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DOE Secretary Chu Says Plutonium Decision at Los Alamos About Budget Constraints

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters in Washington today that the Department of Energy’s decision to abandon – at least for five years – the plutonium complex proposed for Los Alamos National Laboratory came down to simple economics.

Faced with escalating costs for two proposed multibillion-dollar nuclear weapons-related projects, one in Tennessee and the second at Los Alamos, the National Nuclear Security Administration was forced to choose. It chose the facility in Tennessee.

“Within these budget realities it was very clear we couldn’t do both needs at the same time so we addressed the one that we thought was most critcal,” Chu said.

My colleague John Fleck was way out in front of this announcement with a story in yesterday’s paper, as well as this blog post this morning.

Thomas D’agostino, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the decision wasn’t based on a competition between New Mexico and Tennessee but rather on “what’s best for America.”

Please see tomorrow’s Journal for more on this big developing story in New Mexico, including some reaction from New Mexico’s congressional delegation.