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.

“The threat of nuclear war has dangled over humankind for much too long. We have survived so far through luck and brinkmanship. But the old, limited safeguards that kept the Cold War cold are long gone. Nuclear powers are getting more numerous and less cautious. We’ve condemned another generation to live on a planet that is one grave act of hubris or human error away from destruction without demanding any action from our leaders. That must change...

Over the past several months, I’ve been asked, including by colleagues, why I want to raise awareness on nuclear arms control when the world faces so many other challenges — climate change, rising authoritarianism and economic inequality, as well as the ongoing wars in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Part of the answer is that both of those active conflicts would be far more catastrophic if nuclear weapons were introduced into them...The other answer lies in our recent history. When people around the world in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s began to understand the nuclear peril of that era, a vocal constituency demanded — and achieved — change.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

there are no good scenarios in a nuclear war scenario

“I attempt to demonstrate that there are no good scenarios in a nuclear war scenario. There are no good answers…We, the public, now know that no matter how nuclear war begins in various scenarios—whether NATO’s involved, whether China’s involved, whether it’s a tactical weapon or a strategic weapon—it ends in a nuclear apocalypse.

– Here’s How Nuclear War Could Destroy Civilization in Just a Few Hours, Jon Skolnik, Vanity Fair

LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

New & Updated

How Annie Jacobsen mapped out ‘Nuclear War: A Scenario’

“There are new players, new nuclear armed nations that are far more unpredictable than those who have had nuclear weapons in the past.”

, TASK & PURPOSE

It starts with a sudden attack. North Korea, out of paranoia and fear, launches a nuclear strike on the United States, hitting its targets. The United States retaliates with a salvo of its own nuclear missiles. However, in order to hit North Korea, the missiles must pass over Russia. Attempts to communicate with the Russian president fail and Russia’s nuclear warning system makes him think it’s an attack on his country. So he launches his nuclear bombs, this time at the United States.

It’s a global nuclear war. And it happens in minutes.

That’s the setup at the heart of “Nuclear War: A Scenario,” a new book by investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen. The book, released at the end of March, outlines how one attack from an isolated state can set off a chain reaction of nuclear policy, with poor communication and split-second decisions triggering widespread nuclear war. It’s a fictional scena

America’s Nuclear War Plan in the 1960s Was Utter Madness. It Still Is.

We rarely consider the dangers these days, but our existence depends on it.

“‘Humanity is one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,’ cautions UN Secretary-General António Guterres. ‘We must reverse course.'”

BY , MOTHER JONES

Nuclear war is madness. Were a nuclear weapon to be launched at the United States, including from a rogue nuclear-armed nation like North Korea, American policy dictates a nuclear counterattack. This response would almost certainly set off a series of events that would quickly spiral out of control. “The world could end in the next couple of hours,” Gen. Robert Kehler, the former commander of US Strategic Command, told me in an interview.

We sit on the razor’s edge. Vladimir Putin has said he is “not bluffing” about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction should NATO overstep on Ukraine, and North Korea accuses the US of having “a sinister intention to provoke a nuclear war.” For generations, the American public has viewed a nuclear World War III as a remote prospect, but the threat is ever-present. “Humanity is one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” cautions UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must reverse course.”

So far, we haven’t. The Pentagon’s plans for nuclear war remain firmly in place.

The US government has spent trillions of dollars over the decades preparing to fight a nuclear war, while refining protocols meant to keep the government functioning after hundreds of millions of Americans become casualties of a nuclear holocaust, and the annual budgets continue to grow. The nation’s integrated nuclear war plan in the 1960s was utter madness. It almost certainly remains so today.

Jay Coghlan/NukeWatch NM Letter to the Editor: Santa Fe Reporter March 20, 2024

By Jay Coghlan, The Santa Fe Reporter |

(EFF Designer Hannah Diaz)

Cover, March 13: “The Foilies”

THE GREATEST FOILIE OF ALL

The Reporter should stick around in its own back yard for the “The Foilies: Recognizing the worst in government transparency.” IMHO, it’s all small potatoes compared to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) with their ~$60 billion program to expand production of plutonium pits, the critical (pun intended) cores of nuclear weapons. NNSA has no credible cost estimates for its most expensive and complex program ever. It has not conducted public reviews as legally required by the National Environmental Policy Act. Pit production will create more contamination and more radioactive wastes. New pits can’t be full-scale tested because of the international testing moratorium, which could erode confidence in stockpile reliability. Worse yet, it could prompt the US to return to full-scale testing, which would have serious global proliferation consequences.

