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

“The point of nonviolence is to build a strong new floor beneath which we can no longer sink; a platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, [and] the works. Give a man a decent place to stand.Joan Baez

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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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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

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 Posts

Department of Energy, nuclear oversight agency on ‘high-risk’ list

“This is more than just chronic behavior — it’s like institutionalized bad management,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

By: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com | santafenewmexican.com March 3, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy and its agency overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons program have serious enough problems with managing contractors and projects — including for nuclear waste cleanup — that they made a government watchdog’s “high-risk” list again this year.

Both the Energy Department and its branch known as the National Nuclear Security Administration have made some progress in how they manage personnel, facilities and waste disposal, but they still are deficient in key areas, the Government Accountability Office said in its biannual high-risk report.

The report lists programs and operations that are high-risk due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement — and some require an overhaul.

The GAO issues the reports at the start of each new session of Congress. They have led to more than $575 billion in cost benefits to the federal government in the past 15 years, the GAO said.

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Santa Fe councilors question LANL coalition membership

BY: Kyle Land /

What’s the actual benefit to the city?

That was the question Santa Fe city councilors debated Monday as they considered the city’s membership in the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

At the center of it all was a revised Joint Powers Agreement for the coalition, which officials hope will solve some of the group’s long-standing organizational issues.

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Panel weighs benefits to LANL communities coalition

BY: Sean P. Thomas sthomas@sfnewmexican.com /  Updated 

Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal renewed her concerns Monday about the city’s involvement in a joint powers agreement with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

During a Finance Committee meeting Monday, Villarreal said she has yet to understand how the city benefits from the agreement, which calls for a $10,000 contribution.

“Why is it important we are part of this coalition?” she asked. “It’s never been clear to me about the benefits and how it holds up the values that we care about in Santa Fe.”

The city is one of nine cities, counties, towns and tribal governments that make up the regional coalition, which was established in 2011 to give communities in Northern New Mexico a more official say in decision-making pertaining to job development and cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

But controversy emerged in recent years over the organization’s spending practices.

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How Green Berets prepared to carry ‘backpack nukes’ on top-secret one-way missions during the Cold War

“During training, the instructors had told us we had about 30 minutes to clear the blast radius of the device. We never really believed that,” a retired Special Forces operator who served on a Green Light Team told Insider.

BY: Stavros Atlamazoglou / March 1st, 2021 businessinsider.com

A Green Light operator conducting a high-altitude, low-opening jump with the MK54 SADM. Courtesy photo
  • In the Cold War, strategists wanted nuclear weapons they could use without sparking a nuclear war.
  • That led to the development of tactical nuclear weapons for use against targets.
  • Teams of Green Berets trained to carry those nukes to their targets and saw it as a one-way mission.

Throughout the Cold War, as the nuclear arms race became more frantic, a nuclear confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union remained a major concern.

With intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and air-dropped bombs, both countries had several options when it came to nuclear warfare.

But the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II made clear the destructive capability of nuclear arms and the danger of a full-blown nuclear conflict.

As a result, US strategists sought ways to use nuclear weapons without triggering an all-out nuclear war.
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New Mexico alleges in court filing Los Alamos National Lab failed to clean up nuclear waste

“I’m glad that NMED went to court. If LANL is serious, they should not be spending lots of federal time and resources and lawyers to fight this…They should be trying to see what they can do to come to an agreement with NMED.” — Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste program at the Southwest Research and Information Center

By: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus / March 2nd, 2021 currentargus.com

Los Alamos County/Santa Fe New Mexican Courtesy photo

An alleged failure to clean up hazardous and radioactive waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) led the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to take the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to court in hopes of seeing the DOE address its concerns.

In a complaint filed in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe County, NMED alleged the DOE displayed a “pattern” of failing to meet deadlines and benchmarks for hazardous waste clean-up at the federal nuclear facility in northern New Mexico.

NMED sought to terminate a 2016 consent order, enacted during the past administration, citing a lack of adequate targets and progress in cleaning up waste at the facility.

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Gorbachev’s Greatest Hits

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev did more for global nuclear disarmament than any other person in history

Gorbachev made history, then freed history by opening his documents

Briefing Book #746 | Edited by Svetlana Savranskaya & Thomas Blanton / March 2nd, 2021 nsarchive.gwu.edu

Mikhail Sergeyevich Turns 90; Archive marks milestone with new publication of Gorbachev memcons with Castro, Mitterrand, and Shamir; compilation of dozens of Gorbachev primary sources.

Washington, D.C., March 2, 2021 – The first and only president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, is turning 90 years old today in Moscow.   On the occasion of his anniversary, the National Security Archive has compiled a collection of postings called “Gorbachev’s Greatest Hits.”  These documents help illuminate the story of the end of the Cold War, political reform of the Soviet system, and the vision of a world built on universal human values.

This compendium, accompanied by a collection of Russian-language documents on the Archive’s Russia Page, is intended to encourage scholars and others to revisit and study those miraculous years in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the global confrontation stopped, walls fell, peoples found freedom, and Europe was seen as a common home.  Though not for long.

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Modeling Software Once Led Us to the Precipice of Nuclear War. What Will AI Do?

The Pentagon must heed the lessons of RYAN and Able Archer amid its artificial-intelligence aspirations.

By: Steve Blank Defense One / March 1st, 2021 defenseone.com

TECH. SGT. BOYD BELCHER/US ARMY

In 1983, the world’s superpowers drew near to accidental nuclear war, largely because the Soviet Union relied on software to make predictions that were based on false assumptions. Today, as the Pentagon moves to infuse artificial-intelligence tools into just about every aspect of its workings, it’s worth remembering the lessons of RYAN and Able Archer.

Two years earlier, the Soviet Union had deployed a software program dubbed RYAN, for Raketno Yadernoye Napadenie, or sudden nuclear missile attack. Massive for its time, RYAN sought to compute the relative power of the two superpowers by modeling 40,000 military, political, and economic factors, including 292 “indicators” reported from agents (spies) abroad. It was run by the KGB, which employed more than 200 people just to input the data.

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New Mexico Environment Department Takes Legal Action To Terminate Defective LANL Cleanup “Consent Order”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 25, 2021

The New Mexico Environment Department has announced that it is filing a lawsuit against the Department of Energy to terminate a “Consent Order” governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which has fought against that Consent Order ever since it went into effect nearly five years ago, strongly supports and applauds NMED’s decision.

Much to its credit, in 2005 the State of New Mexico successfully compelled DOE to enter into a strong, enforceable Consent Order after years of tough negotiations and lawsuits brought against it by DOE and the University of California (then LANL’s manager). However, at the Lab’s request the anti-regulation Susanna Martinez Administration eviscerated that Consent Order with more than 150 milestone extensions. Further, in a process riddled with conflicts of interest, the Martinez Administration negotiated a revised 2016 Consent Order that subordinated cleanup to the budget that DOE wants instead of having cleanup drive the budget. As a direct result, DOE added $900 million to LANL’s nuclear weapons programs in FY 2021 alone (to a total of $2.9 billion) while proposing to cut cleanup by nearly half to $120 million (fortunately Congress blocked that cut).

