Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

Follow the Money!

Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

Recent Blog Posts

Watchdogs File Suit for NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports

Watchdogs File Suit for NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports Watchdogs File Suit for NNSA’s Performance Evaluation ReportsSanta Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico has once again filed a lawsuit to pry loose the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports that evaluate contractor performance at its eight nuclear weapons sites. Approximately 57,000 people are employed by NNSA’s nuclear weapons production complex, 95% of them contractor personnel. NNSA and its parent Department of Energy have been on the independent Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars since 1992.

NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports grade contractor performance, award performance fees and contain no classified information. Nevertheless, NNSA seeks to hide how taxpayers’ money is spent from the public, issuing only terse three page summaries instead of the full and complete Reports. Nuclear Watch sued in 2012 to obtain the full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports, after which NNSA started releasing them within three working days. But NNSA has again been releasing only summaries since 2019, despite a Freedom of Information Act request by Nuclear Watch that the agency never responded to.

To illustrate the importance of these Performance Evaluation Reports, in its FY 2021 Los Alamos Lab summary NNSA noted that the contractor “[s]ucessfully made advances in pit production processes…” Plutonium “pits” are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons whose expanded production the Pentagon has identified as the number one issue in the United States’ $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program. NNSA has directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to begin producing at least 30 pits per year by 2026 and the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to begin producing at least 50 pits per year by 2030.

Continue reading

A Guide to “Scoping” the New LANL SWEIS

“Scoping” means determining the issues that should be included in public analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of proposed major actions by the federal government. According to the Department of Energy ‘s own NEPA implementation regulations, DOE must prepare a new or supplemental site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) for its major sites when there are “significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns.” The last site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was completed in 2008 and is badly outdated. Moreover, since 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, has been aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons at the Lab.

On August 19, 2022, NNSA finally announced its intent to prepare a new LANL SWEIS, but apparently the agency will not address expanded plutonium pit production.1 NNSA’s dubious argument is that it performed the legally required NEPA analysis for expanded plutonium pit production in a 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the 2008 LANL SWEIS and a woefully inadequate “Supplement Analysis” in 2020 that concluded a new SWEIS was not needed. 2 3

Issues That Must Be Addressed in a New LANL SWEIS

This is meant to be a guide to (or list of) the issues that must be addressed in a new draft LANL SWEIS. It is not completely exhaustive, nor is it a comprehensive fact sheet on the substance of the issues. Nuclear Watch New Mexico will offer suggested scoping comments for interested citizens and submit its own comprehensive formal comments before the October 3 deadline or extended deadline (see “Timing” below).

Continue reading

“Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising” – 77 Years Later, 4 Artists from Hiroshima Reflect

Today marks the 77 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan during World War II. Three days ago, August 6, marks the same anniversary for the bombing of the city of Hiroshima, Japan. In both cities the blast completely annihilated everything within a 1-mile radius from the center of explosion. The bombs not only decimated the current population, destroyed property, and scorched the land; the entirety of the ways of life of these communities was ripped away in a terrorizing flash.

"The atomic explosion almost completely destroyed Hiroshima's identity as a city. Over a fourth of the population was killed in one stroke and an additional fourth seriously injured, so that even if there had been no damage to structures and installations the normal city life would still have been completely shattered." - The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (atomicarchive.com)

The total effects of the only two nuclear weapons ever detonated in warfare are not fully known, despite 77 years of people (scientists, military experts, civilians, Japan, etc.) trying to estimate the number of the dead and injured. "The most credible estimates cluster around a “low” of 110,000 mortalities and a “high” of 210,000, an enormous gap (the estimates for each city have a range of ±10,000)." - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

A man prays as paper lanterns are floated on the Motoyasu river on Aug. 6, 2022 in Hiroshima, Japan. | Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

The events of August 6 and 9, 1945, forever changed the world. But today, besides continuing to attempt to know the extent of the cost of life of these bombings, how are we moving forward in reflection and in growth? How, as a global community, can we explore and prioritize processing the deep, deep pain of these events? The city of Nagasaki has been rebuilt since World War II and is today an important tourist site, serving as a significant spiritual center for movements to ban nuclear weapons. Aging survivors, known in Japan as hibakusha, continue to push for a nuclear ban and hope to convince younger generations to join the movement.

