**Important Public Meetings Next Week and Public Comment Deadlines**
TODAY, THE DOE UNCEREMONIOUSLY EXTENDED THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD TO MARCH 13, 2024 FOR THE Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) proposed Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy of the hexavalent chromium plume in the regional drinking water aquifer. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2216-chromium-interim-measure-and-final-remedy-los-alamos-new-mexico Check back at nuclearactive.org for sample public comments you can use to craft your own comments. 240208 Public Notice of Ext. of Time for Hexavalent Chromium NEPA Env’l Assessment
On Wednesday, February 13 from 6 to 9 pm the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding a virtual public meeting about Certain Stormwater Discharges from Los Alamos County and LANL under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). To register: https://www.epa.gov/nm/forms/virtual-public-meeting-tuesday-february-132024-600-pm-800-pm-mst-revised-designation
On Wednesday, February 14th people who live along the radioactive transportation routes where plutonium-contaminated waste is hauled from LANL to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will mark the 10th anniversary of the explosion of one or more waste drums in the WIPP underground on February 14, 2014.
The event will begin at 12:45 pm at the East Entrance to the New Mexico Statehouse. Musicians will perform songs of satire about WIPP. Representatives from each of the 65 at-risk communities will hold a can of pinto beans that is wrapped with a radioactive symbol and the name of their community. After the demonstration, the cans will be donated to the food bank.
At 1 pm the activities will move into the Rotunda for short statements about the communities’ concerns. During that time, organizers will stack the 65 cans in a pyramid. An invitation will be presented for the communities to sign up for a free presentation about current transportation issues.
The next stop will be the Governor’s office where a bouquet of roses carrying the names of the at-risk communities along the route will be presented to thank her for what she’s done and remind her that more is needed to keep New Mexicans safe. https://stopforeverwipp.org/events/pressconference
Finally, on Thursday, February 15th beginning at 4 pm at the Santa Fe Community College a second in-person and virtual meeting will take place about the proposed LANL Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project. For more information: http://nuclearactive.org/february-15th-public-meeting-about-the-proposed-lanl-electrical-line-across-the-caja-del-rio/ For more information, please visit our website at http://nuclearactive.org/ and the Caja del Rio website at https://cajadelrio.org/ .
Also, see the February 8, 2024 Santa Fe New Mexican “Our View: Before new power line, conduct environmental impact study” in which they state an environmental impact statement is required – not the inadequate environmental assessment. See below to read the Our View.
On Tuesday, February 20th public comments due about the proposed LANL Electrical Power Upgrade Project. Please check back at nuclearactive.org for talking points and sample public comments you can use to craft your own.
Before new power line, conduct environmental impact study
- The New Mexican
More public comment about a proposed 14-mile high-voltage transmission line for Los Alamos National Laboratory is scheduled next week.
Critics of the power line — rightly — said 30 days of public comment, over the winter holidays, wouldn’t be enough time to gather feedback on this controversial proposal. The Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management all are involved in planning.
We supported additional public comment, which addresses concerns about the line, designed to connect the laboratory to additional power officials say will be needed in the years ahead. However, the public comment being taken concerns the environmental assessment conducted to determine the impact of a 115,000-volt line, complete with transmission towers, on sensitive lands.
Already, after reading the initial assessment — required before a special permit can be issued — it is clear a more detailed environmental impact statement should be mandated before the project can go forward. The second public comment hearing, scheduled Feb. 15 at Santa Fe Community College, must not be the final word on the proposed line.
A number of concerns exist about the proposal in its current form.
The line would cut a 100-foot-wide swath along its route going from the lab through White Rock Canyon, then south through the already besieged Caja del Rio area and winding east through the Santa Fe National Forest before reaching a substation. But that doesn’t take into account the construction right of way, which is 200 feet wide along with several 2- to 5-acre staging sites, according to the environmental assessment.
Construction also would require 1.69 miles of new road construction, although single-lane dirt roads exist near much of the proposed line. According to the assessment, cultural resources will be avoided to the “maximum extent possible,” but a deeper study of the impacts of this project would detail how — or if — that is possible. Tribes affected by the power line must be part of this discussion.
An environmental impact study also could look more closely at how the proposed lines might impact wildlife, including bird migrations. While the assessment claims it won’t affect, for example, the migration of sandhill cranes — listing fall and spring as migration months — anyone who looks outside right now can see the birds. They are in our neighborhood in winter. The Audubon Society says sandhill cranes can be at high risk of flying into lines.
The scope of this project is massive. It deserves a full-blown environmental impact study, both to examine effects during construction and of the line’s operation on the environment but also to look at alternatives to building an entirely new line.
According to the assessment, “LANL requires a reliable and redundant electrical power supply to support mission programs and other activities at LANL facilities.” Forecasts predict existing transmission lines serving the lab and Los Alamos County could reach capacity before 2027.
