In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the United States is slated to review how operational alternatives at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico could impact the environment over a fifteen-year period.
The review will include the potential reduction of nuclear weapons on a global scale, preventing their use, as well as other initiatives regarding national security and international stability.
Located in northern New Mexico, Los Alamos was part of the highly confidential and controversial Manhattan Project during the Second World War, gaining infamy as the facility that brought forth the atomic bomb. It is also one of two sites marked as potential manufacturing venues for plutonium cores, the other being a site near South Carolina’s Savannah River.
Lab officials have advised the relevant authorities that they require over four million square feet of new construction to augment the capacity of its primary technical areas as well as its plutonium operations sector. The expansion will also require several thousand new personnel for operations, something that stands to improve the state of employment within the region.
A mistrustful situation
The downside to this is that a number of environmental watchdogs believe that the NNSA will just do a courtesy review as opposed to a full review that will reveal the potential consequences Los Alamos will have on the federal budget as well how any environmental fallout stands to affect both Native American settlements within its vicinity and local communities.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico executive director Jay Coghlan referred to the review as a sham that would prevent locals from enforcing the anti-nuclear stipulations of the National Environmental Policy Act. Coghlan explained that the NNSA was not clear about making any new decisions in its site-wide impact statement, and that it will simply implement decisions made behind closed doors without taking public sentiment into consideration.
Another organization, the Los Alamos Study Group, added that NNSA has made no indications that it would pause any of its preparations just to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act’s requirement that these need to be vetted properly before implementation. The group also pointed out that $19 billion has been allocated to the site for the cost of building and operating its plutonium core production facility well into 2033.
Group director Greg Mello declared that the NNSA is putting on an act to make its reckless plans seem legitimate and acceptable to the public.