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

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

Robert Oppenheimer on the Trinity test; interview in The Decision to Drop the Bomb, Atomic Archive movie

Freedom of Information in the Time of COVID-19

In principle, the COVID-19 outbreak could provide a compelling new justification for expediting the processing of certain Freedom of Information Act requests related to the pandemic. But it is more likely to slow down the handling of most requests as agency employees work remotely and other concerns are understandably prioritized.

The impact of COVID-19 was surveyed by the Congressional Research Service in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Processing Changes Due to COVID-19: In Brief, March 27, 2020.

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

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

_____________________________________________

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

Dear SRS EIS NEPA Document Manager,

We respectfully submit these comments1 for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) DOE/EIS-0541 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina2 (hereinafter “DEIS”). Through comprehensive research, public education, and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at defense 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.

These comments incorporate by reference the comments submitted by Nuclear Watch and others regarding NNSA’s Supplement Analysis of its 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.3 We believe they are relevant to connected issues which the agency seeks to segment contrary to statutory requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act.

VIEW FULL COMMENTS

Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection
Craters in the desert at the Nevada National Security Site, 2005. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

On May 15, according to reporting in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the Trump administration held serious discussions about whether to conduct a nuclear test explosion, and those conversations are continuing.

Though the administration has not made any public remarks on the matter, many experts and policy makers have already chimed in to voice dissent. Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, said a nuclear test would “pose a grave challenge to global peace and security.”

Hans Kristensen, who directs the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, said it was “completely nuts.” Joe Biden, former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said a resumption of testing would be “as reckless as it is dangerous.”

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Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm

The Trump administration’s recent discussions on whether the U.S. should resume nuclear testing for the first time since 1992 have raised alarm among watchdogs and, if carried out, might affect Los Alamos National Laboratory’s nuclear “stockpile stewardship.”

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm
Storax Sedan shallow underground nuclear test by the United States, used for a cratering experiment. 6 July 1962 (GMT), Nevada Test Site Yield: 104 kt. The main purpose of the detonation was to asses the non military dimension of a nuclear explosion.

National security officials at the White House last month talked about lifting the 28-year moratorium on explosive nuclear tests, less as a technical necessity than in response to unconfirmed reports that Russia and China are conducting low-yield tests, according to the Washington Post.

At the moment, there are no actual plans to pursue underground nuclear testing, but talks will remain ongoing and tests will remain an option to consider, two unnamed sources told the Post. Another source said officials were leaning toward other ways to deal with China and Russia.

Nuclear nonproliferation advocates say it is significant that Trump officials are even floating the idea of reviving tests that were halted after the Cold War ended.

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OREPA Comments on the Draft Supplement Analysis for the Final Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Y-12 National Security Complex, Earthquake Accident Analysis

SUMMARY
The Draft Supplement Analysis (SA) is carefully crafted to minimize consideration of the environmental impacts of the NNSA’s “hybrid plan” for enriched uranium operations at the Y-12 National Security Complex starting with the decision to limit the SA to the analysis of earthquake risks only, and then only to three facilities engaged in enriched uranium operations, further limiting the analysis of consequences to radiation releases only, and then only to humans.

READ FULL COMMENTS

Seismic Expert Issues Scathing Review of NNSA Earthquake Study at Oak Ridge Nuclear Bomb Plant

| orepa.org

David D. Jackson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California Los Angeles, issued a scathing review of the latest study to analyze earthquake risks at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, saying, “The agency’s analysis is defective in numerous regards. It falls far short of relevant professional and scientific standards.”

Jackson was asked by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance to review the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Draft Supplement Analysis (SA) of a 2011 Environmental Impact Statement on plans for continued nuclear weapons production at the Oak Ridge production complex. In September, 2019, federal judge Pamela Reeve set aside two previous SAs and ordered NNSA to prepare additional environmental analysis with special attention paid to the risks presented by earthquakes.

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DoE Could be Ready to Go With Minimal Nuke Test in Nevada in ‘Months,’ Pentagon Official Says

It would take only a matter of months for the Department of Energy to perform an underground nuclear-explosive test with minimal diagnostics, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.

| defensedaily.com

Previous heads of the agency’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have talked “about a very quick test with limited diagnostics, though certainly diagnostics, within months,” said Drew Walter, who is performing the duties of deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters.

“A fuller test, fully diagnostic, and lots of data, all the bells and whistles, so to speak, might be measured in years. But ultimately, if the President directed because of a technical issue or a geopolitical issue, a system to go test, I think it would happen relatively rapidly.”

Walter also said that he believes the NNSA has a borehole at the Nevada National Security Site that would be suitable for such a rapid test.

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New & Updated

Trinity Downwinders:  75 Years and Waiting

Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC)

REMEMBERING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRINITY TEST

***  I M M E D I A T E    P R E S S    R E L E A S E  ***

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Virtual Event at 9:00 a.m. MDT

Access at www.trinitydownwinders.com

Trinity Downwinders are commemorating the 75th Anniversary since the first nuclear test was conducted anywhere in the world and bringing attention to the fact that New Mexicans still have not received Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) benefits.