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State sues DOE over LANL cleanup

The lawsuit notes that Nuclear Watch New Mexico previously filed a lawsuit against the DOE over its non-compliance with the 2016 Consent Order.

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement that “What New Mexicans really deserve (is) to have needed cleanup drive funding instead of the budget that DOE wants driving cleanup. We strongly salute the Environment Department for taking legal action against DOE’s scheme of expanding dirty nuclear weapons production over cleanup.”

By: T.S. LAST / JOURNAL NORTH / February 25th, 2021 at 11:45pm Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal abqjournal.com

SANTA FE – The state Environment Department has lost patience with the U.S. Department of Energy over what it says is a “continuing pattern of delay and noncompliance” with the cleanup of hazardous legacy waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posing a health risk to people in surrounding communities.

After a dispute resolution process broke down, the New Mexico Environment Department late Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit against the DOE in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe. It claims that DOE has failed to meet objectives identified in compliance orders in 2005 and 2016 and has dragged its feet in cleaning up contamination left behind from decades of bomb-making and nuclear research.

It asks that a court-supervised process be conducted to resolve the issues.

“We’re a state agency, and our patience is long,” Environment Secretary James Kenney said in a phone interview. “But our patience runs out quickly when there’s an inability to meet promises.”

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New & Updated

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant aims to expand underground facility to hold nuclear waste

“WIPP is supposed to be limited. The state did not agree to 12 panels.”

By:  | currentargus.com April 15, 2021

A plan to build two new areas to dispose of nuclear waste began taking shape at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after the U.S. Department of Energy published a report on the feasibility of adding an 11th and 12th waste panel to the underground nuclear waste repository.

At WIPP, low-level transuranic (TRU) waste made up of equipment and materials radiated during nuclear activities is permanently emplaced in an underground salt deposit more than 2,000 feet underground.

In its original design, WIPP was planned to have eight panels for such disposal, but much of that space was restricted and abandoned following an accidental radiological release in 2014 that contaminated parts of the underground and led to a three-year pause of WIPP’s emplacement operations.

It was estimated, per DOE records, that 1.8 panels were lost in the incident for a total of 30,861 cubic meters (m3) of lost storage capacity.

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Japan To Dump Wastewater From Wrecked Fukushima Nuclear Plant Into Pacific Ocean

Japan’s government announced a decision to begin dumping more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years.

 | npr.org April 13, 2021

The plant was severely damaged in a 2011 magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left about 20,000 people in northeast Japan dead or missing.

Despite Tokyo’s assurances that discharging wastewater will not pose a threat to people or the environment, the decision was roundly criticized by the local fishing community, environmental groups and Japan’s neighbors. Within hours of the announcement, protesters rallied outside government offices in Tokyo and Fukushima.

10 Years Since Fukushima Nuclear Disaster


Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says

 | beyondnuclear.org April 13, 2021

The government says the plan is the best way to dispose of water used to prevent the ruined nuclear plant’s damaged reactor cores from melting.

As reported by the New York Times.

The New York Times also ran a companion piece, focused on the official international protest of the ocean dumping, as by the neighboring governments of South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

The Washington Post has also reported on this story.

Thom Hartmann interviewed Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps on his national radio show (“Fukushima Nuclear Fish Coming to Your Plate, Happy?”). Here is the write up:

More nuclear waste is about to be released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima. Where it will be absorbed by plants, eaten by small fish, who are eaten by bigger fish, and concentrated through a process called “bioaccumulation.” Pretty soon those fish end up on your plate… Looking forward to a swim off the west coast? Enjoying your fish?

Here is the link to the recording of the interview.

[Corrections: The actual volume of radioactive wastewater to be dumped in the ocean is currently enough to fill around 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools; the dumping is not set to begin until a couple years from now, not before the Tokyo Olympics.]

Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice

“When uranium mining occurred in white communities, the waste it produced was removed from the proximity of the residents. This level of clean-up did not take place when uranium mining occurred close to low-income communities of color”

By: | snakeriveralliance.org April 10, 2021

Those living near Nuclear Power Plants (NPP’s) face extreme health risks. Blood, thyroid, breast, and other forms of cancer have the potential to form due to the various types of radioactive emissions that escape the NPP’s through the air, water, and soil.

The World Nuclear Association and The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) claim that exposure to low-level radiation is undetectable and not unsafe, yet countless studies confirm the danger of the radiation that occurs during normal operation at an NPP. According to Dean Kyne and Bob Bolin, Children are especially vulnerable to this exposure.

Toxic incinerators, uranium mines, atomic reactors, and other nuclear dumping sites are generally located on cheap land where there are limited resources and little organized opposition (Jantz, p. 249). Unfortunately, because of this, they are often located in Black, Indigenous, and low-income communities that suffer the devastating consequences of improperly handled nuclear waste and pollution.

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Explosively Entertaining: Nuclear Weapons on TV

Books, Films & Art of NoteBeyond the Bomb: Maria Diaz-Islas, March

1. Jericho (2006-2008)

This show’s passionate fanbase fought tooth and nail to keep it running before CBS canceled it after only two seasons (sounds a lot like some nuclear weapons manufacturers I’ve heard of…). It follows the story of the fictional Kansas town, Jericho, after a nuclear attack on nearby Denver turns the characters’ worlds upside down. The citizens of Jericho struggle as they avoid nuclear fallout, determine how to communicate with the outside world, and try to restore life back to the way it was before the explosion. The post-apocalyptic plot is also riddled with drama, as the characters’ near-death experiences and the loss of loved ones force them to question whether they were truly happy with their former ways of life, reminiscent of living through the COVID-19 pandemic today.
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DOE Planning to Increase Down-Blended Plutonium Shipments to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Savannah River Site is the third largest shipper of waste to WIPP, with 1,679 as of April 3, per the latest records from WIPP.

By:  | currentargus.com April 7, 2021

Federal nuclear waste managers are planning to ramp up shipments of plutonium from a site in South Carolina for final disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) began preparing equipment at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina used to package and inspect drums of the waste before shipping to WIPP where it will be permanently disposed of in the repository’s underground salt formation.

The plutonium waste will be inspected to verify that it meets the criteria required for emplacement at WIPP, which is used to dispose of low-level transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste – mostly clothing items and equipment radiated during nuclear activities.

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The New Shaft Permit Modification Part 3: Your Comments and the May 17th Public Hearing

As demanded by organizations and individuals, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has scheduled a public hearing on adding a New Utility Shaft to the WIPP permit. The hearing will start at noon on Monday, May 17, 2021. Hundreds of people commented on the proposed new shaft in 2019 and 2020, 97 percent of whom objected to WIPP expansion and the new shaft.

