While the newspapers and media are publishing heartrending accounts by Hiroshima and Nagsaki survivors, they are blatantly ignoring the continuation of that nightmare here at home. The following is via the Los Alamos Study Group and Joni Arends at CCNS. Please do what you can to spread the word. Comments are due Tuesday.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is beginning construction of a massive new plutonium “pit” factory at Los Alamos. The pit is the radioactive core of the nuclear weapon – the part that causes mass destruction. Each one of these warheads will have the destructive force of 15 Hiroshima-sized bombs. NNSA expects the factory to produce 30 pits per year by 2026, and 80 to 100 pits per year by 2030.
There’s been little mention of it in the press; when there is, it’s usually referred to as an “expansion” of Los Alamos National Labs (LANL). But it’s so much more than an expansion. It will be the largest construction project in New Mexico history and will drastically change LANL from a research facility to a huge nuclear bomb factory. NNSA plans to spend $13 billion during the current decade on it: that’s 6 times the cost of the Manhattan Project in inflation-adjusted dollars. $millions have already begun flowing.
NNSA allowed a brief opportunity for public comment early this year. Since then the project is proceeding without public input – in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Most New Mexicans haven’t even heard of the project, though it will potentially have an enormous negative impact on our lives and livelihoods.
Nuclear weapons production creates toxic radioactive [and hazardous] waste. But there is no plan for how all this toxic waste will be stored or disposed of. [DOE is drilling a new shaft at WIPP for where the waste would go – again without the necessary public process. See action alerts Los Alamos Study Group at http://nuclearactive.org/. Comments are due Tuesday, 8/11 at 5 pm. Sample public comment letters (cut and paste, and electronic) are available there.].
And get this: There has been no environmental impact study. Our Members of Congress have not asked for a site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS). Nor has our governor, or our state legislature.
This monstrous project is moving forward without New Mexicans knowing the potential impacts on our air and water, the surrounding communities, the pueblos and sacred sites, our highways [increased commuting], our electrical grid, or the natural ecosystem.
And did you know Los Alamos sits right in the middle of a seismically active fault zone? There was a 3.7 magnitude earthquake near Los Alamos recently, on July 30. According to the US Geological Survey, a major earthquake (magnitude 6.3 to 7) is possible at any time. Still, our Members of Congress haven’t even demanded an assessment of the potential effects of a major earthquake on the warhead factory, or of resulting contamination on our environment and on us.
New Mexicans need to know – and deserve to know – the impacts of nuclear production. We all must demand an environmental impact statement immediately.
We’ve got to make phone calls to our senators, the representatives of our own districts, and the governor, and ask each of them to call for a SWEIS, a site-wide environmental impact statement.
Here is the talking point:
“New Mexicans need to know how we will be impacted by the NNSA’s nuclear warhead factory [or Bombplex*] at Los Alamos. We demand an environmental impact study. We are calling on you to require a site-wide environmental impact statement to be completed before the project proceeds.”
Sen. Tom Udall (505) 346-6791, (202) 224-6621
Sen. Martin Heinrich (505) 346-6601, (202) 224-5521
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (505) 984-8950, (202) 225-6190
Rep. Deb Haaland (505) 346-6781, (202) 225-6316
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (505) 476-2200
[* During Bush II, there were similar proposals for expanded pit production in new facilities at LANL – the Bombplex, the CMRR Nuclear Facility, etc. – as well as new weapons designs – the reliable replacement warhead, robust nuclear earth penetrator. While we stopped the facilities (good on us), we were unable to stop the new weapons designs, which NNSA wants to continue at LANL.]
Congress appropriated our taxpayer dollars for NNSA to build this nuclear warhead factory despite the macabre absurdity of building more nuclear weapons when the US already has 3,800 of them at the ready – that’s as much destructive power as 57,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. And despite the obscene immorality of spending $trillions on nukes when millions of Americans are unemployed, hungry, homeless, and lacking healthcare during a pandemic. The money is already being spent.
However. We have the right to demand an environmental impact study. And if our senators, representatives and governor ask for a SWEIS, they will get it. Then, when the potential environmental impacts are publicly known, it will likely be obvious to everyone how unfeasible this project is.
If you’d like to know more about the project, there’s a wealth of information at www.LASG.org.
DOE and Los Alamos County PUD applied to the SEO to transfer 679 acre feet of water rights from their northern wells to the chromium plume remediation efforts. Last Friday, Joni Arends (CCNS) wrote a memo to Commissioner Anna Hansen about some of the problems with the application. The Buckman Direct Diversion Board and Santa Fe County each filed protests on Wednesday. The language in the protests is revealing about what the nuclear weapons complex tried to get away with – no analysis of return flow credits to the Rio Grande, etc.!