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.

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

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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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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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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Russia warns it will see any incoming missile as nuclear

“The policy document offered a detailed description of situations that could trigger the use of nuclear weapons, including the use of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction against Russia or its allies.”

BY: The Associated Press, VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV | apnews.com

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will perceive any ballistic missile launched at its territory as a nuclear attack that warrants a nuclear retaliation, the military warned in an article published Friday.

The harsh warning in the official military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) is directed at the United States, which has worked to develop long-range non-nuclear weapons.

The article follows the publication in June of Russia’s nuclear deterrent policy that envisages the use of atomic weapons in response to what could be a conventional strike targeting the nation’s critical government and military infrastructure.

In the Krasnaya Zvezda article, senior officers of the Russian military’s General Staff, Maj.-Gen. Andrei Sterlin and Col. Alexander Khryapin, noted that there will be no way to determine if an incoming ballistic missile is fitted with a nuclear or a conventional warhead, and so the military will see it as a nuclear attack.

“Any attacking missile will be perceived as carrying a nuclear warhead,” the article said. “The information about the missile launch will be automatically relayed to the Russian military-political leadership, which will determine the scope of retaliatory action by nuclear forces depending on the evolving situation.”

The argument reflects Russia’s longtime concerns about the development of weapons that could give Washington the capability to knock out key military assets and government facilities without resorting to atomic weapons.

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Groups raise concerns about new shaft at WIPP

“The Southwest Research and Information Center is among those opposing the project. The group filed legal challenges, saying environmental officials ignored existing regulations, past agency practices and case law when giving temporary approval for contractors to begin working.”

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | santafenewmexican.com

ALBUQUERQUE — Crews working at the U.S. government’s underground nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico are starting a new phase of a contentious project to dig a utility shaft that officials say will increase ventilation at the site where workers entomb the radioactive remnants of decades of bomb-making.

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad said this week the $75 million project is a top priority and that work will be done around the clock five days a week, with an additional shift on Saturdays. The shaft will eventually span more than four-tenths of a mile and connect to an underground system of passageways.

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Surprising numbers in UNM report on lab’s impact

“BBER’s (UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research) director Jeffrey Mitchell said in an email to a Regional Coalition official that the county financial figures show “there are some winners and some losers. I suspect that LANL was less interested in presenting that.”

BY JOURNAL NORTH EDITORIAL BOARD | abqjournal.com

Surprising numbers in UNM report on lab’s impact
A recent UNM study calculates the local government cost of providing basic services to employees of Los Alamos National Laboratory, such as these working in the lab’s plutonium facility, versus local tax revenue paid by lab workers and on LANL procurements. (Courtesy of the National Nuclear Security Administration/LANL)

A recent study by the University of New Mexico’s respected economic studies office details the huge economic impact of Los Alamos National Laboratory on New Mexico.

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NCI Virtual Briefing on results from the Study to Estimate Radiation Doses and Cancer Risks Resulting from Radioactive Fallout from the Trinity Nuclear Test

UPDATE FROM THE NCI SUMMARY:

“The data suggest that perhaps several hundred cancers, primarily thyroid cancer, have already occurred over the 75 years since the test and a small number are projected to occur in the future that would not have occurred in the absence of radiation exposure from Trinity fallout. Most of the excess cancers are projected to have occurred or will occur among residents living in Guadalupe, Lincoln, San Miguel, Socorro, and Torrance counties in 1945. Significant uncertainty in dose estimation had a substantial impact on the total uncertainty around these estimates. Most cancers that have occurred or will occur among the 1945 residents of New Mexico are likely to be cancers unrelated to exposures from Trinity fallout. Finally, with the data available, it is not possible to definitively identify the specific individuals whose cancers might be due to the radiation exposure.

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New & Updated

Column: Yes, Santa Susana is a ‘landmark’ — as a historic environmental disaster

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site is “one of the most toxic sites in the United States by any kind of definition,” Jared Blumenfeld, head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told me. “It demands a full cleanup.”

