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Alliance for Nuclear Accountability: A national network of organizations working to address issues of nuclear weapons production and waste cleanup.
Tri-Valley CAREs: The Livermore, California-based nuclear "watchdog" and ANA member organization.

for further information, contact:
Susan Gordon: (206) 547-3175
Bob Schaeffer: (239) 395-6773
Marylia Kelley: (925) 443-7148
and local contacts listed at end of advisory.

for immediate release

What to Look For in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) FY 2007 Budget Request

The Department of Energy (DOE) FY 2007 budget request will be released on Monday, February 6, 2006. The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network representing communities downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear weapons facilities, is concerned that spending on nuclear weapons and energy will divert funds away from environmental cleanup, radiation health programs and plutonium disposition.

While the United States accuses other countries of pursuing nuclear weapons, the DOE budget proposal will demonstrate that the U.S. is retooling its own nuclear weapons research, testing, and production infrastructure to create new weapon designs and maintain thousands of warheads for many decades to come.

In an August 2005 report, "Top Ten DOE Radioactive Pork Projects in the 2006 Budget" (, ANA detailed nearly $2 billion in potential cuts to nuclear weapons and energy activities, while highlighting the need to fully fund environmental cleanup programs. In addition to those recommendations, ANA is concerned about the following likely FY 2007 budget proposals.

Environmental Cleanup

The environmental cleanup budget will be substantially cut. The DOE's Office of Environmental Management stated in last year's budget request that the FY 2007 budget would be approximately $400 million lower. Such cuts would break the DOE promise that "accelerated cleanup" funding to close some sites by 2006 would not reduce "outyear" money for remaining, highly contaminated sites. The expected budget cuts for FY 2007 will not allow faster cleanup. On the contrary, they will lead to violations of the Hanford Cleanup Agreement and may not fully fund legally mandated, continued operations at the Fernald and Mound sites in Ohio.

Hanford cleanup shortchanged again. The Bush Administration cut $340 million from Hanford's cleanup budget in FY 2006. Projections for the coming fiscal year do not indicate that funding will be restored. Washington State's refusal to accept many of DOE's shortsighted "accelerated cleanup" schemes and the public approval of a referendum to keep the heavily contaminated Hanford site from becoming a dump for more radioactive waste seem to be motivating political reprisals in the form of slashed cleanup funding.

The reprocessing budget will be substantially increased. The budget request may approximately double the $130 million appropriated in FY 2006 in order to pick technology and the site for a new multi-billion reprocessing plant. Such funding could divert needed money from cleanup. Reprocessing should not be funded because it is uneconomic, encourages nuclear proliferation, and creates enormous environmental contamination.

Nuclear Weapons Activities

The nuclear weapons budget will likely remain flat or slightly decrease. DOE received $6.4 billion for "Total Weapons Activities" in FY 2006, the first overall funding decline in a decade. Given escalating federal deficits we expect that the DOE FY 2007 request will be similar. However, this general level of spending remains nearly 50 percent above the Cold War average, and there will be increasing emphasis on transforming the arsenal and the nuclear weapons complex through new weapons designs.

The Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) Program. Congress created the RRW Program to provide reliable component replacements for existing warheads and nearly tripled DOE's FY 2006 request of $9.4 million. Now that the nuclear weapons labs have embraced the program as a rationale for transforming the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the DOE FY 2007 request will no doubt be $25 million or higher. Watch for the RRW Program to dramatically grow over the next five years, with a steady progression toward new nuclear weapons designs.

Increased funding for plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Because Congress has rejected Modern Pit Facility (MPF) design funding two years in a row, DOE is unlikely to request additional money this year. Indications that the operational life of plutonium pits can reach 100 years undercut the need for the MPF, but not DOE's desire for pit production capability. Expect increased funding from the FY 2006 level of $241 million for pit production at LANL.

Nuclear bunker buster resurfaces at Department of Defense (DOD). Congress cut all funding for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) in FY 2006. Despite the legislative decision to eliminate this provocative program, work on RNEP will likely continue with tests on the weapon's casing and delivery systems funded under DOD.

Plans to resume testing. DOE is expected to ask Congress for $25 million to shorten the time needed to prepare the Nevada Test Site for underground nuclear testing to 18 months. This is similar to last year's request, which Congress cut to $20 million while setting the test readiness preparation time at 24 months. This repeated request, which is over and above funds to support other weapons activities at the Nevada Test Site, is consistent with the Bush Administration's desire to retool the weapons complex.

Dismantlement vs. "Life Extension" programs. In FY 2006, Congress nearly doubled funding for warhead dismantlements from DOE's request to $60 million, but even that pales in comparison to $1 billion-plus spent on "Life Extension" programs that upgrade and modernize nuclear weapons. These programs crowd out dismantlements because warhead assembly and disassembly both take place at the same facilities. DOE will likely request less for dismantlements in FY 2007 than what Congress appropriated last year.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF). In FY 2007, expect astronomical construction costs at Livermore Lab to decline, as much of the initial work has been completed. However, watch for budget requests to begin increasing due to DOE's decision to add plutonium to NIF experiments, requiring the re-design of NIF on the fly, and hundreds of millions in research and development funds. More than a decade after the program began, NIF's goals continue to change, while severe, technical and scientific problems are unresolved.

Nuclear Waste & Plutonium Disposition

Cutting back on Yucca Mountain. The Administration seems poised to ask Congress for legislation permitting use of the Nuclear Waste Fund for Yucca Mountain expenses in FY 2007; an idea that Congress has appropriately rejected in the past. DOE is expected to ask for a significantly smaller amount than last year's request. Legal battles over institutional controls and a delay in the license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as a growing concern about falsified data have curbed Congress' willingness to fund Yucca Mountain. Instead the money may fund reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, an expensive endeavor that does not solve radioactive waste problems.

Plutonium disposition still in limbo. Negotiations with Russia over liability for accidents have hampered progress on the bilateral plutonium disposition program. Over $700 million dollars from FY 2004 and FY 2005 are sitting in the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility account. In addition, DOE reported that over a third of plutonium planned for disposition (13 tons out of 34) could not be used as reactor fuel. Nevertheless, DOE is likely to request funding for the MOX facility. Alternatives being explored for disposition of the 13 tons may result in DOE requesting some funding for immobilization.

Local Contacts

  • Beatrice Brailsford, Program Director, Snake River Alliance, Pocatello, ID - (208) 234-4782

  • Martin Butcher, Director of Security Programs, Physicians for Social Responsibility Washington, DC - (202) 667-4260

  • Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch of New Mexico Santa Fe, NM - (505) 989-7342

  • Don Hancock, Nuclear Waste Program Director, SW Research & Information Center Albuquerque, NM - (505) 262-1862

  • Lisa Crawford, President, Fernald Residents for Environmental Safety and Health Harrison, OH - (513) 738-1688

  • Peggy Maze Johnson, Executive Director, Citizen Alert Las Vegas, NV - (702) 796-5662

  • Marylia Kelley, Director, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment Livermore, CA - (925) 443-7148

  • Rebecca Sayre, Field Director, Heart of America Northwest Seattle, WA - (206) 382-1014

  • Lou Zeller, Administrator, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League Glendale Springs, NC - (336) 982-2691

  • Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
    Seattle Office: 1914 North 34th St., Suite 407, Seattle, WA 98103 (206) 547-3175; fax: (206) 547-7158

    Washington, DC Office: 322 4th Street NE, Washington, DC 20002 (202) 544-0217; fax: (202) 544-6143


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