U.S. District Court to hear CMRR case

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By John Severance

Two weeks from today, Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group and his lawyers will be in a U.S. District Court room in Albuquerque.

At 9 a.m. on April 27, Judge Judith Herrera will be hearing arguments from the Los Alamos Study Group and the Department of Energy.

According to court documents, the complaint seeks a declaratory judgment and mandatory injunction requiring DOE to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), by preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the proposed Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos and its many subprojects.

The complaint also seeks an injunction to prohibit all further investment in the Nuclear Facility, including all detailed design, construction, and obligation of funds, until an EIS is prepared.

Mello was in Santa Fe Tuesday night giving a presentation on the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility.

“I can’t say too much about it,” Mello said of the upcoming hearing. “We are working on our presentation to the court. The judge is giving a four-hour slot for both sides so we are summarizing our case for two hours.

“The bare bones of the case are very simple. The NNSA is implementing a CMRR nuclear facility without an applicable environment impact statement. It is a very simple idea and it is a very simple law.”
In October, DOE and NNSA lawyers filed a motion to dismiss.

They argued that the NNSA already had completed and extensive environmental review of the proposed CMRR. The review culminated in a November 2003 EIS and on Feb. 12, 2004, there was a Record of Decision (ROD) that approved construction

According to court documents, “Since the 2004 ROD, new developments and information have necessitated modifications in the designed of the proposed CMRR. But for NEPA purposes, the need for the proposed CMRR project have not changed, nor has the scope of operations to be carried out in the proposed CMRR.
Given to the design modifications, NNSA will conduct further environmental review and then prepare a supplemental EIS (SEIS). After public scoping meetings and a 45-day public comment period, the NNSA will prepare a ROD.

A judge declined the motion to dismiss and the two sides have gone back and forth in court since then.

Stay tuned to the Los Alamos Monitor for coverage of the case.