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  • Bill includes CMRR funding, LA Monitor, 5 Jan 2013
    our final approach will be In February of last year the Obama administration and the NNSA deferred the project for five years and Los Alamos National Laboratory has been closing down the project The White House released a statement of administrative policy regarding the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 in December and Obama vowed at that time to veto any appropriations bill that funds the CMRR project The administration made 18 objections to the defense bill proposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility project is listed seventh on the list The statement read the Administration strongly objects to section 3111 which would require construction of the CMRR facility to begin in 2013 The Departments of Defense and Energy agree that in light of today s fiscal environment CMRR can be deferred for at least five years and funds reallocated to support higher priority nuclear weapons goals An interim strategy will be implemented to provide adequate support to plutonium pit manufacturing and storage needs until a long term solution can be implemented Further Senate bill 3254 would require funding for the CMRR in FY 2013 to be taken from other National Nuclear Security Administration priorities creating undue risks for other parts of the program including delays to critical infrastructure modernization underfunding operations of the nuclear complex and curtailing science engineering and key nonproliferation initiatives Finally section 3111 specifies an operational date but caps total funding at the low end of the agency estimate which may not be achievable After Obama signed the defense bill the White House released the following statement Even though I support the vast majority of the provisions contained in this Act which is comprised of hundreds of sections spanning more than 680 pages of text I do not

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/LAMonitor_5Jan2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • President signs FY2013 NDAA, press release, 3 Jan 2013
    armed services committees not NNSA within 18 months from today In addition the Act Requires that the building cost no more than 3 7 billion and be in operation no later than 2026 and Requires that NNSA not use any funds authorized for the Uranium Processing Facility UPF project Naval Reactors or Directed Stockpile budget on the CMRR NF project These last two provisions have little legislative content as a there is no way to legislate the future cost or completion date of the project and b the use of funds outside specific line items is normally forbidden by existing law anyway by the Anti Deficiency Act The stated 3 7 billion was the lowest roughly estimated cost for the project as of late 2010 The high end estimate at the time was 5 9 billion No more recent estimate is publicly available although NNSA and DoD have both prepared estimates which reportedly differ All NNSA project costs have risen since 2010 In 2010 no independent cost estimate for the project had been conducted Even today no detailed project baseline design requirements cost and schedule has been prepared meaning that all cost estimates at this point are somewhat speculative Despite expenditure of 635 million minus 120 million equals 515 million on the project to date many basic design questions remain unresolved Study Group Director Greg Mello This is indeed a strange situation where the two armed services committees stand entirely alone in their support for the CMRR NF The strategy of deferral for at least 5 years has been endorsed by the Pentagon the U S Strategic Command the DOE and NNSA and all White House offices This consensus was announced in February pdf and codified in a formal Nuclear Weapons Council decision last spring pdf Deferral has been endorsed by the whole Republican led House of Representatives in its proposed Energy and Water Appropriations bill for FY 2013 during the passage of which no member including no member of the House Armed Services Committee even offered an amendment to fund this project The Senate Appropriations Committee s Energy and Water Appropriations markup for FY2013 also deferred and de funded this project That thoroughly studied provision almost certainly would have passed the whole Senate unscathed as happened in the House Today s bill by its nature cannot provide project funding Starting in February the Administration began implementing its deferral strategy and has subsequently developed a draft alternative which meets all perceived national security needs as its supportby all the national security agencies testifies Congress also has been informed of this support in formal testimony and numerous interagency briefings Contractor personnel on the project have already dwindled to about 10 down from more than 500 Few of the people who left are available now and there is no contract structure under which they could work Hiring new engineers with security clearances and nuclear experience is a slow process This NDAA provision would leave the nation without a viable plutonium sustainment strategy

