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.

Atomic Histories & Nuclear Testing

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Quote of the Week

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Trinity Test - Alamogordo, NM - July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds
Trinity Test – Alamogordo, NM – July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds

— From the Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW REPORT HERE

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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

Trump’s 2020 Nuclear Weapons Budget Escalates New Arms Race

Santa Fe, NM – Today the Trump Administration released more budget details for the Department of Energy and its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons programs for fiscal year 2020. This same fiscal year will also mark the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Global Nuclear Weapons Threats Are Rising

In sum, the world is facing the most serious nuclear threats since the first half of the 1980’s. At that time President Ronald Reagan said, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought” and called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

View/Download the entire press release here

NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley 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

Nation’s most ambitious project to clean up nuclear weapons waste has stalled at Hanford

The Energy Department’s most environmentally important and technically ambitious project to clean up Cold War nuclear weapons waste has stalled, putting at jeopardy an already long-delayed effort to protect the Columbia River in central Washington.

BY RALPH VARTABEDIAN | latimes.com

Entry sign at Hanford Site, Washington. Photograph taken by Tobin Fricke - January 2005.
Entry sign at Hanford Site, Washington.
Photograph taken by Tobin Fricke – January 2005.

In a terse letter last week, state officials said the environmental project is at risk of violating key federal court orders that established deadlines after past ones were repeatedly missed.

Two multibillion-dollar industrial facilities intended to turn highly radioactive sludge into solid glass at the Hanford nuclear site have been essentially mothballed. Construction was halted in 2012 because of design flaws and Energy Department managers have foundered in finding alternatives, according to the letter that threatens new litigation.

The department has stored 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge left over from the production of plutonium in 177 leaky underground tanks on a desert plateau a few miles from the Columbia River, raising concerns that the material has migrated into groundwater and eventually will reach the largest river in the West.

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Listen to the latest episode of Ploughshares Fund’s new podcast, Press the Button, featuring Eric Schlosser, filmmaker and author of several publications, including Command and Control. This is a particularly powerful episode to share. Eric is clear and compelling about the inherent risks of our deterrence strategy, the fallibility of the US nuclear command and control and the horrors from the use of just one nuclear weapon. He is one of the most compelling advocates on our issues in the country today. It’s worth a listen!

You can listen here: https://www.ploughshares.org/pressthebutton
Or – Listen and subscribe on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play

HASC Panel’s Bill Could Slow-Roll NNSA’s Planned S.C. Pit Plant

The Department of Energy would no longer have to make 80 plutonium pits a year by the end of the next decade, if legislation unveiled Monday in the Democrat-controlled House becomes law.

EXCHANGE MONITOR | June 4, 2019

The legislation, due for a vote Tuesday by House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee “would repeal the requirement for the Secretary of Energy to demonstrate the capability to produce war reserve plutonium pits at a rate sufficient to produce 80 pits per year by 2027,” according to the subcommittee’s portion of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA is the annual policy bill that sets funding limits for defense programs including those managed by the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The full House Armed Services Committee is set to vote on the entire House NDAA on June 12.

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New, More Usable Nukes for Trump? No.

Congress should use the new defense authorization bill to bar the deployment of new, dangerous, and redundant nuclear weapons.

REP. TED W. LIEU D-CALIFORNIA &  SEN. EDWARD J. MARKEY D-MASSACHUSETTS | defenseone.com

U.S. NAVY / MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 1ST CLASS JAMES KIMBER | The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
U.S. NAVY / MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 1ST CLASS JAMES KIMBER |
The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

The United States has the world’s most powerful military ever. It spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined and has developed many of the most destructive conventional weapons ever created to ensure that America can address any threat. Congress consistently authorizes investments in innovative technology and weaponry to protect our country and our allies. We also possess a strong nuclear deterrent.

These are insanely destructive weapons with an unparalleled ability to kill and destroy, both instantly and for years afterward from the nuclear fallout. Nuclear weapons should never, ever be used first and new nuclear weapons must not be designed to be more usable.