RECA was passed in 1990 by the US Government to provide health care coverage and compensation to downwinders from other parts of the country but has never included the people of New Mexico.  The fund has paid out over 2.3 Billion Dollars in reparations to downwinders of the Nevada Test site but never to New Mexico downwinders.  It also provides the best health care coverage available.

Trinity Downwinders will commemorate the New Mexicans who have died from cancer and other radiation exposure related diseases during this event and read firsthand accounts of the bomb blast.

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Funding Nuclear Weapons at a Time of National Crisis

Nuclear weapons represent the greatest imminent existential threat to our very existence and to every social, racial, environmental and economic justice movement that we are working for, since ultimately it is all connected.

BY: ROBERT DODGE | cpmmondreams.com

This time of awakening has drawn attention to the connection and challenges we face as a nation and world. (Photo: Ralf Schlesener/ICAN)

Today, July 15, we fund our nation’s priorities. This year, the nation is awakening to the problems of systemic and institutionalized racism while simultaneously grappling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has no end in sight. The Black Lives Matter movement is receiving its due attention and communities are demanding demilitarization of police forces and tactics and reprioritization of funding to address the needs of communities to bring forth a socially just, environmentally sustainable and peaceful community. City councils are taking a close look at police budgets and many citizens are calling for participatory budgeting with input in the budgets of their cities as they move to determine their own priorities. Nationally, with our massively bloated defense budget, it is also the time we fund the nuclear arms race even as nations around the world work to pass a nuclear ban treaty, the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, similar to those banning all other weapons of mass destruction.

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15 LANL Workers Tested for Radiation Exposure After Mishap

“Mishandled glove boxes are a long-standing problem at the lab, but having 15 workers possibly exposed to radiation because of one breach is a high number and could become more common as the plutonium plant ramps up production of nuclear cores.” — Scott Kovac, research and operations director for nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

“The 15 workers is just an example of things to come,” Kovac said.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

A view inside a conveyer alley where contained handling takes place. The gloveboxes are designed for preparing uranium and plutonium carbide compounds.
publicintegrity.org

Fifteen employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium plant were tested for radiation exposure after a “glove box” breach in June contaminated the work area.

Air monitors sounded an alarm at the facility when an operator accidentally ripped off the protective gloves attached to a sealed compartment for handling plutonium after the worker weighed and packaged plutonium-238 oxide powder.

The breach contaminated the worker’s protective clothing, hair and skin, and caused enough potential airborne exposure that other workers had to be tested for radiation, according to a report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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Trump Plan to Build Nuclear Bombs Divides a Scarred Factory Town

“To me, they haven’t proven that this is going to be safe,” said Pete LaBerge, a 70-year-old retiree who lives about three miles away from the Savannah River Site in nearby Windsor, which has 150 residents. He worries about a release of radiation. “Part of my theory is it’s sort of a make-work program for the Energy Department.”

BY: ARI NATTER & CHARLIE MCGEE | bloomberg.com

A factory along South Carolina’s Savannah River produced tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, employing thousands of workers but leaving behind a toxic legacy of radioactive waste.

Now the Trump administration has proposed spending $9 billion over 10 years to restart production of bomb parts there and at another site. The plan has raised the welcome prospect of new jobs though also rekindled environmental fears. And it’s set off alarms about a new nuclear arms race just as key treaties with Russia lapse.

“It’s a waste of money and dangerous,” said Stephen Young, an expert on arms control and international security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

ABC NEWS FILE PHOTO Nov., 20, 2013, file photo, radioactive waste, sealed in large stainless steel canisters, are stored under a five-feet of concrete in a storage building at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

President Donald Trump’s plan, announced by the departments of Energy and Defense in 2018, calls for restarting production of nuclear bomb ‘pits’ at the South Carolina site and another one in New Mexico. The bowling-ball sized spheres of plutonium act as the trigger in a nuclear warhead, setting off the explosive chain reaction.

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WIPP: Nuclear Watchdog Group Again Challenges Utility Shaft in New Mexico Supreme Court

The Southwest Research and Information Center previously filed a motion to the court in April, seeking to block the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) temporary approval (TA) of plans for the shaft that saw no public hearing or comment process.

BY: ADRIAN HEDDEN | carlsbadcurrentargus.com

The $100 million project to build the shaft was intended to increase airflow to the WIPP underground, where transuranic (TRU) waste is permanently disposed of, to allow emplacement of waste and mining of panels where it is emplaced to occur simultaneously.

A nuclear watchdog group in Albuquerque filed two appeals in New Mexico Supreme Court last week, seeking to block the construction of a utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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‘Will to fight together’: Fiji’s has taken another bold step in the battle against nuclear weapons

“For many in the Pacific, memories of the impact of nuclear weapons testing still exist, its legacies continue, and the Pacific-wide solidarity that started in Fiji carries lessons for the world.”
Ratification of United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons honours a half-century of anti-nuclear activism

By: Vanessa Griffen & Talei Luscia Mangioni | theguardian.com

The Against Testing on Mururoa (ATOM) committee protests on the streets of Suva, Fiji, in the 1970s Photograph: The Guardian

In the streets of Suva in the 1970s it was the young who carried the cause. In afros, headbands and bell-bottom jeans they handed out pamphlets and printed newsletters, performed skits and variety shows, gave lectures, and led rallies on the streets of Fiji’s capital.