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/press_release_3Jan2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Recent op-eds on CMRR-NF, Apr-May 2012
    NNSA for doing the exact same thing The House FY 2013 Energy and Water bill noted that By not fully considering all available options to CMRR millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent for work which will not be needed until a much later date We support an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that will be offered this week by Rep Ed Markey D Mass to eliminate FY 2013 funding for CMRR Rep Markey s proposal will strike sections from the bill that require the completion of the proposed facility and forbid Congress from funding less expensive alternatives Posturing on Plutonium Huffington Post William Hartung Director Arms and Security Project Center for International Policy May 15 2012 The Obama administration took an important first step by zeroing out funding for the CMRR facility in this year s budget proposal a position that was supported by the House Energy and Water Subcommittee which has primary jurisdiction over the Department of Energy s nuclear warhead complex But this sensible step was too much to bear for Rep Turner and his allies like House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard P Buck McKeon an arms industry booster who never met a weapons system he didn t like If they had their way we would expand our ability to build nuclear weapons and sustain it for decades if not centuries to come Needless to say this is not the greatest example to be setting when we re trying to persuade countries like Iran to forgo development of their own nuclear weapons Why Spend Money on an Unneeded Facility Roll Call Stephen Young senior analyst Union of Concerned Scientists May 15 2012 Existing facilities can take on the work planned for the replacement nuclear facility to keep U S nuclear weapons reliable In particular Los Alamos has a brand new radiological lab where much of the analytical work to maintain the stockpile could be conducted Thanks to a fresh look at nuclear material safety standards researchers can safely work with four times more plutonium than they had originally planned Meanwhile an underutilized federal weapons complex building in Nevada could provide more than enough storage space for radioactive materials Finally and perhaps most important there is no need for the United States to increase pit production Looking ahead two decades the only plausible rationale to increase pit production capacity above the current level would be to support the upcoming life extension programs for W78 and W88 warheads The decision on whether new pits will be necessary however is not scheduled until 2021 And even if the two warheads do need new pits the existing plutonium facility at Los Alamos could expand production without building the replacement nuclear facility Any of these options would be far cheaper than building the replacement nuclear facility As of 2010 the cost estimate was as much as 6 billion when the design was only 45 percent complete The actual cost would likely be significantly higher A False Connection New START

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/CMRR/CMRR_op-eds_May2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Congress tries CPR on CMRR, Los Alamos Monitor, 20 Dec 2012
    administration has argued that delaying construction of the new CMRR facility by five years would save money without harming nuclear weapon readiness but the plan has received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill Some lawmakers sought to proceed on a schedule that would have construction completed by 2024 though a budget resolution Congress approved for the first half of the fiscal year that began on Oct 1 included no funds for the project On Tuesday however a conference committee established to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization legislation released a bill that would establish a legal mandate that the CMRR building be up and running within 14 years The bill which is expected to go to the House floor on Thursday would also mandate that 120 million in fiscal 2012 funds that Congress had appropriated for the CMRR project be used for the originally intended purpose In September the Energy Department informed lawmakers it was looking to reprogram the money to alternative nuclear weapons complex projects The defense authorization bill also would legislatively cap the total cost of the CMRR building at 3 7 billion The White House released a statement of administrative policy regarding the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013 President Obama has vowed to veto any appropriations bill that funds the CMRR project The administration made 18 objections to the defense bill proposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the CMRR facility is seventh on the list The present legislation is just the latest response to a broad failure of leadership that extends across the entire national security establishment with respect to nuclear weapons If you keep kicking the can down the road eventually you will lose it This administration talks in large vague terms but that s

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/LAMonitor_20Dec2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Panel Pushes New Lab at LANL, ABQ JRNL North, 20 Dec 2012
    deferral amounted to a de facto decision to cancel the project The final House Senate language is an attempt by Levin and his allies to reverse that decision The bill s effect in the 2012 13 fiscal year which began in 2012 is unclear It comes amid fierce debate in Washington over the 2012 13 budget with no completed appropriations bills specifying how much federal agencies are legally allowed to spend Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration which will have to figure out what to do amid conflicting congressional signals about the project did not return calls for comment Wednesday The committee action is the latest development in a conflict over the last year between federal bean counters concerned about the project s rising costs and some members of the national security establishment arguing that the project is needed to maintain the U S nuclear arsenal In 2007 federal officials said they thought they had a handle on the plutonium project which they estimated would cost 800 million to build and be done by 2014 By 2010 the price had risen to an estimated 3 7 billion to 5 7 billion with its estimated completion pushed out to the 2020s National Nuclear Security Administration officials repeatedly said they would prefer to build the CMRR NF but couldn t afford those rising costs alongside other nuclear work being done including refurbishing aging B61 nuclear bombs and building a similar facility for uranium work in Tennessee The argument spilled over into Congress this year Appropriations committees which allocate the dollars supported the administration s decision to indefinitely defer the work This week s bill comes from the Armed Services committees which set defense policy They disagreed with the budgeters saying the project was still needed and the NNSA simply has to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/ABQ_JRNL_north_20Dec2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • FY2013 Defense Authorization Conference Bill Powerfully Advances Nuclear Weapons Contractors, press release, 19 Dec 2012
    House bill as passed by the House and Senate Armed Services markup of this legislation here Study Group Director Greg Mello Overall this is a nuclear lobbyist s bill Numerous provisions are included that will add bureaucratic complexity to the management of the warhead complex tie up federal efforts in ways that stifle reform provide new political power to nuclear management and operating M O contractors and tilt the playing field toward new programs and projects It creates numerous intra federal reporting requirements and duplicative federal work while creating additional review and advisory bodies some of which will place contractors in a federal oversight capacity overseeing their own overseers Running contrary to past direction from a previous Republican controlled House it encourages laboratory employees to augment and substitute for federal employees the number of which it caps and the budget for whom it cuts There could be nothing more federal than national security and within that sphere nothing more inherently federal than nuclear weapons Nonetheless this bill would weaken still further the federal character of this enterprise It ties nuclear warhead policy into a Gordian knot of complexity that will be difficult to set free It establishes presumptions favoring new warheads and multibillion dollar facilities while partially casting aside long standing safety standards that might show up contractor failures This has come about primarily because of a profound failure of leadership by the White House and the Democrats in Congress Pressure by contractors for more business is a constant factor What is new and what is creating these profoundly negative outcomes is the nearly complete collapse of White House leadership starting with the ineffectual and in some cases disloyal seniormost appointees who are currently running NNSA The top individual NNSA Administrator Tom D Agostino was originally appointed by President Bush

