Reading Room

Group’s Comment Assails Government Plutonium Plan

Posted on Wednesday, June 2, 2020

Posted by Marylia Kelley, Scott Yundt and Angad Gangapuram

Today, Tri-Valley CAREs submitted a set of technical comments on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plan to expand plutonium bomb core production. Specifically, we submitted our comments on the agency’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina (DOE/EIS-0541).

The overarching project involves production of plutonium bomb cores, or pits, at two locations, the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos Lab in NM. The number of pits to be produced ranges from 80 to 125 (or more) annually. The currently approved limit for pit production is 20 pits per year.

Tri-Valley CAREs' comments restate our demand for an overarching Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on expanded plutonium pit production rather than the current situation wherein NNSA is reviewing only select fragments of pit production, which serves to understate the project’s full impacts on the environment in multiple states where the bomb core production, waste treatment, transportation, etc. would occur.

Our comments also focus on the “drover” for expanded pit production, which is the W87-1 warhead under development at Livermore Lab. This new nuclear weapon is being designed with a novel pit, unlike anything in the stockpile or in storage, and would thus require new pit production. An alternative to expanded pit production is to forego developing new warheads.

Our comments also assail the DEIS for its inadequate examination of the project’s potential impacts on human health, waste management, the environment, and nonproliferation goals. The comment letter contains specific sections on those topics as well as on the question of worker and public safety during periods of production “surge capacity” and the potential for intentional destructive acts.

Leading up to the June 2nd deadline, Tri-Valley CAREs circulated “sign and send” comments to group members and friends. We thank all who signed and submitted that letter. We also thank additional members of the public and numerous colleague groups for crafting comments on this wrongheaded plutonium proposal.

CLICK HERE for Tri-Valley CAREs’ comment letter on the DEIS

CLICK HERE to read the DEIS Summary

CLICK HERE to read the DEIS Volume 1

CLICK HERE to read the DEIS Volume 2