Jobs For Northern New Mexico

Los Alamos

Hey!  It’s Oppie month celebrating the geniuses who built the bomb.  Los Alamos is still building bombs.  Maybe we could rethink what requires genius.

On Tuesday at the County Council Work Session, Kelly Beierschmitt, Deputy Director of Operations, will present TRIAD’s Growth and Mission Support report.  His PowerPoint shows accomplishments such as salary distribution from Bernalillo to Taos, and investments in transportation, student programs, site modernization, and childcare.  

A slide also talks about exploring federal off-site campuses for low-hazard, light-operations work while keeping hazardous and specialized operations in Los Alamos.

But here’s a question for you: Keeping the hazardous operations of building 30-80 pits per year here in Los Alamos doesn’t make sense. Because we need to build an entire new bomb factory, why not build the plutonium pit-production facility (jobs jobs jobs) in another location in Northern New Mexico with more land? What about keeping the science here at LANL and moving the new pit factory to, say, east of Las Vegas where the cost of business and decades of drought have driven ranchers into selling their land? The Moon Dance Ranch off US 84 looks like it’s for sale. You could start there.

Here are a few advantages of building the factory in a less inconvenient location: 

  • More land for both the factory and housing;
  • Cheaper to build without the geologic challenges of Pajarito Mesa, as well as cheaper labor costs during construction because workers won’t need clearance or escorts;
  • With an upgrade of US 84, it’s closer to Pantex, and after upgrading maybe 20 more miles from I-40 to 285, a straight shot to WIPP;
  • Easier to secure as a completely closed campus, fenced, gated, and guarded without canyons sneakable by terrorists;
  • Broader aerial visibility to spot an incoming drone or plane;
  • Farther from the city so if there’s an accident, it will be easy to evacuate. In addition, with the prevailing winds from west and south, less hazard to neighboring communities because there will be no close-in communities east or north;
  • Fewer impacts on fragile environments and cultures;
  • Commuting about the same distance from Los Lunas or the Rio Grande drainage. (Chama side? Twice as far. They can work in Los Alamos on science.)

LANL is all about jobs jobs jobs, but shouldn’t there be some science science science? If the factory’s purpose is for jobs in Northern New Mexico, then let’s focus on jobs in Northern New Mexico. Building pits can be done other places a lot safer and cheaper, and with less environmental and cultural displacement than here in land-locked Los. We’ll still have jobs jobs jobs—even here here here. Here here here jobs can be science in service to the nation (which used to be our motto before it became “to solve national security challenges through simultaneous excellence”). Here on the Los Alamos campus we can solve problems that currently, actually terrorize the Earth—the climate catastrophe, pandemics, seismic hazards, artificial intelligence, terrorist threats, along with basic stuff like interplanetary science, cell research, string theory—innovative science and technology to save the Earth rather than—you know—blow it up just because somebody doesn’t like somebody. Building bombs is SO last millennium. Still, the kind of genius that gave Los Alamos its historic renown can develop what will give us our future renown as well as any future at all.

Los Alamos isn’t the place for a pit factory. LANL, New Mexico, the US, and the entire world can still have a pit factory—IF everybody thinks we truly need 80 new nukes per year. Just put it someplace more reasonable. Oh. Wait a second. Wait. Did I say “Reasonable”? Spending $634 billion in 2020-dollars over the next 10 years for weapons whose purpose is to destroy some enemy who, in the next few years might have become, as did the Japanese and Germans, partners? Naw. Come to think of it, the smartest thing to do would be to not make new nukes at all. Just use up the old ones. I don’t think anyone would be insulted if they got incinerated by a B61-3 rather than a 12.