Draft Study Calls for Staying the Course on Plutonium Lab

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The National Nuclear Security Administration rolled out its draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement this afternoon for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project. Late this afternoon.

Last week, it was the 4:15 p.m. Friday revelation of new seismic problems for the lab’s Plutonium Facility. This week it was the 4:03 p.m. rollout of the 500-plus page draft report analyzing details of the lab’s multi-billion dollar proposal for a new plutonium lab. Pattern?

The quick details:

  • The “preferred option” is to forge ahead with building the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project, with its advertised $3.7 billion to $5.8 billion price tag.
  • No new study of alternative sites. The report relies on previous analysis done for the project’s original EIS that concluded, essentially, that Los Alamos was the only practical place to do this.
  • Only a brief analysis of upgrading the existing CMR building, which is 60 years old and decrepit. Study concludes upgrading the old beast is a non-starter.

I’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper, including comments from project critics who say the study is more rubber stamp for a decision already made than the serious analysis of alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act requires. But far too much here to digest at the late hour NNSA tossed this over the transom, so there will be more here next week on some of the additional details.

Oh, and did I mention late this afternoon? Do I sound annoyed?

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