BY: MICHAEL HILTZIK 

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, shown in a 2000 photo, is one of the most challenging cleanup jobs in the state, possibly the country.(Boeing)

One thing is certainly true about NASA’s curious effort to place 2,850 acres above the Simi Valley on the National Register of Historic Places: The parcel is certainly a landmark.

Among the points in dispute is what makes it so.

To several local Native American tribes, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the Ventura County site’s cave drawings and rock shelters bespeak a cultural heritage dating back centuries.

The time has come for us to make sure that we hold the polluters accountable for their legacy….We will make sure the site gets cleaned up and we will exercise our legal authority in pursuit of that. – CALEPA SECRETARY JARED BLUMENFELD

To environmentalists and the site’s neighbors, it’s historic for the extent of its contamination by chemical and nuclear research performed there during the Cold War.

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‘It just goes into a black hole’ The Trump administration is burying dozens of studies detailing the promise of renewable energy, impeding a transition away from fossil fuels

“The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.”

BY:  This story was produced in collaboration with InvestigateWest, a nonprofit newsroom in Seattle with a focus on the environment, public health, and government accountability

It was a scorching August day at the Hoover Dam as three Trump administration officials gathered for a little celebration honoring pollution-free hydroelectricity. Inside the dam’s Spillway House Visitor Center, air conditioning thankfully kept people comfortable as the president’s appointees heaped praise on hydropower. A U.S. Department of Interior news release about the event calls hydroelectric dams such as Hoover —where the Colorado River slips between Arizona and Nevada — a “unique resource critical to America’s future, which supports the integration of other renewables like wind and solar onto the grid.”

But what went unsaid at the grip-and-grin was that one of those high-ranking officials, Dan Simmons of the U.S. Department of Energy doesn’t appear to fully support renewables. In fact, he has presided over his agency’s systematic squelching of dozens of government studies detailing its promise.

One pivotal research project, for example, quantifies hydropower’s unique potential to enhance solar and wind energy, storing up power in the form of water held back behind dams for moments when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. By the time of the Hoover Dam ceremony, Simmons’ office at the Energy Department had been sitting on that particular study for more than a year.

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Reports: Japan to Release Fukushima’s Contaminated Water Into Sea

“The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.”

A control rod in a damaged Fukushima reactor submerged in highly radioactive water

BY: By Yuka Obayashi and Kaori Kaneko, Reuters 

Nearly a decade after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s government has decided to release over one million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea, media reports said on Friday, with a formal announcement expected to be made later this month.

The decision is expected to rankle neighbouring countries like South Korea, which has already stepped up radiation tests of food from Japan, and further devastate the fishing industry in Fukushima that has battled against such a move for years.

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Is Change Coming? Smartly Reshaping and Strengthening America’s Nuclear Deterrent

“Adjusting U.S. nuclear weapons plans is notoriously difficult, as nearly every president has experienced. Yet it is urgent to halt and reverse the trend of increasing nuclear capabilities that lower the threshold for nuclear war and increase miscalculation risks.”

Image: U.S. Air Force (Photo by Airman 1st Class Lillian Miller)

BY:  AND 

How might America’s nuclear weapons plans change in the years ahead? Buoyed by the revelation of President Donald Trump describing a potential secret new nuclear weapon system to Bob Woodward, continuing U.S.-Russian dialogue on nuclear weapons, and the upcoming November elections, experts are speculating about what the next four years may mean for U.S. nuclear policy.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has indicated that, if elected, he would seek a posture aligned with his stated belief “that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring — and, if necessary retaliating against — a nuclear attack.” This would be a pivot from Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which elevated the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense planning by, among other things, describing America’s nuclear forces as a hedge against large-scale conventional attacks and strategic cyber attacks. The declaratory shift — along with elevation of so-called low-yield nuclear options that are considered more usable, and support for more dual conventional and nuclear systems that could be indistinguishable in the absence of verification measures — increased concern that the Trump administration viewed nuclear weapons as acceptable for warfighting, not just deterrence.

