NIF survives DOE review

April 10, 2001
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham reportedly has decided not to make any changes in the design, construction and operation of the National Ignition Facility.

According to the Department of Energy, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has decided not to make any changes in the design, construction and operation of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The Secretary's Record of Decision was also published in the April 5 Federal Register . "As a result of this decision," the register states, "DOE will make no changes in the design of NIF, will undertake no deviations in construction techniques, and will impose no operational changes in the NIF."

This decision is the outcome of a Supplemental Environmental pact Statement (SEIS) initiated after excavations for the NIF uncovered on the site a landfill with capacitors containing PCBs and other debris, and another nearby area containing residual PCB contamination. According to the Secretary's record, both the capacitor landfill area at the NIF construction site and the residual PCB contamination were cleaned up to levels in accordance with federal, state, and local requirements, thereby reducing the actual or potential contamination in these areas.

After periods for public comment on the draft and final environmental impact statements, the Record of Decision was issued by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an autonomous agency within DOE. "The National Ignition Facility Project supports the National Nuclear Security Administration's missions to ensure the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable," says NNSA Administration John Gordon. The NIF reportedly is a key component of DOE's science-based stockpile stewardship program, intended to maintain the nuclear stockpile without testing.

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