Transparency? NNSA heavily redacts LANL’s “Performance Evaluation Report” on how taxpayers’ money is spent. Years go by before Freedom of Information Act requests are honored. And yet LANL and the NNSA are all too eager to lead us into a new nuclear arms race that could end civilization overnight.

Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Santa Fe

ARCHBISHOP JOHN C. WESTER’S STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF TRINITY TEST DOWNWINDERS AND URGES PASSAGE OF THE RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Monday, March 18, 2024– IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The following is a message from Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and Anne Avellone, Director, Office of Social Justice and Respect Life and Archdiocese of Santa Fe Justice, Peace, and Life Commission:

“Oppenheimer,” a movie released in 2023, many parts of which were filmed in New Mexico, is an expansive biopic of the life of Robert Oppenheimer and his work developing the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, NM and detonating it in the Tularosa Basin at the Trinity site. On March 10, 2024, the movie received seven Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. We are grateful the movie raises awareness of the life and work of Robert Oppenheimer and, in doing so, brings to new audiences an awareness of the development of the atomic bomb and its perils.

However, we recognize the very real and lasting impact of the development and testing of the atomic bomb has had serious and often deadly health impacts on the people of New Mexico and throughout the country. People like uranium miners and the Downwinders of New Mexico are unwitting victims who had no choice in being exposed to radiation. It is unfortunate that such a remarkable and timely film does not acknowledge these realities.

The very same week “Oppenheimer” received so many accolades in the motion picture world, the U.S. Senate passed by a vote of 69 to 30 a bipartisan reauthorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which compensates people who have had health issues due to radiation exposure from the atomic testing and uranium mining.
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NNSA’s Nuclear Weapons Budget Takes Huge Jump

Arms Race Accelerates with MIRVed Warheads
Los Alamos Lab Cleanup Cut

Ironically the day after the film Oppenheimer was awarded multiple Oscars, the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) asked Congress for its biggest nuclear weapons budget ever. NNSA’s FY 2025 request for “Total Weapons Activities” is $19.8 billion, $700 million above what Congress recently enacted for FY 2024. It is also a full billion dollars above what President Biden asked for last year, which Congress then added to and will likely do so again.

The Biden Administration states that the $19.8 billion will be used to:

“[P]rioritize implementation of the 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review by modernizing the Nation’s nuclear deterrent to keep the American people safe. The Budget supports a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear stockpile and a resilient, responsive nuclear security enterprise necessary to protect the U.S. homeland and allies from growing international threats.” whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/budget_fy2025.pdf, page 75.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review for the first time posited two nuclear “near peers”, i.e. Russia and China, that need to be simultaneously “deterred.” This hinted at a potentially large nuclear buildup which this budget may now be implementing. That claimed need to deter two nuclear near peers was explicitly taken a step beyond just deterrence in an October 2023 report from the Strategic Posture Commission. It declared:

“Decisions need to be made now in order for the nation to be prepared to address the threats from these two nuclear-armed adversaries arising during the 2027-2035 timeframe. Moreover, these threats are such that the United States and its Allies and partners must be ready to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously.” ida.org/research-and-publications/publications/all/a/am/americas-strategic-posture, page vii (bolded emphasis added)

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NNSA’s Nuclear Weapons Budget Takes Huge Jump

Arms Race Accelerates with MIRVed Warheads
Los Alamos Lab Cleanup Cut

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 11, 2024
Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342 | Email

Santa Fe, NM – Ironically the day after the film Oppenheimer was awarded multiple Oscars, the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) asked Congress for its biggest nuclear weapons budget ever. NNSA’s FY 2025 request for “Total Weapons Activities” is $19.8 billion, $700 million above what Congress recently enacted for FY 2024. It is also a full billion dollars above what President Biden asked for last year, which Congress then added to and will likely do so again.

