with little or no accountability.

DOE and NNSA have refused to prepare a new site-wide environmental impact statement (EIS) for LANL.  The current site-wide analysis was completed in 2008 – 14 years ago.  Generally a new site-wide is done every 10 years.

The fact that a new site-wide has not been done means that none of the proposed expansion of LANL in support of pit production has been subject to public review and comment.

Further, an independent review of how long a plutonium pit will last, or its lifetime, is essential to determine whether LANL expansion is even needed.

In Northern New Mexico, LANL is expanding its footprint across the sacred Pajarito Plateau, with plans to build a bridge over the Rio Grande to reduce commute travel times.  It is also is upgrading the decades old Plutonium Facility, which sits on the Pajarito Fault Zone.  Despite the lack of timely analysis with public review and comment, these expansion plans are proceeding

DOE and NNSA also propose to utilize their Savannah River Site in South Carolina for pit production.  A programmatic EIS is needed to address proposed pit production at both LANL and Savannah River.

The NDAA is expected to move to the House floor next week.  Please contact your representative and senators and urge them to support Garamendi’s plutonium pit accountability provisions.   It is time to hold DOE and NNSA accountable for its plans to expand plutonium pit production at LANL and the Savannah River Site. , ,

CCNS issues the following correction to the July 15, 2022 CCNS News Update:
The FY 2023 NDAA (H.R. 7900) does not include a provision for a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS).  Instead the House Armed Services Committee passed the following language requiring a congressional briefing “that describes the holistic environmental impact of expanding plutonium pit production” at multiple sites.  It reads:
“The committee also directs the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to submit to the House Committee on Armed Services not later than April 1, 2023, a briefing that describes the holistic environmental impact of expanded plutonium pit production, accounting for simultaneous pit productionat multiple sites.”
CCNS regrets the error.

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