FOR immediate release: 21 April 2020

contact: Marylia Kelley, 925.255.3589 : marylia@trivalleycares.org

additional site contacts below

The thirty-six member organizations of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability spoke with one voice today in a letter sent to Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty calling for DOE and NNSA to suspend all active comment periods and reschedule public hearings and meetings until the COVID-19 national emergency is over.

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley CAREs and president of the Board of ANA, writes in the letter: “In consideration of the extraordinary challenges facing all of us in this time, we are asking you to hit the pause button and to provide an indefinite extension of the comment periods for any and all National Environmental Policy Act processes currently underway in the Department of Energy or the National Nuclear Security Administration.”

“It is unreasonable to ask us to forfeit our chance to participate meaningfully in a NEPA process because of the COVID-19 threat and the civil constraints it has imposed upon us,” the ANA letter says. “A declaration of national emergency may be words on a page in a bureaucracy, but where we live, the emergency is real, and it is a complete and fearful disruption of our lives.”

The ANA letter cites an April 1 letter from the chairs of fourteen committees of the House of Representatives that was followed by a letter signed by 24 Senators asking for the same consideration. The Senate letter says:

    “the American public is not only legally entitled to a meaningful opportunity to participate in these important proceedings; their participation is crucial to ensuring that agencies’ work is carried out effectively. The public is an invaluable source of expertise for agency decision-makers, and their ability to weigh in on agency decisions advances the good government goals of accountability. Yet, such meaningful participation is an impossibility for tens of millions of Americans during this pandemic emergency period. We cannot reasonably expect the public to redirect attention from protecting themselves and families to comment on federal agency rules and proceedings that while important, are not related to the crisis at hand or its response.”

The NNSA has received requests for extension of at least three currently active public comment periods; it has responded to two of the requests, granting an additional fifteen days. A public meeting scheduled for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to receive comments on a plan to produce plutonium pits for nuclear weapons has been changed to a “virtual meeting.”

“It is inconceivable that the DOE or NNSA can believe continuing with time-limited comment periods or virtual public meetings conform to the spirit of public participation envisioned in NEPA or its implementing regulations,” says the ANA letter. “It is unconscionable for DOE or NNSA to proceed as though ‘business as usual’ is appropriate when the President of the United States has declared a national emergency.”

The letter requests a response within seven days.

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The letter from ANA can be found here.

The letter from 14 House Chairs can be found here.

The letter from 24 Senators can be found here.

Additional contacts:

Ralph Hutchison, 865 776 5050, orep@earthlink.net

Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance

Request for extension of comment period for Supplement Analysis regarding Enriched Uranium operations at Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN pending.

Tom Clements, 803 834 3084, tomclements329@cs.com

Savannah River Site Watch

Virtual public hearing scheduled for April 30; comment period extended 15 days for Environmental Impact Statement on Plutonium Pit Production for nuclear weapons at Savannah River Site.

Jay Coghlan, 505 989 7342, jay@nukewatch.org

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Fifteen day extension of comment period granted (to May 8) for Supplement Analysis on expanded Plutonium Pit Production for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Lab.