Crowds heard firebrand speeches from church leaders, trade unionists, university staff and student leaders.

The Atom (Against Testing on Mururoa) committee, formed in Fiji in 1970, was dedicated to educating, creatively but powerfully, the Fijian public of the dangers of radioactive fallout from French testing and colonialism in the Pacific.

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China Challenges the U.S. to Reduce Its Nuclear Arsenal to Same Level

BEIJING — If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

REUTERS/NEW YORK TIMES | nytimes.com

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Senate Undoes Proposed Power Shift in Nuclear Arms Budgeting

Moves comes at the behest of the Energy secretary

BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

UNITED STATES – MAY 13: Sen. Maria Cantwell , D-Wash., sanitizes her hands as she arrives for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted quietly Thursday to undo a proposal in its fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill that would have given the Pentagon extraordinary new power to shape the Energy Department’s future nuclear weapons budgets.

CQ Roll Call reported this week on behind-the-scenes opposition to provisions in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA that would have given certain Defense Department officials new clout to set the amount and the content of the budget the Energy Department prepares for its National Nuclear Security Administration every year.

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Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Energy and Water Development Funding Bill

“Policy Provision: The bill prohibits funding for nuclear weapons testing.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
Contact:
Evan Hollander (Appropriations), 202-225-2771
Griffin Anderson (Kaptur), 202-225-4146

Legislation invests $49.6 billion in Energy and Water Development programs, an increase of $1.26 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level, addressing climate change, improving infrastructure, and upholding our commitment to strengthening national security

In response to the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, legislation provides an additional $43.5 billion in emergency spending to repair water infrastructure and modernize energy infrastructure

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior programs, the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.

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Fifteen LANL Workers Being Evaluated For Possible Exposure To Plutonium-238 Following June 8 Glovebox Glove Breach

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating the possible exposure of Laboratory employees to plutonium-238 after a breach in a glovebox glove at the Plutonium Facility on June 8.

BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Courtesy photo

A Lab spokesperson told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday that employees responded promptly and appropriately, and cleared the room in a safe manner.

“Fifteen Laboratory workers are being evaluated for potential exposure. The area inside the Plutonium Facility where this occurred has been secured, pending a review of the events and there is no risk to public health and safety,” the spokesperson said.

A report by Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board inspectors Jonathan Plaue and David Gutowski dated June 12 noted that on June 8 continuous air monitors sounded when an operator pulled out of the glovebox gloves after weighing and packaging plutonium-238 oxide powder.

“The worker received significant contamination on his protective clothing, hair, and skin, as well as positive nasal swabs indicating a potential intake. Radiation protection personnel successfully decontaminated the individual, and he was provided chelation therapy,” the report states. “The room experienced significant airborne radioactivity and was contaminated. Fourteen additional workers were placed on bioassay. On Thursday (June 11), Triad management conducted a fact-finding to discuss the event, response, and near-term actions. Given the significance of the event, they chartered a team to perform a comprehensive investigation.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

House Panel Would Block Pentagon From Extra Sway Over Nuclear Weapons Budget

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Airman 1st Class William Ray removes the screws holding the nose point of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to the rest of the reentry system inside a payload transporter at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON ― House appropriators on Tuesday approved a spending bill that would block plans from defense hawks to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets.

The House Appropriations Committee passed their Energy-Water bill, which contained the provision, by a voice vote. The $49.6 billion spending bill contained $13.7 billion for nuclear weapons accounts ― a $1.2 billion increase over fiscal 2020 that’s still $1.9 billion less than the president’s request.

Lead Republicans voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that Democrats had not consulted with Republicans on pandemic emergency funds in the bill and that Democrats included policy riders the White House will seek to cut. The top Republican on the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, said the bill “still shortchanges funding for the nuclear weapons program.”

“While I acknowledge the increase above last year, we must also acknowledge that the threats we face today are not the same threats we faced in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War,” he said. “We must adequately fund the activities necessary to maintain a safe, reliable and effective stockpile.”

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense policy bill would allow the council to edit the budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office. The move was seen as giving the Pentagon extra sway to boost warhead programs and nuclear weapons laboratories.

Its introduction came after Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette clashed with SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who backed a budget request for the larger number than Brouillette sought.

The Energy-Water spending bill contains language ordering no funds “may be used in furtherance of working through the Nuclear Weapons Council to guide, advise, assist, develop, or execute a budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.”

Separately, the proposed bill would ban the Trump administration’s reported plan to resume nuclear weapons testing. The bill would prohibit funding “to conduct, or prepare to conduct, any explosive nuclear weapons test that produces any yield.”

“Critically, the bill would prevent the Trump administration from using any funds to carry out its dangerous and short-sighted plan to resume nuclear testing,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

The Trump administration was reportedly discussing whether a “rapid test” could aid it in negotiations with Russia and China, as the White House seeks a trilateral nuclear weapons pact.

