OREPA Files request for public hearing/extension of comment period for Oak Ridge earthquake document

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Apr 15, 2020 No Comments ›› orepa

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance today filed a formal request with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration seeking an indefinite extension of the comment period and a public hearing on the NNSA’s study of earthquake and accident consequences at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Citing a letter from twenty-two Senators that called for an indefinite extension of public comment periods until such time as the COVID-19 national state of emergency has ended, OREPA asked NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty and Secretary of Energy Dan Brouilette to recognize the significant disruption in public and private life due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond appropriately.

In making their request, Kevin Collins, president of OREPA’s Board of Directors, wrote:

                  “The fundamental issue dealt with in the Draft SA is the capacity of Buildings 9215 and 9204-2E to withstand a design-basis earthquake, for which we have no assurance, and the risk to workers and the public if the buildings fail. The Draft SA analyzes consequences of a “worst case scenario” that are “approximately ten times larger” (actually about 12 times larger) than the consequences for the Capability-sized UPF.

                  “In other words, the Draft SA postulates significant increases in risks to the public since the last time DOE/NNSA held a public meeting, ten years ago, on its plans for modernization of the enriched uranium program at Y-12. In light of this, the NNSA and DOE have a responsibility to address the people of Oak Ridge and Knoxville (the Draft SA says the consequences could affect a population of 1.5 million people) to make clear the risks to which they are being subjected, and to hear their comments. In this instance, it is not enough to inform the public they are being subjected to risks determined by the NNSA/DOE; it is critical and imperative that the public be consulted.”

In publishing the Draft Supplement Analysis for the Final Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Y-12 National Security Complex, Earthquake Accident Analysis, the NNSA announced a thirty-day comment period that would conclude on May 11, 2020. The Draft SA is a response by NNSA to the opinion rendered in September 2019 by federal judge Pamela Reeves in a lawsuit brought by OREPA and other organizations and individuals; it is the third Supplement Analysis of the 2011 Site-Wide EIS; the other two were vacated by order of the court.

A pdf copy of the letter is attached and is available here: 2020 SA REQUEST LTR

                  For more information, contact Ralph Hutchison at 865 776 5050.

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