Monday, August 8, 2011

Low Hanging Fruit: the CMRR Nuclear Facility

If it ever gets built, the newly proposed CMRR-Nuclear facility in Los Alamos, NM, would consume 6 billion or more of increasingly scarce tax money. Construction would clog the roads with trucks hauling 400.000 metric tons of volcanic ash to be stored somewhere. Three newly constructed concrete batch plants along Pajarito Road would produce some 350.000 metric tons of concrete to fill a 125 feet freshly dug hole in the earth. The CMRR-Nuclear Facility will essentially be a 406.000 square feet bunker, mainly hidden under the ground for fear of incoming enemy rockets. Despite the enormous size of the building the utilized space will be less than 10 %: the CMRR-NF will be hosting a 22.500 square feet most secretive laboratory -- the evil holy grail of nuclear weapons work. It will be built on what is known to be a 7 magnitude earthquake fault line and it is slated to vault 6 metric tons of plutonium, as much as is needed to replace the nation's entire nuclear weapons stockpile --an accident ala Fukushima waiting to happen right here.

As you know, I believe this is a terrible waste of public resources, especially in a time where many people are scraping by from meager paycheck to meager paycheck. Contrary to what our senatorial staff, Udall and Bingaman have been implying, the construction phase of this project does not even offer an employment stimulus to speak off. With all that money, an average of only 400 construction jobs would be created over the construction period, of which a minority would come from New Mexico.  Including planning and engineering, this project would create only 1 temporary job for every 10 million dollars of investment.  

Once the facility is done, in 2023 or so, even these few jobs would come to an end, and this behemoth would be populated by Los Alamos technicians and scientists now working in other facilities.  Despite continued tiresome and misleading denials from LANL, the CMRR-NF is the centerpiece of a nuclear "pit" factory meant to replace the Rocky Flats Plant.  With CMRR-NF, there would be less science, and more bombs, in LANL's work.  It's not for the bombs we have; not one U.S. warhead requires CMRR-NF -- now, or ever.  By the time CMRR-NF is finished, the whole stockpile would already have been upgraded by other means.  This facility is for building new warheads in quantity, not maintaining old ones. In many ways the CMRR-NF is the START of the new arms race we don't want to have.  Yes, believe it or not, it's still about Russia.  

The Los Alamos Study Group ( is working to halt this tragic and misguided waste -- in the courts and in Washington, where we have conducted hundreds of briefings over the past few years.  This summer, the House of Representatives proposed to slash 100 million dollars from next year's funding for the project, and has urged the Senate to join its call to postpone construction pending further analysis of the whole project, from mission and utility to the specific design chosen.  

Especially now that the financial realities of the US are becoming clear to the general public and congress alike, there is a growing groundswell of resistance against this superfluous project.  Local communities, including Santa Fe have formally adopted resolutions calling for re-examination of this project. CMRR-NF is becoming a ‘joke’ on the streets -- a bad joke being perpetrated on New Mexicans.    

On August 25th Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori, filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, actor Ali MacGraw, and others will speak out against this fiasco-in-the-making at a fundraiser event at the home of Tom Hnasko, lead lawyer for the Los Alamos Study Group. Please attend if you can.  Litigation is expensive and we ask for your generous support to attend this special ‘Tipping the Balance’ event. Together we can make the difference and halting this facility is within our reach. Preventing the CMRR-NF from being built, means preventing a whole new nuclear arms race. Nullifying the CMRR-NF will be our gift of good will to all people and a true start in diplomacy towards meaningful non-proliferation and a world free from nuclear weapons.

For more info on the event itself and the CMRR-NF, please visit