NMED allowed the Department of Energy (DOE) to bypass the public process and start digging the new shaft with just a Temporary Authorization. But after receiving so many public comments in 2020 against the new shaft and against the Temporary Authorization, NMED stopped the construction of the shaft until after the public hearing. Public comments do make a difference!

You can comment now on the proposed new WIPP shaft, which is part of DOE’s plan to expand WIPP and operate it forever, rather than developing new repositories. The plan violates existing limits set in federal law, state agreements, the WIPP Permit, and DOE’s decades-old social contract with New Mexicans.

Your comments and participation can help stop the new shaft and DOE’s WIPP expansion plan!

The Figure shows the existing WIPP underground on the right side, the proposed New Utility Shaft “Shaft #5” in the center, and the proposed new underground disposal space on the left side. Graphic by Steven Zappe.

SAMPLE COMMENTS

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Santa Fe City Council rejects LANL coalition agreement

sfnewmexican.com March 31, 2021

The Santa Fe City Council has rejected an amended joint powers agreement with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities over concerns about the organization’s impact and one councilor’s plan to introduce a measure removing the city from the group.

“I don’t think we should just approve an updated JPA because we want to go along to get along,” said City Councilor Renee Villarreal, who noted she intends to propose the city end its affiliation with the coalition. “Some of my colleagues say we should have a seat at the table, but I think we should have it at the right table.”

The council voted 5-3 against the agreement, with Mayor Alan Webber and Councilors Carol Romero-Wirth and Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez voting in favor. City Councilor Michael Garcia, the city’s representative on the coalition, abstained.

Rejecting the agreement does not pull the city out of the organization.

Villarreal has been the loudest critic of the coalition, which was established in 2011 to give communities surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory more of a voice in its job development and cleanup. She questioned in previous committee meetings how the city stood to benefit.

“Our values have not aligned,” Villarreal said. “I’m trying to understand changing the JPA, what does that change? How does our voice actually get heard since it hasn’t been heard the last 10 years?”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Trinity Downwinders: 75 Years And Waiting

Excerpt from Rep. Hank Johnson’s closing comments:
“I heard the figure $2.5 billion in claims have been paid out thus far to 37,000 claimants. The cost of maintaining our nuclear weapons over the next 10 years will be $494 billion, almost $50 billion a year.
So, $50 billion a year to take care of our nuclear weapons, and over the time that this act has been in place we’ve spent $2.5 billion to compensate folks who have been adversely impacted by radiation.
That’s just a pittance, and its pathetic that our values are more towards protecting and taking care of our weapons than we are with taking care of the people who were adversely impacted.”
Watch the Hearing with the House Judiciary Committee below, which occurred 3/24/21. Click HERE to visit the website. Click HERE to read the Santa Fe New Mexican article written about the hearing. See Hearing below:

Critique of the RCLC Amended Joint Powers Agreement

The Santa Fe City Council will vote on March 31 to adopt or not the Amended Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) among seven local governments and two Pueblos to continue the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC). Separately, at a date yet to be determined, the City Council may consider whether or not to continue participation in the Coalition.

The City of Santa Fe should reject the Amended Joint Powers Agreement because the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has wholly failed to live up to the stated goals of the original JPA.

  • The RCLC was first formed in 2011. Local governments bought into it on the premise that the Coalition would successfully lobby for mission diversification and accelerated cleanup. After spending two million taxpayer dollars on itself the Coalition has been a spectacular failure in both.
  • The Amended JPA states: the Parties share a common interest in assuring that LANL’s missions remain sustainable and diversified…” The Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos County have provided 80% of RCLC’s funding. The County specifically cites the “interdependent needs of LANL and Los Alamos County.” DOE and Los Alamos County explicitly seek expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores, in which the City of Santa Fe does not share a common interest. Expanded pit production is LANL’s overwhelming growth area (270% increase from $308 million in FY 2020 to $847 million in FY 2021). Concerning “common interests,” DOE completely ignores City resolutions calling for resolution of nuclear safety problems before pit production expansion, comprehensive cleanup and a new site-wide environmental impact statement (particularly important for wildfire protection).

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Newly Released Documentary Film on Santa Susana Field Lab

In the Dark of the Valley is the first feature film to focus on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing site near Los Angeles. The film is an in-depth exploration into the site’s long history of cover-ups and negligence by site owners Boeing, NASA, and the Department of Energy. It also tells the harrowing story of how a community of mothers, led by Melissa Bumstead, have dealt with the struggles of childhood cancer and their new found life of environmental advocacy.

  • Cleveland International Film Festival  April 7-20 Tickets are $10: clevelandfilm.org

ICBM Information Project – View the Interactive ICBM Timeline

The Pentagon is currently planning to replace its current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a brand-new missile force, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD.

The GBSD program consists of a like-for-like replacement of all 400 Minuteman III missiles that are currently deployed across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, and will also include a full set of test-launch missiles, as well as upgrades to the launch facilities, launch control centers, and other supporting infrastructure. The GBSD program will keep ICBMs in the United States’ nuclear arsenal until 2075, and is estimated to cost approximately $100 billion (in Then Year dollars) in acquisition fees and $264 billion (in Then Year dollars) throughout its life-cycle.

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Examining the Need to Expand Eligibility Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

When:   Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 2 pm EDT, noon MDT

Where:  https://judiciary.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=4479

At the invitation of Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Tina Cordova, Co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), will provide written and oral testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties this week to urge the members to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include the Trinity Downwinders.

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BACK FROM THE BRINK: ENDING NUCLEAR WEAPONS BEFORE THEY END US

Opportunities Under the Biden Administration to Take Action

EVENT VIDEOS AND RESOURCES: Click below to view video recordings, learning resources and actions you can take to eliminate nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war.

preventnuclearwar.org/enw-resources

Former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern Alicia Sanders-Zakre Presentation on What the Entry into Force of the TPNW Mean in the United States:

The US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force: A Post-Cold War INTERACTIVE Timeline

The Pentagon is currently planning to replace its current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a brand-new missile force, known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD); it is estimated to cost approximately $100 billion in acquisition fees and $264 billion throughout its lifecycle until 2075 (in Then-Year dollars).

Click the link below to find a comprehensive timeline of all relevant actions taken relating to the ICBM force since the end of the Cold War, including force posture alterations, international treaties, congressional efforts, government studies, and milestones in the GBSD acquisition process.

The US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force: A Post-Cold War Timeline

 

Santa Fe’s benefit from LANL coalition questioned

“We have RCLC, which is funded primarily by the Department of Energy funds, yet DOE doesn’t necessarily listen to the resolutions that we put forward about reducing plutonium pit production. They don’t ask us what we think as city of Santa Fe residents.”

sfnewmexican.com March 18th, 2021

Mar. 18—Concerns from City Councilor Renee Villarreal over how the city of Santa Fe would benefit by remaining in an amended joint power agreement with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities continued during Wednesday night’s Quality of Life Committee meeting.