The Biden Administration states that the $19.8 billion will be used to:

“[P]rioritize implementation of the 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review by modernizing the Nation’s nuclear deterrent to keep the American people safe. The Budget supports a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear stockpile and a resilient, responsive nuclear security enterprise necessary to protect the U.S. homeland and allies from growing international threats.” whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/budget_fy2025.pdf, page 75.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review for the first time posited two nuclear “near peers”, i.e. Russia and China, that need to be simultaneously “deterred.” This hinted at a potentially large nuclear buildup which this budget may now be implementing. That claimed need to deter two nuclear near peers was explicitly taken a step beyond just deterrence in an October 2023 report from the Strategic Posture Commission. It declared:

“Decisions need to be made now in order for the nation to be prepared to address the threats from these two nuclear-armed adversaries arising during the 2027-2035 timeframe. Moreover, these threats are such that the United States and its Allies and partners must be ready to deter and defeat both adversaries simultaneously.” ida.org/research-and-publications/publications/all/a/am/americas-strategic-posture, page vii (bolded emphasis added)

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Tribes Meeting With Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Describe Harms Uranium Mining Has Had on Them, and the Threats New Mines Pose

As spiking uranium prices drive a surge of proposals for new mines, the Navajo Nation joined the Ute Mountain Ute, Havasupai, Northern Arapaho and Oglala Sioux tribes in a commission hearing with federal officials to push back against mining on and near their lands.

By Noel Lyn Smith, Inside Climate News

Entrances to a uranium mine are locked shut outside Ticaboo, Utah. Credit: Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Entrances to a uranium mine are locked shut outside Ticaboo, Utah. Credit: Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Members of five tribes told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that Indigenous communities in the United States continue to suffer from the legacy of uranium mining and will face a persisting threat if new proposals for uranium extraction in the West are authorized during a hearing on Feb. 28 about mining to support the nation’s nuclear industry.

“The U.S. has rarely, if ever, secured tribal consent for uranium production on and near tribal lands,” Eric Jantz, legal director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, said. “The cost of the government’s lopsided policies have disproportionately fallen on Native communities.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an organ of the Organization of American States. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights in member states, including the U.S.

Members of the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Havasupai Tribe, Northern Arapaho Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe requested the hearing to tell commissioners about the ramifications of uranium mining on their communities and the inadequate communication and response by the U.S. government, Jantz explained.

“Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War” Explores Impact of US–Soviet Conflict

The nine-part doc examines how two global superpowers have irrevocably altered the course of history.

By Roxanne Fequiere, Netflix

While the the Cold War ended in 1991, even a casual appraisal of current headlines reveals that relations between the United States and Russia — the one-time center of the Soviet Union — remain tense, to say the least. The global repercussions of the Cold War continue to ripple through the current geopolitical landscape to this day, but it can be difficult to understand just how a mid-20th century struggle for ideological dominance continues to ensnare countless nations in ongoing unrest.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War, a nine-part documentary series from director Brian Knappenberger, provides a comprehensive appraisal of the events that led to the Cold War and traces the conflict around the world and through the decades.

“Lessons that we thought were learned were not learned,” author Lesley Blume says in the doc, describing the state of the world today as “an ongoing tide” of the history that came before it. 

In order to tell this story, the series draws on more than 100 interviews with subjects ranging from past and present world leaders (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas) to historians as well as everyday people whose lives were drastically altered by the events of the Cold War. As the history unfolds, each episode considers the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine as an example of how the history being examined is directly tied to the events of today. “Nearly every part of the war in Ukraine is an echo of the Cold War,” Knappenberger explains.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War premieres on March 12.

NEW YORK TIMES OPINION SERIES ON THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD

An Introduction: It’s Time to Protest Nuclear War Again

By Kathleen Kingsbury, Opinion Editor, New York Times

The threat of nuclear war has dangled over humankind for much too long. We have survived so far through luck and brinkmanship. But the old, limited safeguards that kept the Cold War cold are long gone. Nuclear powers are getting more numerous and less cautious. We’ve condemned another generation to live on a planet that is one grave act of hubris or human error away from destruction without demanding any action from our leaders. That must change.

