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  • Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor, Oct 21, 2011

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    Original URL path: /press/2011/NWMM_21Oct2011.html (2016-02-16)



  • FPIF: Russ Wellen, "Paving Over the Money Pit of Nuclear Weapons Spending," Oct 19, 2011
    cut just a tad less 440 million from the same programs Members are increasingly troubled by rising costs slipping schedules and questionable need for new weapons production plants The Committee is concerned about the escalating costs for two new nuclear facilities to handle plutonium and uranium the Senate report noted One of these two new nuclear facilities is the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility CMRR NF at Los Alamos National Laboratory On the grounds that a new Environmental Impact Statement EIS instead of just a supplemental EIS was required because of among other things seismic issues such as a 3 8 earthquake nearby on October 16 the Los Alamos Study Group sought to halt the project In his latest press release LASG executive director Greg Mello writes that on October 13 the National Nuclear Security Administration issued an amended Record of Decision to build the CMRR NF expected to cost 4 to 6 billion as much as the total constant dollar adjusted for inflation cost of all the buildings and programs in Los Alamos for the first decade and a half from 1943 to 1957 During the Manhattan Project that is The Record of Decision Mello explains is the formal completion of the most recent environmental review of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act But just as it looked like it was green lighted We do not anticipate that this project will succeed in the end writes Mello We are now in a kind of fiscal Indian Summer the real frosts of deficit reduction have not started to hit Many decision makers know there isn t enough money to build CMRR simultaneously with a more important project in Tennessee unless both are slowed and made much more expensive in the process Ironic as that sounds

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/FPIF_19Oct2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Press release: Nuclear Weapons Agency Reports Prior Decision to Build Huge Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos still on Track
    water mark for the project the beginning of the end Many decisionmakers know there isn t enough money to build CMRR simultaneously with a more important project in Tennessee unless both are slowed and made much more expensive in the process The two together comprise 85 of NNSA s construction budget for the decade If the projects proceed simultaneously everything else NNSA is doing will suffer This project isn t necessary to maintain any warhead in today s arsenal whether deployed or in reserve Neither can the country afford to maintain such a huge nuclear arsenal in the first place since the delivery systems are wearing out and very expensive to replace By the time CMRR NF would be finished almost the whole arsenal will have passed through life extension programs that give each warhead or bomb another 30 or so years of shelf life So even for people who think all these nuclear weapons make important contributions to our security what s the point Not one plutonium pit has ever been used in a life extension program to date and none are approved for the future for such programs It is a building in search of a mission Over the course of the past 8 years this building has gotten ten times more expensive and it has shrunk to one fifth the useful area inside It is also now a decade late And it s expensive very At 6 billion it would cost as much as the total constant dollar cost of all the buildings and programs in Los Alamos for the first decade and a half from 1943 to 1957 All you folks who don t like big government take note CMRR is ten times as costly as any prior government construction project in the history of the

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/press_release_13Oct2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • LASG letter to Congress, Sept 20, 2011
    in point is the Long Range Strike bomber Case in point is the Trident submarine replacement The list goes on As to how the budget situation would ultimately affect the nuclear force Kehler said that everything is on the table Some Republicans like Senator Coburn on the right are already talking about significant cuts in DoD nuclear weapons programs which would still provide a huge diverse modern long lived triad Numerous expert voices on the left have long expressed similar views Whatever one s views on nuclear deterrence there is little doubt that highly organized parochial interests inflate budgets above managerially optimal amounts We can all name projects whose justifications are inflated by hot air Pit production the enhancement of which is the sole coherent purpose of CMRR NF is apparently not needed to maintain existing warheads indefinitely as the JASON LEP study concluded or at least not needed now Most of you have seen this discussion of mine from March 2010 of this issue Frank von Hippel Bob Peurifoy and most if not all of you have come to the conclusion that even if CMRR NF were ever needed to expand pit production it is certainly not needed now There are questions about the W 80 warhead to most of which I am not privy but you are One question to which I am privy is this one posed to me by Dr Steve Younger a lifelong nuclear hawk currently running the Nevada Test Site why would the U S want to put a nuclear weapon on an slow moving air breathing low altitude delivery system All this leads to the next point UPF is far more programmatically important than CMRR NF now National policy i e the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review currently stigmatizes pit replacement which would require special presidential and congressional authorization This policy is not the mere politics of the moment but rather is based on some clear technical concerns primarily successful certification of such warheads is just not assured UPF in some form not necessarily the present one is however necessary to safely continue the LEP process So far as I was told each and every LEPed warhead or bomb has required a new made secondary No LEPed warhead has used a new pit No such warhead is as yet approved The national security and worker safety impacts of attempted CMRR NF construction will be entirely negative from now until it is fully operational in 2023 or later a crucial 12 year period assuming construction and start up proceed as planned Indeed these impacts have been somewhat negative since the beginning of the project For example a relatively inexpensive seismic and safety upgrade for the southern wings of CMR the only ones which were seen as needed then or now was abandoned in 2001 Assuming the most optimistic schedule henceforth almost two and half decades of unsafe operations will have followed the decision to pursue CMRR NF by 2024 CMRR NF has been appropriated almost