Santa Fe is one of nine cities, counties, towns and tribal governments that make up the regional coalition, which was established in 2011 to give communities in Northern New Mexico more say in decision-making related to job development and cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Villarreal, however, questioned how the coalition advocates for city policy stances on requests for expanded cleanup at the site and the reduction of plutonium pit production.

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THE UK TO INCREASE NUCLEAR CAPABILITY BY 40%: British Defense Review Ends Nuclear Reductions Era

 fas.org March 17th, 2021

The United Kingdom announced yesterday that it has decided to abandon a previous plan to reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile to 180 by the mid-2020s and instead “move to an overall nuclear weapon stockpile of no more than 260 warheads.”

The decision makes Britain the first Western nuclear-armed state to increase its nuclear weapons stockpile since the end of the end of the Cold War. In terms of numbers, it takes Britain back to a stockpile size it had in the early-2000s. The change is part of “a shift to a more robust position on security and deterrence.”

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Action Alerts

Join us for this event! NukeWatch will be hosting a breakout room for New Mexico actions
Building Political Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty in Congress and at state and local levels  

Zoom event: Saturday, April 24, 2021 10:30am-12:45 EDT
Click here for Registration

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Upcoming Meetings & Events

1. Thursday, April 15th at 6 pm – Virtual WIPP Town Hall about the environmental monitoring data from the January 31, 2021 four-hour test of the WIPP 700-C ventilation fan. The data has also been posted to the WIPP website here / To register for the virtual Town Hall meeting, click here / For more information visit: wipp.energy.gov 

2.  Fri. April 16th at 1:30 pm – Virtual meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.  Please express your concerns about the continuation of the ineffective RCLC.  To view the agenda and zoom links click here & view more info below

3. Th. April 22nd from 6 to 7:30 pm – Virtual open house for the Kirtland Air Force Base Bulk Fuels Facility More Info

4.  Saturday, April 24th from 8:30 am – 10:45 am on Zoom – Political Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty, with Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, with ICAN campaigners around the world about how they have successfully used the ICAN Pledge to build support for nuclear abolition in other countries.
To register, visit: http://bit.ly/political-tpnw

Zoom Conference on Prohibiting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons – Saturday, May 15, 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm ~ via Zoom

A nuclear exchange between the US and Russia would incinerate hundreds of millions of people immediately, and lead to a Nuclear Winter which could slaughter an estimated 7 billion of the Earth’s 7.7 billion people, mostly through starvation.  Building back civilization would require over 1,000 years  [Daniel Ellsberg talk, 12/13/2020].   A U.S. nuclear  first-strike against China would result in a similar catastrophe.

These are the stakes.   As a step toward reducing the danger of Nuclear War, a coalition of groups has called upon Congress to legislate – and the President to declare – that the United States will neither initiate nor threaten to initiate the first use of Nuclear Weapons.

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Environment Department files complaint against U.S. Department of Energy to speed clean-up of legacy waste, terminate 2016 Consent Order at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Non-compliance with 2016 Consent Order causing unacceptable delays, threatening public health and the environment

Click above for more information on the entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Nuclear News

Offline Iowa Nuclear Plant Eyed as Site of Solar Project

AP News | apnews.com

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A decommissioned eastern Iowa nuclear plant could become the site of a new massive solar energy project.

NextEra Energy of Florida on Tuesday laid out plans in a meeting with nearby landowners to build a solar farm near the now-idle Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported.

The company said the project could bring in a $700 million capital investment and about 300 construction jobs. The solar farm would stretch across 3,500 acres near the plant and would produce up to 690 megawatts of solar energy — more than the nuclear plant had generated.

“We’re also hoping to accompany that solar project with up to 60 megawatts of AC-coupled batteries,” project manager Kimberly Dickey said in the meeting. Battery storage allows a company to store energy for use during peak energy-use times.

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Scotland Reaches Green Landmark – Scotland generated 97.4% of its electricity demand from renewables last year

By: Juan Cole | scheerpost.com

In 2011, Scotland’s government, urged on by visionaries like Richard Dixon, set itself the ambitious goal to get 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. At that time, it only only got about a fourth from clean energy sources, and a lot of that was hydro.

The report card is in for 2020 and Scotland generated 97.4% of its electricity demand from renewables last year, just a whisker less than the 100% goal.

Scotland will host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in a few months, and is well placed to assert climate leadership.

Scotland no longer has a coal plant, and its one natural gas plant is under-utilized and seems likely to close in a few years.

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DOE’s NNSA Reveals it’s Out of Money. Flat Broke. Busted. Nothing Left for Beneficial Nuclear Non-Proliferation Program to Convert Reactor from Weapon-Grade Uranium Fuel

By: SRS Watch | srswatch.com

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has revealed that it has spent all of our money. Busted flat. Nothing left. Nada. Zilch. Nichts.

Well, that’s what it seems like at the NNSA has notified GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy that there are no funds available to convert a test reactor in Vallecitos, California from weapon-grade uranium (highly enriched uranium, HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU), as part of an nuclear non-proliferation effort.

On March 25, 2021, NNSA told GE Hitac hi Nuclear Energy: “you are hereby notified that Department of Energy funding will not be available in fiscal year 2021 to complete the conversion of NTR to LEU fuel.” And GE subsequently told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that ” DOE funding is not currently available for conversion of the NTR fuel.”

See: “GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas, LLC – Annual Statement of Non-availability of Federal Government Funding for Conversion from HEU to LEU for VNC Nuclear Test Reactor (NTR) at https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML21084A808

BUT WAIT!  NNSA continues to front for boosters and contractors engaged in project to convert the abandoned plutonium fuel (MOX) plant at the Savannah River Site into the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at a cost of $4.6 billion (add higher number if you wish) by 2030 (add any date you wish).  So, there seems to be money available for projects dangerous to our national security – making plutonium pits for unneeded and provocative new nuclear weapons – but not a penny left to get HEU out of commerce. This confirms that the priorities of NNSA are totally screwed up and that it’s placing contractor enrichment and parochial politics above national security.  Congress must make sure that the HEU conversion program is fully funded and that the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (with W87-1 warhead) and the new SLBM (with W93 warhead) – the first new weapons to get new plutonium pits – are terminated and funded halted.  As in nada, zilch, nothing.

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People downwind of atomic blasts renew push for US payout

“Officials say the team at Sandia is working with researchers from Australia as well as particle-technology researchers who are building a second concentrating solar power facility in Saudi Arabia to test variants of key components.”

By: The Associated Press / March 24, 2021 | apnews.com

The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)
The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In the desert northeast of Las Vegas, residents living along the Nevada-Arizona border would gather on their front porches for bomb parties or ride horses into the fields to watch as the U.S. government conducted atomic tests during a Cold War-era race to build up the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

About 100 of those tests were aboveground, and U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona testified during a congressional subcommittee hearing Wednesday that residents at the time marveled at the massive orange mushroom clouds billowing in the distance.

