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

“Back then, no one thought the tests were dangerous…I just think it’s a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it. – Danielle Stephens, on the radiation exposure from those nuclear tests that Stephens believes caused her cancer and that of 32 of her family members and scores of others who lived in lower Mohave County in the 1950s and ’60s. Her relatives had breast, colon, thyroid and kidney cancer, all of which have been linked to radioactive fallout.

Eddie Pattillo, 81, a retired construction manager pictured at his home in Kingman, Ariz., has had cancer twice since 1997. CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz / for NBC News

Arizona’s ‘downwinders,’ exposed to Cold War nuclear testing, fight for compensation | nbcnews.com

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

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

OREPA challenges NNSA’s “Final Supplement Analysis.”

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, along with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has challenged the National Nuclear Security Administration’s latest justification for the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant under construction at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In a letter to the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the NNSA, OREPA and NWNM pointed out that the Final Supplement Analysis, released in July, falls far short of the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

See OREPA Comments

The Final Supplement Analysis is NNSA’s attempt to comply with the order of the federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee. The court, in September of last year, ruled in favor of OREPA, NWNM, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual plaintiffs who argued that NNSA is in violation of NEPA, the law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions.

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SEE ALSO:


[ILLINOIS] ComEd, Madigan Sued for $450M in Racketeering Suit

Illinois electric customers filed a federal civil racketeering lawsuit against ComEd and state House Speaker Michael Madigan, seeking more than $450 million in damages.
Breaking news update: Today, August 10, a putative class of Commonwealth Edison customers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Commonwealth Edison Company (“ComEd”), ComEd’s parent Exelon Corporation, and several other defendants. Read all the details here.

BY: Michael Yoder | rtoinsider.com

The recent Illinois lobbying corruption scandal involving Exelon Corporation, its subsidiary Commonwealth Edison and Democratic House Speaker, Michael Madigan, demonstrates the extent to which nuclear “power” is about more than electrons.

The FBI arrests of the Ohio House Speaker and five others in a $60 million bribery/corruption scheme; the $10 billion Exelon nuclear bailout in New York; the questionable circumstances surrounding Exelon’s 2016 PepCo merger; and the South Carolina $9 billion SCANA fraud case, suggest that this may be a national pandemic.

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Public Interest Group Requests DOE Prepare “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” on Plutonium Disposition, in Support of Recommendation by National Academies of Sciences Pane

Plutonium Disposition via “Dilute & Dispose” to Bring at Least 22.5 Metric Tons More of Plutonium to Savannah River Site, On Top of 11.5 MT of Pu Already at SRS, Must Not be Stranded if Project Changes

Link to SRS Watch’s August 11 Letter to DOE on Plutonium Disposition and Need for PEIS

Savannah River Site Watch
https://srswatch.org/
Columbia, South Carolina
For immediate Release
August 12, 2020
 
Contact: Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch, tel. 803-834-3084, cell 803-240-7268

Columbia, SC – The U.S. Department of Energy must prepare an overarching environmental analysis of slow-moving plans to process and dispose of surplus weapons plutonium at Savannah River Site and other DOE sites, according to a request made by Savanna River Site Watch, a public interest group providing oversight of SRS and DOE.

The August 11, 2020 letter to key DOE officials highlights reasons for preparation of a “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements” (PEIS) on plutonium disposition and affirmed support for a recent recommendation by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS).  A PEIS, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, would review the need for the project, assess DOE system-wide plutonium-disposition impacts and would analyze various sites to be utilized, including SRS, Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the Pantex site in Texas (where more than 15,000 plutonium pits removed from weapons are stored).

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New Mexico is still waiting for justice 75 years since the Manhattan Project

The state also faces coronavirus on this anniversary.

BY: Bernice Zamora Gutierrez & Paul Lopez Pino | thehill.com

While our nation struggles to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexicans are already engaged in a deadly health crisis that has cost the lives of thousands of our beloved family and community members for the past 75 years. This crisis is the overexposure to radiation from the world’s first nuclear bomb detonation at Trinity Site in south central New Mexico on July 16, 1945. In the process it made many New Mexicans the first “Downwinder” communities exposed to radiation from nuclear weapons. The Trinity test in New Mexico was followed by the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki three weeks later and we are all memorializing our dead on this 75th anniversary of the nuclear age. And just as the country is waiting for a pandemic recovery plan, New Mexicans are still waiting to be included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) found in U.S. House Bill 3783.

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Obscure agency writing off state politician’s debt

““…Romero and various board members charged taxpayers for lunches in and around Santa Fe. These meals for a select group in no way furthered the public interest. They only benefited coalition insiders.”

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

You miss a few payments on the $7,800 you owe on your car. A repo agent will take away your ride and your pride while the neighbors watch.

You fail to make payments on a years-old $7,800 credit card bill. The lender will make certain you suffer from the worry of being sued. All the while your debt will balloon with interest charges and late fees.

That’s the real world. Life isn’t as hard in the echelon of state Rep. Andrea Romero and her former employer, the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities.

The coalition’s board claims Romero still owes it $7,800 for impermissible expenses accrued during her tenure as its executive director from March 2016 to February 2018. It asked Romero in May to pay the bill.

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Nuclear Power goes South in South Carolina

“It looks like crime might well pay after all.”
That was the weary and only slightly tongue-in-cheek conclusion drawn by longtime anti-nuclear campaigner, Tom Clements recently, after a former South Carolina nuclear utility executive pled guilty to fraud in federal court.

BY: Linda Pentz Gunter | beyondnuclear.org

Photo: Since cancelled V.C. Summer Unit 3, by NRC/Flickr.

Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch, but his activism has, for decades, extended well beyond the perimeter of that vast nuclear site.

For years, Clements and others have followed — and attempted to stand in the way of — the forced march of South Carolina ratepayers toward nuclear fiasco. When it finally unraveled in late July, there was only cautious cause for celebration.

On July 23, Stephen Byrne, the former COO of SCANA, the South Carolina utility originally in charge of the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state, pled guilty in a massive nuclear conspiracy that defrauded ratepayers, deceived regulators and misled shareholders.

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New & Updated

Trump Administration Orders Assessment on Bolstering Nuclear Warheads as Talks With Russia Stall

“U.S. diplomats are trying to play hardball with Russia in negotiations over whether to extend New START.

