Jan 28 2004

Graham Statement on DOE Decision to Delay Modern Pit Facility Site Selection

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made the following statement on the Department of Energy’s decision to delay the final environmental impact statement for the Modern Pit Facility (MPF). The final report was expected to identify a preferred site for constructing an MPF. Potential sites for the MPF included Savannah River Site in Aiken, Los Alamos and Carlsbad, New Mexico, the Nevada Test Site, and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. In Fiscal Year 2004, Congress appropriated $11 million to DOE for continued work on a pit manufacturing capability to address aging stockpile concerns. A pit, made of plutonium, triggers a nuclear explosion in all modern thermonuclear weapons. Graham made the following statement: “I am very disappointed in the decision by Secretary Spence Abraham and Ambassador Linton Brooks, Director of the National Nuclear Security Administration, to delay the site selection for the Modern Pit Facility (MPF).   “Throughout the process, the Department of Energy (DOE) assured Congress that site selection was on-track.  DOE has maintained from the beginning that congressional concerns about MPF would not impact their timing for site selection. “In the future, DOE would better serve the taxpayer by determining whether they plan to go forward with a program before coming to Congress requesting taxpayer dollars. “I’ve always tried to take a balanced approach when dealing with these issues, but this decision damages our relationship with DOE. The news to delay a decision was completely unexpected and frankly, unwarranted, as DOE scientists and engineers are ready to make a MPF site selection. “The indecision on the part of the DOE leadership will have a negative impact on this program and could impact a broad range of other national security programs.   “DOE naively assumes delay will promote broader support for MPF and other programs. I believe their indecision will have the opposite effect.” #####