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Trump Thought He Had a Nuclear Deal With Putin. Not So Fast, Russia Said.

Trump administration officials want to broaden the New START accord and warn that the price of a new deal will rise after the election. Joe Biden supports a straight five-year extension of the deal.

BY:

President Trump had a pre-election plan to show he had gotten something out of his mysteriously friendly relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

In the weeks before the election, the two men would announce that they had reached an agreement in principle to extend New START, the last remaining major arms control agreement between the two countries. It expires on Feb. 5, two weeks after the next presidential inauguration.

Mr. Trump has long refused to sign off on a clean five-year extension of the agreement, a step both leaders could take without Senate approval. He has described the Obama-era treaty as deeply flawed — the same thing he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear accord — because it did not cover all of Russia’s nuclear arms, or any of China’s.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The Biggest Radioactive Spill in US History Never Ended

How the US poisoned Navajo Nation.

BY:  | vox.com

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

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Delegates Want Open Meeting on Release of Radioactive Vapors at LANL

The public will get a chance to comment and learn more about Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plans to release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere from several barrels of tritium-tainted waste.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

The federal agency that oversees the lab scheduled the meeting for Oct. 20 after three New Mexico delegates — U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — wrote a letter calling for more transparency and public participation.

An open forum on the release of vapors from Cold War waste is especially important for Pueblo people and others who live near the site, the delegates said in the letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“We strongly believe that protecting public health and safety must always be the highest priority at Los Alamos,” they wrote in the Oct. 1 letter. “Safety is particularly important when there is a possibility of a release to the environment involving radioactive or hazardous materials.”

The agency has said ventilating the containers is necessary to relieve built-up radioactive hydrogen in their headspace, so they can be safely handled and shipped to a commercial storage site.
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Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020

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Today, on Indigenous People’s Day 2020, we join our friends and speakers from indigenous rights and environmental groups from throughout the US in condemning nuclear colonialism. From uranium mining, milling, and processing, to atomic power and nuclear weapons, to radioactive waste – the resulting environmental injustices have disproportionately impacted Native Americans & other indigenous peoples.


Sarah Fields, Uranium Watch and Sierra Club Nuclear-Free CampaignLas Vegas, NV — Indigenous rights and environmental advocates from throughout the US condemned nuclear colonialism on what is recognized as “Columbus Day” Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Native Community Action Council held a press conference in front of the Thomas and Mac Moot Court at the Boyd Law School on the campus of UNLV for participants in the Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues at UNLV.

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LANL’s Waste Storage Poses Dangers, Report Says

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Report demonstrates beyond doubt that a FULL programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production is needed, as well as new site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos Lab.

The 760 rem estimate is equal to 380,000 chest X-rays, said Dan Hirsch, retired director of programs on environment and nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “This is vastly above what’s permissible for workers’ exposure,” Hirsch said, adding that far lower doses can cause cancer.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory is storing hundreds, maybe thousands, of barrels of radioactive waste mixed with incompatible chemicals that have the potential to cause an explosion , putting workers and the public at risk, a government watchdog said in a report.

LANL personnel have failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for an incompatible chemical to be mixed in and cause a container to burst, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in a September report.

Such an explosion would release radiation in doses lethal to workers and hazardous to the public, the safety board said. And yet the radiation levels that would be released have not been sufficiently estimated, it said.

Some of LANL’s facilities store radioactive waste without any engineered controls or safeguards beyond the containers, the board wrote in a cover letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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25-Year Study of Nuclear vs Renewables Says One Is Clearly Better at Cutting Emissions

Nuclear power is often promoted as one of the best ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to generate the electricity we need, but new research suggests that going all-in on renewables such as wind and solar might be a better approach to seriously reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

BY: DAVID NIELD| sciencealert.com

Based on an analysis of 123 countries over a quarter of a century, the adoption of nuclear power did not achieve the significant reduction in national carbon emissions that renewables did – and in some developing nations, nuclear programmes actually pushed carbon emissions higher.