Yet last year, the Trump Administration came to Congress with just such a request to develop a new “low-yield” nuclear warhead for our submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident D5. Congress foolishly authorized the development of this warhead on a party-line vote, but there is still time to correct course.

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New & Updated

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Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW HERE

Victims of the Trinity Test remain uncompensated, yet the Los Alamos Lab continues to expand plutonium pit production.

BY KATHLEEN M. TUCKER & ROBERT ALVAREZ | thebulletin.org

For the past several years, the controversy over radioactive fallout from the world’s first atomic bomb explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945—code-named Trinity—has intensified. Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children. Even though the first scientifically credible warnings about the hazards of radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion had been made by 1940, historical records indicate a fallout team was not established until less than a month before the Trinity test, a hasty effort motivated primarily by concern over legal liability.

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This “Enviro Close-Up with Karl Grossman” demolishes the hoax that nuclear power is green. The program features actor Alec Baldwin who has long challenged nuclear power; former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Gregory Jaczko who declares that nuclear power “is not the right way forward” and not “a solution to climate change;” Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, who tells of releases to the environment by nuclear power; attorney Susan H. Shapiro now in court taking on the $7.6 billion New York State bail-out of nuclear plants based on the no-emissions claim—a bail-out being imitated by other states; Dr. Mark Cooper of the Vermont School of Law who says continuing with nuclear power “will delay the transition to a clean energy future:’ New York State Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee who blasts the $7.6 billion bail-out; and Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson, energy analyst at Stanford University who emphasizes how “nuclear is not zero carbon at all.” The program was filmed at a New York City conference organized by the Radiation and Public Health Project.

Wyoming lawmakers quietly explore storing spent nuclear fuel

Management Council votes by email to study housing spent nuclear fuel at Gas Hills, Shirley Basin to bring what a state senator says could be $1 billion a year.

Massive containers hold spent nuclear fuel at a dry storage facility. This photo shows, at right, a dry cask recently loaded with spent fuel being lifted from a horizontal transporter to be placed verticlaly on a specially designed storage pad. (Flickr Creative Commons/Sandia National Laboratories)

ANGUS M. THEURMER JR. | wyofile.com

A legislative committee has appointed six of its members to investigate the idea with the U.S. Department of Energy, Sen. Jim Anderson (R-Casper) told WyoFile on Friday. Anderson is co-chairman of the Joint Minerals Business and Economic Development Committee which received approval and funding from the Legislative Management Council in an unannounced vote to study the issue before the next legislative session begins in early 2020.

Wyoming’s dependence on an ailing coal industry spurred talk about pursuing the temporary storage idea, Anderson said. Fuel rods would be housed in casks with two-foot-thick walls, he said.

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US suspends low-level radioactive waste shipments to Nevada

BY SCOTT SONNER | time.com

(RENO, Nev.) — A Nevada congressman called for U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s resignation Wednesday after the department acknowledged multiple shipments of low-level radioactive waste to a site north of Las Vegas may have been mislabeled and out of compliance with safety regulations for years.

The department had announced earlier that shipments of the waste from Tennessee to Nevada have been suspended while it investigates whether the materials were “potentially mischaracterized” as the wrong category of low-level waste. Low-level waste can include equipment or worker’s clothing contaminated by exposure to radiation, while mixed low-level waste can include toxic metals.

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America’s Indefensible Defense Budget

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images President Trump after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant, Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images President Trump after touring the Lima Army Tank Plant, Lima, Ohio, March 20, 2019

BY JESSICA T. MATTHEWS | nybooks.com

The sheer size of the military establishment and the habit of equating spending on it with patriotism make both sound management and serious oversight of defense expenditures rare.

As a democracy, we are on an unusual and risky path.

For several decades, we have maintained an extraordinarily high level of defense spending with the support of both political parties and virtually all of the public. The annual debate about the next year’s military spending, underway now on Capitol Hill, no longer probes where real cuts might be made (as opposed to cuts in previously planned growth) but only asks how big the increase should be.

