NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

The National Nuclear Security Administration has extended the period in which it is taking comments and input on its draft review of the environmental impacts of plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site.

NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

Feedback can now be submitted through June 2. The previous deadline was May 18.

Comments concerning the Savannah River Site plutonium pit production draft environmental impact statement can be emailed, the preferred method, to [email protected]. Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer Nelson, NEPA Document Manager, National Nuclear Security Administration, Savannah River Field Office, P.O. Box A, Aiken, S.C. 29802.

The date for the related public hearing, April 30, remains unchanged. The hearing will be online (you can log on or call in, 408-418-9388 conference No. 796495716) in light of the novel coronavirus crisis.

“We will conduct this public hearing in a ‘virtual’ format that will be protective of public health while at the same time providing a meaningful opportunity for public participation,” the NNSA’s general counsel, Bruce Diamond, wrote in an April 21 letter to Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements. “NNSA staff are spending a considerable amount of time and effort to assure that this public meeting will be informative and useful as a forum for public comment.”

Federal law requires the production of 80 plutonium pits, nuclear weapon cores, per year by 2030. To meet that demand, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense two years ago recommended forging the cores in both South Carolina and New Mexico.

Fifty pits per year would be made at the Savannah River Site south of Aiken, at a redone Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, they counseled. The remainder, 30, would be made at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.

Both the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Lab could produce 80 pits per year if needed, according to two recent National Nuclear Security Administration analyses.

The public-comment extension comes amid calls and requests for such action; a handful of groups and nuclear watchers had requested more time.

“While we welcome the additional time for the public to review the proliferation and environmental impacts of bringing yet more plutonium to SRS for pit production in the abandoned MOX building, we will continue to question the need for this project,” Clements, the Savannah River Site Watch director, said in a statement.

The draft environmental impact statement for plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site is available on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, energy.gov/nnsa.


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