UPF Lawsuit

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Plaintiffs file this Motion to Enforce the Court’s Judgment of September 24, 2019, ECF No. 64, because the Department of Energy (“DOE”) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (“NNSA”) have issued a new Amended Record of Decision (“2019 AROD”), see 84 Fed. Reg. 53,133 (Attachment A), that is fundamentally inconsistent with this Court’s Judgment, ECF No. 64, and Memorandum Opinion and Order (“Opinion”), ECF No. 63. Based on a finding that the agencies violated the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321–4347, by failing to properly consider new information about seismic hazards in eastern Tennessee, this Court vacated the NNSA’s previous 2016 AROD and associated 2016 Supplement Analysis (“SA”) and 2018 SA, and ordered the agencies to prepare a new analysis of seismic risks on remand.

However, a mere three days after this Court issued its Opinion and Judgment, NNSA issued the 2019 AROD, which effectively adopted the same decision this Court vacated—and did so without preparing any analysis of seismic risks that complies with this Court’s Opinion. Accordingly, Plaintiffs respectfully request that the Court enforce its Judgment of September 24, 2019, ECF No. 64, by declaring that the 2019 AROD is inconsistent with this Court’s Opinion, vacating the 2019 AROD, and declaring that any subsequent AROD that allows NNSA to conduct further construction or related activities before NNSA completes the legally required NEPA analysis this Court ordered will likewise be inconsistent with this Court’s Judgment.


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?”

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Lawsuit aims to halt Uranium Processing Facility construction to review earthquake risks

Lawsuit aims to halt Uranium Processing Facility construction to review earthquake risks
Brittany Crocker, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 11:00 a.m. ET July 28, 2017

Prior to this lawsuit, a federal safety board also raised concerns over seismic risks at the UPF and at two older buildings Y-12 plans to continue using.

A lawsuit filed last week against the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) alleges the government agencies ignored new information about seismic risks during a second environmental review on Y-12 National Security Complex’s Uranium Processing Facility.

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance filed the lawsuit in Washington with Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Natural Resources Defense Council to stop the building’s construction until another environmental review is completed.

The plaintiff organizations asserted revised plans for the Uranium Processing Facility are significantly different from those the NNSA analyzed in 2011. They said NNSA’s supplementary environmental review of the revised plans only covered earthquake risks at the new facility, and not the two legacy buildings Y-12 plans to continue using.


Plans are to complete UPF by 2025 for no more than $6.5B
UPF at Y-12 proposes to house enriched uranium operations for thermonuclear warhead secondaries. Courtesy NNSA.

Quotes and Resources

NNSA Review of UPF Compounds Legal Violations, Environmental Groups Say

OCTOBER 18, 2018
NNSA Review of UPF Compounds Legal Violations, Environmental Groups Say

A September review by the Department of Energy compounded the agency’s alleged transgressions of federal environmental law stemming from a 2016 design change to a next-generation uranium plant under construction at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee, a band of environmental groups said this week in an amended federal lawsuit.

The supplemental analysis DOE’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) published last month on the Uranium Processing Facility “not only failed to correct the NEPA [National Environmental Protection Act] violations identified in Plaintiffs’ original Complaint, but also revealed additional ways in which the NNSA was continuing to violate NEPA,” the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote in an amended complaint filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Tennessee.

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Y-12 OREPA protest 2011

Challenging the UPF Bomb Plant – Y-12 Supplement Analysis Comments

On July 5, 2018, OREPA and Nuclear Watch New Mexico—along with many of you!—submitted formal comments on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plan for the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, TN. The gist of our comments is that NNSA is required to prepare a new Environmental Impact Statement, or at least a thorough Supplemental EIS, and can’t move forward with the UPF bomb plant until they have done so.

The comments, which you can read or download here, now become part of the Administrative Record which the judge hearing our legal challenge will use to decide the case.

We believe the government’s attempt to rectify their past errors is way too little and way too late, and the Supplement Analysis has effectively strengthened our argument. In addition to the comments, we also submitted attachments, including expert declarations on the NNSA’s plans, the seismic risks they are overlooking, and the unsuitability of a piecemeal approach to planning at Y12. You can read or download the attachments here

Joseph Rotblat

“Nuclear disarmament is not just an ardent desire of the people, as expressed in many resolutions of the United Nations. It is a legal commitment by the five official nuclear states, entered into when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

-Nobel Laureate Joseph Rotblat

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