Los Alamos shelves plans to build costly nuclear testing facility

The U.S. Los Alamos National Laboratory recently announced a proposal to cease plans to build a new plutonium research facility in favor of using an array of smaller buildings to conduct the work.

The lab's director, Charles McMillan, made the announcement at a three-day conference on nuclear deterrence held in Arlington, Virginia, according to NextGov.com.

"I'm concerned that in the current fiscal crisis, it may no longer be practical to plan and build very large-scale nuclear facilities," McMillan said, NextGov.com reports. "A new path forward is needed."

A study team at the New Mexico research center suggested altering plans to construct the $6 billion Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement plant in favor of building a series of more reasonably priced structures capable of undertaking the same functions. The new approach would include repurposing several existing structures as well, McMillan told the conference.

The CMRR facility was to be used to ensure that the cores of existing nuclear weapons would function as advertised, because there has been a decades-long ban on underground testing, according to NextGov.com.

The Obama administration announced last year that it would save $1.8 billion over the next five years by delaying the facility's construction. The site was supposed to begin operating by 2024, but the move delayed those plans for the foreseeable future.