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/CMRR/LASG_ltr_Congress_20Sep2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Trying to prop up nuke lab budgets, ABQ JRNL, Sept 13, 2011
    current warhead types The infrastructure modernization in question is primarily the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility CMRR NF and related projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL and the Uranium Processing Facility UPF at the Y 12 facility in Tennessee which two facilities are expected to cost about 12 billion according to both appropriations committees Privately some government analysts are using much higher numbers In so doing Heinrich

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/ABQ-JRNL_13Sep2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • The National Environmental Policy Act: New Mexico District Court Dismisses Challenge to Nuclear Pit Facility Based on Doctrine of “Prudential Mootness," Sept 12, 2011
    that defendants had issued final design contracts for their preferred alternative that those contracts required the final detailed designs for the project to be construction ready and that defendants were considering no other alternatives to the massive venture Moreover even the draft SEIS produced by the defendants at the hearing acknowledged that the original project selected from an EIS prepared in 2003 could no longer be built because of seismic conditions and other geologic constraints and would be discarded as a no action alternative The project as originally conceived called for a pit facility to be built no deeper than 50 75 feet below grade Based on the criteria examined in 2003 the 2004 ROD stated that The environmental impacts of the preferred alternative will be minimal and small Since the 2004 ROD however the project has undergone substantial changes The original budget for the Nuclear Facility was estimated at 350 550 million The CMRR NF as now proposed has changed from a structure to be built to a depth of 50 feet to a structure requiring an excavation to 125 feet with the bottom 50 60 feet of the hole filled with concrete The concrete now needed is 375 000 cubic yards up from 3 194 cubic yards as originally estimated This is more concrete than was used for the Big I Interchange in Albuquerque or for the Elephant Butte Dam in southern New Mexico The steel needed is now 18 539 tons up from 242 tons That is roughly the equivalent of the Eifel Tower In short the present iteration of the Nuclear Facility dwarfs the Manhattan Project and will be the largest construction project in the history of the state of New Mexico Despite these fundamental changes the Department of Justice successfully persuaded the District Court that

