Hundreds of Citizens Proclaim, "No New Bomb Factory, No Where, No Way."

* Hundreds of citizens this week told the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), "No new bomb factory, no where, no way." NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), proposes to build a Modern Pit Facility (MPF) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) or the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), among other sites. The MPF is meant to replace the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, which produced plutonium pits until raided by the FBI in 1989 for environmental violations.

The pit is the plutonium core of nuclear weapons. NNSA argues that the MPF is necessary to maintain the current nuclear weapons stockpile, which they believe may become less reliable due to its advancing age. However, there is no scientific evidence for this, and as one commenter pointed out, "The half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. That means that in the year 25,960, the weapons will be half as reliable."

At the June 30 meeting in Carlsbad, a letter was presented from New Mexico's Congressional delegation supporting the MPF at Carlsbad. Senators Bingaman and Domenici and Representatives Pearce, Udall, and Wilson said, "The WIPP site in Carlsbad is well suited to perform this new mission in an effective and cost-efficient manner with the highest level of attention to environmental protection and security."

Carlsbad area residents and business-people appeared at the meeting in Carlsbad to voice their support for the facility, citing new jobs and positive economic impacts as influencing their opinions. Maria Santelli, with Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, criticized this opinion, saying, "[WIPP] is in its childhood. However, people in [Northern New Mexico's] communities have lived in the shadow of DOE for decades. They are generations who have witnessed what a bomb factory does to a community's health, environment [and] economy. They are not going to pander to [DOE] as the beholden politicians and self-serving business-people of Carlsbad did."

Citizens from Albuquerque, Dixon, Española, Las Vegas, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Taos and the Pueblos surrounding LANL, spoke about growing health and environmental concerns, including waste generation. The MPF is expected to produce enough radioactive waste to fill 154 Olympic-sized swimming pools. John Tauxe, an environmental engineer at LANL, said, "I am the guy at the end of the [waste] pipe. I'm perfectly happy to work on [existing] waste, but new waste is a different issue. The [NNSA] needs to determine what it's going to do with [MPF] waste beforehand and I would argue that there is no good place for it."

The Pojoaque meeting was held on the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and several citizens pointed out that the MPF would violate the spirit of the NPT in the name of deterrence, and would open the door for new types of nuclear weapons. Douglas Hughes said, "It's clear that machine guns did not end all guns. 'The war to end all wars' did nothing to eliminate war ... the elimination of nuclear weapons will not happen if we continue to make [nuclear weapons]."

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