Reading Room

For immediate release: January 31, 2008

What To Look for in the U.S. Department Of Energy FY 2009 Budget Request

for more information, contact:
Susan Gordon, Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, (505) 473-1670
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, (925) 443-7148

The Department of Energy (DOE) FY 2009 budget request will be released on Monday, February 4, 2008. 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 power will divert funds away from environmental cleanup, weapons dismantlement, and plutonium disposition.

ANA is concerned about the following likely FY 2009 budget proposals.

Nuclear Weapons Activities

Complex Transformation:

DOE has stated that the weapons budget will be flat despite plans for new weapons manufacturing facilities contained in the "Complex Transformation." However the FY 2009 weapons activities budget request will likely increase above the $6.3 billion in FY08. DOE claims that rebuilding the weapons complex will cost $150 billion over the next twenty-five years, yet this figure does not take into account life-cycle costs, including operations and cleanup.


  • In light of recent legislation that directs Congress to develop a new nuclear policy and posture review, isn't it premature to build a new weapons complex before the U.S. has evaluated our nuclear policy under a new president?

The Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) Program: Congress passed its FY08 "Omnibus" spending bill and zeroed out funds for further development of the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) first RRW design. Yet, the NNSA announced it would continue select RRW Program activities in FY08 with the advanced certification funds granted to the agency.

The NNSA will request money for the RRW Program burying RRW-related activities within the overall "weapons activities" budget. It is anticipated that the FY 2009 budget request for RRW will lack detail in the "budget justification" section and that the money requested will be positioned to act as a placeholder for increasing funds as the budget process unfolds. Look for additional RRW Program funding in the Defense Department FY 2009 budget request.


  • Why is the RRW program still in the budget when Congress refused to fund it for FY 2009?
  • What is the total funding for RRW related activities contained in the entire FY 2009 Budget Request?

Expanding plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL):

An independent study by expert scientists concluded that plutonium pits last a century or more. This finding and the fact that the Pantex Plant is sanctioned to "reuse" up to 300 pits per year seriously undercuts DOE's claimed need to produce new pits, but not its desire to expand production from 20 pits per year to 80 pits at LANL. DOE is expected to ask for roughly the same as the $281 million requested in FY08.

Congress has repeatedly rejected a new "Modern Pit Facility" and then the "Consolidated Plutonium Center" capable of producing 125 pits per year. In response, increased pit production using LANL's existing plutonium infrastructure is now a key component of NNSA's plan for "transformation" of its nuclear weapons complex. LANL is building one new major plutonium facility, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project and DOE is expected to again request $96 million for construction funding. Look for the costs to go up radically in future years as NNSA now documents that its costs will likely double from original projections.


  • Why is DOE building a new plutonium pit facility when there are hundreds of pits that can be "reused"?
  • The CMRR was originally envisioned to support pit production but is now proposed as a key manufacturing facility for plutonium pits. How can DOE plan and design the CMRR for pit production when the overall size of the stockpile is likely to continue to shrink under the current and future administrations?

Environmental Cleanup

The environmental cleanup budget will be substantially cut. The administration has consistently under funded DOE's Office of Environmental Management (EM), despite the fact that the FY08 Budget Request showed that almost $118 billion is needed to fund currently identified waste management and environmental remediation programs. ANA is concerned that, once again, the Budget Request will not adequately fund those cleanup programs, and would result in possible violations of cleanup agreements in a number of states, including Washington and New Mexico. Hanford and Los Alamos suffered serious cutbacks in the FY08 Omnibus. Delayed, under funded cleanup threatens water supplies and human health.


  • How much is the Budget Request below what is needed to meet cleanup agreements and commitments? How is DOE making the decisions about which sites are under funded?
  • Which sites have shortfalls below what is required to meet cleanup agreements?
  • Plutonium has been reported in drinking water supplies in Northern New Mexico. What does the budget request do to remediate that problem?
  • Last year when the FY 2009 funding levels were discussed, DOE admitted that the Office of Management and Budget approved target funding levels would fall short of meeting Hanford cleanup agreements by as much as $500 million per year through the next five years. Will the Department face fines for failing to meet agreement deadlines?

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Energy budget will be substantially excessive. The Budget Request could include almost $1 billion for nuclear power, including paying for license applications for new nuclear power plants. The Budget Request also further commits to multi-billion-dollar boondoggles, including the Next Generation Nuclear Plant, Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) Fabrication facility, and the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).


  • How much will the Next Generation Nuclear Plant cost? How much of that funding has been committed by the private sector, which Congress emphasized in the FY08 Omnibus as very important?

Global Nuclear Energy Partnership:

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is a poorly defined program, reflecting technical uncertainties, along with changing goals and missions. While the administration is working to craft agreements with global partners in this program, previous significant problems with reprocessing are ignored. The National Academy of Sciences 2007 report on GNEP calls for no commercial scale development at this time; instead, basic research and development work needs to be done successfully before such a program should proceed. The FY08 Omnibus Bill mandates that no funds shall be used for construction.


  • Does the GNEP budget request reflect the conclusions of the 2007 National Academy of Sciences report and the growing skepticism in Congress that reprocessing is not currently a viable answer to the growing problem of high-level nuclear waste?
  • DOE is months behind in releasing the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for GNEP. How does the GNEP budget request implement decisions that DOE expects to make in the PEIS?

Plutonium Disposition:

Congress drastically cut funding for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site to $234 million, $100 million less than requested in the FY08 Budget, due to programmatic problems and continuing lack of a comprehensive plan to dispose of surplus plutonium. DOE has gone back and forth claiming that all of the surplus plutonium can be turned into plutonium fuel and then acknowledging that some of it will need to be immobilized. Despite the fact that immobilization is cheaper and safer, DOE continues to try to end the program by providing only $1 million in FY08. Look for a large request for MOX funds and little money for immobilization.


  • When will the plutonium fuel plant at SRS be operating and how does the current cost compare to the first estimates?
  • Can all the surplus plutonium be turned into plutonium fuel and if not, what is the disposition path for the large amounts of plutonium currently in route to SRS?

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Local Contacts

Weapons Issues

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

Ralph Hutchison,
Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance Oak Ridge, TN - (865) 483-8202

Marylia Kelley,
Executive Director,
Tri-Valley CAREs Livermore, CA - (925) 443-7148

Environmental Issues

Joni Arends,
Executive Director,
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety Santa Fe, NM - (505) 986-1973

Gerry Pollet,
Executive Director,
Heart of America Northwest Seattle, WA - (206) 382-1014

Nuclear Energy

Beatrice Brailsford,
Program Director,
Snake River Alliance Pocatello, ID - (208) 233-7212

Tom Clements,
Southeast Nuclear Campaign Coordinator,
Friends of the Earth Columbia, SC - (803) 834-3084

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

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