QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The longer Russia decides to continue its invasion, and military operations, the more likely nuclear weapons will become a greater part of this conflict. It’s something the world should be taking very seriously…”
– Interim Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Daniel Hogsta
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
“There is nothing comparable in our history to the deceit and the lying that took place as a matter of official Government policy in order to protect this industry. Nothing was going to stop them and they were willing to kill our own people.”
— Stewart Udall, United States Secretary of the Interior under President Kennedy and President Johnson.
He was the father of Senator Tom Udall (who ended up being a vigorous supporter of expanded nuclear weapons “modernization” plans).
Follow the Money!
Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”
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.”
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
New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More
Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America
A new book is out about Hanford, by Joshua Frank, co-editor of Counterpunch, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America.
Once home to the United States’s largest plutonium production site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is laced with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. The threat of an explosive accident at Hanford is all too real—an event that could be more catastrophic than Chernobyl.
The EPA designated Hanford the most toxic place in America; it is also the most expensive environmental clean-up job the world has ever seen, with a $677 billion price tag that keeps growing.
Fallout from a nuclear past: A new book explores the human toll of “nuclear colonization” in New Mexico
Of the three waves of colonization New Mexico has undergone — Spanish, American and nuclear — the latter is the least explored. And for author Myrriah Gómez, there were personal reasons to reveal the truth about how “nuclear colonization” has altered the state’s past and continues to shape its future.
By Alicia Inez Guzmán Searchlight New Mexico | December 2022 searchlightnm.org
Gómez, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, is the author of “Nuclear Nuevo México,” a book that explores the history of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the fundamental tension of living in its shadow. Its publication this month by the University of Arizona Press couldn’t be timelier: Los Alamos is currently preparing to build plutonium “pits” that act as triggers in nuclear weapons, putting the lab front and center in an ongoing national debate about nuclear impacts.
“If Spanish colonialism brought Spanish colonizers and U.S. colonialism brought American colonizers,” as Gómez writes in her book, “then nuclear colonialism brought nuclear colonizers, scientists, military personnel, atomic bomb testing, and nuclear waste among them.”
Tactical Nukes: One Little Nuclear Weapon Can Ruin Your Whole Day
Some people believe smaller nuclear weapons can be used to fight battles. But nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and contemplating their use on the battlefield opens the door for full-scale nuclear war.
New & Updated
Great news: New Mexico Bill SB-53 has passed! Thanks especially to Senator Jeff Steinborn and state Rep. Matthew McQueen for co-sponsoring and introducing SB53.
A nuclear power plant leaked contaminated water in Minnesota. Here’s what we know
Xcel is based in Minneapolis, Minn., and operates in eight states around the U.S. Its two nuclear power plants are both based in Minnesota. Monticello is about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis and has a population of about 15,000 people.
By Kaitlyn Radde, NPR | March 19, 2023 npr.org
Minnesota officials are monitoring the cleanup of a 400,000 gallon leak of contaminated water from a nuclear power plant in the city of Monticello run by the energy giant Xcel Energy. Officials said there is no danger from the leak.
The leak was detected nearly four months ago and reported to state and federal regulators. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission posted a notice publicly at the time, but the company and state agencies did not notify the general public until last week.
“Xcel Energy took swift action to contain the leak to the plant site, which poses no health and safety risk to the local community or the environment,” the company announced in a statement on Thursday. Ongoing monitoring has confirmed that the leak “is fully contained on-site and has not been detected beyond the facility or in any local drinking water,” the company said.
Sample Surplus Plutonium Disposition Comments – Copy, Paste, Edit & Submit yours!!
*NNSA will accept comments submitted through this weekend (3/19)* Please use our sample comments below and submit your own! The more you can edit and personalize, the better; however, simply copying our comments is fine if you are short on time!