DOE/NNSA budget numbers from FY 2024 Energy and Water Agreement

Some DOE/NNSA budget numbers from FY 2024 Energy and Water Agreement

https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20240304/FY24%20EW%20Conference%20JES%20scan.pdf

President must sign by Friday March 8 to avoid a partial government shutdown, including DOE and NNSA.

Lowlights:

•     Total funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) $24.135B (+8.9%)
•     $19.1 billion for NNSA’s Total Weapons Activities (+11.6% over FY 23)
•     $35M for the Sea-Launched Cruise Missile warhead (which Biden did not ask for).
•     $52M for B61-13 as a new program. Estimated ~340kt; limited earth-penetrating capability.
•     $389.6M for LANL-designed W93 sub-launched warhead (+62%)
•     $56M for dismantlements (a paltry 0.29% of Total Weapons Activities)
•     Los Alamos Plutonium Modernization $1.76B (+13.5%)
•     Savannah River Plutonium Modernization $1.06B (-15.8% because Congress added $500M in FY23 at NNSA’s request)
•     Total Plutonium Modernization $2.91B (+5.1%)
•     Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 Plant $810M (+124%; now way over budget despite NNSA promises)
•     Tritium Sustainment and Modernization $593M as a new program
•     Defense Nonproliferation near flat at $2.58B (+3.6%)
•     Defense Environmental Cleanup near flat at $7.29B (+3.7%)
•     LANL cleanup cut to $273.8M (-4.3%)

Of note: “The agreement directs NNSA to seek to enter into an agreement with the scientific advisory group known as JASON to conduct an assessment of the report entitled, “Research Program Plan for Plutonium and Pit Aging”.”

Rumor has it that NNSA’s nuclear weapons budget will be substantially increased in FY 2025, starting with the release of topline numbers on Monday March 11. In part those increases will implement recommendations made in the Strategic Posture Commission’s October 2023 report. See: https://www.ida.org/research-and-publications/publications/all/a/am/americas-strategic-posture

The reawakening of America’s nuclear dinosaurs

Are America’s plutonium pits too old to perform in the new Cold War? Or are new ones necessary?

“To look at short-term change [in plutonium pits], scientists have created experiments sensitive enough to detect what happens in real time. There are caveats, though. “There seems to be a corrective mechanism that heals some of that change on longer time scales,” according to Dylan Spaulding, who studies the issue of pit aging for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Raymond Jeanloz agrees: “Something happens over longer time periods that makes [the metal] almost as good as new or maybe as good as new over time periods of 10 or 20 years or more.”

By

Sprinkled across five western states, in silos buried deep underground and protected by reinforced concrete, sit 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Each of those missiles is equipped with a single nuclear warhead. And each of those warheads is itself equipped with one hollow, grapefruit-sized plutonium pit, designed to trigger a string of deadly reactions.

All of those missiles are on “hair-trigger alert,” poised for hundreds of targets in Russia — any one of which could raze all of downtown Moscow and cause hundreds of thousands of casualties.

Except — what if it doesn’t? What if, in a nuclear exchange, the pit fizzles because it’s just too old? In that case, would the weapon be a total dud or simply yield but a fraction of its latent power?

Outwardly, at least, that’s the question driving a whole new era of plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility in South Carolina.

“The issue of plutonium pit aging is a Trojan horse for the nuclear weaponeers enriching themselves through a dangerous new arms race,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear group based in Santa Fe. “Future pit production is not about maintaining the existing, extensively tested stockpile. Instead, it’s for deploying multiple new warheads on new intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, successfully lobbied former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2006 for an amendment to require a plutonium pit aging study by the group of scientists called JASON. Nadav Soroker/Searchlight New Mexico Nadav Soroker

 

Keeping Outer Space Nuclear Weapons Free

In the coming weeks, Washington, Beijing, and other capitals need to pressure Putin to abandon any ideas about putting nuclear weapons in orbit. As President Joe Biden noted on Feb. 16, that deployment “hasn’t happened yet, and my hope is it will not.”

By Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association

Fifty-seven years ago, through the Outer Space Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to codify a fundamental nuclear taboo: nuclear weapons shall not be stationed in orbit or elsewhere in outer space. But there is growing concern that Russia is working on an orbiting anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons system involving a nuclear explosive device that would, if deployed, violate the treaty, undermine space security, and worsen the technological and nuclear arms race.

The flash created by the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test on July 9,1962 as seen from Honolulu, 900 miles away. (Wikimedia Commons)
The flash created by the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test on July 9,1962 as seen from Honolulu, 900 miles away. (Wikimedia Commons)

The White House confirmed on Feb. 15 that U.S. intelligence uncovered evidence that Russia is developing an ASAT weapon that “would be a violation of the Outer Space Treaty, to which more than 130 countries have signed up to, including Russia.” Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a nondenial denial, claiming on Feb. 20 that Russia remains “categorically against…the placement of nuclear weapons in space.”

An ASAT system involving a nuclear explosive device could produce a massive surge of radiation and a powerful electromagnetic pulse that, depending on the altitude of the explosion and the size of the warhead, could indiscriminately destroy, blind, or disable many of the 9,500 commercial and military space satellites now in orbit.

A Note on the Value of Site-Wide EISs in Midst of Texas Wildfires Updates

By Jay Coghlan

Texas wildfires live updates: Blaze grows to 500k acres, leading to power outages, evacuations across the map nbcnews.com/news/us-news/live-blog/texas-wildfires-live-updates-huge-blaze-covers-300000-acres-forcing-ev

The 2000 Cerro Grande Fire burned 3,500 acres of Los Alamos National Lab property and more than 250 homes in the Los Alamos townsite (I could see the bursts of propane tanks from my house 25 miles away).

It would have been worse except for a 1999 LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) which postulated a hypothetical wildfire that eerily matched the real fire. That hypothetical fire was in the final SWEIS only because citizens (i.e. me) pointed out that DOE did not consider wildfire risk in the draft SWEIS.

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More indictments for Ohio nuclear crimes

Former executives face a judge — in their ankle monitors

By Linda Pentz Gunter,

It was called “likely the largest bribery money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.” And the shoes are still dropping. Or should that be ankle monitors? Because these latter belong to the three latest criminals indicted for their roles in a scheme that saw FirstEnergy hand over $61 million in bribes to Ohio politicians and their co-conspirators to secure favorable legislation.

That bill, known as HB6, guaranteed a $1.3 billion bailout to FirstEnergy in order to keep open its two failing Ohio nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry, as well as struggling coal plants. The nuclear portion of the bill has since been rescinded, but Ohio consumers are still paying to prop up two aging coal plants, to the tune of half a million dollars a day, amounting to an extra $1.50 a month on every ratepayer’s electric bill.

The $61 million bribery plot was the mastermind of then speaker of the Ohio House, Larry Householder, who is now a household name in Ohio for all the wrong reasons. He was sentenced last June to 20 years in prison for his part in the conspiracy. GOP Chairman Matt Borges, was also found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and sentenced to five years in federal prison. Both men say they will appeal.

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Hawley vows to attach radiation exposure extension to all bills

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) will attach an amendment reauthorizing and expanding a law compensating Americans exposed to radiation by the federal government to all items moving on the Senate floor, his office confirmed Monday.

BY ZACK BUDRYKRACHEL FRAZIN,

© Allison Robbert

In a letter to Republican Senate colleagues, Hawley urged the caucus to back an amendment reauthorizing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and expanding its coverage to New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alaska.

“Our reauthorization bill passed the Senate last summer with a strong bipartisan vote, and I am grateful for much support from our Conference,” Hawley wrote. “Now we must finish the job. There are RECA claimants in every state, including each of yours. They will benefit if this bill is passed. Simply put, this is the right thing to do.”

Hawley’s announcement comes as the government is set to shut down at the end of this week without a funding agreement —

and his insistence on including radiation compensation, which a number of Republicans have opposed, could further complicate efforts to avoid a shutdown.