Continue reading

The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament is the Treaty PROHIBITING Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament is in Danger is the Treaty PROHIBITING Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya sits with his hand on his head gazing downward at the UN General Assembly during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in New York City on August 1, 2022After a month of negotiations, the tenth review conference (RevCon) of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded on August 26 without a consensus final document,

A “Council of Councils” Global Memo titled, “The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament Is in Danger” highlights the analysis of five experts on analyze the “failure after a month of negotiations of the tenth review conference (RevCon) of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluding on August 26 without a consensus final document, raising concerns about weakening efforts to promote nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons recently published an article along the same lines titled, “NPT Review Conference fails to address current security environment.” The final draft outcome document had already been significantly weakened throughout the negotiations, however Russia still refused to accept the final version and the conference ended without an agreement. ICAN: “Although the NPT Review Conference failed, there was a success this year in June. At the First Meeting of States Parties, TPNW states parties committed to the Vienna Action Plan, 50 concrete steps to advance disarmament, help victims of nuclear use and testing, commit to inclusion and progressive steps on gender and disarmament.”

Robin Lloyd of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom asks the leading questions, “How can the US consider signing the draft preamble while the House and Senate are finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act which calls for the modernization of our nuclear arsenal? How can our government even take part in this Conference while it is seeking funding for a renewed nuclear edifice of destruction including Modernized Strategic Delivery Systems and Refurbished Nuclear Warheads? Over the next decade, the United States plans to spend $494 billion on its nuclear forces, or about $50 billion a year, according to a 2019 Congressional Budget Office report. Trillions of dollars for submarines and bombers and buried nuclear missiles. Things they are committing to not use. Please, does this make sense?”

Faced with an unacceptable dangerous global situation, the TPNW will do what the NPT failed to: adopt a credible plan to advance disarmament, help victims of nuclear use and testing, and condemn any and all threats to use nuclear weapons.

The NPT is in crisis, but the TPNW is already starting to carry out its role of implementing the nuclear disarmament obligations of the NPT.  All other NPT states parties that have failed to make progress during the NPT Review Conference should join this work too.

New & Updated

Watchdog sues nuclear agency over LANL evaluations

“Coghlan said an example of why the full assessment is necessary is a note on last year’s report for the Los Alamos lab saying it had struggled with some production activities and experienced several challenges carrying out the plutonium mission, and “mission execution was impacted by lapses in safety performance.”

By Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com The Santa Fe New Mexican | September 17, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

A New Mexico watchdog group is suing the federal agency that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons programs for issuing only summaries of its yearly report cards on national laboratories and withholding what the group contends is vital information on deficiencies.

The lawsuit seeks to compel the National Nuclear Security Administration to post in its public reading room the complete report cards for the eight national laboratories involved in nuclear weapons — ones it has withheld in the past and all future assessments.

Allowing the public to see, in particular, the full report on Los Alamos National Laboratory’s shortcomings is increasingly important as the lab gears up to make 30 plutonium bomb cores a year with an escalating federal budget, Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s yearly report cards assess the performances of contracted lab operators and award bonuses to the organizations based on their grades in a process that is not classified, Coghlan argued.
Continue reading

Watchdogs File Suit for NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico has once again filed a lawsuit to pry loose the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports that evaluate contractor performance at its eight nuclear weapons sites. Approximately 57,000 people are employed by NNSA’s nuclear weapons production complex, 95% of them contractor personnel. NNSA and its parent Department of Energy have been on the independent Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars since 1992.

NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports grade contractor performance, award performance fees and contain no classified information. Nevertheless, NNSA seeks to hide how taxpayers’ money is spent from the public, issuing only terse three page summaries instead of the full and complete Reports. Nuclear Watch sued in 2012 to obtain the full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports, after which NNSA started releasing them within three working days. But NNSA has again been releasing only summaries since 2019, despite a Freedom of Information Act request by Nuclear Watch that the agency never responded to.

To illustrate the importance of these Performance Evaluation Reports, in its FY 2021 Los Alamos Lab summary NNSA noted that the contractor “[s]ucessfully made advances in pit production processes…” Plutonium “pits” are the fissile cores of nuclear weapons whose expanded production the Pentagon has identified as the number one issue in the United States’ $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program. NNSA has directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to begin producing at least 30 pits per year by 2026 and the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to begin producing at least 50 pits per year by 2030.

