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September 2012

Additional Public Meeting on Plutonium Disposition on September 18

The Department of Energy (DOE) has decided to extend through October 10 the public review and comment period for the Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition (SPD) Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) . An additional public hearing will take place on September 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola.

The Draft SPD Supplemental EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for disposition of 13.1 metric tons of surplus plutonium for which DOE has not made a disposition decision, including 7.1 metric tons of plutonium from pits that were declared excess for national defense needs. It also updates previous DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses on plutonium disposition to consider additional options for pit disassembly and conversion. Those options include processing plutonium metal components to produce an oxide form of plutonium suitable for disposition and the use of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabricated from surplus plutonium in domestic commercial nuclear power reactors to generate electricity. DOE is not revisiting the decision to fabricate 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium into MOX fuel in the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility now under construction at DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, or to irradiate the MOX fuel in commercial nuclear reactors used to generate electricity.

Individuals who would like to present comments at this hearing should register upon arrival at the hearing. Speaking time will be allotted by the hearing moderator to each individual to ensure that all who wish to speak have the opportunity to do so. DOE representatives will be available during an open-house portion of these hearings to discuss the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS. Following a presentation by DOE, the public will have an opportunity to provide oral and written comments during the formal portion of the hearing.

For general information about the DOE NEPA process, please contact: Ms. Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20585, telephone (202) 586-4600, or leave a message at 800-472-2756.  Additional information regarding DOE NEPA activities and access to many of DOE's NEPA documents are available on the internet through the DOE NEPA website at http://www.energy.gov/nepa.

LANL Sets Waste Shipping Record for Fourth Consecutive Year

For the fourth consecutive year, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Transuranic (TRU) Waste Program sent a record number of shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M. for permanent storage.

The Laboratory’s 172nd shipment of TRU waste this year left Los Alamos bound for WIPP on August 2. With two months left in the fiscal year, the Laboratory has already exceeded last year’s record of 171 shipments.

“Our goal this fiscal year is 184 shipments, and we are on track to surpass that by a substantial margin,” said Lee Bishop, TRU waste manager at the Department of Energy’s Los Alamos Site Office. “We expect to send in the neighborhood of 200 shipments to WIPP this year.”

The Laboratory has transported more than 1,000 shipments to WIPP since that facility opened in 1999. 

Additional emphasis was placed on Area G shipments after last year’s Las Conchas Fire. Although the fire did not pose an immediate threat to the waste and protective measures were in place, the State of New Mexico, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Laboratory made removing the waste stored above ground at Area G one of its top environmental priorities.

In an agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and DOE, the Laboratory plans to ship more than 800 cubic meters of waste to WIPP this year, 1,800 cubic meters next year, and the remaining 1,106 cubic meters by June 30, 2014.

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