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What public engagement?

BY ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKREsantafenewmexican.com

The Department of Energy’s new attempt at “enhanced public engagement” on legacy nuclear waste cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory failed both its stated objectives to consider public input and provide public education. To turn things around, officials should actually listen to public attendees and provide complete information at future meetings.

In the two-hour June 26 forum in Los Alamos, officials from the department’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, alongside N3B, the contractor tasked with implementing the cleanup, repeatedly proclaimed their interest in hearing from the public and pledged total transparency, but they didn’t give anyone in the packed room a chance to speak.

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Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race

Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy RaceROBERT RAPIER | forbes.com

Coal is still the dominant source of electricity around the world, although natural gas has taken over the top spot in the U.S. But, renewables have grown rapidly over the past decade, and are on the cusp of overtaking nuclear globally.

From 2007 to 2017, the Renewables category grew at an average annual rate of 16.4%. But within that category, power from geothermal and biomass grew at an annual average of 7.1%. Wind and solar power, by contrast, grew at an annual average of 20.8% and 50.2%, respectively, over the past decade.

In 2018, nuclear power was responsible for 2,701 Terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity generation, compared to 4,193 TWh for hydropower and 2,480 for renewables.

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RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) Board met Thursday in Española.

RCLC Hears Talk On Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility. Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday's meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico expressing his concerns during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

BY BONNIE J. GORDON | ladailypost.com

The meeting included a presentation by Holtec International Program Director Ed Mayer describing the safety features of a proposed storage site in southern New Mexico should the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issue the New Jersey-based company a 40-year license. If that happens, Holtec would build a multibillion-dollar site to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States.

“Our job is to prove the facility is safe and secure,” Mayer said.

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New Mexico Appeals Court Expects Waste Volume Status Report Soon

BY EXCHANGE MONITORexchangemonitor.com

The New Mexico Court of Appeals expects a status report by July 31 on mediation between the parties in litigation over changes to the way the Department of Energy calculates the underground volume of transuranic material at its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad.

The mediation began last month between representatives of DOE, the New Mexico Environment Department, and the advocacy groups Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC). The state appeals court routinely requires parties to go to mediation in cases involving state agencies before a lawsuit proceeds to trial, says Don Hancock, director of the SRIC nuclear waste safety program. He declined to elaborate on the status of mediation.

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US arms control office critically understaffed under Trump, experts say

State department office whittled down in staff numbers from 14 at start of administration to four as Trump shifts approach

 The US national security adviser, John Bolton, is widely seen as a lifelong opponent of arms control agreements. Photograph: Oded Balilty/AP
The US national security adviser, John Bolton, is widely seen as a lifelong opponent of arms control agreements. Photograph: Oded Balilty/AP

BY JULIAN BORGER | theguardian.com

A state department office tasked with negotiating and implementing nuclear disarmament treaties has lost more than 70% of its staff over the past two years, as the Trump administration moves towards a world without arms control for the first time in nearly half a century.

The Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence Affairs, normally a repository of expertise and institutional knowledge that does the heavy lifting of arms control, has been whittled down from 14 staffers at the start of the Trump administration to four, according to the former staffers.

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Nuke-Backing NDAA Passes Senate in Landslide

Graham and Heinrich double down on pit production and Safety Board threatened by Senate bill

BY DAN LEONEexchangemonitor.com

The U.S. Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would authorize all the White House’s requested funding for nuclear modernization programs at the Department of Energy and the Pentagon.

The Senate bill would provide a year of bipartisan support for the Donald Trump administration’s nuclear arsenal modernization plans, which are essentially a lightly modified continuation of the 30-year refurbishment the Barack Obama administration started in 2016.

In stark contrast, the House’s version of the NDAA — up for floor debate as soon as the week of July 8 — eyes major changes for the decades-long arsenal refresh by slowing work on nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) programs at DOE and the Defense Department.