Submit Via email to SPDP-EIS@nnsa.doe.gov:
Ms. Maxcine Maxted, NEPA Document Manager
National Nuclear Security Administration
Office of Material Management and Minimization
P.O. Box A, Aiken, SC 29802
National Nuclear Security Administration
Office of Material Management and Minimization
P.O. Box A, Aiken, SC 29802
Biden Releases Record NNSA Nuclear Weapons Budget
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 14, 2023
Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342 | Email | Scott Kovac – 505.989.7342 | Email
Santa Fe, NM – President Biden has released his proposed FY 2024 budget for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The budget for NNSA’s “Total Weapons Activities” for nuclear weapons research and production programs is slated to increase by 10% to $18.8 billion.
Of that $18.8 billion requested for FY 2024, over $3 billion is devoted to “Life Extension Programs” or “Alterations” that extend the service lives of existing nuclear weapons by decades while giving them new military capabilities. It also includes two new-design nuclear weapons, the W87-1 ICBM warhead (increased 50% to $1 billion) and the sub-launched W93 warhead (increased 62% to $390 million). Meanwhile, funding for dismantlements that provide a good nonproliferation example and save taxpayers’ money by eliminating long-term security costs is decreased by 4% to $53.7 million. That is a small fraction of one percent of NNSA’s Total Weapons Activities.
Two bright spots, yet still small relative to the U.S.’ planned $2 trillion nuclear weapons “modernization” program, are the zeroing out of funding for the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) warhead and stronger language on the retirement of the 1.2 megaton B83 bomb. Trump proposed to bring back nuclear-armed sea-launched cruise missiles, which were retired by President George H. Bush after the end of the Cold War. Biden’s 2022 Nuclear Posture Review canceled the SLCM, but Congress insisted on funding it, which will only grow stronger with Republican control the House.
In Response to Lawsuit, NNSA Releases FY 2022 Performance Evaluation Reports as “Frequently Requested Documents” as Required by FOIA; Reveals Pit Production Schedule is Likely Increasingly Delayed
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 9, 2023
Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342 | Email | Scott Kovac – 505.989.7342 | Email
Santa Fe, NM – Today, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) finally posted its FY 2022 Performance Evaluation Reports to its electronic “FOIA Reading Room.” These reports are “Frequently Requested Documents” as defined by the Freedom of Information Act (meaning three or more requests) and are therefore required to be posted under the law. The catalyst for this was a lawsuit filed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico in September 2022.
NNSA’s Performance Evaluation Reports for its eight nuclear weapons research and production sites grade annual contractor performance and award performance fees accordingly. Approximately 57,000 people are employed by the NNSA nuclear weapons complex, 95% of them contractor personnel. The Department of Energy and NNSA (or its predecessor DOE Defense Programs) have been on the independent Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars since 1992.
NUCLEAR ARMAGEDDON GAMES IN UKRAINE
“’As Russia’s war on Ukraine continues, the last remaining nuclear weapons treaty between Russia and the United States… stands in jeopardy,’ read a January 2023 press release from the Bulletin before Putin backed out of the agreement. ‘Unless the two parties resume negotiations and find a basis for further reductions, the treaty will expire in February 2026. This would eliminate mutual inspections, deepen mistrust, spur a nuclear arms race, and heighten the possibility of a nuclear exchange.’ Of course, they were correct…”
By , Inkstick Media | March 6, 2023 inkstickmedia.com
In 1946, Albert Einstein shot off a telegram to several hundred American leaders and politicians warning that the “unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” Einstein’s forecast remains prescient. Nuclear calamity still knocks.
Even prior to President Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine, the threat of a nuclear confrontation between NATO and Russia was intensifying. After all, in August 2019, President Donald Trump formally withdrew the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, long heralded as a pillar of arms control between the two superpowers.
San Ildefonso governor says halt of plume cleanup will lead to spread onto pueblo
“Moquino said communication between the various parties will become vital if the plume continues to spread.”
“If it’s detected on our land, that changes the whole scope and dynamic of this entire issue,” Moquino said.
By , Santa Fe New Mexican | March 6, 2023 santafenewmexican.com
San Ildefonso Pueblo’s governor expressed concerns about the state Environment Department’s order to halt cleanup of a mile-long toxic plume by April 1, saying suspending the measures would cause the contamination to spread to the pueblo.