“They had no idea. They were never told that they were being exposed to dangerous cancer-causing radiation,” Stanton said. “As a direct result of the radiation exposure from these tests, thousands of Arizonans have suffered from cancer, entire families have suffered from cancer and far too many have died.”

He and others testified as part of a renewed push for compensation from the U.S. government following uranium mining and nuclear testing carried out during the Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Sandia Labs to build solar power testing center in New Mexico

“Officials say the team at Sandia is working with researchers from Australia as well as particle-technology researchers who are building a second concentrating solar power facility in Saudi Arabia to test variants of key components.”

By: The Associated Press / March 26, 2021 | kob.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Sandia National Laboratories has been awarded a $25 million contract to build, test and operate a new solar power test facility on its campus in New Mexico.

Using a concentrated beam of sunlight to heat up sand-like particles, lab officials say the system will be able to produce thermal energy for thousands of hours and will have the capacity to store six hours of energy. This heat can be used to spin a turbine or power an engine to generate electricity.

The contract was announced Thursday by the lab and the U.S. Energy Department. The goal of the federal agency is to develop technology that can make concentrating solar power plants more reliable and easier to build using fewer high-cost materials so that they can be more widely commercialized.

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Transcript of interview with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Washington’s top diplomat holds roundtable with Japanese media in Tokyo

By: ERI SUGIURA| asia.nikkei.com

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to reporters during an online group interview in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy)

TOKYO — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a virtual roundtable with Nikkei Asia and other Japanese media in Tokyo on Wednesday, a day after he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met for “two-plus-two” talks with Japanese counterparts Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi.

Here is an edited transcript of the group interview with Blinken:

— Opening remarks

The partnership between the United States and Japan is absolutely vital. I think it’s vital to our country’s respective citizens to the region, and in so many ways to the world. It really starts with our common commitment to democracy. And I think that’s especially significant today because democracy is under challenge and under threat in ways that it hasn’t been before, certainly not in recent years, particularly from autocratic countries were on the rise around the world.

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Links between Box Elder landfill, California business charged in radioactive waste scandal emerge

“[Bradley] Angel, with Green Action, says his organization is relieved that Tetra Tech EC has been taken off the Hunter’s Point cleanup but still worries about all projects Tetra Tech is involved in.

“Promontory Point Resource’s application in Utah stresses the convenient value of superfund cleanup sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tetra Tech, which designed the Promontory landfill, has also been deeply invested in other northern California superfund projects. Besides Hunter’s Point, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency and news accounts show the company is actively involved in cleanups at other Bay Area superfunds like the Alameda Naval Air Station and McLellan Air Force Base. All these sites contain radioactive contaminants.”

By: Eric Peterson / Special to the Standard-Examiner | standard.net March 19, 2021

Promontory Point Resources landfill is again seeking out-of-state waste and is eyeing superfund sites in northern California for waste to bring in. Photo supplied, The Box Elder News Journal

After sitting empty for years on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake in Box Elder County, Promontory Point Resources is trying once again to receive out-of-state waste for its landfill after abandoning a previous attempt in 2018.

In its new Class V landfill application with the state Department of Environmental Quality, the company talks about the lucrative market in contaminated soils from superfund cleanup sites in northern California.

“The full market demand for excavated soil disposal from just counties around the San Francisco Bay appears to have an average in the range of 250,000 to 350,000 tons per year,” the document states.

The report does not mention many sites by name, although they are very well known in California.

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Nuclear Media

Explosively Entertaining: Nuclear Weapons on TV

Books, Films & Art of NoteBeyond the Bomb: Maria Diaz-Islas, March

1. Jericho (2006-2008)

This show’s passionate fanbase fought tooth and nail to keep it running before CBS canceled it after only two seasons (sounds a lot like some nuclear weapons manufacturers I’ve heard of…). It follows the story of the fictional Kansas town, Jericho, after a nuclear attack on nearby Denver turns the characters’ worlds upside down. The citizens of Jericho struggle as they avoid nuclear fallout, determine how to communicate with the outside world, and try to restore life back to the way it was before the explosion. The post-apocalyptic plot is also riddled with drama, as the characters’ near-death experiences and the loss of loved ones force them to question whether they were truly happy with their former ways of life, reminiscent of living through the COVID-19 pandemic today.
Continue reading

Newly Released Documentary Film on Santa Susana Field Lab

In the Dark of the Valley is the first feature film to focus on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing site near Los Angeles. The film is an in-depth exploration into the site’s long history of cover-ups and negligence by site owners Boeing, NASA, and the Department of Energy. It also tells the harrowing story of how a community of mothers, led by Melissa Bumstead, have dealt with the struggles of childhood cancer and their new found life of environmental advocacy.

  • Cleveland International Film Festival  April 7-20 Tickets are $10: clevelandfilm.org

BACK FROM THE BRINK: ENDING NUCLEAR WEAPONS BEFORE THEY END US

Opportunities Under the Biden Administration to Take Action

EVENT VIDEOS AND RESOURCES: Click below to view video recordings, learning resources and actions you can take to eliminate nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war.

preventnuclearwar.org/enw-resources

Former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern Alicia Sanders-Zakre Presentation on What the Entry into Force of the TPNW Mean in the United States:

The Biggest Radioactive Spill in US History Never Ended

How the US poisoned Navajo Nation.

BY:  | vox.com

For decades, Navajo Nation was a primary source for the United States’ uranium stockpile during the nuclear arms race. It was home to more than 700 uranium mines, which provided jobs to Navajo residents. But the mining industry came with impending peril. Cases of lung cancer and other diseases began cropping up in a community that had previously had few of them. Land, air, and water was poisoned. And on July 16, 1979, the mining led to the biggest radioactive spill in US history.

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LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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.

Critical Events

Join us for this event! NukeWatch will be hosting a breakout room for New Mexico actions
Building Political Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty in Congress and at state and local levels  

Zoom event: Saturday, April 24, 2021 10:30am-12:45 EDT
Click here for Registration

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Upcoming Meetings & Events

1. Thursday, April 15th at 6 pm – Virtual WIPP Town Hall about the environmental monitoring data from the January 31, 2021 four-hour test of the WIPP 700-C ventilation fan. The data has also been posted to the WIPP website here / To register for the virtual Town Hall meeting, click here / For more information visit: wipp.energy.gov 

2.  Fri. April 16th at 1:30 pm – Virtual meeting of the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.  Please express your concerns about the continuation of the ineffective RCLC.  To view the agenda and zoom links click here & view more info below

3. Th. April 22nd from 6 to 7:30 pm – Virtual open house for the Kirtland Air Force Base Bulk Fuels Facility More Info

4.  Saturday, April 24th from 8:30 am – 10:45 am on Zoom – Political Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty, with Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, with ICAN campaigners around the world about how they have successfully used the ICAN Pledge to build support for nuclear abolition in other countries.
To register, visit: http://bit.ly/political-tpnw

Zoom Conference on Prohibiting the First Use of Nuclear Weapons – Saturday, May 15, 12:30 pm – 5:00 pm ~ via Zoom

A nuclear exchange between the US and Russia would incinerate hundreds of millions of people immediately, and lead to a Nuclear Winter which could slaughter an estimated 7 billion of the Earth’s 7.7 billion people, mostly through starvation.  Building back civilization would require over 1,000 years  [Daniel Ellsberg talk, 12/13/2020].   A U.S. nuclear  first-strike against China would result in a similar catastrophe.

