DOE/NNSA Extends Comment Period On Notice Of Intent To Prepare New LANL Sitewide Environmental Impact Statement

LANL News:

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has extended the public scoping comment period to Oct. 18 for the new Sitewide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL SWEIS).

The public is invited participate in this process to determine the scope of analysis (e.g., range of alternatives, impacts, and actions) and alternatives that should be considered in the SWEIS. NNSA will accept comments from all interested agencies (federal, state, and local), public interest groups, federally-recognized Tribes, businesses, and members of the public on the SWEIS.

The new LANL SWEIS (DOE/EIS-0552) will be done in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The SWEIS will analyze the potential environmental impacts of the reasonable alternatives for continuing operations of the Laboratory for approximately the next 15 years. The continued operation of the Laboratory is critical to NNSA’s Stockpile Stewardship Program, to preventing the spread and use of nuclear weapons worldwide, and to many other areas impacting national security and global stability. The SWEIS will also analyze environmental impacts of legacy waste remediation conducted by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM).

The SWEIS will analyze at least three alternatives, the No Action Alternative: Continue Current Operations, the Modernizing Current Operations Alternative, and the Expanded Operations Alternative. The No Action Alternative, which provides a benchmark for comparison with the environmental effects of the other alternatives, is to continue current LANL program operations in support of assigned missions, without foreseeable new operations or facilities for approximately the next 15 years. The programmatic context for the Modernizing Current Operations Alternative is the continued support of existing programs and activities by modernizing facilities as necessary. This alternative includes the scope of the No-Action Alternative, as described above, plus additional modernization activities.

This alternative includes:

  1. construction of replacement facilities;
  2. more significant upgrades to existing facilities and infrastructure; 
  3. more significant decontamination, decommissioning, and demolition (DD&D) projects.

Under this alternative, NNSA would replace facilities that are approaching their end of life, upgrade facilities to extend their lifetimes, and improve work environments to enable NNSA to meet operational requirements. The proposed DD&D of older facilities would eliminate excess facilities and reduce costs and risk. This alternative would not expand capabilities and operations at LANL beyond those that currently exist. The Expanded Operations Alternative includes the modernization actions included in the Modernizing Current Operations Alternative, as described above, plus actions that would expand operations and missions to respond to future national security challenges and meet increasing requirements.

This alternative includes:

  1. construction and operation of new facilities
  2. significant upgrades to existing facilities that result in changing the nature and capabilities of these facilities.

This alternative would expand capabilities at LANL beyond those that currently exist. In the Draft SWEIS, NNSA will identify and analyze other actions that could expand the capabilities at LANL.

At this time, NNSA is also initiating Government-to-Government Tribal consultation under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for the SWEIS. NNSA invites Tribes to consult on this undertaking and look forward to discussing it as we move forward.

Written and oral comments will be given equal weight and NNSA will consider all comments received or postmarked by the end of the comment period in preparing the Draft SWEIS. The comment period has been extended and now ends Oct. 18.

Written comments on the scope of the SWEIS or requests for information related to the SWEIS should be sent to LANL SWEIS Comments, 3747 West Jemez Road, Los Alamos, NM 87544, or email to:

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