Continue reading

Lawmakers demand reparations for New Mexicans imperiled by nuclear bomb testing

“It’s very emotional to reflect on all we’ve lost as a result of being exposed to radiation,” said consortium founder Tina Cordova, herself a survivor of thyroid cancer who said members of her family also suffered from myriad forms of the disease.

By Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus | September 10, 2022 currentargus.com

Paul Pino, a native of Carrizozo, returns to his family ranch where 77 years earlier the U.S. tested a nuclear bomb just over 50 miles away.

When the U.S.’ first nuclear bomb was detonated in south-central New Mexico, it was believed to set off a chain of cancers and health problems suffered by the surrounding communities for generations.

People who grew up near the Trinity Test Site, near the remote communities of Carrizozo or Tularosa, were denied federal relief dollars afforded to other “downwinders” impacted by nuclear testing around the country.

Both towns were within 50 miles of the blast site, and advocates say they were exposed to radiation from the bomb testing.

Fighting rages near Russian-held nuclear plant in Ukraine

An official says the besieged Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility may be closed as residents near the plant are urged to evacuate for their own safety.

ALJAZEERA | September 9, 2022 aljazeera.com

Heavy fighting erupted in areas near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine after Kyiv warned it might have to shut down the plant to avoid a radiation disaster.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in its daily update on Thursday that some villages near the plant were bombed over the past 24 hours by “tanks, mortars, barrel and jet artillery”.

Overnight, Russian forces fired rockets and heavy artillery into the nearby town of Nikopol four times, the area’s regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, wrote on Telegram, damaging at least 11 houses and other buildings.

On Wednesday, an official said the nuclear plant may have to be shut down and called on residents in areas near the embattled facility to evacuate for their own safety.

A Guide to “Scoping” the New LANL SWEIS

“Scoping” means determining the issues that should be included in public analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of proposed major actions by the federal government. According to the Department of Energy ‘s own NEPA implementation regulations, DOE must prepare a new or supplemental site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) for its major sites when there are “significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns.” The last site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was completed in 2008 and is badly outdated. Moreover, since 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, has been aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons at the Lab.

On August 19, 2022, NNSA finally announced its intent to prepare a new LANL SWEIS, but apparently the agency will not address expanded plutonium pit production.1 NNSA’s dubious argument is that it performed the legally required NEPA analysis for expanded plutonium pit production in a 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the 2008 LANL SWEIS and a woefully inadequate “Supplement Analysis” in 2020 that concluded a new SWEIS was not needed. 2 3

Issues That Must Be Addressed in a New LANL SWEIS

This is meant to be a guide to (or list of) the issues that must be addressed in a new draft LANL SWEIS. It is not completely exhaustive, nor is it a comprehensive fact sheet on the substance of the issues. Nuclear Watch New Mexico will offer suggested scoping comments for interested citizens and submit its own comprehensive formal comments before the October 3 deadline or extended deadline (see “Timing” below).

Continue reading

ACTION ALERTS

Public Comments about the Scope of the Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operations of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL SWEIS) Due by Tuesday, October 18!

On August 19th, DOE announced a Notice of Intent to Prepare a Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Los Alamos National Laboratory: https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room.


View our “Guide to LANL SWEIS ‘Scoping'” Here:

A Guide to “Scoping” the New LANL SWEIS


Many changes have occurred at LANL since 2008, including the proposals to increase the production of plutonium pits, or the triggers, for nuclear weapons, from 20 to 30 per year – a 50 percent increase.  This means that if the proposed expansion of production goes into effect, there will be 50 percent more radioactive and hazardous waste will be generated, more water will be used, and more emissions into the air.

NukeWatch will have sample/suggested comments for you to use by October 12.

Continue reading

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Public Hearing to “gather information regarding legacy cleanup activities, nuclear safety, and increased production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)” November 16, 2022

November 16, 2022 12:00pm to 9:45pm
Santa Fe Community Convention Center
201 West Marcy Street

Santa FeNM 87501


On November 16, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) will hold a public hearing at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Continue reading

Coming Soon! Look out for the opportunity to participate in the 10-year renewal of the hazardous waste permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP):

The New Mexico Environment Department is required to maintain a Facility Mailing List to which you can add your name and address to get the latest information – just email Ricardo Maestas at the New Mexico Environment Department at ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us and ask to be added to the list.  Or mail your request with your mailing address to:

Continue reading

Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9

Interfaith Panel Discussion on the 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th Progressive Democrats of America Central New Mexico Community Gathering:

PDA CNM Community Gathering - March 9, 2022 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, spoke at PDA CNM's March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester's] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.”