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/CMRR/Hnasko_blog_12Sept2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Press background & update, Sep 4, 2011
    to validate estimates for the project However the committee wants to ensure that separate cost estimates for the projects are conducted rather than reviews of other cost estimates Managing these projects in accordance with the DOE 413 order series and project management and guidance is essential for success as is making sure that the projects have clearly defined and validated requirements that do not change the committee wrote in the report accompanying its version of the FY2012 Defense Authorization Act Bear in mind that construction is expected to begin long before a baseline for CMRR NF is completed By the time 90 design would be achieved and a baseline created approximately 100 million in construction would be completed It is this pre baseline construction during FY2012 that the House markup See http www lasg org ActionAlerts Bulletin118 html would prevent If an Energy and Water appropriations bill is to be passed the full Senate must pass the Appropriations markup a conference committee must iron out the major differences between the House and Senate versions and the final conference bill passed by both houses 2 Among other programs Obama s proposed surge in nuclear weapons spending not funded in the Republican controlled House will receive the Committee s suggested funding Historically and probably next week as well the Senate Appropriations Committee has been more generous to NNSA s Weapons Activities than the House In May I briefed a bipartisan panel of three staff members from this Committee on the CMRR NF project Despite this briefing I expect this Committee to fully endorse CMRR NF and will be pleasantly surprised if they do not or if they place conditions on it A key question is whether the Senate believes CMRR NF and the Uranium Processing Facility UPF in Tennessee can be successfully pursued at the same time Todd Jacobsen again quoting a study by the Army Corps of Engineers and two NNSA consulting firms on the UPF project Work on the CMRR NF presents another complication to UPF the Corps said The NNSA is planning to build both facilities concurrently and the Obama Administration has committed billions of extra money to modernize the nation s weapons complex and nuclear arsenal but the Corps suggested cost growth on either project could trigger problems on the other Significant cost growth of either project may result in a situation where constructing both projects with currently anticipated scopes is not feasible due to NNSA funding constraints the Corps wrote Significant delays to reaching full production capacity construction phasing or reduced functional capabilities may result if UPF is considered a lower priority than CMRR 3 Final passage of this and other funding bills by Congress by end of September considered unlikely so a Continuing Resolution CR contemplated to keep these and other agencies operating Key questions include What would be the ceiling available for Energy and Water appropriations as a whole Will a special exception be created for NNSA or for Weapons Activities which exempts these programs

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/press_background_4Sep2011.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Pit Stop, US budget would curtail LANL funding, Santa Fe Reporter, Aug 31, 2011
    and engineering but not construction because LANL must first resolve major seismic issues with the design and reassess which functions are necessary at the proposed facility A 2007 seismic analysis of the proposed site found a much higher level of risk than was estimated in the 1990s The new analysis found that the Pajarito fault line a geologic formation where seismic activity is concentrated intersects with other smaller faults that would magnify the motion if Pajarito ruptured At a June CMRR public forum in Santa Fe geologist Robert Gilkeson stated that LANL s environmental impact statement didn t take into account the full seismic risk and said the proposed site could be hit by an earthquake with a magnitude over 7 5 Greg Mello director of the Los Alamos Study Group says the Department of Energy had an extremely optimistic notion of Los Alamos seismic potential when it decided to locate plutonium processing facilities here Then they put all the data together that they ve amassed and realized Los Alamos was capable of some pretty damn big earthquakes Mello says LANL s 2008 evaluation of the facility notes that changes in design criteria as a result of the new seismic data have the potential for major project impact and said costs would increase significantly as the design was upgraded accordingly The budget bill associates continued cost escalation with NNSA construction projects in general and notes the need to monitor such projects to ensure that prudent project management practices are followed and to ensure that taxpayer funds are not wasted The fact that the CMRR s expected cost has jumped from 600 million to 6 billion seems to support the committee s concerns Bechtel Corp one of the contractors operating LANL also operates the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state which cost almost double its 5 8 billion projected construction price The committee s directive to re evaluate the CMRR s proposed functions also substantiates concerns about the facility s purpose By LANL s own estimate the CMRR won t be in operation until 2023 by which time the Department of Energy may already have finished upgrading existing warheads nuclear technology expert David Overskei said at a nuclear defense summit earlier this year The budget bill s accompanying report actually states that fully funding NNSA s proposed construction projects would compromise efforts to upgrade the warheads not support them Every nuclear weapon in the US stockpile will have been refurbished by 2023 without this building One of the questions some insiders ask is Isn t this building a little too late Mello says The bill also reduces environmental cleanup funding at LANL even as it allots extra cleanup funding at other sites The committee s report states that the budget aims to preserve cleanup funding at all of the sites at the highest possible levels with less than a 1 percent funding reduction from fiscal year 2011 Yet LANL was allotted 174 million less for cleanup than NNSA requested a 20

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2011/SFReporter_31Aug2011.html (2016-02-16)
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