These are the stakes.   As a step toward reducing the danger of Nuclear War, a coalition of groups has called upon Congress to legislate – and the President to declare – that the United States will neither initiate nor threaten to initiate the first use of Nuclear Weapons.

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Support a Santa Fe County resolution calling for a new site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) at the Los Alamos Lab before plutonium “pit” bomb core production is expanded.

The last SWEIS was in 2008 and much has changed.

Public comment period beginning not sooner than 3:30 pm (exact time indefinite), Tuesday January 26.

To participate by phone, call 1-408-418-9388, using meeting number 968 291 714 and password DcTWMVai436. To participate via internet, go to https://sfco.webex.com/sfco/j.php?MTID=maa656c921d094b90a0b6ce6ab2f26db9

The Santa Fe County agenda is available at https://www.santafecountynm.gov/documents/agendas/agendas/BCC_Agenda_1-26-2020.pdf
The draft resolution is available at https://wp.me/aar4I0-3cl and below:

Resolution Requesting NNSA Complete Full SWEIS for LANL Before Expanding Plutonium Pit Production

 

New & Updated

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant aims to expand underground facility to hold nuclear waste

“WIPP is supposed to be limited. The state did not agree to 12 panels.”

By:  | currentargus.com April 15, 2021

A plan to build two new areas to dispose of nuclear waste began taking shape at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after the U.S. Department of Energy published a report on the feasibility of adding an 11th and 12th waste panel to the underground nuclear waste repository.

At WIPP, low-level transuranic (TRU) waste made up of equipment and materials radiated during nuclear activities is permanently emplaced in an underground salt deposit more than 2,000 feet underground.

In its original design, WIPP was planned to have eight panels for such disposal, but much of that space was restricted and abandoned following an accidental radiological release in 2014 that contaminated parts of the underground and led to a three-year pause of WIPP’s emplacement operations.

It was estimated, per DOE records, that 1.8 panels were lost in the incident for a total of 30,861 cubic meters (m3) of lost storage capacity.

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Japan To Dump Wastewater From Wrecked Fukushima Nuclear Plant Into Pacific Ocean

Japan’s government announced a decision to begin dumping more than a million tons of treated but still radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years.

 | npr.org April 13, 2021

The plant was severely damaged in a 2011 magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left about 20,000 people in northeast Japan dead or missing.

Despite Tokyo’s assurances that discharging wastewater will not pose a threat to people or the environment, the decision was roundly criticized by the local fishing community, environmental groups and Japan’s neighbors. Within hours of the announcement, protesters rallied outside government offices in Tokyo and Fukushima.

10 Years Since Fukushima Nuclear Disaster


Fukushima Wastewater Will Be Released Into the Ocean, Japan Says

 | beyondnuclear.org April 13, 2021

The government says the plan is the best way to dispose of water used to prevent the ruined nuclear plant’s damaged reactor cores from melting.

As reported by the New York Times.

The New York Times also ran a companion piece, focused on the official international protest of the ocean dumping, as by the neighboring governments of South Korea, China, and Taiwan.

The Washington Post has also reported on this story.

Thom Hartmann interviewed Beyond Nuclear’s Kevin Kamps on his national radio show (“Fukushima Nuclear Fish Coming to Your Plate, Happy?”). Here is the write up:

More nuclear waste is about to be released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima. Where it will be absorbed by plants, eaten by small fish, who are eaten by bigger fish, and concentrated through a process called “bioaccumulation.” Pretty soon those fish end up on your plate… Looking forward to a swim off the west coast? Enjoying your fish?

Here is the link to the recording of the interview.

[Corrections: The actual volume of radioactive wastewater to be dumped in the ocean is currently enough to fill around 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools; the dumping is not set to begin until a couple years from now, not before the Tokyo Olympics.]

Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice

“When uranium mining occurred in white communities, the waste it produced was removed from the proximity of the residents. This level of clean-up did not take place when uranium mining occurred close to low-income communities of color”

By: | snakeriveralliance.org April 10, 2021

Those living near Nuclear Power Plants (NPP’s) face extreme health risks. Blood, thyroid, breast, and other forms of cancer have the potential to form due to the various types of radioactive emissions that escape the NPP’s through the air, water, and soil.

The World Nuclear Association and The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) claim that exposure to low-level radiation is undetectable and not unsafe, yet countless studies confirm the danger of the radiation that occurs during normal operation at an NPP. According to Dean Kyne and Bob Bolin, Children are especially vulnerable to this exposure.

Toxic incinerators, uranium mines, atomic reactors, and other nuclear dumping sites are generally located on cheap land where there are limited resources and little organized opposition (Jantz, p. 249). Unfortunately, because of this, they are often located in Black, Indigenous, and low-income communities that suffer the devastating consequences of improperly handled nuclear waste and pollution.

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Explosively Entertaining: Nuclear Weapons on TV

Books, Films & Art of NoteBeyond the Bomb: Maria Diaz-Islas, March

1. Jericho (2006-2008)

This show’s passionate fanbase fought tooth and nail to keep it running before CBS canceled it after only two seasons (sounds a lot like some nuclear weapons manufacturers I’ve heard of…). It follows the story of the fictional Kansas town, Jericho, after a nuclear attack on nearby Denver turns the characters’ worlds upside down. The citizens of Jericho struggle as they avoid nuclear fallout, determine how to communicate with the outside world, and try to restore life back to the way it was before the explosion. The post-apocalyptic plot is also riddled with drama, as the characters’ near-death experiences and the loss of loved ones force them to question whether they were truly happy with their former ways of life, reminiscent of living through the COVID-19 pandemic today.
Continue reading

DOE Planning to Increase Down-Blended Plutonium Shipments to Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Savannah River Site is the third largest shipper of waste to WIPP, with 1,679 as of April 3, per the latest records from WIPP.

By:  | currentargus.com April 7, 2021

Federal nuclear waste managers are planning to ramp up shipments of plutonium from a site in South Carolina for final disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) began preparing equipment at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina used to package and inspect drums of the waste before shipping to WIPP where it will be permanently disposed of in the repository’s underground salt formation.

The plutonium waste will be inspected to verify that it meets the criteria required for emplacement at WIPP, which is used to dispose of low-level transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste – mostly clothing items and equipment radiated during nuclear activities.

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The New Shaft Permit Modification Part 3: Your Comments and the May 17th Public Hearing

As demanded by organizations and individuals, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has scheduled a public hearing on adding a New Utility Shaft to the WIPP permit. The hearing will start at noon on Monday, May 17, 2021. Hundreds of people commented on the proposed new shaft in 2019 and 2020, 97 percent of whom objected to WIPP expansion and the new shaft.

