Nuke lawsuit part of bigger battle

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Group says lab, NNSA not open about impacts to local residents

By Garrison Wells

The lawsuit filed by a grassroots citizen’s group to stop construction of a plutonium trigger plant at Los Alamos National Laboratory is a minor portion of a multi-pronged effort, a spokesman for the group said Wednesday.

“The lawsuit is a small part of the story,” said Darwin Bond-Graham, board member for The Los Alamos Study Group. “The biggest issue is what are the alternatives for the CMRR facility?”

Bond-Graham visited Los Alamos as part of Los Alamos Study Group’s effort to get the word out about its drive  to shut down the plant.

The group Tuesday filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Albuquerque against the Department of Energy, DOE Secretary Stephen Chu, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Thomas Paul D’Agostino, NNSA administrator.

In the lawsuit, the group contends the nuclear plant is being built in violation of federal environmental regulations, which require that an environmental impact statement be completed prior to the construction.

“Defendants’ decision to construct and operate the nuclear facility comprises a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment,” the lawsuit states.

The DOE has maintained that an earlier environmental impact statement covers the $4 billion project, tabbed the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research  Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR), which has been delayed several times and morphed over the years.

Construction is expected to wrap up in 2020.

Bond-Graham said the group’s efforts are also aimed at informing local residents of the impact that the lab will have during and after construction of the plutonium trigger plant.

“The NNSA has not informed people about the scale of this project, how big it has become,” he said.

Among impacts local residents may feel will be traffic from the trucks for the project, dust, the need for temporary housing for the workers and disposal of volcanic ash and other waste.

“We want to help government make better decisions,” Bond-Graham said. “We intend to win the lawsuit.”