Activists are urging Washington to study possible risks from a plan for dispersing bomb-uranium activities that previously were to be housed in a single facility.
A coalition of more than 30 watchdog groups on Thursday said the Energy Department’s nuclear-weapons agency is required by law to develop a new “site-wide environmental impact statement” for the proposal, devised this year by an independent “Red Team” as an alternative to the Uranium Processing Facility project in Tennessee.
The “UPF” effort faced years of delays, as design expenses mounted and cost estimates ballooned by billions of dollars. Substantial construction at the Y-12 National Security Complex ultimately never began.
“Failure to execute a successful design of the UPF in the first, flawed attempts has already cost taxpayers nearly a billion dollars. Further mistakes in the project could cause significant safety risks and more wasted taxpayers’ dollars,” the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability argued in a letter to National Nuclear Security Administration head Frank Klotz.
The U.S. atomic agency last month said it plans to follow the “Red Team” guidelines, which advise using current Y-12 infrastructure to help contain costs and move onsite uranium operations out of the facility’s decades-old “9212” structure. The alternative project reportedly is intended to cap costs at $6.5 billion.
The activists, though, implored Klotz to look beyond the independent recommendations devised this year.
“We urge you to take the time to fully investigate the range of possibilities, even beyond the Red Team’s recommendations, to set a course that will best serve the nation, not only by saving money, but by preparing to meet future mission requirements in the most effective and efficient way,” they wrote in the letter, first reported by the Knoxville News Sentinel.
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As part of a twitter rant on Thursday morning, President Trump singled out Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham for criticism. He said Flake is "WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!" Trump also named Flake's primary challenger, Kelli Ward. He said Graham's contention that Trump suggested a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the counter-protesters is a "disgusting lie."
"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.