Issues of Concern in the Test Site SWEIS

The SWEIS says the Test Site's Mission remains the same:

"The primary purpose of continuing operation of the Nevada National Security Site is to provide support for National Nuclear Security Administration's nuclear weapons stockpile and stewardship missions."

Possible Options under consideration for the Test Site:

  1. Dedicated area for developers to do renewable energy experiments.
  2. Better mapping and understanding of the full extent of groundwater contamination from hundreds of belowground nuclear tests.
  3. Up to 635 acres of new nuclear waste containment cells for low-level and mixed low-level nuclear waste.
  4. Up to 53 million cubic feet of various kinds of nuclear waste transported from around the country and buried on site.
  5. Up to 13,455 new acres contaminated by nuclear and conventional weapons testing, biological warfare and depleted uranium experiments.
  6. Commercial solar power generating facilities, with plans ranging from 100 megawatts (430 acres) to 1,000 megawatts.
  7. Large scale loss of endangered desert tortoise habitat for all proposed new land uses (mainly solar arrays and weapons testing and training facilities).

A. HOME is concerned that this Site-Wide EIS format is not responsive to the public's right to know ALL environmental impacts of ALL Test Site activities, because it does not inform the public about the many and massive environmental impacts of current and ongoing activities already. The status quo, called the “No Action Alternative,” is presented as the baseline, or zero point, in this “Site-Wide” format, with no detail about the current impacts. The document describes what would happen if activities were less or more than that "zero" point.  (See our ops chart and impacts chart.) A “Programmatic” approach which included all impacts of all activities would better inform the public and the DOE itself.

For years, the Nevada Attorney General has asked for a complete analysis of environmental impacts of all Test Site programs, but has so far been ignored. Read the NV Attorney General's Comments on the scope of what should be included in the SWEIS.  She states, "It will be important for the proposed EIS not only to fully examine all current and potential NTS activities and land uses... This will require a scope for the EIS that provides for the establishment of a full and complete baseline for environmental conditions (including all forms of contamination) that exist at the present time... Of special significance in this regard would be the effects of the transportation of radioactive or other materials into and out of NTS." That did not happen.

B. The DOE chose not to identify which of the above options they prefer, making the SWEIS more difficult to evaluate.  However, in 1996 (the last full SWEIS) the DOE also did not identify their preferred choice, but ultimately chose the Expanded Operations option for every single program, from nuclear weapons to nuclear waste.  This is alarming, given the scope of the Test Sit Wish List in this document, especially in light of the economic and social costs of the USA's budget crisis today.