The defense appropriations bill introduced Tuesday would also bar funding for explosive nuclear weapons tests.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

GROUPS ASK TO RESUME PUBLIC MEETINGS ON BOMB PLANT

Kathy Helms

Special correspondent
July 4, 2020
 
SANTA FE – Seven non-governmental organizations are asking the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy for the resumption of semi-annual presentations covering the production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The public participation provisions are contained in a 2005 settlement agreement. The settlement was reached after the same seven organizations objected to the issuance of an air emissions permit for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.
At the same time, a New Mexico Environment Department draft air emissions permit is being prepared for public review and comment on releases from the lab and manufacturing facilities. The organizations said they are working to ensure those provisions public meetings covering construction at the weapons-component production facilities and a dedicated website are included in the air permit.

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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The All-American Way

Today, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich considers the all-American version of “extreme materialism” that Martin Luther King called out more than half a century ago. And when it comes to the overwhelming urge to get one’s hands on the goods, among the looters of this moment two groups are almost never mentioned: the Pentagon and the police.

BY: ANDREW BASEVICH | tomdispatch.com

Yet, in 1997, the Department of Defense set up the 1033 program as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to provide thousands of domestic police forces with “surplus” equipment of almost every imaginable militarized kind. Since then, thanks to your tax dollars, it has given away $7.4 billion of such equipment, some of it directly off the battlefields of this country’s forlorn “forever wars.” For items like grenade launchers, mine-resistant armored vehicles, military rifles, bayonets, body armor, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, all that police departments have to fork over is the price of delivery. The Pentagon has, in fact, been so eager to become the Macy’s of militarized hardware that, in 2017, it was even willing to “give $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bombs, and night vision goggles to a fake police department,” no questions asked. That “department” proved to be part of a sting operation run by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” a GAO official would say. Only, of course, for free.

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Non-Governmental Organizations Demand Resumption of Los Alamos Nuclear Bomb Plant Public Information Meetings


The NGOs request that the semi-annual public meetings resume by early fall 2020, and the CMRR Project website be updated and maintained until the RLUOB reconfiguration and PF-4 upgrades are completed. All documents and presentations from the previous 13 public meetings must be reposted. The NGOs are also asking that the unilateral decision by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to increase the amount of plutonium equivalent allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams be reviewed by NMED.

READ/DOWNLOAD FULL PRESS RELEASE

Action Alerts

Leave Uranium In The Ground!

What: Global Online Launch of the first Uranium Atlas (English edition)
When: July 16, 2020 at 10.00 AM (PDT)/1.00 PM (EDT)/7.00 PM (CEST)
Who: Join special guests Makoma Lekalakala (Earthlife Africa, South Africa), Ian Zabarte (Western Shoshone Nation, USA), Sascha Hach (Nuclear Free Future Foundation) and Anna Rondon (New Mexico Social Justice and Equity Institute, Navajo Nation, USA). There will be additional recorded statements from Tina Cordova (Trinity Downwinders, USA) and Larry King (Navajo Nation, USA). Hosted by Linda Pentz Gunter (Beyond Nuclear, USA) and Claus Biegert (Nuclear Free Future Foundation, Germany).
Join the event: Please join us by clicking this link on the date and time noted above: www.rosalux.de/livestream.Continue reading

Submit Public Comments to the New Mexico Environment Department on Utility Shaft at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant:

A draft permit for the $100 million utility shaft construction project was issued by NMED on June 12, opening a public comment period scheduled to continue until 5 p.m., Aug. 11.

The utility shaft was not needed for ongoing WIPP operations, but for an intended expansion of the facility that would keep it open longer than previously agreed to and holding more waste. Any expansion in WIPP’s capacity and lifetime should be brought before the public before work to do so was allowed.

Submit in writing to:
WIPP Project Manager Ricardo Maestas at NMED’s Hazardous Waste Bureau,
2905 Rodeo Park Drive East, Building 1, Santa Fe New Mexico 87505

or via email or at:
ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us.

The public may also request a public hearing at the same address and email.

MORE INFORMATION

Critical Events

July 10, 1985: The Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior

You can’t sink a Rainbow.
In 1985, French secret service agents planted two bombs and sank the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior. One crew member was killed. It was an instance when a government chose to respond to peaceful protest with deadly force. But peaceful protest has prevailed.

The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, after being sunk by limpet mines planted by the French secret service.

RAINBOW WARRIOR RESOURCES

10 July 1985. The Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior is moored in Auckland, New Zealand – ready to confront French nuclear testing in the Moruroa Atoll.

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Save the Dates: August 5-9

Summary of Recent NEPA Comments

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the opportunity for public comment on major federal proposals.

  1. Most recently, on June 2nd, Nuclear Watch New Mexico submitted formal 48-page comments on NNSA's draft environmental impact statement on plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site SRS available here
    1. Also recommended: comments by Tri-Valley CAREs and SRS Watch.
  2. On May 26 NukeWatch submitted formal comments on a draft "Supplement Analysis" dealing with seismic issues at the Y-12 Plant near Oak Ridge, TN, available here
    1. NNSA was compelled to prepare that Supplement Analysis due to ongoing litigation by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, NukeWatch and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The main issue is NNSA's planned continued use of two old contaminated facilities previously slated for decontamination and decommissioning to help produce nuclear weapons "secondaries" that put the "H" in H-bomb.