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Critical Events

Candlelight Vigil

Saturday, July 20

To Acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the people of New Mexico from the Trinity Test: July 16th 2019 is the 74th anniversary of the first above ground nuclear bomb test on a U S civilian population. It was done near Tularosa New Mexico. The people were given no warning and have been subjected to 74 years of US government coverup and misinformation about the impact on them.

EVENT DETAILS

The Tularosa Basin Downwinders will be having their 9th anniversary commemoration of the occasion on Saturday evening July 20th at the local baseball field. Saturday afternoon at 2 pm there will be a very important town hall meeting at the community center to provide updates on the struggle to bring justice to the families and communities that have been harmed by the test.

A volunteer with Nuke Watch New Mexico is providing free roundtrip transportation from Santa Fe to Tularosa and back to the first 3 applicants for this day trip for the two events. Please contact the office at 505-989-7342 if you are interested in participating.

Action Alerts

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Nuclear News

Congress Introduces Legislation to Expand Compensation for Radiation Exposure

Luján, Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Expand Compensation for Individuals Impacted by Radiation Exposure

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation while working in and living near uranium mines or downwind from nuclear weapon test sites.
Tens of thousands of individuals, including miners, transporters, and other employees who worked directly in uranium mines, along with communities located near test sites for nuclear weapons, were exposed during the mid-1900s to dangerous radiation that has left communities struggling from cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.

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Peace Activists Cut into Nuclear Weapons Base, Foiling Increased Security

International peace activists cut through new “security” fencing meant to keep nuclear weapons under control.
International peace activists cut through new “security” fencing meant to keep nuclear weapons under control.
BÜCHEL, Germany — Calling themselves “Treaty Enforcement Action,” four peace activists (from the United States, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands) cut through two perimeter fences and quickly entered the Büchel Air Base here around 4 p.m. July 10, 2019, carrying banners declaring the US and German Air Force’s planned use of nuclear weapons here makes the base a “crime scene.” While posing for photographs, the four were detained by air base security personnel, and later taken to jail in Koblenz and held overnight. All eight were released early Thursday.

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Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Breaks Nuclear Deal Limit. Here’s What That Means

An Iranian security official in protective clothing walks through a uranium conversion facility in 2005. Iran says it is now enriching uranium above the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal. Vahid Salemi/AP
An Iranian security official in protective clothing walks through a uranium conversion facility in 2005. Iran says it is now enriching uranium above the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal.
Vahid Salemi/AP

BY GEOFF BRUMFIEL | npr.org July 7, 2019

Iran has crossed another line set in the 2015 nuclear deal between it and major world powers.

According to state media, Iran has begun enriching uranium above levels enshrined in the agreement. The move sends a signal that Iran is losing patience with a deal that has not provided the economic relief promised, more than a year after the United States withdrew from the agreement.

By Monday, Iran had reached levels of around 4.5% enrichment, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the semiofficial Fars news agency. He warned that Iran could go as high as 20% in the future, though that level is “not needed now.”

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has crossed the line.

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Dangerous chromium plume closer to Los Alamos County well

Chemical contamination more than four times the state limit was detected late last month at the edge of a plume in the aquifer roughly 1,000 feet below Los Alamos National Laboratory.

BY REBECCA MOSS | santafenewmexican.com June 21, 2019

It is the closest high-level measurement of hexavalent chromium detected near the well used to pump drinking water to Los Alamos County, roughly a third of a mile away.

“Our drinking water supply is safe, and we are vigilantly working to keep it that way,” said Tim Glasco, utilities manager for Los Alamos County.

Hexavelent chromium, an industrial chemical tied to lung and other cancers, was found pooled below Sandia and Mortandad canyons in 2005, and environmental managers have since been working to define the full scope of the contamination. It spans at least a mile long and half-mile wide, and abuts San Ildefonso Pueblo.

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New Mexico land boss concerned with nuclear waste proposal

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says southeastern New Mexico, which is home to one of the world’s most prolific oil and gas basins, is not the right place for storing spent nuclear fuel.

