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Town Hall - Overview of NNSA and EM’s National Security and Environmental Cleanup Priorities
Who: Jill Hruby, NNSA Administrator, Ike White DOE Senior Advisor for EM and Santa Fe County Commission Chair Anna Hansen
What: Town Hall
When: Tuesday, April 4th, 2023 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Where: Santa Fe Community Convention Center
Anna Hansen, Santa Fe County Commission Chair, will moderate a town hall in collaboration with Jill Hruby, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and Ike White, Senior Advisor for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM). The town hall style event will feature a brief overview of NNSA and EM’s national security and environmental cleanup priorities and then will move into an expanded public question and answer period.
For nearly three years, the public has requested a town hall event featuring representatives from DOE EM and NNSA, together, to answer questions about plans for LANL and WIPP. Commissioner Hansen traveled to Washington, DC, in February and invited Administrator Hruby and Senior Advisor White to travel to Santa Fe to answer questions from the public. Santa Fe County Commissioners Hughes, Hamilton, and Hansen have held town halls about these topics and the public is concerned.
The WIPP facility has been disposing of transuranic waste from DOE sites across the country since 1999. There are also concerns about the slow pace of removal of waste from LANL and the hexavalent chromium plume. NNSA is now considering a dilute and dispose program for plutonium. The preferred alternative would ship minute amounts of plutonium to LANL for downblending, send it to South Carolina’s Savannah River Site for further processing, then ship it for final disposal at WIPP. There are also several subalternatives. NNSA recently hosted four public comment opportunities on the surplus plutonium disposition (SPD) program. The program would increase shipments along State Road 4, US 285 and NM 599 (the bypass around Santa Fe) to WIPP.
WIPP is working to increase the size of the underground disposal area in accordance with the capacity limits as outlined under the Land Withdrawal Act for radioactive and hazardous waste. WIPP is currently at 40 percent capacity as defined by the Land Withdrawal Act limits, based upon current volume estimates, DOE expects WIPP will operate through at least 2080. The original estimated closure date, based upon projections in 1999, was 25 years of operations, or until 2024.
There is a growing concern among Santa Fe County residences and watchdog groups about the disposition of surplus plutonium that is to be shipped from the Pantex Plant in Texas to LANL then to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and then back to WIPP in over 25,000 shipments. The impact to our roads, emergency preparedness and response, and protection of public health and safety are a huge concern.
NNSA is working to fabricate 80 plutonium pits, or triggers or fissile cores, for nuclear weapons by 2030, but is behind schedule. LANL has fabricated 29 plutonium pits in total since the 1990s, fabricating the most in 2011 with 11 pits. Even so, LANL’s budget has increased by $1 billion for nuclear weapons fabrication in the past three years.
Commissioner Anna Hansen will moderate the town hall with Administrator Hruby and Senior Advisor White. After a brief introductions and general program overviews, there will be an extended question and answer session with the public. There will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and for Hruby and White to respond. Administrator Hruby and Senior Advisor White will also be joined by senior officials from the WIPP and the Los Alamos Field Office.
Special guests in attendance include Archbishop John C. Wester of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe; Jeff Chamberlain, NNSA’s Associate Deputy Administrator for Material Management and Minimization; Mark Bollinger, WIPP Acting Manager of the Carlsbad Field Office; Ted Wyka, NNSA Los Alamos Field Office Manager and Michael Mikolanis, DOE Environmental Management at LANL.
For more information, please contact Santa Fe County Commission Chair Anna Hansen at firstname.lastname@example.org.