“It’s very stupid,” added a former GOP arms control official who declined to be identified because he still advises the government. “It makes absolutely no sense to threaten to upload. It becomes a valid leveraging point only if the other side can’t do it. The Russians can do it, too.” ”

BY: DANIEL LIPPMAN, BRYAN BENDERLARA SELIGMAN | politico.com

The Trump administration has asked the military to assess how quickly it could pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines if an arms control treaty with Russia is allowed to expire in February, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The request to U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska is part of a strategy to pressure Moscow into renegotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before the U.S. presidential election, the people said.

In making the request, the Trump administration wants to underscore that it is serious about letting the treaty lapse if Russia fails to meet U.S. demands. The negotiating team is leery that Russia is dragging out the talks in the hope that Joe Biden — who has pledged to extend New START under what Moscow believes will be more favorable terms than what this White House is offering — wins the election.

“It’s a clear signal that the costs for not negotiating before the election are going to go up,” said one of the people, who requested anonymity to relay sensitive discussions. The Trump administration is “trying to create an incentive, and it’s a real incentive, for the Russians to sit down and actually negotiate.”

The request for the assessment came in the last two weeks from a group of officials at the National Security Council and State, Defense and Energy departments that’s supporting Ambassador Marshall Billingslea in negotiations with Moscow to try to replace New START before it runs out in February.
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NM Objects to Nuclear Fuel Storage Plan

“New Mexico is strongly objecting to federal nuclear regulators’ preliminary recommendation that a license be granted to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S.”

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS abqjournal.com

State officials, in a letter submitted Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the site is geologically unsuitable and that technical analysis has been inadequate. They also say regulators have failed to consider environmental justice concerns and have therefore fallen short of requirements spelled out by federal environmental laws.

The letter also reiterates the state’s concerns that the storage facility would become a permanent dumping ground for the spent fuel, as the federal government has no permanent plan for dealing with the waste that has been piling up at nuclear power plants.

The officials pointed to a legacy of contamination in New Mexico that includes uranium mining and milling and decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at national laboratories, saying minority and low-income populations already have suffered disproportionate health and environmental effects as a result.

Given the concerns, state officials wrote that a draft environmental review of the project “fails to demonstrate that residents of New Mexico, including vulnerable populations, will be adequately protected from exposure to the radioactive and toxic contaminants that could be released to air and water by the proposed action.”

A group of Democratic state lawmakers also raised concerns.

Elected leaders in southeastern New Mexico support the project, saying it would bring jobs and revenue to the region and provide a temporary option for dealing with the spent fuel.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The WNISR2020 Assesses Challenges Nuclear Power is Facing in the Age of COVID‑19

“New renewable resources like wind and solar power increased by 184 gigawatts last year, while nuclear power grew by only 2.4 gigawatts. As a result — for the first time in history — renewable sources (excluding hydropower) generated more power than nuclear plants in 2019.”

“Nuclear energy has become irrelevant in the electricity generating technology market,” said Mycle Schneider, the coordinator of the report. “At the same time, COVID-19 puts additional stress on the sector.”

September 24, 2020 | worldnuclearreport.com

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR2020), released on 24 September 2020, assesses in 361 pages the status and trends of the international nuclear industry and analyzes the additional challenges nuclear power is facing in the age of COVID-19. For the first time we report includes as specific chapter analyzing nuclear programs in the Middle East as the first reactor started up in the Arab world.

Seven interdisciplinary experts from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon/U.S. and the U.K., from top think tanks like Chatham House in London and prestigious universities like Harvard in Cambridge, Meiji in Tokyo and Technical University in Berlin, have contributed to the report, along with a data engineer, numerous proofreaders and two artistic designers. The foreword was provided by Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, and Jungmin Kang, former head of the safety authority in South Korea.

The number of operating reactors in the world has dropped by nine over the past year to 408 as of mid-2020, that is below the level already reached in 1988, and 30 units below the historic peak of 438 in 2002.

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Ohio EPA: Plan for A-plant landfill to be issued

Piketon’s Chandler rips Ohio delegation; Pike Commissioner vows legal action

BY: RICK GREENE | southernohiotoday.com

COURTESY OF VILLAGE OF PIKETON
Piketon Councilwoman Jennifer Chandler criticized Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, along with U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, for what she calls a lack of engagement on the controversial issue of an On-Site Waste Disposal Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon. “Now they can have the largest nuclear waste dump east of the Mississippi River,” Chandler said.

In a virtual meeting Tuesday, the Ohio EPA announced it plans to issue the Waste Acceptance Criteria Implementation Plan, which outlines the disposition process for materials allowed to be placed into the controversial On-Site Waste Disposal Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon.

The announcement comes despite calls from officials with the Village of Piketon and the Pike County Board of Commissioners for more engagement from the public on the contaminants that will be permitted inside the radiological landfill.

During the meeting, the Ohio EPA explained the Waste Acceptance Criteria had been established in 2015 during the process that led to the Waste Disposition Record of Decision. Ohio EPA says the Implementation Plan deals primarily with the execution of the disposition of wastes previously determined by the 2015 Waste Acceptance Criteria.

Piketon Councilwoman Jennifer Chandler, a longtime critic of the U.S. Department of Energy and the landfill, asked multiple questions during the virtual forum. Afterwards, she said she remains frustrated by DOE, the Ohio EPA and Ohio’s federal delegation by what she calls a complete disregard for the people of Southern Ohio.

“I’m getting angrier and angrier as Ohio EPA continues to dodge questions and continues to suggest there was public involvement in this process,” Chandler said. “I do appreciate the forum and appreciate it was tough for some (Ohio EPA representatives) to say what they had to say. But it was very clear to all of us who is really in charge of this project, and that’s DOE and it’s going to have its way in Southern Ohio because Ohio EPA can’t do anything about it.”

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Why Does Missile Defense Still Enjoy Bipartisan Support in Congress?

“…Ending the defense contractor honey pot. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was a turning point because it provided substantial funding for missile defense research and design. It was as though the defense contractors who were engaged in this research had suddenly found gold in a Wild West landscape. The initiative became an uncontrollable and unaccountable program with lax oversight, resulting in wasted taxpayer money and virtually no advancement in missile defense technologies.”

BY: SUBRATA GHOSHROY | thebulletin.org

The program to develop a missile defense system to protect the United States mainland has existed in one form or another for nearly six decades. Though it was controversial from the beginning and faced nearly unsurmountable technical challenges, it has enjoyed bipartisan support and continued funding in Congress for more than 20 years.

