Citizens Rebut Government Attempt To Continue Illegal Construction Of Nuclear Weapons Plant

12 November 2019 for immediate release

Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration’s brazen disregard for a federal court’s September 24, 2019, ruling an “abuse of the judicial process,” the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four individual plaintiffs, returned to federal court in Knoxville, TN, today to file a rebuttal of the NNSA’s argument that the agency should be allowed to continue construction on a new nuclear weapons production plant “in the interim”—even while they are preparing the studies that will tell them whether the facilities can be made safe for workers and the public in the event of an earthquake.

“If it turns out that the old buildings can not be made safe enough to operate for 20-30 more years, their entire plan, and a couple billion taxpayer dollars, goes ‘poof!’” said OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison. “Because the current strategy is completely co-dependent. In order to meet their mission requirements, they need not only the new bomb plant, the Uranium Processing Facility, but also the old, unsafe buildings. Without the old buildings, it’s back to the drawing board.”

The latest filing by OREPA and its co-plaintiffs puts the matter back on US Chief Federal Judge Pamela Reeves’s desk.

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PLANTIFFS’ FILED MOTION TO ENFORCE COURT JUDGMENT

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.

FULL DOCUMENT

Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration's latest Record of Decision (Federal Register, October 4, 2019) for the Continued Operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex , "an obvious attempt by the government to deliberately circumvent this Court's ruling," the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual co-plaintiffs today filed a Motion to Enforce the judgment handed down in federal court in September by Chief United States District Judge Pamela Reeves.

"Within hours of the Judge's September ruling, NNSA told reporters that it would keep right on doing what it was doing, including building the UPF bomb plant. Then they published the new Record of Decision which is a direct challenge to the Court—it says they have decided they will comply with the Court's order at some uncertain date in the future, and in the meantime, it's business as usual. We went to court in the first place, because 'business as usual' was violating the law." — OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison

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