Gov. Christopher Moquino said tests and sampling show injecting treated water into the decades-old hexavalent chromium plume at the Los Alamos National Laboratory site has reduced the contaminants and kept them away from the pueblo.
“Halting is a concern,” Moquino said. “We don’t see any positive effect to stop the work. That could have some type of negative effect as far as the plume moving or expanding, but that’s to be determined.”
Moquino’s view contrasts with the state Environment Department, which contends the U.S. Energy Department’s method of extracting contaminated water, treating it and pumping it back into the aquifer is not diluting or containing contaminants but is pushing them toward the pueblo and deeper into the aquifer.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Follow-up to News about the Chromium Plume: Santa Fe New Mexican article, “San Ildefonso governor says halt of plume cleanup will lead to spread onto pueblo”
“Nuclear Watch New Mexico believes that it is past time that this dangerous contaminant is cleaned up at the source.
Extracted treated groundwater should be pumped or trucked uphill to flush out the remaining 90% of the chromium so that it can be decisively dealt with instead of with only marginally effective “pump and treat” for a few centuries…”
By Jay Coghlan
The real shame is how ineffective Lab cleanup of the hexavalent chromium plume is. First, even after 18 years, LANL and DOE still don’t know the boundaries of the plume, all the while claiming it’s not on San Ildefonso Pueblo Land (maybe LANL should deprioritize expanded nuclear weapons production and focus on that). Second, this is our common “sole source” (EPA special designation) aquifer that is one of the primary sources of drinking water for the cities of Santa Fe, Española, and Los Alamos, eleven Pueblos and all of the Española Basin’s rural areas. Third, hex chromium is the carcinogen made notorious in the popular movie Erin Brockovich. Fourth, it is estimated that 160,000 pounds of chromium were released up until 1972, but only 10% (i.e. ~16,000 pounds) has been recovered through extraction and treatment. When the head of DOE Environmental Management Los Alamos Office was asked where’s the rest of the chromium, Michael Mikolanis demurred and said that he would have to get back on that question.
San Ildefonso governor says halt of plume cleanup will lead to spread onto pueblo
ALLIANCE FOR NUCLEAR ACCOUNTABILITY MEDIA ADVISORY: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S FY 2024 NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND CLEANUP BUDGET REQUEST
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability | March 8, 2023 ananuclear.org
The Biden Administration is releasing its Fiscal Year 2024 federal budget on Thursday, March 9. It is expected to be a “skinny budget” with just topline financial numbers. If the pattern of the last few years for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) budget is continued, there can be three more releases over the next six weeks that grow progressively more detailed (there is initially little if any site-specific budget information). Historically around 60% of DOE’s funding has been earmarked for nuclear weapons production and cleanup of Cold War wastes and contamination.
The release of the presidential budget begins the annual legislative process for funding DOE programs and sites. The two bicameral congressional subcommittees that have jurisdiction over the DOE budget are the Armed Services Committee Strategic Forces Subcommittee which “authorizes” funding, and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee which actually provides funding. Congress has managed to pass the Defense Authorization Act for more than 50 consecutive years, but is increasingly unable to pass appropriations bills, leading to short-term Continuing Resolutions (CRs). Given bipartisan friction and the beginning of election campaigning, Continuing Resolutions are likely for this coming federal fiscal year 2024, which begins October 1, 2023.
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability strongly opposed the massive 25% FY 2021 increase that the Trump Administration gave to the nuclear weapons programs of DOE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The Biden Administration not only kept Trump’s increases in subsequent budgets but substantially added to them, particularly for expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, dismantlements of nuclear warheads have slowed to a crawl and funding for cleanup of Cold War radioactive and hazardous wastes has remained flat.
DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for more than 30 consecutive years. Defense Department and DOE costs for so-called “modernization” of U.S. nuclear forces begun under Obama is expected to be around $2 trillion over the next 30 years.
March 1: Nuclear Remembrance Day – Anniversary of the Castle Bravo test in the Marshall Islands
Upcoming Events and More Resources:
- Wed, March 1, Annual Commemoration hosted in the RMI
- Wed March 1: Nuclear Victims Remembrance Day Solidarity March, hosted by Marshall Islands Student Association (MISA) – Fiji
- Saturday, April 4 : Bikini Day 2023, Salem Oregon, hosted by the Oregon Marshallese Community Assocation. More info coming soon.
