Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
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Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commenting on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Nuclear Facility in the plutonium production complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Scott Kovac, Operations and Research Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico debunking the argument that the economic impact of the proposed new nuclear facility at Los Alamos is an efficient use of $6 billion.
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Rebuttal: NYTimes' "Los Alamos Residents Brace for Layoffs at Lab", 3/3/12
Jay Coghlan provides some critical counterpoints (in italics) to "Los Alamos Residents Brace for Layoffs at Lab", The New York Times.
March 3, 2012
The postponement of the CMRR-Nuclear Facility has nothing to do with the number of Lab jobs. In its August 2010 final environmental impact statement for the CMRR-Nuclear Facility the NNSA admitted that despite a ~$5 billion investment the project would create zero new permanent jobs because it would merely relocate existing jobs from older facilities. That review did however predict that an average of 420 temporary construction jobs would be created over nine years, but even then it's not clear how many of these temporary construction jobs would have actually gone to New Mexicans. In any event, the environmental impact statement noted that those temporary jobs "would have little or no noticeable impact on the socioeconomic conditions" of the Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, and Taos Counties.
The lab's budget for the 2012 fiscal year is $300 million less than the $2.55 billion, mostly in federal money, that it received last fiscal year.
Lab officials claim that the current fiscal year 2012 budget is falling some $300 million below FY 2011, or $2.2 billion vs. $2.5 billion. However, $70 million of that is due to the end of onetime economic stimulus funding for cleanup programs at LANL, which Lab management was fully aware of, and accounts for the already planned end of some 150 jobs. To put the job question in greater perspective, in constant dollars total FY 2010 funding for LANL was $2.31 billion. That is "only" $40 million more than this fiscal year's $2.27 billion, but it included $130 million in stimulus money, hence FY 2012 "regular" spending is still greater than FY 2010. Thus all the recent rhetoric about crippling budget cuts to LANL programs overlooks that the fact that this merely brings current funding back to the then-record breaking level of FY 2010 spending at Los Alamos, which was exceeded only by FY 2011.
"I'm hoping we can do it all as voluntary because it's far less disruptive to the work force," Mr. McMillan said in an interview on Friday. "A lot depends on what happens within the next month." He added: "We are one of the largest employers in the northern part of the state. Inevitably, these kinds of actions do have a ripple effect." In 2008, amid similar budget constraints, 431 workers were let go with buyouts. But this year's cuts will probably run deeper, and Mr. McMillan acknowledged that they would be difficult.
McMillan wears two hats, arguably in a conflict of interests. One hat is as LANL Director, the other is as president of the for-profit limited liability corporation "Los Alamos National Security" (LANS) that runs the Lab, in which the Bechtel Corp. and the University of California are the two dominant partners. The 2008 layoffs occurred in large part to make up for the new for-profit costs. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) awarded LANS $74.2 million for FY 2010, when it employed 14,610 people. This was followed by NNSA awarding LANS $83.7 million in profit for FY 2011, a 13% increase in one year, and 10 times more than what the University of California (UC) use to be awarded when it was LANL's sole nonprofit manager. Why does LANS now need to drop 400-800 employees from its current documented workforce of 11,782, when virtually the same amount of funding employed far more people in FY 2010? There appears to be a pattern, common to today's corporate world, of cutting jobs in order to maximize profits.
In addition to those workers eligible for the buyouts, the lab also employs about 3,500 contractors, students and others. Mr. McMillan said the layoffs were necessary so that Los Alamos, which has shifted its mission from primarily nuclear weapons to national security, could continue its work "10, 20, 50 years from now."
Actual budget numbers show that LANL's public relations claim that it has "shifted its mission from primarily nuclear weapons to national security" is false. Total Lab funding in constant dollars was $2.31 billion in FY 2010, $2.55 billion in FY 2011, and is estimated to be $2.27 billion in FY 2012 (there is little if any economic stimulus money for added cleanup in FY 2012). Of this, appropriations for nuclear weapons programs were $1.42 billion in FY 2010, $1.65 billion in FY 2011, and is estimated to be $1.31 billion in FY 2012. That is 61.5%, 64.7% and 61.7% respectively for each year. Further, these budget numbers are just for core research, testing and production programs for nuclear weapons, and do not reflect that much of LANL's remaining budget indirectly support those programs. In all, LANL has shown great consistency in having its nuclear weapons programs remain its primary focus, in contrast to undefined "national security."
For now, though, the one-two punch of the cuts and the plutonium facility's delay has sowed unease in Los Alamos a true company town where nearly half of the lab's permanent workers live in the area.
If the politicians are so concerned about jobs they should push for comprehensive cleanup at LANL, which the Lab's own data suggest could create up to a 1,000 high-paying, long-term jobs. Gov. Martinez's administration is granting numerous extensions to a legal Consent Order governing cleanup at LANL, which could otherwise forcefully compel the creation of those many cleanup jobs.
Donald L. Cook, deputy administrator for defense programs for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said a decision had been made to build a new uranium processing facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in lieu of completing the plutonium facility at Los Alamos for the time being.
Yet despite the vaunted economic presence of the nuclear weapons industry New Mexico has fallen from 37th in per capita income in 1959 to 43rd in 2010. The fact is that Los Alamos County is a highly privileged enclave that does not share its wealth with the rest of New Mexico. Out of 3,142 counties in the USA, Los Alamos is the 2nd richest, has the most millionaires per capita, the very lowest poverty rate, and is tied for lowest unemployment. At the same time, some of the poorest communities in the country live next to Lab boundaries.
|"Today I can declare my hope, and declare it from the bottom of my heart, that we will eventually see the time when the number of nuclear weapons is down to zero and the world is a much better place." -Colin Powell||Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.
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