The study also finds that nuclear power and renewable power don’t mix well when they’re tried together: they tend to crowd each other out, locking in energy infrastructure that’s specific to their mode of power production.

Given nuclear isn’t exactly zero carbon, it risks setting nations on a path of relatively higher emissions than if they went straight to renewables.

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Virtual Public Information Session on FTWC venting at Los Alamos National Laboratory – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20

The public information session will be hosted via Webex; people who wish to attend can join by following this link (meeting password GckhzZ5nv33), or call in by phone at 415-527-5035, access code 199 995 9074 if people do not have internet access.

Media Advisory
CONTACT: Peter Hyde, pahyde@lanl.gov

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 8, 2020—The National Nuclear Security Administration is hosting a virtual public information session at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to inform the public about the process of venting Flanged Tritium Waste Containers (FTWCs) that are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Flanged Tritium Waste Containers are pressure vessels specifically designed to contain waste metal that has been exposed to tritium. As the tritium ages and separates into helium and hydrogen, those gases can create pressure inside the container. This is expected and accounted for in the design.

To reduce the amount of waste stored on site, Los Alamos National Laboratory will ship the containers off-site to a licensed storage facility. In order to ship the containers, the pressurized gases inside the containers must be vented to meet regulatory requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

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Citizens’ Hearing Held at New Mexico Capitol about Increased Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved its plans to increase plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by 50 percent as a way to comply with what is described in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review as a need for “an effective, responsive, and resilient nuclear weapons infrastructure” that can “adapt flexibly to shifting requirements.”

The Pentagon has stated it needs annual production of 80 plutonium pits, the triggers for nuclear weapons.  The DOE has approved its Supplement Analyses for four possible ways to execute this upgrade.
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NASA’s clean-up plan for tainted Santa Susana Field Lab near Simi outrages activists

“NASA’s absurd excuse for cleaning up so much less contamination than it promised is that it has discovered there is much more contamination at the site than it had previously realized,” — cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap

BY: Mike Harris | Ventura County Star vcstar.com

NASA has decided to clean up contaminated soil at its portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site to a less stringent standard than it agreed to in a 2010 legally binding agreement with the state.

The federal agency announced its decision last week, outraging cleanup activists and some local officials.

The activists say NASA’s planned cleanup, outlined in a formal Record of Decision, would leave 84% of its contaminated acres not remediated at the site outside Simi Valley.

That would violate a 2010 legally binding agreement — formally called an Administrative Order on Consent — NASA signed with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to clean up its acres “to background,” the most exacting standard.

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Action Alerts

Pending Action Alert: Los Alamos May Host ANOTHER Virtual Public Information Session on Controversial Tritium Release

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT PARTICIPATED IN THE FIRST MEETING. OVER 150 PEOPLE ATTENDED! THE OVERWHELMING PUBLIC DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS TRITUIM RELEASE.
Next meeting: Date & Time TBA

Claiming the need to reduce the amount of waste stored on site, LANL plans to ship four of the containers of tritium off-site. Pueblos, the public, and public interest groups, including NukeWatch have questioned the plans to potentially release over 110,000 curies of radioactive tritium into the air.

In order to ship the containers, the pressurized gases inside the containers must be vented. The Flanged Tritium Waste Containers (FWTCs) are pressure vessels designed to contain waste that has been exposed to tritium. As tritium ages, it separates into helium and hydrogen, which can create pressure inside a container.

Selected Literature on the Potential Health Effects of Tritium

Summary: The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s planned release of up to 100,000 curies of radioactive tritium from four “Flanged Tritium Waste Containers” could impact public health. Of particular concern could be human female reproductive capability. LANL has sat on its tritium containers since 2008 and has not made clear why venting before this winter is so urgent now. The Lab has also not stated what (if any) alternatives it has considered to open venting. Before proceeding with venting LANL must obtain “temporary authorization” from the New Mexico Environment Department. NMED should not grant that temporary authorization until LANL has supplied it with a comprehensive analysis of alternatives and documentation of little to no expected public health impacts, all subject to public review and comment.