In July, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed their own versions of a defense authorization bill for 2021. By a wide majority, both chambers authorized more than $740 billion for defense spending next year. Tucked away in the Senate bill was $20.3 billion for missile defense, and that funding could make it into the final version that lands on the president’s desk. While $20.3 billion may not seem significant in a $740 billion budget, it is nevertheless a startling figure. What’s more, US taxpayers have invested nearly $200 billion on missile defense in the past two decades and another $100 billion in the decade before, with little to show for it. Even under artificially easy tests conditions, the most modern missile defense system meant to protect the United States mainland has failed more times than it has succeeded often in highly scripted tests.

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‘Midnight Rockets’: Whistleblower lawsuit reveals toxic releases by Ohio nuclear plant

“According to the suit, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant “would regularly and purposefully vent raw UF6 [uranium hexafluoride], transuranics, heavy metals, and o’her toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.’”

BY: SEAMUS BRUNER | justthenews.com

A whistleblower lawsuit filed by former workers at an Ohio nuclear plant has revealed new details about disturbing practices during the plaintiffs’ tenures at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), including the alarming process — dubbed “midnight rockets” — of releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

According to the suit, “PORTS would regularly and purposefully vent raw UF6 [uranium hexafluoride], transuranics, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere from the roof of the process buildings.”

Filed against U.S. Department of Energy nuclear fuel contractors on Sept. 3 in the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Walburn, et al, v. Centrus Energy Corp., et al   alleges criminal conduct, gross negligence, poisoning of nuclear workers, and contamination of Ohio communities in Pike, Scioto and neighboring counties with radioactive isotopes, causing cancer clusters, injuries, sickness and death, as well as loss of property values.

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Former World Leaders Urge Ratification of Nuclear Arms Ban Treaty

“In an open letter, the onetime leaders implored their own governments to embrace an arms treaty negotiated at the U.N. three years ago. It is six ratifications short of the 50 needed to go into effect.”

24newsorder.com

Nonetheless, delegates from 122 nations — practically two-thirds of the U.N. membership — participated within the negotiations for the treaty, and 84 have signed it. As of Sunday, 44 of these nations had ratified the treaty, which might come into power 90 days after the 50th ratification. At least one or two extra nations might ratify it in coming days or even weeks.

Under the treaty, all nuclear-weapons use, risk of use, testing, growth, manufacturing, possession, switch and stationing in a special nation can be prohibited. For nuclear-armed nations that be part of, the treaty outlines a course of for destroying stockpiles and imposing the promise to stay free of nuclear weapons.

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NNSA Head Props Up Nuclear Weapons Modernization…Again

In her September 17, 2020 testimony before before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, restated the ongoing company line that more money must be spent on the US nuclear weapons stockpile, or the whole enterprise might fall over.

She stated, “The need to now modernize our nuclear weapons stockpile and recapitalize the supporting infrastructure needed to produce and maintain that stockpile has reached a tipping point.”

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Ambassador: Time is right for new arms control agreement

“Arguing that its stockpile is small, China has said it would participate only if the U.S. agrees to nuclear parity among all nations. Russia has suggested that if China were part of the pact, other countries would need to be included as well.”

BY: The Associated Press, SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com

Time is right for new arms control agreement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Trump administration has sketched out a framework that it hopes will avoid a three-way arms race as a deadline nears for extending the only remaining nuclear arms control deal with Russia and as China looks to expand its nuclear forces.

Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, the special presidential envoy for arms control, spoke with The Associated Press about negotiations with Russia while touring some of the top nuclear research labs and production sites in the United States.

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Arizona’s ‘downwinders,’ exposed to Cold War nuclear testing, fight for compensation

“It’s a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it,” one Mohave County, Arizona, resident said.

BY: ANITA HASSAN | nbcnews.com

Arizona's 'downwinders' exposed to Cold War nuclear testing fight for compensation
Eddie Pattillo, 81, a retired construction manager pictured at his home in Kingman, Ariz., has had cancer twice since 1997. CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz / for NBC News

KINGMAN, Ariz. — Danielle Stephens ran her fingers down a long list of her relatives’ names and sighed.

All of them had been diagnosed with cancer. Most of them had died, many before they were 55.

Like Stephens, 81, they had all spent their lives in Kingman, Arizona, where during the Cold War they often watched the early morning sky lit up by orange flashes from atomic bombs detonated at a government testing site in the Nevada desert less than 150 miles north of the city.

“Back then, no one thought the tests were dangerous,” said Stephens, who ran a cattle ranch with her husband.

The list of her family members with cancer grew to 32 in July, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It is the radiation exposure from those nuclear tests that Stephens believes caused her cancer and that of her family members and scores of others who lived in lower Mohave County in the 1950s and ’60s. Her relatives had breast, colon, thyroid and kidney cancer, all of which have been linked to radioactive fallout.

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Georgia: At crucial crossroads, nuclear plant must be stopped

“In 2001, 30 new reactors were ordered in the U.S., but the so-called “nuclear renaissance” rapidly fizzled leaving only Georgia Power and Vogtle. Meanwhile, renewable energy, in particular solar power, has become abundant and cheap, and solar and wind have been the fastest-growing energy sector for the past several years.”

BY: GLENN CARROLL | augustachronicle.com

Plant Vogtle. Photo courtesy of High Flyer 2019.

In 1977, a small group of thoughtful, committed Georgians started a grassroots anti-nuclear group to oppose nuclear power, nuclear weapons and radioactive waste and to promote alternative visions for renewable energy and world peace.

At the same time, Georgia Power was resuming construction of Vogtle 1 and 2, having nearly gone bankrupt three years earlier while attempting to build a four-reactor nuclear compound with a budget of $1 billion.

Only 10 weeks after breaking ground, incredibly, Vogtle construction ground to a halt with Georgia Power on the brink of bankruptcy. Georgia Power was saved by two emergency rate hikes thanks to the Georgia Public Service Commission and by selling shares of its hole-in-the-ground Vogtle to most of Georgia’s rural electric cooperatives and municipal power systems.

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How to Talk About Nuclear Weapons

Why getting people to care about nuclear policy matters.

BY: ZACK BROWN | nationalinterest.org

How to Talk About Nuclear Weapons

It’s a truism of the nuclear field that arms control advocates don’t always win the war of words with their opponents, said Lynn Fahselt, co-founder and executive director of the communications organization ReThink Media.KINGMAN, Ariz. — Danielle Stephens ran her fingers down a long list of her relatives’ names and sighed.