Also Recommended:

3. Finally, on May 9 NukeWatch submitted formal NEPA comment on a draft Supplement Analysis on plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), available here

Also recommended: comments by Tri-Valley CAREs and SRS Watch.

Nuclear News

Maintain the Moratorium

June, 11, 2020
Source:
 The Independent

By Mary Perner

On May 28, 24 non-governmental organizations, including Livermore’s Tri-Valley CAREs, signed onto a letter that was delivered to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer. The letter was in response to recent reports that senior White House officials had discussed conducting the first U.S. nuclear weapon test explosion since 1992.

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‘Sea change:’ Advanced reactors spur look at recycling waste

“There are some new designs, but they are not demonstrably greater, so we are still dealing with the same exact issues,” said Samuel Hickey, a research analyst with the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “And realistically, we have a much better solution to the accumulation of spent nuclear fuel, and that is dilution and permanent geological disposal of waste.”

Also at issue is the potential that reprocessing of nuclear waste could undercut efforts to promote nonproliferation abroad.

By: Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter | eenews.net

The Orano La Hague nuclear reprocessing facility in northern France. The U.S. nuclear power industry is eyeing the potential to reuse nuclear waste as fuel in the next generation of reactors. Orano

The nuclear industry’s push for the next generation of reactors is spurring a renewed look at reusing nuclear waste as reactor fuel, rather than burying it.

The implications of such a move have the potential to upend decades of nuclear waste management and global nonproliferation strategies. It also highlights a debate about safety and cost issues from recycling — longtime concerns that advocates say can be overcome.
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EU rejects any US attempt to invoke Iran nuclear deal

In the next few days, the latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to become public. It will make headlines even if it doesn’t contain any news.

BY: LORNE COOK | abcnews.com

BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday that since the United States has already withdrawn from an international agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, it can’t now use its former membership of the pact to try to impose a permanent arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.The accord, which Iran signed with the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China and Russia in 2015, has been unraveling since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out in 2018 and reinstated sanctions designed to cripple Tehran under what the U.S. called a “maximum pressure” campaign.


U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft have said that extending a permanent U.N. backed arms embargo against Iran is now a top priority for Washington.
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Iran continues its nuclear work, but is it weapons grade?

In the next few days, the latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to become public. It will make headlines even if it doesn’t contain any news.

BY: SIMON HENDERSON | thehill.com

A mega-row is emerging between the United States and its major European allies — Britain, Germany and France — over Washington’s decision to stop issuing waivers so that foreign companies can help Iran’s civil nuclear activities. In a joint statement on Saturday, the three European countries said: “We deeply regret the U.S. decision.”

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Citizen Scientist: Frank von Hippel’s Adventures in Nuclear Arms Control

For 50 years, Frank von Hippel has been working as a citizen-scientist to reduce the grave dangers to humankind from nuclear-weapon and nuclear-energy programs around the world. In this special collection of edited, illustrated and footnoted interviews, von Hippel describes in vivid personal detail the many policy battles he has taken on, the state of nuclear dangers today, and his hopes for a path forward.

Interviews by Tomoko Kurokawa | Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

Born into an illustrious scientific family that included his grandfather, Nobel laureate James Franck, a leader of the opposition within the Manhattan Project to the use of nuclear weapons against Japan, von Hippel got his PhD in physics from Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. He was inspired by student activists opposed to the Vietnam War to move from teaching physics at Stanford into a career of policy activism based in Princeton University, where he co-founded the Program on Science and Global Security a leading international center for nuclear arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament research. During the 1980s, von Hippel joined the US citizens’ uprising to “freeze” the nuclear arms race.

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NEWS FROM BEYOND NUCLEAR

BEYOND NUCLEAR FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT CHALLENGING HIGH-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE DUMP FOR ENTIRE INVENTORY OF U.S. “SPENT” REACTOR FUEL   

Petitioner charges the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knowingly violated U.S. Nuclear Waste Policy Act and up-ended settled law prohibiting transfer of ownership of spent fuel to the federal government until a permanent underground repository is ready to receive it

[WASHINGTON, DC – June 4, 2020] Today the non-profit organization Beyond Nuclear filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting review of an  April 23, 2020 order and an October 29, 2018 order by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), rejecting challenges to Holtec International/Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance’s application to build a massive “consolidated interim storage facility” (CISF) for nuclear waste in southeastern New Mexico. Holtec proposes to store as much as 173,000 metric tons of highly radioactive irradiated or “spent” nuclear fuel – more than twice the amount of spent fuel currently stored at U.S. nuclear power reactors – in shallowly buried containers on the site.

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Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection
Craters in the desert at the Nevada National Security Site, 2005. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

On May 15, according to reporting in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the Trump administration held serious discussions about whether to conduct a nuclear test explosion, and those conversations are continuing.