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VOTE
Graphic by Simone De Blanck

YOUR VOICE will help determine the future of arms control.
Please be sure to #VOTE!

How To Vote In The 2020 Election

Critical Events

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.

R.I.P. Jerry Fuentes

Nuclear Media

Nuclear News

U.S. to Launch Minuteman III Missile Test Just Five Days After 50th Country Ratified Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

“While most of the world’s countries are evolving to a view that nuclear weapons are unacceptable under all circumstances, the U.S. is testing a nuclear missile built to fight the Cold War; one which is designed to cause the indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people.”

By:  | wagingpeace.org

An Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 12:02 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time 2 September 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. ICBM test launches demonstrate the U.S. nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to defend the United States and its allies. ICBMs provide the U.S. and its allies the necessary deterrent capability to maintain freedom to operate and navigate globally in accordance with international laws and norms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Hanah Abercrombie)

SANTA BARBARA, CA– Early tomorrow morning, between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m., the United States will launch an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base. While the Air Force maintains that missile tests are planned many months in advance, the timing of this test is questionable, at best.

This test will take place just five days after Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). With the 50th ratification, the treaty will enter into force on January 22, 2021. The treaty prohibits the possession, testing, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons.

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WIPP gets millions in COVID-19 relief funding, operations contract extended for one year

“Are WIPP workers getting infected at the site and taking it back into the communities?” Don Hancock said. “WIPP is clearly not always a safe place, but we don’t know if WIPP is a place where workers get infected or if infected workers brought it to WIPP.”

BY:  | currentargus.com


In August and September, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant received about $3.8 million per month of federal COVID-19 funding as the U.S. Department of Energy elected to renew the facility’s primary contractor for one year despite an option to keep Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) at the helm of the nuclear waste repository until 2022.

NWP spokesman Donavan Mager said the site received $3.816 million in August and $3.803 in September and that the funding was designated to “support operations” although he did not elaborate on how, specifically, the public money was to be spent.

Per the latest reports from WIPP, 39 workers had contracted COVID-19 as the pandemic appeared to pose a resurgence in New Mexico in recent weeks.

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WIPP Resumes Nuclear Waste Shipments from California National Laboratory

Nuclear waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) near San Francisco, California resumed this month after a 10-year pause.

BY:  | currentargus.com

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., which was founded by the University of California in 1952, has grown to a 1-square-mile campus with almost 6,000 employees. A private contractor consortium now operates it. – National Nuclear Security Administration Via Flickr

The waste was received at WIPP and will be permanently disposed of in the underground repository about 2,000 feet beneath the surface.

The resumption of shipments from LLNL was the result of a multi-year project and collaboration between the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO), WIPP contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the NNSA’s Livermore Field Office, read a DOE news release.

LLNL is primarily a research laboratory that generates transuranic (TRU) waste during its research and engineering operations related to nuclear weapons, plutonium and other technological aspects of the DOE’s nuclear complex.

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Nuclear Ban Pact Should Not Erode Validity of NPT: Confab Chief

Noting that the current international security environment “is not very positive,” [Gustavo Zlauvinen, President-designate of the 2020 Review Conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)] said a lack of progress on nuclear disarmament will likely “play a big role, unfortunately” at the forthcoming NPT review conference.

KYODO NEWSkyodonews.com

Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand, the chair of a UN working group on nuclear disarmament, accepts a global parliamentary appeal from Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in Geneva on May 3, 2016. / Wikimedia Commons

“You can’t have nuclear disarmament without the nuclear weapon states in that system. And that’s why, for the time being, the only treaty that has been accepted by at least five nuclear weapon states, that includes obligations on nuclear disarmament, is the NPT,” Gustavo Zlauvinen said in a recent exclusive interview with Kyodo News.

There is a “huge difference” between the NPT and the pact, Zlauvinen said, adding that it is necessary to make distinctions between the two treaties and “try not to erode the validity and the legitimacy of the NPT.”