The law, enacted in 1990, compensates Americans who were downwind of nuclear testing or exposed to radiation through uranium ore mining. The states covered under the current law include residents of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona and their survivors. However, it does not cover those in New Mexico near the site of the 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test, nor does it cover residents of Missouri exposed to radiation through uranium processing at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works.

President Biden has already reauthorized the law, which was set to sunset in 2022, a further two years, but it is set to expire this year without further action.

Nuclear Waste Storage in the UK: Council pulls the plug on the nuclear waste facility in Yorkshire

“…As the events in South Holderness have proved, the explicit government policy requiring community consent for a [Geological Disposal Facility] seems self-defeating. Like turkeys voting for Christmas, is there ever likely to be a majority anywhere in favour of one?”

By Angus Young, Yorkshire Bylines,

Local opinion is divided – not necessarily evenly – following a decision by councillors on East Riding Council to dramatically pull the plug on proposals for a possible underground nuclear waste facility in South Holderness, just weeks after a process that could have taken years had formally started.

The vote to withdraw the council from a working group it had previously agreed to join to oversee the initial phase of consultation was taken at a full meeting of the authority in Beverley. After a 14-minute debate, all but one councillor voted in support of a motion to immediately walk away from the working group. Under the terms of consultation set by the government, it effectively ended the process before it had really begun.

Campaigners celebrate decision to drop nuclear waste disposal plans

For campaigners who had mobilised quickly to protest against it, the vote was a victory. Lynn Massey-Davis, chairperson for the South Holderness Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) Action Group, said the fact that just over 1,300 people had joined the group in just over four weeks reflected wider opposition in communities across the area. She said:

“The first time I went into the village centre after it was announced, someone came up to me with tears in their eyes. I hugged her and I knew we had to work hard to end this uncertainty for everyone.

“I am really proud that we started this group and website and that other people joined in and worked so very hard over such a short period of time to turn the tide of opinion towards considering removing this threat to us all.

“This is an unprecedented level of community action in such a small place and shows why we are unique and special.”

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) – part of the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – said it “fully respected” the council’s decision and would now start winding down the working group having staged a series of informal village hall drop-in events over the last month.

New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

“Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War” Explores Impact of US–Soviet Conflict

The nine-part doc examines how two global superpowers have irrevocably altered the course of history.

By Roxanne Fequiere, Netflix

While the the Cold War ended in 1991, even a casual appraisal of current headlines reveals that relations between the United States and Russia — the one-time center of the Soviet Union — remain tense, to say the least. The global repercussions of the Cold War continue to ripple through the current geopolitical landscape to this day, but it can be difficult to understand just how a mid-20th century struggle for ideological dominance continues to ensnare countless nations in ongoing unrest.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War, a nine-part documentary series from director Brian Knappenberger, provides a comprehensive appraisal of the events that led to the Cold War and traces the conflict around the world and through the decades.

“Lessons that we thought were learned were not learned,” author Lesley Blume says in the doc, describing the state of the world today as “an ongoing tide” of the history that came before it. 

In order to tell this story, the series draws on more than 100 interviews with subjects ranging from past and present world leaders (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas) to historians as well as everyday people whose lives were drastically altered by the events of the Cold War. As the history unfolds, each episode considers the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine as an example of how the history being examined is directly tied to the events of today. “Nearly every part of the war in Ukraine is an echo of the Cold War,” Knappenberger explains.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War premieres on March 12.

In Search of Resolution: New Documentary on Nuclear Dangers

The new documentary “In Search of Resolution,” which examines the current state of international nuclear arms control and is the third film of The Nuclear World Project, airs on @PBS stations throughout August.

Filmed in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this timely documentary examines the continuing dangers posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. The program includes in-depth interviews with scholars, ambassadors, and leaders in the field to provide historical context, while international experts reflect on arms control measures, nuclear disarmament, and possible ways forward.

The film provides, among other things, an interesting inside look at the TPNW MSP1, the 2022 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, and the 2022 NPT Review Conference.

Find out more and watch online here: https://video.kpbs.org/show/in-search-of-resolution/