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Like Trump, Biden administration to ramp up nuclear bomb-making

US pushes ahead with nuclear plans despite watchdog concerns, 9 news, By Associated Press Apr 30, 2021  The Biden administration appears to be picking up where former President US Donald Trump left off as the federal agency that oversees US nuclear research and bomb-making has approved the conceptual design and cost range for infrastructure investments for a multibillion-dollar project to manufacture key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

The National Nuclear Security Administration in a decision announced Wednesday stated that planning and construction could cost upwards of $5.15 billion initially.The agency did not articulate what exactly that money would be spent on nor does it include the cost of other preparations that would be needed for Los Alamos National Laboratory to begin producing 30 plutonium cores per year.

The push to resume production of the nuclear triggers has spanned multiple presidential administrations, with supporters arguing that the US needs to ensure the stability and reliance of its arsenal given growing global security concerns. The nuclear agency also has said most of the cores in the stockpile date back to the 1970s and 1980s. Lab Director Thom Mason during a virtual community meeting Thursday evening fielded several questions about the project, saying the goal of the work is not to expand the arsenal but rather to extend the life of the existing stockpile……… 

watchdog groups have been sounding alarms over the potential for more security and safety lapses at the northern New Mexico lab and the potential for environmental contamination. Another concern is the nuclear waste that would be generated by the work. The groups have said the cost estimate outlined by the agency in its decision is roughly double the projections made just last year.

Greg Mello with the Los Alamos Study Group said the ballooning budget and uncertainty over whether the lab can meet the federal government’s mandated production schedule “throw further doubt on the wisdom of proceeding with industrial pit production” at Los Alamos.“ LANL’s facilities are simply too old and inherently unsafe, its location too impractical,” he said.“Even with a much smaller stockpile, LANL could not undertake this mission successfully.”

Some groups have threatened to sue the US Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, saying a more comprehensive review should have been done on the plans to produce plutonium cores at Los Alamos and at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

They argue that nearby communities already have been saddled with legacy contamination from previous defence work.Critics are fearful that the project will result in factories that resemble the Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, which had a long history of leaks, fires and environmental violations and needed a $9 billion clean up that took years to finish………..J

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico called the federal government’s plans “unnecessary and provocative,” saying more production will result in more waste and help to fuel a new arms race……

May 1, 2021 - Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war

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