Activist group ups pressure for new impact study at Y-12

Y12 gate_MP (2)

KNS photo/Michael Patrick

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance earlier this month called on the National Nuclear Security Administration to do new environmental impact statement for the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant because of the changing plans for the Uranium Processing Facility. Today the group ratcheted up its pressure with a letter to the Department of Energy’s Office of National Environmental Policy Act, citing multiple reasons why the federal agency is legally obligated to take another look at the impacts on a major project that’s undergoing significant changes.

OREPA cited three areas of concerns:

— Timing: Delays in subjecting the new proposal for UPF put forward this spring by a NNSA-appointed Red Team could violate provisions of NEPA that call for preparation of environmental analyses early in the decisionmaking process.

— Changing circumstances: The group cited some changed conditions, such as the discovery of buried radioactive materials in the Y-12 zone targeted for the UPF activities, that make the previous analysis outdated and insufficient. Also, the earlier Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement indicated that the plant would be able to vacate the current 9212 uranium complex at an earlier date — 2018 rather than 2025.

— Seismic concerns: The letter to DOE said new studies have raised additional concerns about the potential for seismic activity in East Tennessee and have long been an issue raised by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

In closing, the letter signed by Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the group, said, “We are asking you to begin the preparation of an EIS as required by NEPA immediately.”

The text of the letter is published on the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance’s website.

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This entry was posted in CNS, DOE HQ, NNSA, nuclear, UPF, Y-12 on by .

About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.