Though the administration has not made any public remarks on the matter, many experts and policy makers have already chimed in to voice dissent. Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, said a nuclear test would “pose a grave challenge to global peace and security.”

Hans Kristensen, who directs the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, said it was “completely nuts.” Joe Biden, former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said a resumption of testing would be “as reckless as it is dangerous.”

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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.

New & Updated

Trinity Downwinders:  75 Years and Waiting

Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC)

REMEMBERING THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRINITY TEST

***  I M M E D I A T E    P R E S S    R E L E A S E  ***

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Virtual Event at 9:00 a.m. MDT

Access at www.trinitydownwinders.com

Trinity Downwinders are commemorating the 75th Anniversary since the first nuclear test was conducted anywhere in the world and bringing attention to the fact that New Mexicans still have not received Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) benefits.

RECA was passed in 1990 by the US Government to provide health care coverage and compensation to downwinders from other parts of the country but has never included the people of New Mexico.  The fund has paid out over 2.3 Billion Dollars in reparations to downwinders of the Nevada Test site but never to New Mexico downwinders.  It also provides the best health care coverage available.

Trinity Downwinders will commemorate the New Mexicans who have died from cancer and other radiation exposure related diseases during this event and read firsthand accounts of the bomb blast.

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Funding Nuclear Weapons at a Time of National Crisis

Nuclear weapons represent the greatest imminent existential threat to our very existence and to every social, racial, environmental and economic justice movement that we are working for, since ultimately it is all connected.

BY: ROBERT DODGE | cpmmondreams.com

This time of awakening has drawn attention to the connection and challenges we face as a nation and world. (Photo: Ralf Schlesener/ICAN)

Today, July 15, we fund our nation’s priorities. This year, the nation is awakening to the problems of systemic and institutionalized racism while simultaneously grappling with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which has no end in sight. The Black Lives Matter movement is receiving its due attention and communities are demanding demilitarization of police forces and tactics and reprioritization of funding to address the needs of communities to bring forth a socially just, environmentally sustainable and peaceful community. City councils are taking a close look at police budgets and many citizens are calling for participatory budgeting with input in the budgets of their cities as they move to determine their own priorities. Nationally, with our massively bloated defense budget, it is also the time we fund the nuclear arms race even as nations around the world work to pass a nuclear ban treaty, the “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”, similar to those banning all other weapons of mass destruction.

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15 LANL Workers Tested for Radiation Exposure After Mishap

“Mishandled glove boxes are a long-standing problem at the lab, but having 15 workers possibly exposed to radiation because of one breach is a high number and could become more common as the plutonium plant ramps up production of nuclear cores.” — Scott Kovac, research and operations director for nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

“The 15 workers is just an example of things to come,” Kovac said.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

A view inside a conveyer alley where contained handling takes place. The gloveboxes are designed for preparing uranium and plutonium carbide compounds.
publicintegrity.org

Fifteen employees at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium plant were tested for radiation exposure after a “glove box” breach in June contaminated the work area.

Air monitors sounded an alarm at the facility when an operator accidentally ripped off the protective gloves attached to a sealed compartment for handling plutonium after the worker weighed and packaged plutonium-238 oxide powder.

The breach contaminated the worker’s protective clothing, hair and skin, and caused enough potential airborne exposure that other workers had to be tested for radiation, according to a report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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Trump Plan to Build Nuclear Bombs Divides a Scarred Factory Town

“To me, they haven’t proven that this is going to be safe,” said Pete LaBerge, a 70-year-old retiree who lives about three miles away from the Savannah River Site in nearby Windsor, which has 150 residents. He worries about a release of radiation. “Part of my theory is it’s sort of a make-work program for the Energy Department.”

BY: ARI NATTER & CHARLIE MCGEE | bloomberg.com

A factory along South Carolina’s Savannah River produced tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, employing thousands of workers but leaving behind a toxic legacy of radioactive waste.

Now the Trump administration has proposed spending $9 billion over 10 years to restart production of bomb parts there and at another site. The plan has raised the welcome prospect of new jobs though also rekindled environmental fears. And it’s set off alarms about a new nuclear arms race just as key treaties with Russia lapse.

“It’s a waste of money and dangerous,” said Stephen Young, an expert on arms control and international security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

ABC NEWS FILE PHOTO Nov., 20, 2013, file photo, radioactive waste, sealed in large stainless steel canisters, are stored under a five-feet of concrete in a storage building at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

President Donald Trump’s plan, announced by the departments of Energy and Defense in 2018, calls for restarting production of nuclear bomb ‘pits’ at the South Carolina site and another one in New Mexico. The bowling-ball sized spheres of plutonium act as the trigger in a nuclear warhead, setting off the explosive chain reaction.

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WIPP: Nuclear Watchdog Group Again Challenges Utility Shaft in New Mexico Supreme Court

The Southwest Research and Information Center previously filed a motion to the court in April, seeking to block the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) temporary approval (TA) of plans for the shaft that saw no public hearing or comment process.

