CMRR meetings set to begin Monday

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By John Severance

Starting Monday, the general public will get the chance to speak their mind about the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement project.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Site Office has extended the public comment period and added a fourth public meeting for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the CMRR project – Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF).

The comment period was extended by 15 days, making it a 60-day comment period. The formal comment period opened April 29. A public meeting in Albuquerque has been added, in addition to those alreadyplanned in Los Alamos, Espanola and Santa Fe.

The public meeting schedule is as follows:
Monday: Albuquerque Marriott, Salon F, 2101 Louisiana Blvd. NE.
Tuesday: Holiday Inn Express, Los Alamos.
Wednesday: Santa Claran Hotel, Espanola.
Thursday: Santa Fe Community College, Jemez Rooms.
All  meetings start at 5 p.m.

“It is essential that we modernize our infrastructure and capabilities in support of our national strategic needs,” Department of Energy spokesperson Toni Chiri said. “The CMR facility is approximately 60 years old and underpins weapons, nonproliferation, research, and space-based missions.

“We encourage public participation and input into the Supplemental EIS for the CMRR which addresses the changes to the proposed facility since the 2003 EIS.

“Our subject matter experts are looking forward to answering questions and explaining the CMRR and the Supplemental EIS. We look forward to comments we receive during the hearing, and throughout the comment period, which ends June 28.”

Joni Arends, the executive director for the Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety in Santa Fe, is hopeful of a fifth meeting in Taos.

“What is important for people is to take part in process,” Arends said. “What DOE is proposing is a facility manufacturing pits for the next 50 years. The question is what additional burden can the community take on given the past history of the lab in regards to impacts to the environment and the health of the people.”

Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group was taking a different tact.

In his newsletter, he urged people to boycott the meetings.

“We sympathize with everyone who wants to use an illegal and invalid DOE process to “sound off” about the CMRR-NF.  It may be cathartic, but if it’s empty of value or meaning, that catharsis -- organized, remember, by DOE, and for their purposes -- is not a good thing,” he wrote.  “We have to face up to the fact that offering our opinions and analyses, however excellent they may be, in a forum which is set up for the sole purpose of helping an agency evade the law and keep moving forward on the project, an adverse judgment in court, is an expression of weakness and frank subjugation, not strength.”

Mello, meanwhile, was awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit his group filed against DOE and NNSA.

After two days of testimony about three weeks ago, Judge Judith Herrera still was deliberating.

And everybody was still waiting. Some have guessed Herrera may rule on Monday afternoon before the first meeting.

“Activists have been parading to DOE NEPA hearings about nuclear weapons for more than 20 years,” Mello continued. “Many of the key organizers who are paid to recruit people for DOE are at best living in the past.  More and different actions, more thoughtful ones, are required.  Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.  We need a different result.  And the issues are now much bigger.  They do not fit into the very tiny boxes prepared for them in the bogus SEIS process, and neither do we.”

DOE and NNSA, meanwhile, are encouraging the public to submit comments throughout the comment period.

More information about the CMRR-NF SEIS and the public participation process can be found at nnsa.energy.gov/nepa/cmrrseis.