In a letter to Holtec International, she outlined her concerns about plans to build a multibillion-dollar facility that would be capable of temporarily storing tons of high-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors around the U.S.

Nearly 2,500 oil and gas wells and other mineral developments operated by dozens of different businesses are located within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the proposed site. Garcia Richard contends that storing the waste above active oil, gas and mining operations raises serious safety concerns.

She accused the company of not addressing the potential safety issues and suggested that it hasn’t been forthcoming in its filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is considering whether to issue a 40-year license for the facility.

“There is no guarantee that high-level nuclear waste can be safely transported to and through New Mexico. There is no guarantee that there won’t be a hazardous interaction between the storage site and nearby oil, gas and mining activities. There is no guarantee that this site will truly be ‘interim’ and won’t become the permanent dumping ground for our nation’s nuclear waste,” she said in a statement.

Holtec International has argued that the federal government has unmet obligations to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of waste building up at nuclear power plants and the proposed facility is needed.

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LANL cleanup costs continue piling up

The U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 drafted a list of 17 projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the surrounding town to clean up soil and groundwater that remained contaminated decades after the Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons work.

At the time, more than $2 billion had been spent in a decade on environmental cleanup projects. The Department of Energy estimated it would cost another $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion to finish the job — and up to 25 more years.

The work is far from complete.

Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said cleanup costs have been “woefully underestimated,” and that an updated cost analysis is overdue.

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Nuclear Waste Storage Concerns Raised By Panel Members During Santa Fe Forum

Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday in Santa Fe
Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday June 19, 2019 in Santa Fe were, from left, Don Hancock, Sally Rodgers, Rep. Christine Chandler and State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

BY MAIRE O’NEILL
maire@losalamosreporter.com

Multiple concerns were raised by panel members Wednesday June 21, 2019 during a forum on nuclear waste in the state of New Mexico hosted by the Santa Fe Democratic Party Platform and Resolutions Committee at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe.

Land Commissioner Garcia Richard said her office has direct oversight of mineral leasing at the proposed Holtec site. She made public a letter she sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing her concerns about representations made by Holtec to the NRC and New Mexicans about its control of the proposed site as well as agreements it claims to have secured from the state Land Office. She said while the Eddy-Leah County Energy Alliance LLC privately owns the surface of the proposed site, the State Land Office owns the mineral estate and that has not been disclosed by Holtec.

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Government watchdog finds 3 issues disrupting US nuclear modernization efforts

Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)
Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

BY KELSEY REICHMANN | defensenews.com June 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. agency responsible for making explosive materials used in nuclear weapons is facing challenges that could impact the country’s planned modernization of its nuclear arsenal, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within the Energy Department, is facing three main challenges, according to the report: a dwindling supply of explosive materials, aging and deteriorating infrastructure, and difficulty in recruiting and training qualified staff.

This report comes amid congressional debate over the cost of modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, an effort driven by President Donald Trump.

NNSA’s supply of materials, which are “highly specialized” with specific chemical and physical characteristics, are in low supply, the report says. Furthermore, the NNSA is lacking the knowledge base to produce the materials, as the recipes to make them were not well-documented, or the processes themselves infrequently practiced, the report notes.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

Browse the WatchBlog

Must Reads

Doom Towns

A graphic novel by Andy Kirk with artist Kristian Purcell

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

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

Read more…

1983 by Taylor Downing

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

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

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

Excerpts from the Christian Science Monitor book review:

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

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

The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg

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

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

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

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

Democracy Now interview with transcript

Harper’s Magazine excerpt, Dec 6, 2017

Dave Davies excellent NPR interview

at Amazon

Behind the Fog by Martino-Taylor

The U.S. Sprayed, Injected and Fed Radiation to Countless Innocents in Secret Cold War-Era Testing

Military scientists exposed American civilians to radiation without their knowledge or consent.
“Behind the Fog” documents a dark chapter of “large-scale organizational deviance”…

From the publisher:

“Martino-Taylor documents the coordinated efforts of a small group of military scientists who advanced a four-pronged secret program of human-subject radiation studies that targeted unsuspecting Americans for Cold War military purposes… Agency and academic partnerships advanced, supported, and concealed the studies from the public at large who ultimately served as unwitting test subjects.