NMED allowed the Department of Energy (DOE) to bypass the public process and start digging the new shaft with just a Temporary Authorization. But after receiving so many public comments in 2020 against the new shaft and against the Temporary Authorization, NMED stopped the construction of the shaft until after the public hearing. Public comments do make a difference!

You can comment now on the proposed new WIPP shaft, which is part of DOE’s plan to expand WIPP and operate it forever, rather than developing new repositories. The plan violates existing limits set in federal law, state agreements, the WIPP Permit, and DOE’s decades-old social contract with New Mexicans.

Your comments and participation can help stop the new shaft and DOE’s WIPP expansion plan!

The Figure shows the existing WIPP underground on the right side, the proposed New Utility Shaft “Shaft #5” in the center, and the proposed new underground disposal space on the left side. Graphic by Steven Zappe.

SAMPLE COMMENTS

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Santa Fe City Council rejects LANL coalition agreement

sfnewmexican.com March 31, 2021

The Santa Fe City Council has rejected an amended joint powers agreement with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities over concerns about the organization’s impact and one councilor’s plan to introduce a measure removing the city from the group.

“I don’t think we should just approve an updated JPA because we want to go along to get along,” said City Councilor Renee Villarreal, who noted she intends to propose the city end its affiliation with the coalition. “Some of my colleagues say we should have a seat at the table, but I think we should have it at the right table.”

The council voted 5-3 against the agreement, with Mayor Alan Webber and Councilors Carol Romero-Wirth and Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez voting in favor. City Councilor Michael Garcia, the city’s representative on the coalition, abstained.

Rejecting the agreement does not pull the city out of the organization.

Villarreal has been the loudest critic of the coalition, which was established in 2011 to give communities surrounding Los Alamos National Laboratory more of a voice in its job development and cleanup. She questioned in previous committee meetings how the city stood to benefit.

“Our values have not aligned,” Villarreal said. “I’m trying to understand changing the JPA, what does that change? How does our voice actually get heard since it hasn’t been heard the last 10 years?”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Trinity Downwinders: 75 Years And Waiting

Excerpt from Rep. Hank Johnson’s closing comments:
“I heard the figure $2.5 billion in claims have been paid out thus far to 37,000 claimants. The cost of maintaining our nuclear weapons over the next 10 years will be $494 billion, almost $50 billion a year.
So, $50 billion a year to take care of our nuclear weapons, and over the time that this act has been in place we’ve spent $2.5 billion to compensate folks who have been adversely impacted by radiation.
That’s just a pittance, and its pathetic that our values are more towards protecting and taking care of our weapons than we are with taking care of the people who were adversely impacted.”
Watch the Hearing with the House Judiciary Committee below, which occurred 3/24/21. Click HERE to visit the website. Click HERE to read the Santa Fe New Mexican article written about the hearing. See Hearing below:

Critique of the RCLC Amended Joint Powers Agreement

The Santa Fe City Council will vote on March 31 to adopt or not the Amended Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) among seven local governments and two Pueblos to continue the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC). Separately, at a date yet to be determined, the City Council may consider whether or not to continue participation in the Coalition.

The City of Santa Fe should reject the Amended Joint Powers Agreement because the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has wholly failed to live up to the stated goals of the original JPA.

  • The RCLC was first formed in 2011. Local governments bought into it on the premise that the Coalition would successfully lobby for mission diversification and accelerated cleanup. After spending two million taxpayer dollars on itself the Coalition has been a spectacular failure in both.
  • The Amended JPA states: the Parties share a common interest in assuring that LANL’s missions remain sustainable and diversified…” The Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos County have provided 80% of RCLC’s funding. The County specifically cites the “interdependent needs of LANL and Los Alamos County.” DOE and Los Alamos County explicitly seek expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores, in which the City of Santa Fe does not share a common interest. Expanded pit production is LANL’s overwhelming growth area (270% increase from $308 million in FY 2020 to $847 million in FY 2021). Concerning “common interests,” DOE completely ignores City resolutions calling for resolution of nuclear safety problems before pit production expansion, comprehensive cleanup and a new site-wide environmental impact statement (particularly important for wildfire protection).

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Newly Released Documentary Film on Santa Susana Field Lab

In the Dark of the Valley is the first feature film to focus on the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing site near Los Angeles. The film is an in-depth exploration into the site’s long history of cover-ups and negligence by site owners Boeing, NASA, and the Department of Energy. It also tells the harrowing story of how a community of mothers, led by Melissa Bumstead, have dealt with the struggles of childhood cancer and their new found life of environmental advocacy.

  • Cleveland International Film Festival  April 7-20 Tickets are $10: clevelandfilm.org

ICBM Information Project – View the Interactive ICBM Timeline

The Pentagon is currently planning to replace its current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a brand-new missile force, known as the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent, or GBSD.

The GBSD program consists of a like-for-like replacement of all 400 Minuteman III missiles that are currently deployed across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, and will also include a full set of test-launch missiles, as well as upgrades to the launch facilities, launch control centers, and other supporting infrastructure. The GBSD program will keep ICBMs in the United States’ nuclear arsenal until 2075, and is estimated to cost approximately $100 billion (in Then Year dollars) in acquisition fees and $264 billion (in Then Year dollars) throughout its life-cycle.

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Examining the Need to Expand Eligibility Under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties

When:   Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at 2 pm EDT, noon MDT

Where:  https://judiciary.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=4479

At the invitation of Chairman Jerrold Nadler, Tina Cordova, Co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC), will provide written and oral testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties this week to urge the members to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include the Trinity Downwinders.

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BACK FROM THE BRINK: ENDING NUCLEAR WEAPONS BEFORE THEY END US

Opportunities Under the Biden Administration to Take Action

EVENT VIDEOS AND RESOURCES: Click below to view video recordings, learning resources and actions you can take to eliminate nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war.

preventnuclearwar.org/enw-resources

Former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern Alicia Sanders-Zakre Presentation on What the Entry into Force of the TPNW Mean in the United States:

The US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force: A Post-Cold War INTERACTIVE Timeline

The Pentagon is currently planning to replace its current arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with a brand-new missile force, known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD); it is estimated to cost approximately $100 billion in acquisition fees and $264 billion throughout its lifecycle until 2075 (in Then-Year dollars).

Click the link below to find a comprehensive timeline of all relevant actions taken relating to the ICBM force since the end of the Cold War, including force posture alterations, international treaties, congressional efforts, government studies, and milestones in the GBSD acquisition process.

The US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force: A Post-Cold War Timeline

 

What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Must Reads

11 ESSENTIAL BOOKS ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Staying engaged in the effort to prevent nuclear war requires an understanding of the history of nuclear weapons and the impact their use and production has had on people and the planet. View this list from Ploughshares Fund of some of the best books about nuclear weapons. From well-loved classics to warnings from the past few years, we hope that this selection sheds some light on the need to prevent the spread and further use of nuclear weapons.