“The first media audit we did showed that, on the opinion pages, we were being beat three to one,” she said in an interview with the podcast, Press The Button. “For every one argument we made for arms control and disarmament, our opposition was making two and calling ours naive.”

At first glance, this editorial record might seem like a minor datapoint in the grand scheme of nuclear politics. But in a fast-moving democracy whose attention span is only as long as the shortest news cycle, wins in the court of public opinion—even small ones—can affect government policy in real ways.

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Take Action! LANL Plans to Release Radioactive Tritium

nuclearactive.org

On Wednesday morning, the public was notified by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that releases of radioactive tritium could begin as early as Friday, September 11th.  LANL tried to launch this plan last March.  Communities organized against it and the project was halted. 

https://tewawomenunited.org/2020/09/action-alert-stop-radioactive-releases-at-los-alamos-national-laboratory , http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-plans-to-release-twice-the-amount-of-tritium-allowed/ , and http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-postpones-tritium-releases-due-to-global-pandemic/

If you were not signed up to receive emails from LANL’s Electronic Public Reading Room, you would not have received Wednesday morning’s notice.  https://eprr.lanl.gov/  [The subscribe button is on the lower left.]  The notice provided links to letters LANL submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department requesting permission to proceed with venting the four tritium containers.  The containers hold lead and an estimated 114,000 curies of radioactive tritium.

The tritium is in the form of tritiated water, which harms when it is inhaled or ingested.  https://ieer.org/article/energy-security/healthy-start-tritium-issue-38/

Now is the time of harvest.  People are outside and breathing deeply while they bring in the harvest.  The risk for breathing in particulates, pollutants, tritiated water, among other contaminants, has increased due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Smoke and ash from the Medio wildfire significantly contributed to poor air quality for weeks, which was finally knocked down on Tuesday night when the rain and snow arrived.  The link between increased COVID-19 death rates and air pollution are well known.

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Environment Secretary Says LANL Tritium Venting Project Puts New Mexico In Bad Situation

“Under the Triad contract, one of their performance requirements for this fiscal year is to vent five more containers that are larger, that contain more tritium, by Sept. 30. So we feel like they’re trying to get permission to vent these four containers on Friday so that they can vent the other five before the end of the fiscal year so that they can get their bonus…This is a pattern in practice by DOE – to do things in order to get the bonuses for their contractors.” – Joni Arends, executive director of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety 

BY: | losalamosreporter.com

The planned venting of tritium from four Flanged Tritium Waste Containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory on or after Friday, Sept. 11 has placed the state of New Mexico in a bad situation, New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Sec. James Kenney told the Legislature’s Committee on Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Wednesday.

The Los Alamos Reporter previously published two stories on the venting project:

https://losalamosreporter.com/2020/03/23/lanl-to-conduct-tritium-venting-operation-beginning-in-april/
https://losalamosreporter.com/2020/04/03/lanl-tritium-ventilation-project-on-hold-due-to-covid-19-scope-of-work-amended-to-include-possible-secondary-venting/

“These containers have been neglected for so long by both DOE and the Environment Department. We’re in this position, which is do they vent those tritium drums, collect that emission to prevent it from being in the air and then move those drums offsite, or do we run the risk of leaving those drums onsite knowing that they are pressurized and could rupture meaning an uncontrolled amount of tritium would go out,” Kenney said. “I do not like the position our Department is in. I think this goes towards the fact that DOE did not do something sooner and it goes to the fact that our Department has been so underfunded that we don’t have the staff to go and hold people accountable to do those things in a timely manner, so we are in a very bad position.”

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State Lawmakers: Tougher Tactics Needed to Speed Los Alamos Waste Cleanup

“The state must put teeth back into the consent order, its main source of leverage. I would like to see us rip up the [2016] consent order and become a tougher negotiator for New Mexico,”
– State Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, said the state is losing ground on cleanup because an agreement between the state and the Department of Energy was weakened four years ago, and now more waste will be generated with pit production.

BY: | santafenewmexican.com

The pace of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s legacy waste cleanup drew sharp criticism Wednesday from two state lawmakers who argued regulators should toughen oversight and consider suing federal agencies to spur quicker action.

The lab has made five shipments of higher-level nuclear waste this year to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad and hopes to move that number to 30 per year, with the aim of removing all of the lab’s legacy waste by 2027.

A U.S. Department of Energy official presented the figures to the state Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee on Wednesday.

“So we’re looking to greatly increase the rate of shipment,” said Steve Hoffman, who oversees the agency’s environmental management field office in Los Alamos.

But state Rep. Christine Chandler, D-Los Alamos, called that volume far too low, especially when compared to Idaho sending 100 to 150 waste shipments to WIPP each year.

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New Mexico Frustrated With Slow Cleanup of Radioactive Waste

“We’re seeing more and more that we’re trending towards an impasse on the movement of legacy contamination from Los Alamos…If that’s our only option, then that’s an option we’re going to explore and we’re going to need to figure out how to do that in a way that yields a better result for New Mexico. Because right now we’re at the bottom of the list and that’s unacceptable.” – New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney

BY: The Associated Press, SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | krqe.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — There’s growing frustration among New Mexico lawmakers and environmental regulators about the U.S. government’s slow pace in cleaning up contamination from decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The officials shared their concerns during a legislative meeting Wednesday, saying New Mexico is taking a backseat to other states and that legal action might be their only leverage against the U.S. Energy Department as it sets priorities for the nation’s multibillion-dollar cleanup program for Cold War-era waste.

Since January, only five shipments of waste have been sent from Los Alamos to the government’s underground repository in southern New Mexico. Meanwhile, the Idaho National Laboratory is sending two to three shipments a week, or more than three times the goal environmental managers at Los Alamos have set for the coming year.

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Two High-level Nuclear Waste “Interim” Storage sites for nuclear power (‘spent’) nuclear fuel are targeted for New Mexico (company: Holtec) and Texas (company: WCS/ISP)

The rest of the country will also be impacted as the waste must travel to get there through or near your state and region on rails/roads/waterways regularly over the next 40+ years if they open.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is processing both applications, and is now asking for public input on the environmental impacts. Comments were already due on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Holtec and are due on 11-3-2020 on WCS ISP. The draft environmental impact statements both ridiculously claim that most environmental impacts will be ‘small,’ and a very few ‘moderate.’
This is for transport and storage of over 90% of the radioactivity in the nuclear power and weapons fuel chain! It cannot be so minimal.

