Proponents Speak Out For CMRR

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Many believe the project will be an economic boon to the area

By John Severance

The second of four Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement public meetings take place in Los Alamos Tuesday and brought out the proponents as well as some activists.

The CMRR Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is currently out for public comment. The study describes the possible environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposed action.

Ray Baca, the executive director for the New Mexico Building and Construction Trades Council, was the first to talk and he said he represented construction workers, including the 800 that work for the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

“In the construction industry, there is double or triple the unemployment rate in the state of New Mexico,” Baca said. “The CMRR project would employ 1,000 workers over a 10- to 12-year period and it would be a huge boost to construction families as well as the Los Alamos economy.

“I respectfully hope that the lab begins this project sooner than later.”

Alfred Arias, a worker from Abiquiu, added, “We all need work and we need this project to get off the ground.”

Resident Michael Loya gave a historical perspective for the need of a new facility.

“The lab put an early end to the war. … We would have lost thousands of boys if it wasn’t for Oppenheimer,” resident Michael Loya said. “With the way things are in the Middle East and in Pakistan, we have to keep up with the technology and we have to be ready. I have always been told you can’t take a knife to a gunfight.”

The most outspoken of the opponents was the Rev. Holly Beaumont, the Santa Fe-based legislative advocate for the New Mexico Conference of Churches.

“LANL does not exist,” she said. “In 2006, the lab was handed over to Bechtel (one of LANS’ partners). Bechtel has left a global footprint in that how much money does it spend before it abandons a project. We have to wonder if the same thing will happen here.”

The Department of Energy is taking public comment up until June 28 and has listed up to nine different ways for that to happen. That includes by court reporter, computer, voice recorder, comment form, U.S. mail, email, toll-free phone, facsimile and the Internet.

There also are three CMRR SEIS alternatives.

The first is a no action alternative, which calls for construction and operation of the 2004 CMRR-NF at Technical Area 55 adjacent to the new Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building (RLUOB). Costs are now estimated up to $6 billion.

There is a modified CMRR-NF at TA-55 adjacent to the new RLUOB, which would incorporate design and construction modifications to address the seismic and nuclear safety requirements.

The third option would be the continued use of the CMR building.

Two more public meetings are scheduled. One is in Espanola tonight and the other is scheduled for Santa Fe Thursday. Both start at 5 p.m.