Not for the Faint of Heart: Lessons in Courage, Power, and PersistenceAmb. Wendy R. Sherman. The lead negotiator of the Iran nuclear agreement takes readers inside the world of international diplomacy. An autobiography of one of our most effective negotiators — often the only woman in the room. She shows how we can learn to apply core skills of diplomacy to the challenges in our own lives and to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.

Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom, Elaine Scarry. Literary critic and social theorist makes the case that the US president’s unchecked power to order a nuclear weapons launch is a violation of the Constitution, and is fundamentally incompatible with the deliberative principles of democracy.

The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States: A Speculative Novel, Jeffrey Lewis. Middlebury College professor, nuclear expert and Ploughshares Fund grantee explores a hypothetical nuclear war involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea and Japan rooted in real historical events, quotes, and facts about nuclear weapons technology. This work of fiction is presented in the style of a report from a government commission charged with investigating the events.

The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg. Former United States military analyst offers his recollections and analysis of a cache of secret documents related to the US nuclear arsenal. The book contains chilling details about narrowly-avoided disasters, flawed launch protocols, and philosophies and strategies regarding the true purpose of the US nuclear arsenal.

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink, William J. Perry. The 19th US Secretary of Defense tells the story of his coming of age during the nuclear era, and reflects on how his experiences over the past 70 years have shaped his thinking about the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, Kristen Iversen. The author, who grew up near the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, presents a detailed account of the government’s efforts to hide the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ attempts to seek justice in court.

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser. Acclaimed author and producer explores the history of nuclear weapons systems in the United States. Sobering accounts of nuclear accidents, near misses, and technological developments raise questions about the management and safety of the US nuclear arsenal. Eric Schlosser is a member of the Ploughshares Fund Board of Directors.

African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement, Vincent Intondi. Associate Professor of African-American Studies at Montgomery College chronicles the history of African-American involvement in the nuclear disarmament movement. and explores the connection between nuclear issues and the fight for racial equality.

Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race, Richard Rhodes. This Pulitzer Prize-winning author chronicles events during the Ronald Reagan administration that led to the US and the Soviet Union coming within minutes of nuclear war, setting the stage for the 1986 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War, Nate Jones. National Security Archive staffer writes about a NATO military exercise that the Soviet Union initially mistook for a real nuclear first-strike.

Hiroshima, John Hersey. Required reading for any aspiring journalist, nuclear policy analyst, or anyone interested in the history, this short book collects essays originally published in the New Yorker written about survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan.

Doom Towns

A graphic novel by Andy Kirk with artist Kristian Purcell

“The U.S. tested nearly a thousand atomic weapons in the Nevada desert 125 miles north of Las Vegas…. Did they really build fake towns out in the desert and then blow the whole place up with atomic bombs? And the answer is yes, in fact, they did do that…


“The purpose as stated by the civil defense agencies of creating these “Doom Towns” and then widely disseminating on film their being destroyed was to encourage Americans to be concerned about the possibility of civilians being the target of nuclear attack.”

Read more…

The Button: By William J. Perry and Tom Z. Collina

The President has the power to end the world in minutes. Right now, no one can stop him.

Since the Truman administration, America has been one “push of a button” away from nuclear war—a decision that rests solely in the hands of the President. Without waiting for approval from Congress or even the Secretary of Defense, the President can unleash America’s entire nuclear arsenal.

Almost every governmental process is subject to institutional checks and balances. Why is potential nuclear annihilation the exception to the rule? For decades, glitches and slip-ups have threatened to trigger nuclear winter: misinformation, false alarms, hacked warning systems, or even an unstable President. And a new nuclear arms race has begun, threatening us all. At the height of the Cold War, Russia and the United States each built up arsenals exceeding 30,000 nuclear weapons, armed and ready to destroy each other—despite the fact that just a few hundred are necessary to end life on earth.

From former Secretary of Defense and Stanford professor of international relations William Perry and nuclear policy think-tank director Tom Collina, The Button is a fascinating narrative of our living nuclear history—one in which the players hold the fate of the whole world at their fingertips—and a look at presidential power from Truman to Trump.

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1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink

Taylor Downing, Da Capo Press, 4/24/18

Recently, a declassified report lifted the veil on the events of a week in November 1983, the year KAL007 was shot down and America watched “The Day After”, when we had in fact, a very close brush with World Death. The Able Archer story is a timely and important reminder of the variety of things that can happen to drive a situation to the brink of nuclear disaster when there is posturing and provocation and no trust.

Excerpts from the Christian Science Monitor book review:

“Able Archer 83 was sparked by a routine NATO military exercise. But, as writer Taylor Downing documents in “1983: Reagan, Andropov and a World on the Brink”, a carefully-researched and absorbing book, it occurred when mistrust and suspicion between the superpowers was sky-high. Indeed, relations were so tense that Soviet political and military leadership believed the exercise was a ruse to enable NATO to launch a pre-emptive strike… The Soviets concluded that this was not an exercise but the real thing and put their own military on the highest readiness level. So fully armed fighter planes sat continuously idling on runways waiting for a signal to take off. Meanwhile, in Washington, nothing seemed amiss. Only much later did the United States realize that Soviet leaders had been petrified with fear. A top-secret US report concluded, “We may have inadvertently placed our relations with the Soviet Union on a hair trigger.” (source: CSM)

More on Able Archer: Slate’s cover story from April 2017:
The Week the World Almost Ended- In 1983, the U.S. simulated a nuclear war with Russia- and narrowly avoided starting a real one. We might not be so lucky next time..

Quotes

“The point of nonviolence is to build a strong new floor beneath which we can no longer sink; a platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, [and] the works. Give a man a decent place to stand.Joan Baez

“[Nuclear Weapons] aren’t just wildly expensive. They’re dangerous. Because they are designed to fire while enemy missiles are still in the air, former Defense Secretary William Perry warns that they “could trigger an accidental nuclear war.”
Mr. Perry has proposed phasing out America’s land-based nuclear weapons and relying on a safer air- and sea-based deterrent. If Mr. Biden followed Mr. Perry’s advice, he could save more than enough money to prepare vaccines for the 50 to 100 viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic.” – Let’s Cut Our Ridiculous Defense Budget

“President Ronald Reagan believed that nuclear weapons are immoral, and so he sought their complete elimination, and I agreed – and still do with deep conviction. In the end, this is a matter of profound morality.” – George P. Schultz, US Secretary of State 1982-89

“The reality is that United States can deter and, if necessary, respond to nuclear attack without the 400 nuclear warheads atop its 400 ICBMs. Today, the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal is at least one-third larger than necessary to deter a nuclear attack.”

Illustrated by Lawrence Freedman (Author): Nuclear Deterrence: A Ladybird Expert Book (31)

armscontrolnow.org

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