Reading Room

Our Comments Emphasize Legal Requirement for "Programmatic" Review before Expanding Plutonium Bomb Production

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Posted by Marylia Kelley and Raiza Marciscano-Bettis

On June 28, 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) published a formal Notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of a Draft Supplement Analysis (SA) of the 2008 Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the agency's present day plan to expand plutonium pit (bomb core) production at least 400%, from the current limit of up to 20 bomb cores per year to a new limit of 80 or more.

The stated purpose of the NNSA's Supplement Analysis is to determine whether the agency will undertake a full programmatic review of its plan to increase plutonium pit production in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The Government's Position: The NNSA's Notice in the Federal Register states, "The Draft SA concludes that further NEPA documentation at a programmatic level is not required."

Tri-Valley CAREs' Position: The NNSA has a "legal obligation to conduct a relevant, up to date Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) before taking any further action to increase plutonium pit production."

Tri-Valley CAREs' technical comment on the NNSA's Draft Supplement Analysis contains ten reader-friendly sections that explain the basis for our claim that the government's initial decision in its Draft SA to proceed with ramping up pit production without first conducting a thoroughgoing programmatic review is wrong and, if implemented, would be illegal.

CLICK HERE to read Tri-Valley CAREs' comment letter, submitted on August 12, 2019.