He also noted that some members of the NPT are opposed to any reference to the nuclear ban pact at the review conference to be convened early next year and indicated that a wide gap between nuclear power states and those pushing for the nuclear ban treaty could be an “issue of contention” at the NPT gathering.

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US, Russia to hold latest nuclear arms talks in Finland

“The Finnish president’s office says the United States and Russia will hold a round of nuclear arms control talks in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, on Monday to follow up on negotiations in Austria this summer

Associated Pressabcnews.com

The office said nuclear arms negotiators from Washington and Moscow met a previous time in Finland in 2017.

“Finland welcomes the negotiators, this time (U.S.) Ambassador (Marshall) Billingslea and (Russian) Deputy Foreign Minister (Sergei) Ryabkov,” the statement said, adding that Niinisto would meet both representatives after the talks.

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Revival of Renewables Sought in Debate Over Nuclear Bailout

“Most of the effects of the law at the heart of a $60 million Statehouse bribery scandal are set to take effect Jan. 1. The law generally creates or expands consumer-fueled subsidies for legacy nuclear and coal-fired power plants in Ohio and offsets those costs by rolling back and eliminating existing surcharges designed to create markets for renewable sources like wind and solar and reduce energy consumption overall.”

Jim Provancelimaohio.com

COLUMBUS — EDP Renewables North America, the world’s fourth-largest wind developer, invested more than $700 million into projects in Paulding and Hardin counties when Ohio first rolled out the red carpet.

But more recent signals from the state — including last year’s passage of the $1 billion bailout of two nuclear plants — have convinced the company to look elsewhere for its future investments.

“HB 6 created a false dichotomy — that Ohio must sacrifice a clean-energy future at the expense of its energy past,” Erin Bowser, EDP’s director of project management, on Wednesday told a House of Representatives select committee now considering repealing House Bill 6.

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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

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Action Alerts

Pending Action Alert: Los Alamos May Host ANOTHER Virtual Public Information Session on Controversial Tritium Release

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT PARTICIPATED IN THE FIRST MEETING. OVER 150 PEOPLE ATTENDED! THE OVERWHELMING PUBLIC DOES NOT SUPPORT THIS TRITUIM RELEASE.
Next meeting: Date & Time TBA

Claiming the need to reduce the amount of waste stored on site, LANL plans to ship four of the containers of tritium off-site. Pueblos, the public, and public interest groups, including NukeWatch have questioned the plans to potentially release over 110,000 curies of radioactive tritium into the air.

In order to ship the containers, the pressurized gases inside the containers must be vented. The Flanged Tritium Waste Containers (FWTCs) are pressure vessels designed to contain waste that has been exposed to tritium. As tritium ages, it separates into helium and hydrogen, which can create pressure inside a container.

Selected Literature on the Potential Health Effects of Tritium

Summary: The Los Alamos National Laboratory’s planned release of up to 100,000 curies of radioactive tritium from four “Flanged Tritium Waste Containers” could impact public health. Of particular concern could be human female reproductive capability. LANL has sat on its tritium containers since 2008 and has not made clear why venting before this winter is so urgent now. The Lab has also not stated what (if any) alternatives it has considered to open venting. Before proceeding with venting LANL must obtain “temporary authorization” from the New Mexico Environment Department. NMED should not grant that temporary authorization until LANL has supplied it with a comprehensive analysis of alternatives and documentation of little to no expected public health impacts, all subject to public review and comment.

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New & Updated

Column: Yes, Santa Susana is a ‘landmark’ — as a historic environmental disaster

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site is “one of the most toxic sites in the United States by any kind of definition,” Jared Blumenfeld, head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told me. “It demands a full cleanup.”

BY: MICHAEL HILTZIK 

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, shown in a 2000 photo, is one of the most challenging cleanup jobs in the state, possibly the country.(Boeing)

One thing is certainly true about NASA’s curious effort to place 2,850 acres above the Simi Valley on the National Register of Historic Places: The parcel is certainly a landmark.

Among the points in dispute is what makes it so.

