New Mexico’s senators and congressmen are making a bad choice for their constituents by lobbying to retain the production of nuclear bomb triggers, or “pits,” at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The production of plutonium pits is one of the most toxic industrial processes on Earth. It is hazardous for workers and pollutes our environment for centuries. Los Alamos has a poor safety record, according to the Department of Energy. Only Los Alamos, among 24 nuclear sites recently audited by the department, did “not meet expectations” for criticality risks. This is the risk of a nuclear chain reaction that can irradiate workers and cause an explosion or catastrophic toxic fire.
The United States today has 2,000 nuclear warheads that can be used in minutes or days, enough to destroy civilization, as we know it. If our national leaders decide we need new pits for 1,000 more weapons, let them be made in South Carolina. This will be better for the environment of our state and the safety of our workers.
It also will allow Los Alamos to work on advanced computing, bioscience, energy security, climate change mitigation and other national security missions of greater benefit to the nation and the state of New Mexico.
James Doyle, an independent nuclear security specialist, worked at Los Alamos from 1997-2014.
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