HELP US SUPPORT NEW MEXICO’S GOVERNOR IN ACTING TO STOP WIPP EXPANSION!

STOP “FOREVER WIPP!”

The Department of Energy is seeking to modify the nuclear waste permit for southeastern New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Dragging out WIPP’s operations decades past the original 20-year agreement violates the social contract made with New Mexicans. WIPP is being equipped to take the waste that will be generated from production of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads, and it was never supposed to do that. An expansion of WIPP will impact the entire country, not just residents of southeastern New Mexico.

View the videos below for more information, and, if you live in an area that may be endangered by these nuclear waste transportation risks, please consider making your own “This is My Neighborhood” video!

Background Information –  Problems with Nuclear Waste
Playlist: Problems with Nuclear Waste


Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

Continue reading

New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

Past Nuclear News

OUT OF GAS? A shortage of tritium fuel may leave fusion energy with an empty tank.

Throughout the decades of fusion research, plasma physicists have been single-minded about reaching the breakeven point and producing excess energy. They viewed other issues, such as acquiring enough tritium, just “trivial” engineering. But as reactors approach breakeven, nuclear engineers say it’s time to start to worry about engineering details that are far from trivial. “Leaving [them] until later would be hugely mistaken.”

By DANIEL CLERY SCIENCE MAGAZINE science.org

In 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories delivered five steel drums, lined with cork to absorb shocks, to the Joint European Torus (JET), a large fusion reactor in the United Kingdom. Inside each drum was a steel cylinder the size of a Coke can, holding a wisp of hydrogen gas—just 10 grams of it, or the weight of a couple sheets of paper.

This wasn’t ordinary hydrogen but its rare radioactive isotope tritium, in which two neutrons and a proton cling together in the nucleus. At $30,000 per gram, it’s almost as precious as a diamond, but for fusion researchers the price is worth paying. When tritium is combined at high temperatures with its sibling deuterium, the two gases can burn like the Sun. The reaction could provide abundant clean energy—just as soon as fusion scientists figure out how to efficiently spark it.

Last year, the Canadian tritium fueled an experiment at JET showing fusion research is approaching an important threshold: producing more energy than goes into the reactions. By getting to one-third of this breakeven point, JET offered reassurance that ITER, a similar reactor twice the size of JET under construction in France, will bust past breakeven when it begins deuterium and tritium (D-T) burns sometime next decade. “What we found matches predictions,” says Fernanda Rimini, JET’s plasma operations expert.

But that achievement could be a Pyrrhic victory, fusion scientists are realizing. ITER is expected to consume most of the world’s tritium, leaving little for reactors that come after.

Six B-21s in Production, Fuel Control Software Already Tested

The nuclear modernization effort, however, does face one potentially significant hurdle, particularly for missiles such as the GBSD and the Long Range Standoff Weapon: the production of plutonium “pits” that go in the center of nuclear warheads.

The National Nuclear Security Administration had set a goal of producing 30 pits per year by 2026 and 80 by 2030. But, “I think NNSA will readily admit they’re not going to make that requirement,” Wolfe said.

By Greg Hadley  airforcemag.com

The B-21 Raider continues to be a “model” program for the Air Force, with six of the new bombers currently in production and some of its software already validated through digital testing, a top general at Air Force Global Strike Command said Feb. 9.

Speaking at the 2022 Nuclear Deterrence Summit, Maj. Gen. Jason R. Armagost said the new stealth bomber will likely fly in 2022, echoing previous predictions by other Air Force officials.

Continue reading

Nuclear fears mount as Ukraine crisis deepens

Officials and experts are warning that a Russian invasion could inadvertently trigger a nuclear exchange with the U.S.

By BRYAN BENDER January 28, 2022 POLITICO

 As Russian troops bear down on Ukraine and the United States prepares its own military buildup in Eastern Europe, concerns are growing across the ideological spectrum that the standoff could inadvertently escalate into the unthinkable: nuclear war.

President Joe Biden has insisted that he will not use American forces to directly defend Ukrainian territory against a possible Russian invasion. But that is no guarantee that the two sides won’t come to blows.

Wake up call on nuclear waste! Meet the National Radioactive Waste Coalition!