Instead of an entirely new line, a more environmentally friendly alternative might look like this: Use solar power on site. It would require 400 to 500 acres, but that could be achieved not by digging up land but by siting solar panels on parking lots and buildings, adding battery storage to ensure continual power. The lab has plenty of parking lots and buildings.
If more power is still needed, a smaller power line could be built along existing lines — that’s a more environmentally friendly solution. It’s better for wildlife, especially migrating birds, and would reduce cultural and recreational disturbance. That’s a discussion for another day, though. Right now the 14-mile proposal is up for debate. Show up and comment. Demand a full environmental impact statement. The people, land and creatures of Northern New Mexico deserve no less.
- Friday, February 9, 2024 from noon to 1 pm MT – Join the weekly peaceful protest for nuclear disarmament on the four corners of Alameda and Sandoval in downtown Santa Fe with Veterans for Peace, CCNS, Nuclear Watch NM, Loretto Community, Pax Christi, Nonviolent Santa Fe, and others. Join us!
- Friday, February 9th – Comments due to DOE about the Hexavalent Chromium Remediation in Sandia and Mortandad Canyons Project Floodplain Assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It’s a 15-day comment period. A sample public comment you can use will be available here in the morning. Submit comments by email to: EMLA-NEPA@em.doe.gov. For more information: https://www.energy.gov/nepa/articles/chromium-remediation-sandia-and-mortandad-canyons-project-floodplain-assessment
- Wednesday, February 13 from 6 to 9 pm – a virtual EPA public meeting about the Revised Designation of Certain Stormwater Discharges in the State of New Mexico under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). To register: https://www.epa.gov/nm/forms/virtual-public-meeting-tuesday-february-132024-600-pm-800-pm-mst-revised-designation
- Wednesday, February 14th – marking the 10th anniversary of the explosion of one or more drums of transuranic (plutonium-contaminated) waste in the WIPP underground. See the February 9, 2024 Update.
- Thursday, February 15th beginning at 4 at Santa Fe Community College about the proposed Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project. The U.S. Department of Energy and its nuclear security agency will hold a second hearing on the power line next Thursday as part of a second 30-day public comment period added after Commissioner Hansen, New Mexico congressional delegates, and activists complained too little time was given to hear people’s concerns about the project. Thank you for staying informed about the power line by visiting the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety website. If you intend to submit a public comment, review the example letter and information from the Caja del Rio Coalition. For more information: AnnaHansen_CajaDelRio
- Tuesday, February 20th – Comments due about the LANL’s Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project for a 115 kV line across the Caja del Rio, the Rio Grande to LANL. Check back to http://www.nuclearactive.org for talking points and sample public comments you can use to craft your own.
The SECOND public comment period opened the Los Alamos National Laboratory Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project Draft Environmental Assessment (DOE/EA-2911) for construction and operation of a new 115 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line and upgrading LANL’s existing infrastructure. For more information and to ACT NOW: Protect the Caja del Rio! Stop the Power Transmission Line at https://p2a.co/mhyopdf
The Draft EA is available in the NNSA NEPA Reading Room at: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room or directly at https://energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2199-los-alamos-national-laboratory-electrical-power-capacity-upgrade-project
1:00 pm – Guild Cinema, 3405 Central Ave NE
Screening of “Television Event”: a riveting documentary about the world-changing 1983 TV movie “The Day After” that profoundly impacted US nuclear policies, impacted then-president Reagan, ended the cold war, and led to a reduction in our nuclear arsenal.
Guild write-up: https://www.guildcinema.com/movies/television-event
See the trailer for Television Event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ftJ-I-yAu8
2:45 pm – We will march from the Guild Cinema to Triangle Substation Park, 2901 Central Ave NE
3:00 pm – Rally against nuclear weapons in Triangle Substation Park, 2901 Central Ave NE
We will gather to share ideas about how we can change public opinion the way the movie did and bring about the abolition of nuclear weapons. Featuring music by Eileen O’Shaughnessy, Paul Pino, and the Raging Grannies.
- Wednesday, March 13th – [Comment period extended from Feb. 12th to March 13, 2024.] Comments due about LANL and its entities’ proposed Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy of the hexavalent chromium plume (DOE/EA-2216) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For more information and to download the document: https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeea-2216-chromium-interim-measure-and-final-remedy-los-alamos-new-mexico Check back to http://www.nuclearactive.org for sample public comments you can use to craft your own.
Tags: 10th anniversary of explosion in WIPP underground, Caja del Rio, Certain Stormwater Discharges from Los Alamos County and LANL, conduct environmental impact statement”, draft environmental assessment, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Hexavalent Chromium Interim Measure and “final” Remedy draft environmental assessment, LANL, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, NPDES, Pajarito Plateau, proposed Electrical Power Capacity Upgrade Project, Santa Fe Community College, Santa Fe National Forest, Santa Fe New Mexican Our View, transportation, Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP, “Before new power line