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NNSA hosting 'virtual' hearing on SRS draft pit production environmental review

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Forrestal Building, Washington DC (copy) (copy) (copy)

The James Forrestal Building, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of Energy's weapons-and-nonproliferation agency will at the end of the month host a public hearing concerning its pitched plans to produce plutonium pits at the Savannah River Site.

The National Nuclear Security Administration's virtual meeting, held online in light of the novel coronavirus crisis, will address the draft environmental impact statement that was prepared for the perpetual production of nuclear weapon cores south of Aiken and near New Ellenton.

The April 30 hearing will run for three hours: 6 to 9 p.m. Those wanting to attend can call in – 408-418-9388, with conference No. 796495716 – or log on via a link available on the National Nuclear Security Administration's website, energy.gov/nnsa.

Those who dial in will be able to hear, but not see, the presentation. Those who log on with a computer or tablet or smartphone will be able to see and hear the presentation, according to a public notice.

Federal law requires the production of 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 – an aggressive schedule, officials say. To satisfy that demand, the NNSA and the U.S. Department of Defense in May 2018 recommended crafting the cores in two states: 50 per year at a renovated Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site and 30 per year at a beefed up Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.

Both the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Lab could produce 80 pits per year if need be, according to two separate – but very much related – National Nuclear Security Administration studies.

The last place pits were produced en masse, the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, was raided by the FBI decades ago and was subsequently shuttered.

A public comment period for the Savannah River Site plutonium pit production draft environmental impact statement is open through May 18.

Comments can be emailed, the preferred method, to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov. Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer Nelson, NEPA Document Manager, National Nuclear Security Administration, Savannah River Field Office P.O. Box A, Aiken, S.C. 29802.


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