Read NukeWatch’s Holtec comments here and below:

Stay tuned for WCS/ISP sample comments for the proposed site in west Texas. Public comments are due November 3, 2020.

Critical Events

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

September 26 is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Join an UP Convergence discussion on Monday September 14 (1pm-2pm EDT) about The UN Day for Nuclear Abolition: What is happening? What can we do?

Why a UN Day for nuclear abolition?

The UN General Assembly established this day in 2013 out of concern by the overwhelming majority of UN member countries at the risk of a nuclear war and the ongoing nuclear arms race. There are over 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world, many of them primed and ready for launch in minutes.

In addition, about $100 billion per year is being spent to design, develop and deploy nuclear weapons. This money should instead be spent on climate protection, sustainable development, public health and ‘building back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A Ploughshares Fund Women’s Initiative conversation LIVE via Zoom. Tuesday, October 20 at 5:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm CT / 8:00 pm ET

Registration is free! Join the Ploughshares Fund Women’s Initiative for an energizing conversation: Responsible Disruption: Women’s Participation, Perspectives and Power, Tuesday, October 20, with guest speakers, Ambassador Laura HolgateMareena Robinson Snowden and Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, and moderated by Ploughshares Fund president, Emma Belcher.

Register HERE

Action Alerts

Nuclear Media

Nuclear News

Biden would push for less US reliance on nukes for defense

“If future budgets reverse the choices we’ve made, and pour additional money into a nuclear buildup, it hearkens back to the Cold War and will do nothing to increase the day-to-day security of the United States or our allies,” Biden said in a Jan. 11, 2017, speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

ROBERT BURNSapnews.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrat Joe Biden leaves little doubt that if elected he would try to scale back President Donald Trump’s buildup in nuclear weapons spending. And although the former vice president has not fully detailed his nuclear priorities, he says he would make the U.S. less reliant on the world’s deadliest weapons.

The two candidates’ views on nuclear weapons policy and strategy carry unusual significance in this election because the United States is at a turning point in deciding the future of its weapons arsenal and because of growing debate about the threat posed by Chinese and Russian nuclear advances.

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U.S. scrambles to do nuclear deal with Russia before election, issuing ultimatum

Frustration is mounting inside the Trump administration as Russia gives little indication of whether it will agree to an arms control deal before President Trump faces reelection, according to senior U.S. administration officials, who are trying to secure the deal.

Paul Sonne & John Hudsonwashingtonpost.com

U.S. officials presented a proposal to the Russians two weeks ago in Vienna as part of negotiations that began in June. Under the deal, the United States and Russia would extend the soon-to-expire New START pact for a limited time while negotiating a replacement treaty. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would sign a political agreement outlining a framework for the replacement treaty and what it would cover.

The administration’s scramble to cut a deal with Russia before the election comes as the president’s top diplomats have been rushing to secure diplomatic achievements as U.S. voters begin going to the polls.

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These Russians aren’t going away

“Labeled “extremists” and “foreign agents”, Fedor Maryasov and Andrey Talevlin put country and courage first.”

beyondnuclearinternational.com

These Russians aren’t going away

The first time Fedor Maryasov realized that something might be very wrong in his community was as a teenager. Growing up in the uranium mining city of Zarafshan, Uzbekistan, young Fedor and his friends would swim in artificial ponds holding discharge water from the uranium mines. They fished there too, but they began to notice the fish were disfigured by genetic abnormalities, displaying red spots and growths. Still, the authorities were saying nothing. And the teenage boys, like most people in Zarafshan, knew little about how radiation affects living organisms.

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Biden says US must maintain small force in Middle East, has no plans for major Defense cuts

“The former vice president said the largest readiness issue facing the military is America’s strained relationship with NATO. “They’re worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia diplomatically or other ways, and worried about ‘America First’ meaning ‘America Alone,’” he said.”

stripes.com

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic Party nominee for president, delivers his acceptance speech on August 20.
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he supports drawing down troops in the Middle East but if elected president would keep a small force there to prevent extremists from posing a threat to the United States and its allies.

“These ‘forever wars’ have to end. I support drawing down the troops. But here’s the problem, we still have to worry about terrorism and [the Islamic State],” Biden told Stars and Stripes in a telephone interview.

He also said he does not foresee major reductions in the U.S. defense budget as the military refocuses its attention to potential threats from “near-peer” powers such as China and Russia.

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UPDATED: DOE INVOKED TECHNICAL STANDARDS

The following Directive has been added to the DOE Directives Portal:

 The Directives Review Board (DRB) has conducted a review of DOE Orders that invoke Technical Standards. The DRB determined which Technical Standards should be invoked; developed boilerplate language for the invoking of Technical Standards; and updated affected Orders for clarity and consistency.

The following Orders were updated to clarify which Technical Standards are invoked:

  1. DOE O 458.1 Chg 4 (LtdChg), Radiation Protection of the Public and the Environment
      1. To establish requirements to protect the public and the environment against undue risk from radiation associated with radiological activities conducted under the control of the Department of Energy (DOE) pursuant to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (AEA). Supersedes DOE O 458.1 Chg 3 (AdminChg), dated 1-15-2013.

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Big audience for protest of race training

Petersen says he tried to point out to lab officials the “blatant lies and deep immorality” in the presentations. He says he tried to teach his own classes to counter the training Sandia offered but was denied.

RYAN BOETEL / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER abqjournal.com Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A series of forums on race offered at Sandia National Laboratories left at least one lab employee miffed enough to send an email blast to the entire staff voicing his displeasure.

And the upset electrical engineer appears to have caught the attention of the White House, which last week in a memo told all federal agencies to stop hosting similar training sessions.

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Trump Reportedly Claimed That The US Built a Secret Nuke. Here’s What He’s Probably Talking About

“In all likelihood, Trump is referring to the W76-2; then again, he’s also made outlandish claims regarding U.S. military tech that haven’t stood up under scrutiny, like that the F-35 is totally invisible.”

taskandpurpose.com

Forget the invisible F-35 and the super-duper missile: there’s apparently a brand new weapons system that’s captured the commander-in-chief’s attention — and it’s of the nuclear variety.

According to Rage — a new book published by legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward on the Trump administration — the president reportedly disclosed the existence of a new nuclear weapons system during a conversation about relations between the United States and North Korea.

