LOS ALAMOS – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) published a Notice of Intent (NOI) today to prepare a new Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL 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 purpose of this Notice of Intent (NOI) is to invite public participation in the process and to encourage involvement on the scope of analysis (e.g., range of alternatives, impacts, and actions) and alternatives that should be considered in the SWEIS. The publication of the NOI in the Federal Register today begins a 45-day public scoping comment period. 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 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, and (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, we are also initiating Government-to-Government Tribal consultation under the authority of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for the SWEIS. We invite Tribes to consult on this undertaking and look forward to discussing it as we move forward.

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, two virtual scoping meetings will be held in place of in-person meetings, and are tentatively scheduled for mid-September 2022. The information and details on how to participate in the online scoping meeting and submit comments will be provided in a future notice posted on the NNSA NEPA Reading Room website, on the DOE NEPA website, and will also be published in local online newspapers. Any necessary changes will be announced in the local media and on the NNSA NEPA Reading Room website.

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 ends October 3, 2022.

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: LANLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov.