Nuclear Site Watchdogs Offer Fresh Analysis, Solutions

Updated 9 years ago From Press Release
Nuclear Site Watchdogs Offer Fresh Analysis, Solutions

The program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear weapons complex and arsenal is a “dramatic failure,” according to an analysis released today. Billion Dollar Boondoggles: Challenging the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Plan to Spend More Money for Less Security finds that many NNSA projects are far over-budget and behind schedule. The analysis highlights a lack of agency and contractor accountability in the U.S. nuclear weapons programs. It concludes that the Obama Administration must shift spending priorities to maintain the currently reliable stockpile and save taxpayer dollars.


Members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a network of organizations from communities near U.S. nuclear facilities, wrote the report. ANA leaders spoke at a Capitol Hill news conference launching their 26th annual “DC Days.” Scores of activists from across the country will hold nearly 75 meetings with Obama Administration and Congressional officials this week.


“Billion Dollar Boondoggles demonstrates that NNSA is a runaway train headed toward the U.S. Treasury. We must not only stop its forward momentum but change its direction,” explained Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of the Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs. “Our report demonstrates that the agency’s ‘Life Extension Programs’ have become more a playground for bomb designers than a means to maintain nuclear stockpile safety and reliability. Instituting fiscal accountability for NNSA and a focused ‘Curatorship’ program to manage nuclear weapons until they are retired would be a far better policy.”


Billion Dollar Boondoggles is based on the latest data from the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request and NNSA’s current Stockpile Stewardship & Management Plan. It updates a Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that “modernization” will cost U.S. taxpayers at least $355 billion over 10 years.


Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Environmental Peace Alliance added, “Unnecessary new weapons production facilities are another major problem. The Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) planned for Oak Ridge has been plagued by huge cost overruns, major design fiascoes, and long delays. The dramatic failure of NNSA’s out-of-control ‘modernization’ plan robs money from nonproliferation efforts abroad and dismantlement efforts at home.” The new report also analyzes wasteful spending on the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Plutonium Fabrication Facility at Savannah River, South Carolina and the National Ignition Facility at Livermore Lab in California. 


Scott Kovac from Nuclear Watch New Mexico continued, “With federal budget caps, funding hikes for nuclear weapons projects mean cuts in programs that clean up the radioactive and toxic legacy of the Cold War. As a result, environmental work at many sites is falling short of legally mandated milestones. That results in additional contamination and increased long-term costs. At the Hanford Washington site, leaking waste tanks threaten the Columbia River, and at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico radioactive particles were recently released to the environment.” The FY 2015 budget request estimates the nuclear weapons cleanup liability at more than $210 billion.


Based on the findings in its report, ANA members will urge Obama Administration and Congressional leaders to:

      - Limit the scope of Life Extension Programs to refurbishment of components necessary to maintain current safety and reliability – cut the B61-12 and cancel the W78/88;

      - Withhold money for Uranium Processing Facility construction pending an independent cost estimate based on a near-complete design;

      - Trim National Ignition Facility budget and remove the laser from NNSA control; 

      - Restore funding for dismantlement and nonproliferation programs, and require a dismantlement schedule;

      - Increase environmental restoration budgets to meet legal milestones at all clean-up sites;

      - Boost funding for cleanup at WIPP and for safe and secure transuranic waste storage at other DOE sites; and

      - Replace leaky tanks at Hanford, WA with new storage facilities by shifting money from the budget for the site’s flawed Waste Treatment Plant.  


ANA DC Days runs through Wednesday, May 21. On Monday evening, May 19, ANA will host an Awards Reception honoring leaders in the movement for more responsible nuclear policies. Awardees include: U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, Hanford “whistleblower” Donna Busche, and nuclear campaigner Diane D’Arrigo. The event will take place in Rayburn House Office Building Room B369.


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-- ANA’s “Nuclear Budget Busters” report on high-risk nuclear projects and other briefing materials about current nuclear issues, including a detailed list of policy recommendations are online at: