Obama Administration Pushes Ahead with $6 Billion Plutonium Lab in New Mexico

Monday, November 14, 2011
Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility (photo: Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Despite lacking what critics say is a clear purpose or mission, the Department of Energy is planning to invest $6 billion in building a new plutonium facility at the nation’s leading scientific lab.
 
Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to have a “Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement” (CMRR) Nuclear Facility, which has been on the books since 1999. Back when it was first proposed, the cost was estimated to be $375 million. Now, the price tag is anywhere from $4.5 billion to $6.5 billion, according to the Los Alamos Study Group, a local watchdog organization.
 
The study group has filed two lawsuits against the government to try to stop the project from being completed.
 
When it was originally proposed, the new facility was going to handle only small samples of plutonium, with perhaps a total of 900 grams on hand. Today, the Energy Department is talking about having the CMRR store up to six metric tons of plutonium—enough to rebuild the entire U.S. arsenal of nuclear warheads. The stated purpose of the facility is “to conduct experimental and industrial processes involving large quantities of plutonium, primarily in support of nuclear warhead core (‘pit’) manufacturing.”
 
Opponents of the project cite various safety problems at Los Alamos to make their point about killing the CMRR. Recently, it was reported that the lab had repeatedly missed deadlines to fix nuclear safety issues that could lead to accidental chain reactions.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
A Giant New Plutonium Complex at Los Alamos (by Mary Charlotte-Domandi, Huffington Post)
Questions About LANL’s Safety Program Raised (by John Fleck, Albuquerque Journal)

Despite Fire Threat to Los Alamos Lab, Plans Proceed for Plutonium Bomb Factory (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder) 

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