The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) electrical substation project that seeks to clear-cut 2.1 miles of mature trees along the top of Pine Ridge has been delayed for 45 days, though some logging activity will reportedly still occur during this time.
The Oak Ridge City Council formally requested a 30-day delay during a special-called meeting on Friday, December 8, to give the NNSA an opportunity to comply with its statutory obligations pursuant to the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and to allow the City of Oak Ridge to receive additional technical information used in the decision making process to locate the transmission lines on Pine Ridge. The City also strongly encouraged the NNSA to conduct a public meeting in the Scarboro and Groves Park Commons neighborhoods during this time.
In a letter from NNSA dated December 11 and received by City officials shortly before the regular monthly City Council meeting on Monday evening, Dale Christenson, Federal Project Director for NNSA’s Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) project, stated that NNSA would extend the discussion period to 45 days given the holiday season.
“During this time,” the letter stated, “NNSA will take no action that commits to any particular approach to the siting of this transmission line. Although initial logging operations will begin during this period, they will occur on a point furthest from the City and will not prevent NNSA from acting on any resonable mitigation approach that may be suggested.”
As stated in previous City of Oak Ridge communications on this issue, the electrical project includes plans to clear-cut trees and vegetation along the crest of Pine Ridge in order to install more than thirty 79-foot transmission towers. The power lines would service the UPF, which is being constructed inside the Y-12 National Security Complex on the other side of Pine Ridge.
The substation project has been under development by DOE for at least two years. The City was only informed of the plan a few weeks prior to the expected start of the logging operation. This postponement will allow the City and DOE to have a more meaningful dialogue about this segment of the project’s impact on the community, both short and long term.
The City of Oak Ridge has consistently voiced their support for the UPF project, recognizing its critical importance to our nation’s security.