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For Immediate Release October 24, 2002
Media Contact: Bill Taylor   (803) 725-2889


DOE/NNSA to Host Modern Pit Facility Media Availability

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U. S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) representatives will host a media availability at 4 p.m. on Monday, October 28, 2002, to discuss the upcoming public scoping meeting for the development of a Modern Pit Facility. The media availability session will be held at 4 p.m. in the North Augusta Community Center, 101 Brookside Drive, North Augusta, SC.

The public scoping meeting will be held the following evening, October 29 at the same location. An informational open house and registration will begin at 6 p.m. with the formal scoping meeting set for 7 to 10 p.m. The meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to present comments, ask questions and discuss issues with NNSA representatives.

The NNSA recently announced its intent to prepare a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Stockpile Stewardship and Management for a Modern Pit Facility. This notice is the first step in carrying out recommendations to develop a modern capability to manufacture plutonium pits. Pit production was shut down in 1989 at the Rocky Flats Plant, and no pits have been produced since. The NNSA's strategy calls for a new facility to be in production by approximately 2020.

The United States is the only nuclear power without the capability to manufacture a plutonium pit, a critical component of a nuclear weapon that functions as a trigger to allow a modern nuclear weapon to function. A new facility would reestablish the capability to manufacture all pit types in the nation's current nuclear stockpile and meet any future requirements in an environmentally compliant manner.

This Supplement to the Programmatic EIS process will evaluate two decisions: Whether to proceed with a Modern Pit Facility, and if so, where to locate it. Five potential locations will be evaluated in the EIS: Savannah River Site, Aiken, SC; Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos, NM; Nevada Test Site, Las Vegas, NV; Pantex Plant, Amarillo, TX; and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad, NM. The EIS also will evaluate the no-action alternative of maintaining current plutonium pit capabilities at LANL, and whether it is reasonable to upgrade the existing facilities at LANL to increase pit production capacity.




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