BY: ADRIAN HEDDEN | carlsbadcurrentargus.com

The $100 million project to build the shaft was intended to increase airflow to the WIPP underground, where transuranic (TRU) waste is permanently disposed of, to allow emplacement of waste and mining of panels where it is emplaced to occur simultaneously.

A nuclear watchdog group in Albuquerque filed two appeals in New Mexico Supreme Court last week, seeking to block the construction of a utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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‘Will to fight together’: Fiji’s has taken another bold step in the battle against nuclear weapons

“For many in the Pacific, memories of the impact of nuclear weapons testing still exist, its legacies continue, and the Pacific-wide solidarity that started in Fiji carries lessons for the world.”
Ratification of United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons honours a half-century of anti-nuclear activism

By: Vanessa Griffen & Talei Luscia Mangioni | theguardian.com

The Against Testing on Mururoa (ATOM) committee protests on the streets of Suva, Fiji, in the 1970s Photograph: The Guardian

In the streets of Suva in the 1970s it was the young who carried the cause. In afros, headbands and bell-bottom jeans they handed out pamphlets and printed newsletters, performed skits and variety shows, gave lectures, and led rallies on the streets of Fiji’s capital.

Crowds heard firebrand speeches from church leaders, trade unionists, university staff and student leaders.

The Atom (Against Testing on Mururoa) committee, formed in Fiji in 1970, was dedicated to educating, creatively but powerfully, the Fijian public of the dangers of radioactive fallout from French testing and colonialism in the Pacific.

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China Challenges the U.S. to Reduce Its Nuclear Arsenal to Same Level

BEIJING — If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

REUTERS/NEW YORK TIMES | nytimes.com

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Senate Undoes Proposed Power Shift in Nuclear Arms Budgeting

Moves comes at the behest of the Energy secretary

BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

UNITED STATES – MAY 13: Sen. Maria Cantwell , D-Wash., sanitizes her hands as she arrives for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted quietly Thursday to undo a proposal in its fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill that would have given the Pentagon extraordinary new power to shape the Energy Department’s future nuclear weapons budgets.

CQ Roll Call reported this week on behind-the-scenes opposition to provisions in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA that would have given certain Defense Department officials new clout to set the amount and the content of the budget the Energy Department prepares for its National Nuclear Security Administration every year.

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Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Energy and Water Development Funding Bill

“Policy Provision: The bill prohibits funding for nuclear weapons testing.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
Contact:
Evan Hollander (Appropriations), 202-225-2771
Griffin Anderson (Kaptur), 202-225-4146

Legislation invests $49.6 billion in Energy and Water Development programs, an increase of $1.26 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level, addressing climate change, improving infrastructure, and upholding our commitment to strengthening national security

In response to the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, legislation provides an additional $43.5 billion in emergency spending to repair water infrastructure and modernize energy infrastructure

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior programs, the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.

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Fifteen LANL Workers Being Evaluated For Possible Exposure To Plutonium-238 Following June 8 Glovebox Glove Breach

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating the possible exposure of Laboratory employees to plutonium-238 after a breach in a glovebox glove at the Plutonium Facility on June 8.

BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Courtesy photo

A Lab spokesperson told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday that employees responded promptly and appropriately, and cleared the room in a safe manner.

“Fifteen Laboratory workers are being evaluated for potential exposure. The area inside the Plutonium Facility where this occurred has been secured, pending a review of the events and there is no risk to public health and safety,” the spokesperson said.

A report by Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board inspectors Jonathan Plaue and David Gutowski dated June 12 noted that on June 8 continuous air monitors sounded when an operator pulled out of the glovebox gloves after weighing and packaging plutonium-238 oxide powder.

“The worker received significant contamination on his protective clothing, hair, and skin, as well as positive nasal swabs indicating a potential intake. Radiation protection personnel successfully decontaminated the individual, and he was provided chelation therapy,” the report states. “The room experienced significant airborne radioactivity and was contaminated. Fourteen additional workers were placed on bioassay. On Thursday (June 11), Triad management conducted a fact-finding to discuss the event, response, and near-term actions. Given the significance of the event, they chartered a team to perform a comprehensive investigation.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

House Panel Would Block Pentagon From Extra Sway Over Nuclear Weapons Budget

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Airman 1st Class William Ray removes the screws holding the nose point of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to the rest of the reentry system inside a payload transporter at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON ― House appropriators on Tuesday approved a spending bill that would block plans from defense hawks to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets.

The House Appropriations Committee passed their Energy-Water bill, which contained the provision, by a voice vote. The $49.6 billion spending bill contained $13.7 billion for nuclear weapons accounts ― a $1.2 billion increase over fiscal 2020 that’s still $1.9 billion less than the president’s request.

Lead Republicans voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that Democrats had not consulted with Republicans on pandemic emergency funds in the bill and that Democrats included policy riders the White House will seek to cut. The top Republican on the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, said the bill “still shortchanges funding for the nuclear weapons program.”

“While I acknowledge the increase above last year, we must also acknowledge that the threats we face today are not the same threats we faced in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War,” he said. “We must adequately fund the activities necessary to maintain a safe, reliable and effective stockpile.”