‘They targeted the most vulnerable in society… They targeted children. They targeted pregnant women in Nashville. People who were ill in hospitals. They targeted wards of the state. And they targeted minority populations.’

Martino-Taylor’s comprehensive research illuminates a dark chapter of government secrecy, the military-industrial-academic complex, and large-scale organizational deviance in American history. In its critical approach, Behind the Fog effectively examines the mechanisms that allow large-scale elite deviance to take place in modern society.”

(ABC News story / publisher’s book page)

Quotes

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Trinity Test - Alamogordo, NM - July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds
Trinity Test – Alamogordo, NM – July 16, 1945. The early fireball at 62 milliseconds

— From the Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW REPORT HERE

“Don’t imagine we are going to keep everything quiet, say nothing and then at the last minute go ta-da! and surprise everyone. No. This is a process of continual negotiation and talking.”— Joan Girling, member of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), an environmental group protesting against the French energy company EDF.


— Joan Girling, member of  Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), an environmental group protesting against the French energy company EDF.

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“The managers of the weapon program now seem to believe that their mission is to increase the weapon program budget and protect payroll.”

An observation from the late Robert L. Peurifoy (1928-2017)

A tribute to the nuclear weapons and arms control expert was recently posted on Google here

Bob Peurifoy managed design and development of nuclear weapons at the Sandia Corporation for 39 years and devoted all his retired years to independent consulting on nuclear weapons and arms control issues with several scientific organizations. The “Tribute” contains excerpts from his 2011-2016 e-mail archive.

“At a time of rising nuclear tensions, casually postulating about the potential upsides of a nuclear attack is obtuse in the extreme.”

Senior policy director at the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Alexandra Bell – commenting on the Nuclear Operations document that was taken down from the Pentagon online site after a week, and is now only available through a restricted access electronic library. The Pentagon believes using nuclear weapons could “create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability”, according to a new nuclear doctrine adopted by the US joint chiefs of staff last week.

“Posting a document about nuclear operations and then promptly deleting it shows a lack of messaging discipline and a lack of strategy. Further, at a time of rising nuclear tensions, casually postulating about the potential upsides of a nuclear attack is obtuse in the extreme.”

A 1971 French nuclear test explosion on Mururoa atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean. Photograph: AFP
A 1971 French nuclear test explosion on Mururoa atoll in the southern Pacific Ocean. Photograph: AFP

Nuclear weapons: experts alarmed by new Pentagon ‘war-fighting’ doctrine theguardian.com

“If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,”

— Lyudmilla Ignatenko, remembering the 1986 Chernobyl disaster

businessinsider.com | In the wake of the world’s worst nuclear power plant accident, which forced the city of Pripyat in what was then part of the Soviet Union to evacuate after being exposed to toxic levels of radiation, Soviet officials publicly downplayed the incident. To this day, scientists are still working to understand the effects of the fatal explosion.

A firefighter named Vasily Ignatenko and his wife, Lyudmilla, were scheduled to leave for Belarus the morning of the explosion, but their plans were curtailed when Vasily rushed to the power plant at about 1:30 a.m. He promised to wake his wife when he got home, but his severe radiation poisoning forced him to be taken to the hospital.

When Lyudmilla visited her husband, she was ordered not to touch him. “If you start crying, I’ll kick you out right away,” she recalled being told in the book “Voices from Chernobyl.”

Lyudmilla was pregnant at the time but lied to the radiologist to see her husband. Vasily died 14 days after the accident and was buried, as the series shows, in a zinc coffin. Lyudmilla eventually gave birth to her baby, who died after four hours.