“I have built a nuclear — a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before,” Trump reportedly said, according to the Washington Post.

“We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody — what we have is incredible.”

The disclosure from Trump came in “the midst of reflecting upon how close the United States had come in 2017 to war with North Korea,” according to the Washington Post.

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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

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

September 26 is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Join an UP Convergence discussion on Monday September 14 (1pm-2pm EDT) about The UN Day for Nuclear Abolition: What is happening? What can we do?

Why a UN Day for nuclear abolition?

The UN General Assembly established this day in 2013 out of concern by the overwhelming majority of UN member countries at the risk of a nuclear war and the ongoing nuclear arms race. There are over 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world, many of them primed and ready for launch in minutes.

In addition, about $100 billion per year is being spent to design, develop and deploy nuclear weapons. This money should instead be spent on climate protection, sustainable development, public health and ‘building back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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A Ploughshares Fund Women’s Initiative conversation LIVE via Zoom. Tuesday, October 20 at 5:00 pm PT / 7:00 pm CT / 8:00 pm ET

Registration is free! Join the Ploughshares Fund Women’s Initiative for an energizing conversation: Responsible Disruption: Women’s Participation, Perspectives and Power, Tuesday, October 20, with guest speakers, Ambassador Laura HolgateMareena Robinson Snowden and Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, and moderated by Ploughshares Fund president, Emma Belcher.

Register HERE

Action Alerts

New & Updated

Trump Administration Orders Assessment on Bolstering Nuclear Warheads as Talks With Russia Stall

“U.S. diplomats are trying to play hardball with Russia in negotiations over whether to extend New START.

“It’s very stupid,” added a former GOP arms control official who declined to be identified because he still advises the government. “It makes absolutely no sense to threaten to upload. It becomes a valid leveraging point only if the other side can’t do it. The Russians can do it, too.” ”

BY: DANIEL LIPPMAN, BRYAN BENDERLARA SELIGMAN | politico.com

The Trump administration has asked the military to assess how quickly it could pull nuclear weapons out of storage and load them onto bombers and submarines if an arms control treaty with Russia is allowed to expire in February, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

The request to U.S. Strategic Command in Nebraska is part of a strategy to pressure Moscow into renegotiating the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before the U.S. presidential election, the people said.

In making the request, the Trump administration wants to underscore that it is serious about letting the treaty lapse if Russia fails to meet U.S. demands. The negotiating team is leery that Russia is dragging out the talks in the hope that Joe Biden — who has pledged to extend New START under what Moscow believes will be more favorable terms than what this White House is offering — wins the election.

“It’s a clear signal that the costs for not negotiating before the election are going to go up,” said one of the people, who requested anonymity to relay sensitive discussions. The Trump administration is “trying to create an incentive, and it’s a real incentive, for the Russians to sit down and actually negotiate.”

The request for the assessment came in the last two weeks from a group of officials at the National Security Council and State, Defense and Energy departments that’s supporting Ambassador Marshall Billingslea in negotiations with Moscow to try to replace New START before it runs out in February.
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NM Objects to Nuclear Fuel Storage Plan

“New Mexico is strongly objecting to federal nuclear regulators’ preliminary recommendation that a license be granted to build a multibillion-dollar storage facility for spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S.”

BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN / ASSOCIATED PRESS abqjournal.com

State officials, in a letter submitted Tuesday to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said that the site is geologically unsuitable and that technical analysis has been inadequate. They also say regulators have failed to consider environmental justice concerns and have therefore fallen short of requirements spelled out by federal environmental laws.

The letter also reiterates the state’s concerns that the storage facility would become a permanent dumping ground for the spent fuel, as the federal government has no permanent plan for dealing with the waste that has been piling up at nuclear power plants.

The officials pointed to a legacy of contamination in New Mexico that includes uranium mining and milling and decades of nuclear research and bomb-making at national laboratories, saying minority and low-income populations already have suffered disproportionate health and environmental effects as a result.

Given the concerns, state officials wrote that a draft environmental review of the project “fails to demonstrate that residents of New Mexico, including vulnerable populations, will be adequately protected from exposure to the radioactive and toxic contaminants that could be released to air and water by the proposed action.”

A group of Democratic state lawmakers also raised concerns.

Elected leaders in southeastern New Mexico support the project, saying it would bring jobs and revenue to the region and provide a temporary option for dealing with the spent fuel.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The WNISR2020 Assesses Challenges Nuclear Power is Facing in the Age of COVID‑19

“New renewable resources like wind and solar power increased by 184 gigawatts last year, while nuclear power grew by only 2.4 gigawatts. As a result — for the first time in history — renewable sources (excluding hydropower) generated more power than nuclear plants in 2019.”

“Nuclear energy has become irrelevant in the electricity generating technology market,” said Mycle Schneider, the coordinator of the report. “At the same time, COVID-19 puts additional stress on the sector.”

September 24, 2020 | worldnuclearreport.com

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR2020), released on 24 September 2020, assesses in 361 pages the status and trends of the international nuclear industry and analyzes the additional challenges nuclear power is facing in the age of COVID-19. For the first time we report includes as specific chapter analyzing nuclear programs in the Middle East as the first reactor started up in the Arab world.

Seven interdisciplinary experts from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon/U.S. and the U.K., from top think tanks like Chatham House in London and prestigious universities like Harvard in Cambridge, Meiji in Tokyo and Technical University in Berlin, have contributed to the report, along with a data engineer, numerous proofreaders and two artistic designers. The foreword was provided by Frank von Hippel, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, and Jungmin Kang, former head of the safety authority in South Korea.

The number of operating reactors in the world has dropped by nine over the past year to 408 as of mid-2020, that is below the level already reached in 1988, and 30 units below the historic peak of 438 in 2002.

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Ohio EPA: Plan for A-plant landfill to be issued

Piketon’s Chandler rips Ohio delegation; Pike Commissioner vows legal action

BY: RICK GREENE | southernohiotoday.com

COURTESY OF VILLAGE OF PIKETON
Piketon Councilwoman Jennifer Chandler criticized Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, along with U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, for what she calls a lack of engagement on the controversial issue of an On-Site Waste Disposal Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon. “Now they can have the largest nuclear waste dump east of the Mississippi River,” Chandler said.

In a virtual meeting Tuesday, the Ohio EPA announced it plans to issue the Waste Acceptance Criteria Implementation Plan, which outlines the disposition process for materials allowed to be placed into the controversial On-Site Waste Disposal Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon.

