If LANL Loses Plutonium Pit Production To South Carolina, Blame Martin Heinrich

According to a leaked report by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) may lose a project to produce plutonium pits to South Carolina.

Not only would this represent a gigantic failure – for almost two decades, LANL has been America’s only nuclear weapons site capable of producing plutonium pits – it would reduce LANL’s mission to produce and secure America’s nuclear weapons capability.

Senators Heinrich and Udall crafted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that forces the NNSA to release its report within 30 days after President Trump signs the bill into law – and if the report is not released and assessed within five months, pit production will move forward at LANL.

But that’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. The leaked report says that moving plutonium pit production to Savannah River Site (SC) could cost less, happen faster, and be safer than at LANL.

What could Sen. Heinrich have done to prevent this potential disaster to New Mexico’s premier nuclear weapons lab, which is also one of our state’s largest employers?

To begin, he could show basic political awareness – something that should be a prerequisite to serving as New Mexico’s Senator. Political awareness would have led Sen. Heinrich to vote for the confirmation of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, instead of against it. Sen. Udall has enough political sense to vote for Perry’s confirmation.

Now, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI) have written Secretary Perry to say that moving plutonium pit production from Los Alamos “is putting the long-term plutonium capabilities of the United States at serious risk.” Asking McCain to write this letter is Heinrich’s tacit acknowledgement that he has no influence with Secretary Perry.

Did Sen. Heinrich not realize how much power the Energy Secretary wields over our state, or did he just not care?

Here are clues. Sen. Heinrich also refused to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Heather Wilson as Secretary of the Air Force, because Wilson ran against Heinrich in the 2012 Senate campaign. How does that help New Mexico’s three Air Force bases?

Even during the Obama Administration, Martin Heinrich’s record at defending New Mexico was awful. He struck out when the NM Air National Guard lost its airplanes. He struck out when Holloman AFB lost its F-22s. And those losses happened when four of the five members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation were Democrats, and we had a Democratic President and Secretary of Defense.

Martin Heinrich strikes out even when facing his own team’s pitching.

It is time to replace Martin Heinrich. It is time that New Mexico has a Senator who is intimately familiar with LANL, who can stand up for LANL, and who knows how important LANL is for our national defense, for our state economy, and for our hard-working taxpayers. I will be that Senator.