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Meets obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act as NNSA recapitalizes a key capability to maintain the U.S. nuclear deterrent

WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) will publish a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register Monday, June 10 to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The EIS will meet obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as NNSA seeks to establish a capability to produce no fewer than 50 plutonium pits per year at SRS by 2030. 

To allow the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed scope of the EIS, there will be a public scoping period from June 10 to July 25, including a public scoping meeting on June 27 in Aiken, South Carolina. NNSA will then prepare a Draft EIS and allow further public comment on that document before preparing a Final EIS and Record of Decision.

Following direction from the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, NNSA announced its preferred alternative to recapitalize U.S. defense plutonium capabilities in May 2018. Plutonium pits are a key component for nuclear weapons, yet the United States does not currently have the capability to manufacture new pits at the rate needed to maintain the nuclear deterrent.  

NNSA’s two-pronged approach calls for repurposing the former Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS to produce at least 50 pits per year while producing no fewer than 30 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The plan was certified by the Nuclear Weapons Council as a resilient and responsive option to meet military requirements. 

NNSA is preparing the EIS for the proposal to produce a minimum of 50 pits per year at SRS because pit production using the former MOX facility has not previously been analyzed.

NNSA will also analyze the environmental implications of the 80 pits per year mission across the complex. There has been extensive NEPA analysis of pit production on a complex-wide basis so NNSA will prepare a Supplement Analysis to determine whether that analysis remains adequate. 

Pit production at LANL has also previously been analyzed and a site-specific NEPA review for the laboratory will build upon prior analysis.