Nuke Watch New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Los Alamos National Labs and DOE in January of 2016. This lawsuit is over LANL and DOE's failure to meet cleanup milestones under the 2005 consent order. The complaint alleges twelve violations of a 2005 Consent Order governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Those violations could result in potential penalties of more than $300 million dollars that would go to the state if only the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) were to enforce them.
“The nuclear weaponeers plan to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding U.S. nuclear forces. Meanwhile, cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed. We are putting the weaponeers on notice that they have to cleanup their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need. Real cleanup would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and environment while creating hundreds of high paying jobs.” -Nuke Watch Director Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch New Mexico is among a coalition of community and public interest groups that has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), challenging the federal agencies’ decision not to examine the possible wider impacts of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Savannah River Site in South Carolina producing these warhead triggers, also known as pits.
A PLUTONIUM PIT IS THE HEART AND TRIGGER OF A NUCLEAR BOMB. PRODUCTION INVOLVES THE EXTENSIVE PROCESSING AND HANDLING OF EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS AND RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS. IN 2018, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CALLED FOR PRODUCING AT LEAST 80 PITS PER YEAR BY 2030, INCLUDING 30 OR MORE AT LOS ALAMOS AND 50 OR MORE AT THE SAVANNAH RIVER SITE.
We have pushed for a full program review since 2019, reaching out to DOE and NNSA on six occasions over the legal requirement for a new or supplemental broad, nationwide programmatic environmental impact statement, or PEIS, for producing the larger number of plutonium pits at Los Alamos and the Savannah River Site. NNSA has only conducted fragmented and piecemeal reviews, looking at sites separately rather than examining their combined impacts and risks.
OREPA, NukeWatch, and NRDC have filed a lawsuit against the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF). The UPF is dubbed the 'tip of the spear' for the trillion dollar nuclear modernization project. 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.
Also, 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.