The announcement comes despite calls from officials with the Village of Piketon and the Pike County Board of Commissioners for more engagement from the public on the contaminants that will be permitted inside the radiological landfill.

During the meeting, the Ohio EPA explained the Waste Acceptance Criteria had been established in 2015 during the process that led to the Waste Disposition Record of Decision. Ohio EPA says the Implementation Plan deals primarily with the execution of the disposition of wastes previously determined by the 2015 Waste Acceptance Criteria.

Piketon Councilwoman Jennifer Chandler, a longtime critic of the U.S. Department of Energy and the landfill, asked multiple questions during the virtual forum. Afterwards, she said she remains frustrated by DOE, the Ohio EPA and Ohio’s federal delegation by what she calls a complete disregard for the people of Southern Ohio.

“I’m getting angrier and angrier as Ohio EPA continues to dodge questions and continues to suggest there was public involvement in this process,” Chandler said. “I do appreciate the forum and appreciate it was tough for some (Ohio EPA representatives) to say what they had to say. But it was very clear to all of us who is really in charge of this project, and that’s DOE and it’s going to have its way in Southern Ohio because Ohio EPA can’t do anything about it.”

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Why Does Missile Defense Still Enjoy Bipartisan Support in Congress?

“…Ending the defense contractor honey pot. Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative was a turning point because it provided substantial funding for missile defense research and design. It was as though the defense contractors who were engaged in this research had suddenly found gold in a Wild West landscape. The initiative became an uncontrollable and unaccountable program with lax oversight, resulting in wasted taxpayer money and virtually no advancement in missile defense technologies.”

BY: SUBRATA GHOSHROY | thebulletin.org

The program to develop a missile defense system to protect the United States mainland has existed in one form or another for nearly six decades. Though it was controversial from the beginning and faced nearly unsurmountable technical challenges, it has enjoyed bipartisan support and continued funding in Congress for more than 20 years.

In July, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed their own versions of a defense authorization bill for 2021. By a wide majority, both chambers authorized more than $740 billion for defense spending next year. Tucked away in the Senate bill was $20.3 billion for missile defense, and that funding could make it into the final version that lands on the president’s desk. While $20.3 billion may not seem significant in a $740 billion budget, it is nevertheless a startling figure. What’s more, US taxpayers have invested nearly $200 billion on missile defense in the past two decades and another $100 billion in the decade before, with little to show for it. Even under artificially easy tests conditions, the most modern missile defense system meant to protect the United States mainland has failed more times than it has succeeded often in highly scripted tests.

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‘Midnight Rockets’: Whistleblower lawsuit reveals toxic releases by Ohio nuclear plant

“According to the suit, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant “would regularly and purposefully vent raw UF6 [uranium hexafluoride], transuranics, heavy metals, and o’her toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.’”

BY: SEAMUS BRUNER | justthenews.com

A whistleblower lawsuit filed by former workers at an Ohio nuclear plant has revealed new details about disturbing practices during the plaintiffs’ tenures at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), including the alarming process — dubbed “midnight rockets” — of releasing toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

According to the suit, “PORTS would regularly and purposefully vent raw UF6 [uranium hexafluoride], transuranics, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals into the atmosphere from the roof of the process buildings.”

Filed against U.S. Department of Energy nuclear fuel contractors on Sept. 3 in the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Walburn, et al, v. Centrus Energy Corp., et al   alleges criminal conduct, gross negligence, poisoning of nuclear workers, and contamination of Ohio communities in Pike, Scioto and neighboring counties with radioactive isotopes, causing cancer clusters, injuries, sickness and death, as well as loss of property values.

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Former World Leaders Urge Ratification of Nuclear Arms Ban Treaty

“In an open letter, the onetime leaders implored their own governments to embrace an arms treaty negotiated at the U.N. three years ago. It is six ratifications short of the 50 needed to go into effect.”

24newsorder.com

Nonetheless, delegates from 122 nations — practically two-thirds of the U.N. membership — participated within the negotiations for the treaty, and 84 have signed it. As of Sunday, 44 of these nations had ratified the treaty, which might come into power 90 days after the 50th ratification. At least one or two extra nations might ratify it in coming days or even weeks.

Under the treaty, all nuclear-weapons use, risk of use, testing, growth, manufacturing, possession, switch and stationing in a special nation can be prohibited. For nuclear-armed nations that be part of, the treaty outlines a course of for destroying stockpiles and imposing the promise to stay free of nuclear weapons.

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NNSA Head Props Up Nuclear Weapons Modernization…Again

In her September 17, 2020 testimony before before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, restated the ongoing company line that more money must be spent on the US nuclear weapons stockpile, or the whole enterprise might fall over.

She stated, “The need to now modernize our nuclear weapons stockpile and recapitalize the supporting infrastructure needed to produce and maintain that stockpile has reached a tipping point.”

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Ambassador: Time is right for new arms control agreement

“Arguing that its stockpile is small, China has said it would participate only if the U.S. agrees to nuclear parity among all nations. Russia has suggested that if China were part of the pact, other countries would need to be included as well.”

BY: The Associated Press, SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com

Time is right for new arms control agreement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Trump administration has sketched out a framework that it hopes will avoid a three-way arms race as a deadline nears for extending the only remaining nuclear arms control deal with Russia and as China looks to expand its nuclear forces.

Ambassador Marshall Billingslea, the special presidential envoy for arms control, spoke with The Associated Press about negotiations with Russia while touring some of the top nuclear research labs and production sites in the United States.

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Arizona’s ‘downwinders,’ exposed to Cold War nuclear testing, fight for compensation

“It’s a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it,” one Mohave County, Arizona, resident said.

BY: ANITA HASSAN | nbcnews.com

Arizona's 'downwinders' exposed to Cold War nuclear testing fight for compensation
Eddie Pattillo, 81, a retired construction manager pictured at his home in Kingman, Ariz., has had cancer twice since 1997. CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz / for NBC News

KINGMAN, Ariz. — Danielle Stephens ran her fingers down a long list of her relatives’ names and sighed.

All of them had been diagnosed with cancer. Most of them had died, many before they were 55.

Like Stephens, 81, they had all spent their lives in Kingman, Arizona, where during the Cold War they often watched the early morning sky lit up by orange flashes from atomic bombs detonated at a government testing site in the Nevada desert less than 150 miles north of the city.