To several local Native American tribes, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the Ventura County site’s cave drawings and rock shelters bespeak a cultural heritage dating back centuries.

The time has come for us to make sure that we hold the polluters accountable for their legacy….We will make sure the site gets cleaned up and we will exercise our legal authority in pursuit of that. – CALEPA SECRETARY JARED BLUMENFELD

To environmentalists and the site’s neighbors, it’s historic for the extent of its contamination by chemical and nuclear research performed there during the Cold War.

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‘It just goes into a black hole’ The Trump administration is burying dozens of studies detailing the promise of renewable energy, impeding a transition away from fossil fuels

“The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.”

BY:  This story was produced in collaboration with InvestigateWest, a nonprofit newsroom in Seattle with a focus on the environment, public health, and government accountability

It was a scorching August day at the Hoover Dam as three Trump administration officials gathered for a little celebration honoring pollution-free hydroelectricity. Inside the dam’s Spillway House Visitor Center, air conditioning thankfully kept people comfortable as the president’s appointees heaped praise on hydropower. A U.S. Department of Interior news release about the event calls hydroelectric dams such as Hoover —where the Colorado River slips between Arizona and Nevada — a “unique resource critical to America’s future, which supports the integration of other renewables like wind and solar onto the grid.”

But what went unsaid at the grip-and-grin was that one of those high-ranking officials, Dan Simmons of the U.S. Department of Energy doesn’t appear to fully support renewables. In fact, he has presided over his agency’s systematic squelching of dozens of government studies detailing its promise.

One pivotal research project, for example, quantifies hydropower’s unique potential to enhance solar and wind energy, storing up power in the form of water held back behind dams for moments when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. By the time of the Hoover Dam ceremony, Simmons’ office at the Energy Department had been sitting on that particular study for more than a year.

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Reports: Japan to Release Fukushima’s Contaminated Water Into Sea

“The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.”

A control rod in a damaged Fukushima reactor submerged in highly radioactive water

BY: By Yuka Obayashi and Kaori Kaneko, Reuters 

Nearly a decade after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan’s government has decided to release over one million tonnes of contaminated water into the sea, media reports said on Friday, with a formal announcement expected to be made later this month.

The decision is expected to rankle neighbouring countries like South Korea, which has already stepped up radiation tests of food from Japan, and further devastate the fishing industry in Fukushima that has battled against such a move for years.

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Is Change Coming? Smartly Reshaping and Strengthening America’s Nuclear Deterrent

“Adjusting U.S. nuclear weapons plans is notoriously difficult, as nearly every president has experienced. Yet it is urgent to halt and reverse the trend of increasing nuclear capabilities that lower the threshold for nuclear war and increase miscalculation risks.”

Image: U.S. Air Force (Photo by Airman 1st Class Lillian Miller)

BY:  AND 

How might America’s nuclear weapons plans change in the years ahead? Buoyed by the revelation of President Donald Trump describing a potential secret new nuclear weapon system to Bob Woodward, continuing U.S.-Russian dialogue on nuclear weapons, and the upcoming November elections, experts are speculating about what the next four years may mean for U.S. nuclear policy.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has indicated that, if elected, he would seek a posture aligned with his stated belief “that the sole purpose of the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be deterring — and, if necessary retaliating against — a nuclear attack.” This would be a pivot from Trump’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, which elevated the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense planning by, among other things, describing America’s nuclear forces as a hedge against large-scale conventional attacks and strategic cyber attacks. The declaratory shift — along with elevation of so-called low-yield nuclear options that are considered more usable, and support for more dual conventional and nuclear systems that could be indistinguishable in the absence of verification measures — increased concern that the Trump administration viewed nuclear weapons as acceptable for warfighting, not just deterrence.

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Trump Thought He Had a Nuclear Deal With Putin. Not So Fast, Russia Said.

Trump administration officials want to broaden the New START accord and warn that the price of a new deal will rise after the election. Joe Biden supports a straight five-year extension of the deal.