- RMI National Nuclear Commission (Facebook, Twitter)
- Marshall Islands Student Association – FIJI (Facebook, Twitter)
- Marshallese Educational Initiative (Facebook, Twitter)
- COFA Alliance National Network (Facebook)
- Oregon Marshallese Community Assocation (Facebook)
- Selina Leem
- Kathy Jetnil Kijiner
- David Anitok
- Interview with Tony de Brum: https://vimeo.com/256801160
- Darlene Keju at the World Council of Churches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hxCGlA5oJQ
SUMMARY OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF U.S. NUCLEAR TESTING IN THE MARSHALL ISLANDS, by Arjun Makhijani
- The Marshall Islands and the NPT, by Robert Alvarez
THE FUTURE OF WIPP: PLUTONIUM BOMB WASTE
NNSA’s mission is plutonium pit production…for the next 30 years and beyond.
NNSA HAS STATED CLEARLY: “WIPP IS ESSENTIAL FOR PIT PRODUCTION UNTIL 2080.”
As you can see clearly in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s chart above, NNSA is getting ready to dump radioactive wastes from plutonium pit production at WIPP for the next 30 years.
Waste from expanded pit production will soon far outweigh cleanup wastes.
Despite being located in New Mexico, out-of-state sites have been given priority over radioactive wastes from Los Alamos Lab.
ALL FUTURE PIT PRODUCTION is for speculative new designs that can’t be tested because of the international testing moratorium, thereby perhaps eroding confifidence in the stockpile. Or, alternatively, these new designs could push the U.S. into resuming testing, which would have severe proliferation consequences.
Pit production will add an estimated 57,550 cubic meters of radioactive plutonium wastes over 50 years, more than half of WIPP’s projected future capacity. The National Academy of Sciences has already concluded that WIPP doesn’t have sufficient capacity for all of DOE’s planned radioactive wastes.
Nuclear Weapons Today—peril and promise: Wednesday March 22nd @ 6pm MT
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds before midnight, but some have said that’s not even close enough. Indeed, with the US abandoning nuclear proliferation treaties, spending a trillion dollars in an upgrade of its nuclear arsenal, and conducting a proxy war with nuclear-armed Russia, we are staring a nuclear holocaust in the face.
This webinar will present an update on current US nuclear weapons plans, including the Biden Nuclear Posture Review, current modernization of production facilities and weapons systems, the FY23 & FY 24 nuclear weapons budgets, the US role in the global nuclear arms race, and the role of war profiteers.
It will also present an update on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, review the outcome of the First Meeting of States Parties and preview the Second Meeting of States Parties, and will discuss actions and opportunities for building grassroots support for the US to join the Treaty.
National Nuclear Security Administration/Environmental Management Santa Fe Town Hall
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Santa Fe Convention Center
In Person and Virtual
NNSA Under Secretary, Jill Hruby and DOE’s Environmental Management Senior Leader, Ike White will be in attendance in person.
The Town Hall will be moderated by Santa Fe County Commissioner Chair Anna C. Hansen, who invited them to be here.
Endless Nuclear Waste Storage in NM?? Not On Our Watch…
Keep up with the Stop Forever WIPP Coalition to learn how to take action against the Federal Government’s Plan to Expand WIPP and keep it open indefinitely.
Visit the Stop Forever WIPP Coalition’s website and social media:
Stay Informed of All Permit-Related Happenings at WIPP! Sign Up for Updates:
The New Mexico Environment Department maintains 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to the list. Or mail your request with your mailing address to:
New Mexico Environment Department-Hazardous Waste Bureau
2905 Rodeo Park East, Bldg. 1
Santa Fe, NM 87505
WIPP also uses the facility mailing list to inform you about opportunities to provide public comments. NMED provides their list to WIPP.
More Info and signup options:
Comment on the WIPP Permit by April 19!
CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Environment Department is taking public comment regarding the storage of nuclear waste in the state. The department is also re-extending the deadline for submitting comment.