“Back then, no one thought the tests were dangerous,” said Stephens, who ran a cattle ranch with her husband.

The list of her family members with cancer grew to 32 in July, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. It is the radiation exposure from those nuclear tests that Stephens believes caused her cancer and that of her family members and scores of others who lived in lower Mohave County in the 1950s and ’60s. Her relatives had breast, colon, thyroid and kidney cancer, all of which have been linked to radioactive fallout.

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Georgia: At crucial crossroads, nuclear plant must be stopped

“In 2001, 30 new reactors were ordered in the U.S., but the so-called “nuclear renaissance” rapidly fizzled leaving only Georgia Power and Vogtle. Meanwhile, renewable energy, in particular solar power, has become abundant and cheap, and solar and wind have been the fastest-growing energy sector for the past several years.”

BY: GLENN CARROLL | augustachronicle.com

Plant Vogtle. Photo courtesy of High Flyer 2019.

In 1977, a small group of thoughtful, committed Georgians started a grassroots anti-nuclear group to oppose nuclear power, nuclear weapons and radioactive waste and to promote alternative visions for renewable energy and world peace.

At the same time, Georgia Power was resuming construction of Vogtle 1 and 2, having nearly gone bankrupt three years earlier while attempting to build a four-reactor nuclear compound with a budget of $1 billion.

Only 10 weeks after breaking ground, incredibly, Vogtle construction ground to a halt with Georgia Power on the brink of bankruptcy. Georgia Power was saved by two emergency rate hikes thanks to the Georgia Public Service Commission and by selling shares of its hole-in-the-ground Vogtle to most of Georgia’s rural electric cooperatives and municipal power systems.

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How to Talk About Nuclear Weapons

Why getting people to care about nuclear policy matters.

BY: ZACK BROWN | nationalinterest.org

How to Talk About Nuclear Weapons

It’s a truism of the nuclear field that arms control advocates don’t always win the war of words with their opponents, said Lynn Fahselt, co-founder and executive director of the communications organization ReThink Media.KINGMAN, Ariz. — Danielle Stephens ran her fingers down a long list of her relatives’ names and sighed.

“The first media audit we did showed that, on the opinion pages, we were being beat three to one,” she said in an interview with the podcast, Press The Button. “For every one argument we made for arms control and disarmament, our opposition was making two and calling ours naive.”

At first glance, this editorial record might seem like a minor datapoint in the grand scheme of nuclear politics. But in a fast-moving democracy whose attention span is only as long as the shortest news cycle, wins in the court of public opinion—even small ones—can affect government policy in real ways.

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Take Action! LANL Plans to Release Radioactive Tritium

nuclearactive.org

On Wednesday morning, the public was notified by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that releases of radioactive tritium could begin as early as Friday, September 11th.  LANL tried to launch this plan last March.  Communities organized against it and the project was halted. 

https://tewawomenunited.org/2020/09/action-alert-stop-radioactive-releases-at-los-alamos-national-laboratory , http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-plans-to-release-twice-the-amount-of-tritium-allowed/ , and http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-postpones-tritium-releases-due-to-global-pandemic/

If you were not signed up to receive emails from LANL’s Electronic Public Reading Room, you would not have received Wednesday morning’s notice.  https://eprr.lanl.gov/  [The subscribe button is on the lower left.]  The notice provided links to letters LANL submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and the New Mexico Environment Department requesting permission to proceed with venting the four tritium containers.  The containers hold lead and an estimated 114,000 curies of radioactive tritium.

The tritium is in the form of tritiated water, which harms when it is inhaled or ingested.  https://ieer.org/article/energy-security/healthy-start-tritium-issue-38/

Now is the time of harvest.  People are outside and breathing deeply while they bring in the harvest.  The risk for breathing in particulates, pollutants, tritiated water, among other contaminants, has increased due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  Smoke and ash from the Medio wildfire significantly contributed to poor air quality for weeks, which was finally knocked down on Tuesday night when the rain and snow arrived.  The link between increased COVID-19 death rates and air pollution are well known.

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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

“Back then, no one thought the tests were dangerous…I just think it’s a travesty, and the government should not be allowed to get away with it. – Danielle Stephens, on the radiation exposure from those nuclear tests that Stephens believes caused her cancer and that of 32 of her family members and scores of others who lived in lower Mohave County in the 1950s and ’60s. Her relatives had breast, colon, thyroid and kidney cancer, all of which have been linked to radioactive fallout.

Eddie Pattillo, 81, a retired construction manager pictured at his home in Kingman, Ariz., has had cancer twice since 1997. CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz / for NBC News

Arizona’s ‘downwinders,’ exposed to Cold War nuclear testing, fight for compensation | nbcnews.com

“The riskiest period of the Cold War was its earliest stages, when military and political leaders didn’t yet fully understand the nature of what Hiroshima had demonstrated. Emerging technologies like AI [artificial intelligence] threaten to plunge us back into that uncertainty.”

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.
Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.

How new tech raises the risk of nuclear war

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts believe the risk of the use of a nuclear weapon is as high now as it has been since the Cuban missile crisis. | axios.com

The reason we haven’t had nuclear disasters isn’t careful planning. It’s luck.

The United States tests a thermonuclear bomb on Nov. 1, 1952, in the Marshall Islands. (Los Alamos National Laboratory/AP) (AP)

“Betting on another half-century with nuclear weapons, but with no new nuclear explosions, is not betting on succeeding twice at a game of control after a first victory. It’s betting our luck won’t run out in the future — simply because it hasn’t run out yet.”

The reason we haven’t had nuclear disasters isn’t careful planning. It’s luck. The alarming role of good fortune in the history o nuclear weapons | washingtonpost.com

“Trump is dedicated to destroying the arms control regime. It may already be too late to renegotiate [the new START treaty], the last of the arms control treaties. He is now threatening to carry out nuclear weapons tests, tests that would undermine the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, almost 30 years. The United States never ratified it, but it has lived up to it. All of this opens the door wider for other countries to react the same way. The arms industry is of course euphoric. They’re getting huge new contracts to develop major weapons to destroy all of us. This encourages others to do the same. So there are new contracts down the road for hopeless means to try to defend ourselves against the monstrosities that we’re helping to construct. This is Trump, racing toward this, apparently enjoying it…Whether this can be contained within the constitutional structures of the United States, we don’t know.”

Noam Chomsky on Trump’s Troop Surge to Democratic Cities & Whether He’ll Leave Office if He Loses

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