President Obama’s FY2013 budget is being re-fashioned in Congress right now. It includes $340 million to “accelerate construction” of the Uranium Processing Facility (thermonuclear bomb plant) in Oak Ridge.
Two recent reports, one by the General Accounting Office and one by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, make it clear the UPF is no where near ready to build. The GAO says the National Nuclear Security Administration can’t manage major construction projects and singles out the UPF as a prime example. The DNFSB says “The Board has determined that safety is not adequately integrated into the design,” and notes NNSA is watering down safety standards—the criticality safety controls NNSA is using “will not provide adequate protection for site workers and the public.”
Stopping the money for the UPF will not be easy, but that only means we have to work hard to do it.
How can we do it?
The power of the pen—and the voice and the visit. We have to pressure key people in Congress. Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is the ranking Republican on the powerful Energy and Water Appropriations committee. Michigan Senator Carl Levin chairs the Armed Services committee.
What we need is simple. We need the significant issues raised by the GAO and DNFSB resolved before concrete is poured. We need a system of oversight of NNSA’s money management in place before the purse is opened for the UPF. We need a study of the need for the UPF—since most of the work it was to do will be done before it is complete. We need to know how much money we could save if we simply upgrade and right-size existing facilities. We need spending on nuclear weapons to align with the nation’s nuclear policy.
In Oak Ridge, the future is not producing more and more nuclear weapons—those days are over. The future is taking old warheads apart and disposing of special nuclear materials. That will take decades. And we will need to add to existing capacity to do it.
We are asking people to WRITE— to Congress, to newspapers, to the President… If you follow the link below you will find a straightforward guide to writing, including several pages on information that detail the concerns mentioned above. Your letter doesn’t need to be technical; it doesn’t need to be complex—it just needs to be written from the heart.
Please don’t put it off. Here’s the Writing Guide: ntl writing handoutndd
Please print it out and share it with others.
Here are links to the files referenced above:
GAO on NNSA management of major projects: GAO on NNSA oversight 2.16.12
GAO on UPF readiness/technical issues: GAO on UPF funding 11.10
DNFSB on UPF Safety deficit: DNFSB safety 4.12
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