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Santa Fe resists LANL pits

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By Roger Snodgrass

SANTA FE – The Associated Press reported that the Santa Fe City Council unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday night objecting to a federal plan to expand production of plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory.“The laboratory appreciates the concerns of the Santa Fe community and of the council and will do everything we can to address those concerns and be as good a neighbor as we can be,” the laboratory responded in a prepared statement.The National Nuclear Security Administration has issued a draft environmental statement on current plans for transforming the nuclear complex. A series of 18 public hearings begins next Thursday in South Carolina.Four meetings will be held in New Mexico, including one from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 13 at the Hilltop House in Los Alamos, and from 6-10 p.m. the same day in Santa Fe at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center 3221 Rodeo Road.NNSA’s preferred alternative calls for manufacturing up to 80 pits per year, enabled by completion of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR) a project whose budget has grown to $2 billion, despite failure to gain full approval from House appropriators in recent years.The Santa Fe City Council passed a resolution in April 2005, advocating compliance with the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which entered into force in 1970. Among other recommendations, the resolution called for rejecting all proposals to build new or expanded factories for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons components.After the Rocky Flats site was shut down for environmental crimes in 1989, Los Alamos became the focus of production for plutonium pits, achieving its goal last year of producing 10 certified pits, nine of which have received the “diamond stamp” authorizing them to be used in warheads in the nuclear stockpile.The resolution this time emphasized concerns about hazardous contamination. It was passed unanimously by the councilors who voted.A performance evaluation plan for the current fiscal year at LANL calls for the manufacture of 10 diamond-stamped pits this year.According to Jan. 11 site report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, the plan includes extending the life of the current Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility, an aging structure that the CMRR was meant to replace.The plan details prescribed terms that would enable the contract manager, Los Alamos National Security, to earn a one-year extension to its seven-year contract.The CMRR project plans to hold its fifth public meeting under terms of a formal settlement with environmental and community groups at 6:30 p.m. March 25 at Fuller Lodge to update the project and answer questions.