for further information, contact:
Susan Gordon (505) 473-1670
Katherine Fuchs (202) 544-0217
Tom Clements (803) 834-3084
for immediate release, Monday, February 13,2012
Full Press Release
The Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons spending proposal released today maintains “budget-busting nuclear weapons overkill,” according to an analysis by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA). At the same time, ANA says it under funds some programs to clean up the radioactive and toxic legacy from the Cold War. Despite ending spending for a controversial plutonium production plant, the budget request seeks nearly a third of a billion dollars in additional funding for nuclear weapons programs. Yet, it may not allow DOE to meet all its environmental obligations.
ANA praised the decision to defer construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR) at Los Alamos National Lab for at least five years. “The runaway costs for an unneeded plutonium bomb plant combined with plans to build it on an earthquake fault line finally forced DOE to stop this facility,” said Susan Gordon, director of ANA. At the same time, she noted, the budget accelerates construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to manufacture other nuclear weapons components. “Instead, the UPF should be downsized and refocused on dismantling warheads and down-blending uranium,” Ms. Gordon explained.
The DOE budget recommends cutting or eliminating two of the high-risk, high cost projects identified in ANA’s “Nuclear Reality Check$” report (www.ananuclear.org.) “In addition to deferring funding for CMRR, we are pleased that the Administration’s spending proposal does not include any additional funds for nuclear power loan guarantees,” Ms. Gordon added.
“Unfortunately, DOE’s proposed cleanup budget remains inadequate to meet regulatory milestones- unless the agreements with states are re-negotiated and cleanup is furtherdelayed at some sites. That would result in more contamination and ultimately more costs in the future,” said Katherine Fuchs, program director for ANA. Examples of underfunded programs include the plutonium contaminated transuranic waste program at Los Alamos and the need for additional double-shelled high-level waste tanks at Hanford.
The budget request includes $2.5 billion, a seven percent increase, for nonproliferation programs. “Funding the President’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials within four years is to be applauded,”according to Tom Clements, ANA nonproliferation policy director. “However, canceling the Pit Disassembly and Conversion project is simply confirms Congress’ refusal to fund the project due to exorbitant costs of the plutonium fuel MOX plant at the Savannah River Site.
The large boost in DOE’s Fissile Materials Disposition program – a $236 million, or 34 percent increase relative to FY 2012 levels – primarily supports the beginning of cold start up activities at the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility. “The life-cycle costs for the MOX plant has shot up a whopping $1.5 billion since last year,” Clements continued. “The budget dodges the scheduling impact for lengthy MOX testing in boiling water reactors and does not reflect the lack of customers for MOX fuel.”
ANA is a 25-year old national network of groups from communities downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear weapons and radioactive waste disposal facilities. Next month dozens of ANA activists will be in Washington, DC meeting with Members of Congress, their staff and Obama Administration officials about their concerns including the budget released today.