BY:

President Trump had a pre-election plan to show he had gotten something out of his mysteriously friendly relationship with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

In the weeks before the election, the two men would announce that they had reached an agreement in principle to extend New START, the last remaining major arms control agreement between the two countries. It expires on Feb. 5, two weeks after the next presidential inauguration.

Mr. Trump has long refused to sign off on a clean five-year extension of the agreement, a step both leaders could take without Senate approval. He has described the Obama-era treaty as deeply flawed — the same thing he said about the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Iran nuclear accord — because it did not cover all of Russia’s nuclear arms, or any of China’s.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The Biggest Radioactive Spill in US History Never Ended

How the US poisoned Navajo Nation.

BY:  | vox.com

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

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Delegates Want Open Meeting on Release of Radioactive Vapors at LANL

The public will get a chance to comment and learn more about Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plans to release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere from several barrels of tritium-tainted waste.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

The federal agency that oversees the lab scheduled the meeting for Oct. 20 after three New Mexico delegates — U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — wrote a letter calling for more transparency and public participation.

An open forum on the release of vapors from Cold War waste is especially important for Pueblo people and others who live near the site, the delegates said in the letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“We strongly believe that protecting public health and safety must always be the highest priority at Los Alamos,” they wrote in the Oct. 1 letter. “Safety is particularly important when there is a possibility of a release to the environment involving radioactive or hazardous materials.”

The agency has said ventilating the containers is necessary to relieve built-up radioactive hydrogen in their headspace, so they can be safely handled and shipped to a commercial storage site.
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Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020

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Today, on Indigenous People’s Day 2020, we join our friends and speakers from indigenous rights and environmental groups from throughout the US in condemning nuclear colonialism. From uranium mining, milling, and processing, to atomic power and nuclear weapons, to radioactive waste – the resulting environmental injustices have disproportionately impacted Native Americans & other indigenous peoples.


Sarah Fields, Uranium Watch and Sierra Club Nuclear-Free CampaignLas Vegas, NV — Indigenous rights and environmental advocates from throughout the US condemned nuclear colonialism on what is recognized as “Columbus Day” Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Native Community Action Council held a press conference in front of the Thomas and Mac Moot Court at the Boyd Law School on the campus of UNLV for participants in the Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues at UNLV.

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LANL’s Waste Storage Poses Dangers, Report Says

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Report demonstrates beyond doubt that a FULL programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production is needed, as well as new site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos Lab.

The 760 rem estimate is equal to 380,000 chest X-rays, said Dan Hirsch, retired director of programs on environment and nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “This is vastly above what’s permissible for workers’ exposure,” Hirsch said, adding that far lower doses can cause cancer.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory is storing hundreds, maybe thousands, of barrels of radioactive waste mixed with incompatible chemicals that have the potential to cause an explosion , putting workers and the public at risk, a government watchdog said in a report.

LANL personnel have failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for an incompatible chemical to be mixed in and cause a container to burst, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in a September report.

Such an explosion would release radiation in doses lethal to workers and hazardous to the public, the safety board said. And yet the radiation levels that would be released have not been sufficiently estimated, it said.

Some of LANL’s facilities store radioactive waste without any engineered controls or safeguards beyond the containers, the board wrote in a cover letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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25-Year Study of Nuclear vs Renewables Says One Is Clearly Better at Cutting Emissions

Nuclear power is often promoted as one of the best ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to generate the electricity we need, but new research suggests that going all-in on renewables such as wind and solar might be a better approach to seriously reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

BY: DAVID NIELD| sciencealert.com

Based on an analysis of 123 countries over a quarter of a century, the adoption of nuclear power did not achieve the significant reduction in national carbon emissions that renewables did – and in some developing nations, nuclear programmes actually pushed carbon emissions higher.

The study also finds that nuclear power and renewable power don’t mix well when they’re tried together: they tend to crowd each other out, locking in energy infrastructure that’s specific to their mode of power production.

Given nuclear isn’t exactly zero carbon, it risks setting nations on a path of relatively higher emissions than if they went straight to renewables.

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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