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Seismic Concerns at Los Angeles Nuclear Laboratory and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production

Seismic Concerns at LANL and Expanded Plutonium Pit Production http://nuclearactive.org/, May 19th, 2022, Ongoing  Plutonium operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 are centered in the middle of the 36-square mile national nuclear weapons facility.  LANL is the only U.S. facility with the capabilities to fabricate plutonium triggers, or the fissile pits, for nuclear weapons.  However, Technical Area 55, or TA-55, is located within the complex Pajarito Fault Zone between two young, north – south running faults called the Guaje Mountain and    Rendija Canyon faults.  Visual evidence of faulting     can be found in the canyons to the north of TA-55.  http://nuclearactive.org/gilkeson/ see Seismic Documents.

The U.S. Department of Energy owns LANL.  It has plans for expansion of all things plutonium-pit production at the Plutonium Facility and at least five new support buildings at TA-55.  CCNS anticipates that DOE will continue its efforts to conceal and ignore the reality of the growing seismic threats of the young faults.

We witnessed similar efforts in the mid-2000s when DOE began to design a new super Walmart-sized Nuclear Facility within TA-55 next door to the Plutonium Facility.  DOE was so bold as to dig into the volcanic tuff with heavy equipment to prepare a pad for future construction.  http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/030510.html  In the end, public opposition and escalating costs forced the cancellation of its plans.  http://nuclearactive.org/livestreamed-nuclear-safety-board-hearing-on-february-21st-in-albuquerque/

Fabricating plutonium pits for nuclear weapons involves many steps – some using aqueous processes that result in water contaminated with radiation and hazardous materials.  That water is treated across the street from the Plutonium Facility at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility and for decades was discharged through an industrial outfall into Effluent Canyon.  Since November 2011, though, the treated water has been evaporated into the air at a mechanical evaporator.  

In April, the Environmental Protection Agency renewed the five-year industrial permit for LANL to discharge through Outfall 051 into Effluent Canyon.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-industrial-wastewater-permit-final-npdes-permit-no-nm0028355

We note that on May 11th, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and the Albuquerque Veterans for Peace, Chapter No. 63, appealed the EPA decision to permit the outfall and five others to the Environmental Appeals Board.  https://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/EAB_Web_Docket.nsf/f22b4b245fab46c6852570e6004df1bd/ba987f24df0c356085258837004f3dcd

Then on May 5th, the New Mexico Environment Department approved for the first time a ground water discharge permit for not only for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, the outfall and Mechanical Evaporator, but for two large solar evaporative tanks, and a new low-level radioactive liquid waste treatment facility.  In addition, DOE plans to build a liquid waste treatment facility for the transuranic plutonium liquid waste.  https://www.env.nm.gov/public-notices/, go to Los Alamos County, and scroll down to DP-1132 where the draft permit is posted, but not the final permit.

These facilities are all in support of DOE’s plans for expanded plutonium pit production at LANL.

May 21, 2022 - Posted by | - plutonium, safety, USA, weapons and war

1 Comment »

  1. View the map of new Mexico to seethe extent of wildfires in New Mexico
    https://data.thespectrum.com/fires/

    Comment by Terry southard | May 21, 2022 | Reply


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