Nuclear Watch, OREPA, and NRDC Lawsuit v. DOE and NNSA re Uranium Processing Facility, Y-12, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Complaint For Injunctive And Declaratory Relief
1. This case concerns grave risks that the National Nuclear Security Administration ("NNSA") is taking but failing to consider regarding the safety and potential environmental impacts of America's nuclear weapons program, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.
In particular, this case challenges the NNSA's refusal to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement ("SEIS") to consider important new information about the serious vulnerability of a new design for a Uranium Processing Facility ("UPF") at the Y-12 National Security Complex ("Y-12") in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This new design is significantly different from the one the agency chose to analyze in 2011.
Most importantly, the NNSA decided to save money on the modernization of the aging Y-12 Complex by not building a single new building to house the entire UPF, but instead constructing several new buildings and continuing to use old and increasingly deteriorating buildings for processing nuclear weapon s components.
This case challenges the NNSA 's plans to implement this major change in the UPF design without considering in a NEPA analysis crucial new information about the increased odds of large earthquakes and the risk that such an earthquake may cause these decrepit buildings to collapse or even explode.
This case also challenges the NNSA's failure to consider whether the ongoing use of these old and vulnerable buildings may impede efforts to clean up extensive prior contamination, which has led to the entire Y-12 Complex being listed as a Superfund site, but never completely cleaned up for over 25 years. The NNSA's refusal to consider this important new information places the environment, local communities, and national security in grave peril and violates NEPA and the Administrative Procedure Act.
Read the full Complaint (PDF)
For Immediate Release March 26, 2018:
United States To Begin Construction Of New Nuclear Bomb Plant
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced on Friday, March 23, that it was authorizing the start of construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) and two sub-projects at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The UPF is a facility dedicated solely to the manufacture of thermonuclear cores for US nuclear bombs and warheads.
Citizen watchdog groups are responding by filing an expedited Freedom of Information Act request demanding a full fiscal accounting of the UPF bomb plant- something the NNSA has refused to provide for the last five years, including to Congress, despite repeated assurances that the project is "on budget."
"This project is already a classic boondoggle, and they are just getting started," said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) in Knoxville, Tennessee. "Worse, it undermines US efforts to discourage nuclear proliferation around the world. How can we oppose the nuclear ambitions of other countries when we are building a bomb plant here to manufacture 80 thermonuclear cores for warheads every year?"
Jay Coghlan of NukeWatch points out that "This project already has a long history, and it is instructive. In 2013, DOE announced it was 85% finished with the UPF design when it ran into the 'space/fit' issue- and more than a half-billion taxpayer dollars were just written off. In private business, that kind of thing gets you fired. In DOE's world of contractors running amok, they not only didn't get fired, not one Congressional hearing was held and the UPF budget went up the next year!"
- See full press release for all the details (PDF)
- View/download the OREPA/NukeWatch FOIA request (pdf)
April 5, 2018:
DoE, NNSA motion to move lawsuit from Wash. DC to Knoxville, Tenn. granted by district judge
(story: Oak Ridge Today)
May 24, 2018:
UPF lawsuit: NNSA considering new, supplemental environmental impact statement for Y-12
(story: Oak Ridge Today)
"With a lawsuit pending, federal officials are considering whether a new or supplemental environmental impact statement is needed for the Y-12 National Security Complex after design plans changed for the Uranium Processing Facility, the largest federal construction project in Tennessee since World War II.
"As part of the process, the National Nuclear Security Administration is preparing what is known as a supplement analysis, or SA. A draft of the new SA has been issued, and you can read it on the Y-12 website."
Comments on the draft supplement analysis can be submitted through June 20. (read more at Oak Ridge Today)