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"Forget the Rest" blog


Bulletin #157: Public talk and discussion this coming Wednesday in Santa Fe

September 24, 2012

Dear friends

If you live in the Santa Fe area, we’d like to invite you and your friends to a public talk and discussion about current nuclear weapons and laboratory issues this coming Wednesday, September 26 at 6:30 pm, at the CloudCliff Bakery and performance space in Santa Fe, 1805 Second Street (map). 

These are the topics we will cover:

  • Update on proposals to expand plutonium warhead core (“pit”) production facilities at Los Alamos
  • Could Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) ever be a “green” or civilian lab?
  • Would military and nuclear budget cuts be bad for New Mexico?
  • What you can do; solidarity in a time of cynicism and mistaken despair

This will be an engaging and perhaps surprising (or even shocking) discussion for long-time friends and newcomers alike.  

A great deal has been going on behind the scenes in Washington, D.C. that affects us here in New Mexico – the World Capital of Nuclear Weapons, as we know – and we will try to answer everyone’s questions as best we can. 

We would really like you to bring some of your friends or family.  This is important.  Many people ask us, “What can I do?”  Well, this is one answer: bring one or two people you know to meet and conspire with you and with us. 

This meeting will be the first in a series of such informational discussions this fall, some but not all of which will be open to the general public. 

Update on the proposed plutonium “pit” production annex, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF)

I promised a full update on this topic but have reconsidered.  It is complicated, and there are serious downsides to publishing all we know here.  Just briefly:

  • The CMRR-NF project is deferred, but rumors of its complete demise are exaggerated.  One element of the CMRR-NF project is widely (though not unanimously) supported at this time: a short (but $140 million!) tunnel.  Very large sums are also being lined up to upgrade the just-completed Radiological Laboratory, Utility, and Office Building (RLUOB) and for other purposes, as we explained in materials provided with Bulletin 155 (see: Comments on the “60-Day Study” Aug 8, 2012 (pdf).
  • A few members of Congress, including all four New Mexico Democrats, remain committed (to what degree, and with what effect, remains to be seen) to building something expensive and plutonium-related at LANL, either now or a few years from now.  They want commitments to build.  Some of these are Democrats, some are Republicans.  
  • The interrelationship of (or conflict between) plutonium warhead production and excess plutonium disposition programs – both of which are slated to occur in part in the same facilities at LANL – has not been explored by Congress.  
  • The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which owns LANL and writes the checks for Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), the for-profit management and operations (M&O) contractor, is somewhat (or very much, depending on your perspective) in a long-running but intensifying management crisis. 
  • Congress, unable to pass a single appropriations bill this year, has provided NNSA with a complete blank check (and budget increase) for the first six months of this year for nuclear weapons activities.  

We’ll leave the rest, and most of the details, for Wednesday or a later time.  

Best wishes, and looking forward to seeing some of you on Wednesday,

Greg Mello, for the Study Group

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