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/press_release_19Dec2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Says PU Study Doesn't Negate Need for Pit Manufacturing, NWMM, 14 Dec 2012
    decision to defer work on CMRR NF for at least five years The study that Lawrence Livermore has put out that says that it s at least 150 years and counting is getting to be a really long time not forever and ever and ever but a really long time said Phillip Coyle the Senior Science Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation and the former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs for the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Obama If everybody had known about this latest data they might have argued for a longer delay they might have said we could wait 10 years or 20 years or 150 years CMRR NF Subject of Significant Debate The fate of CMRR NF has been hotly debated ever since the Administration formally deferred the project in February choosing instead to pursue an alternate plan that would use existing facilities to meet the nation s plutonium needs On the heels of informal talks House and Senate lawmakers began to formally hash out differences between their versions of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act this week as conference negotiations officially began and both chambers supported in different ways the CMRR NF project bucking the Administration and House and Senate appropriators which have supported the alternate plutonium strategy Kingston Reif the Director of Nuclear Non Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non Proliferation suggested that current budget realities make deferring the project the right approach If a cheaper alternate is available despite whatever pledges may have been made two years ago under an entirely different fiscal environment it makes sense to look at potential cheaper alternatives he said If a cheaper alternative can be found that allows us to sustain the stockpile and

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM_14Dec2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • LASG ltr to Congress, 12 Dec 2012
    a typical garden cart such as this one available at Lowe s hardware stores which can be immediately deployed for one million times less money than the tunnel It would be better to get two carts especially given the hourly rate of the people who will go to pick them up I see that Metzger s in Los Alamos has some at 130 This homely example were we to pick it apart for all the lessons it offers would explain just about everything we need to know as to why NNSA is so broken And why do I even have to say this instead of NNSA Skeptics may argue that the tunnel provides additional benefits What benefits exactly I don t know what those alleged benefits might be We can be sure they are classified Secret Restricted Data SRD for official use only OUO or else unclassified controlled nuclear information UCNI if they are even committed to paper at all The usual way bad decisions are made at NNSA is through heavy reliance on tacit assumptions supported by no analysis at all Since no one has offered any alleged benefits I can t respond But the alleged benefits can be relied upon to fall into two categories alleged benefits under current laws and policies and alleged benefits under policies and laws that might or might not occur in the future aspirational benefits The latter can sound reasonable if money and complexity are not considerations But money and complexity are very strong negative factors A 140 million tunnel that takes 5 years to design and build is a pretty complex capital project with no guarantee of success as we have seen Operating such a tunnel will also be complex It will also be LESS safe and no more secure than a short stroll in the open air Ask yourself why would fully sealed containers housing gram quantities of plutonium and other radiological level materials be safer inside a closed tunnel than in the open air There are rightly no DOE safety or security requirements for a tunnel for the transportation of plutonium in any quantity or form within an NNSA site whether it be grams kilograms or tons let alone for transportation of the merely radiological quantities required for the missions at RLUOB which would be served by this tunnel Throughout the entire history of LANL and all its varied research and production missions there has never been any requirement to transport plutonium underground I submit that there is no a safety b security or c any efficiency justification for any such system today or in the foreseeable future Does all this complexity cost operational difficulty and delay sound efficient to you It doesn t to me It would be supremely ironic if the same parties who say that onerous safety and security requirements are hurting efficiency and damaging science are now suggesting that this tunnel be built for safety or security requirements that don t exist and wouldn t be

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/LASG_ltr_Congress_12Dec2012.html (2016-02-16)
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