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense policy bill would allow the council to edit the budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office. The move was seen as giving the Pentagon extra sway to boost warhead programs and nuclear weapons laboratories.

Its introduction came after Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette clashed with SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who backed a budget request for the larger number than Brouillette sought.

The Energy-Water spending bill contains language ordering no funds “may be used in furtherance of working through the Nuclear Weapons Council to guide, advise, assist, develop, or execute a budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.”

Separately, the proposed bill would ban the Trump administration’s reported plan to resume nuclear weapons testing. The bill would prohibit funding “to conduct, or prepare to conduct, any explosive nuclear weapons test that produces any yield.”

“Critically, the bill would prevent the Trump administration from using any funds to carry out its dangerous and short-sighted plan to resume nuclear testing,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

The Trump administration was reportedly discussing whether a “rapid test” could aid it in negotiations with Russia and China, as the White House seeks a trilateral nuclear weapons pact.

The defense appropriations bill introduced Tuesday would also bar funding for explosive nuclear weapons tests.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

GROUPS ASK TO RESUME PUBLIC MEETINGS ON BOMB PLANT

Kathy Helms

Special correspondent
July 4, 2020
 
SANTA FE – Seven non-governmental organizations are asking the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy for the resumption of semi-annual presentations covering the production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The public participation provisions are contained in a 2005 settlement agreement. The settlement was reached after the same seven organizations objected to the issuance of an air emissions permit for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.
At the same time, a New Mexico Environment Department draft air emissions permit is being prepared for public review and comment on releases from the lab and manufacturing facilities. The organizations said they are working to ensure those provisions public meetings covering construction at the weapons-component production facilities and a dedicated website are included in the air permit.

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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The All-American Way

Today, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich considers the all-American version of “extreme materialism” that Martin Luther King called out more than half a century ago. And when it comes to the overwhelming urge to get one’s hands on the goods, among the looters of this moment two groups are almost never mentioned: the Pentagon and the police.

BY: ANDREW BASEVICH | tomdispatch.com

Yet, in 1997, the Department of Defense set up the 1033 program as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to provide thousands of domestic police forces with “surplus” equipment of almost every imaginable militarized kind. Since then, thanks to your tax dollars, it has given away $7.4 billion of such equipment, some of it directly off the battlefields of this country’s forlorn “forever wars.” For items like grenade launchers, mine-resistant armored vehicles, military rifles, bayonets, body armor, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, all that police departments have to fork over is the price of delivery. The Pentagon has, in fact, been so eager to become the Macy’s of militarized hardware that, in 2017, it was even willing to “give $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bombs, and night vision goggles to a fake police department,” no questions asked. That “department” proved to be part of a sting operation run by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” a GAO official would say. Only, of course, for free.

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Non-Governmental Organizations Demand Resumption of Los Alamos Nuclear Bomb Plant Public Information Meetings


The NGOs request that the semi-annual public meetings resume by early fall 2020, and the CMRR Project website be updated and maintained until the RLUOB reconfiguration and PF-4 upgrades are completed. All documents and presentations from the previous 13 public meetings must be reposted. The NGOs are also asking that the unilateral decision by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to increase the amount of plutonium equivalent allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams be reviewed by NMED.

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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.

Stay engaged in the effort to prevent nuclear war. Read these 11 essential books on nuclear weapons.

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…

1983 by Taylor Downing

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..

The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Ron Rosenbaum, in his fascinating and highly readable “How The End Begins” (2011) notes that when Kissinger told Nixon that Ellsberg was “the most dangerous man in America” he wasn’t referring to the Pentagon Papers but to what Ellsberg knew about top secret nuclear war plans from his work at RAND. Ellsberg had also made off with thousands of nuclear war-fighting strategy documents in addition to the Pentagon Papers, but decided to release the latter first. As it turned out much of the nuclear papers were lost during the turmoil following the Pentagon Papers release. This book, long overdue, is about what he learned then.

Ellsberg recalls being tasked to review the strategic war-fighting plans in effect under Eisenhower, and discovering that they called for “hitting every city, actually every town, above 25,000 population” in Russia and China and to some extent East Europe. Pressed for an estimate of death toll, the pentagon came back with 600 million dead. And that was not counting US and West European death tolls. “I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”

Referring to US and Russian ICBM forces still to this day on alert: “Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine.”

Democracy Now interview with transcript

Harper’s Magazine excerpt, Dec 6, 2017

Dave Davies excellent NPR interview

at Amazon

Quotes

“We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

Robert Oppenheimer on the Trinity test; interview in The Decision to Drop the Bomb, Atomic Archive movie

“Those who sacrificed for our country’s national security, in some cases unknowingly, should not have to doubly fear this crisis,” Groups Demand Relief for Nuclear Frontline Communities

Over 120 local and national organizations are urging the U.S. Congress to provide assistance to nuclear frontline communities.

Every year, Los Alamos National Laboratory produces 7 million pounds of chemical waste and 15,000 pounds of low-level radioactive waste, as well as more than 700 cubic yards of more highly radioactive waste, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)