So far, more than 20,000 containers of radioactive waste have been stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) under a waste disposal permit. Now, the state’s Environment Department is considering renewing that permit to allow operations to continue with some adjustments.
In 1999, the New Mexico Environment Department first granted the initial disposal permit to the U.S. Department of Energy. Since then, mixed transuranic waste, hazardous waste with radioactive elements heavier than uranium, has been stored near Carlsbad, New Mexico. Now, the permit to continue disposal operations is being reworked. The full draft permit is available here.
“We welcome the leadership of Archbishop John C. Wester in taking His Holiness Pope Francis’ message of support for nuclear weapons abolition and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to the heart of the U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise in New Mexico. The Archbishop courageously joins the global community of religious leaders working to make the dream of a world free of nuclear weapons a reality.”
– ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn on the release of the letter January 11, 2022
Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9
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
Mixed Waste Landfill Facts
Posts Related to: NUCLEAR SAFETY
“Details of foreign country’s nuclear capabilities among documents FBI seized from Mar-a-Lago: report” “Nuclear secrets reportedly found at Mar-a-Lago are ‘gamechanger’, experts say – as it happened”
THE GUARDIAN: Report appears to confirm security officials’ worst fears about the nature of the material Trump refused to hand back
THE GUARDIAN, FOX NEWS | September 7, 2022 theguardian.com, foxnews.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 reported discovery of information about a foreign nation’s nuclear secrets in materials found at Donald Trump’s private residence is horrifying intelligence experts.
Federal agents seized the document during their search of Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Palm Beach mansion in Florida, last month, the Washington Post reported. It appears to confirm officials’ worst fears about the nature of the intelligence he should have returned to the National Archives.
The Twisted Myth that Nuclear Weapons Make Us Safer
“Mutually Assured Destruction” has been the MO of the world’s nuclear powers for decades. If Russia points a giant nuclear warhead toward the U.S., we would gear up to point an even more massive missile their way, and then, in theory, Russia shrugs its shoulders and says, “Eh, not worth it.” They would be completely “deterred” from advancing a nuclear attack based on the reality that doing this would mean the entire country, continent, and, ultimately the entire world, would become obliterated as we know it; the cost and the risk greatly outweigh any benefit. Supposedly. According to this thesis, the existence of nuclear weapons makes the cost of war seem frighteningly high and thus “discourage[s] states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons” (Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,”) The idea that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer is widely used as framing for why we need nukes at all, with one specific reason being spread wide and far that nuclear weapons can still be the equalizer against an adversary’s superior conventional forces.
Safety questions arise as Los Alamos National Laboratory pursues pit production
But a watchdog group argued Los Alamos lab adopting a higher radiation limit for workers than other labs is to create more leeway when it ramps up plutonium pit production.
“The collective worker doses would probably go up once they start actual manufacturing,” said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Jay Coghlan, the executive director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the agency in charge of nuclear security is pushing the lab to crank up pit production, yet it won’t install what’s known as a “safety class active confinement system” that would prevent a heavy radioactive release during an earthquake, catastrophic fire or a serious accident.
“This is a longstanding recommendation that Los Alamos [lab] and NNSA refuse to honor while continually downplaying the risk of expanded pit production,” Coghlan said.
Los Alamos National Laboratory allows workers to have a higher yearly radiation exposure than other national labs do and has not followed a longtime recommendation by safety officials to install a ventilation system in its plutonium facility they say would better protect workers and the public during a serious radioactive breach, according to a recent government watchdog’s recent report.
The report, some critics contend [see our quotes above], is of concern as the lab pursues production of nuclear bomb cores, or pits, at nearly triple the yearly amount it has ever made before.
LANL Plans to Address Possibly Exploding Drums Shipped to Texas in 2014
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has given itself a Categorical Exclusion (CX) under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the removal, relocation, and examination of transuranic (TRU) waste drums at Waste Control Specialists (WCS). These drums are similar to the ones that forced WIPP to close in 2014. LANL officials decided that formal environmental assessments, with public input, of the movement of the possibly exploding waste drums are not needed.