Facility Spotlight, August, 2017:
"... And these safety challenges aren't confined to Los Alamos. The Center's probe revealed worker safety risks, previously unpublicized accidents, and dangerously lax management practices at other nuclear weapons-related facilities. The investigation further found that penalties for these practices were relatively light, and that many of the firms that run these facilities were awarded tens of millions of dollars in profits in the same years that major safety lapses occurred. Some were awarded new contracts despite repeated, avoidable accidents, including some that exposed workers to radiation."
- Patrick Malone and R. Jeffrey Smith in their series entitled "Nuclear Negligence" for the Center for Public Integrity.
Nuclear Weapons Complex Misconduct
Dec. 3, 2015. POGO: Updated Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, focussing on Nuclear Complex
(see report at POGO)
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.
Quote of the Week
"Remember this day, July 7, 2017. Today, history was made at the United Nations and the nuclear status quo was put on notice and most of the world stood up and said simply, "Enough."
- Sean Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists: Historic Treaty Makes Nuclear Weapons Illegal
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
Dossier: The Kirtland AFB Nuclear Weapons Complex
Kirtland Air Force Base, which abuts and shares some runways with the Albuquerque airport, has become a major nuclear weapons complex of it's own. It hosts the Air Force's Nuclear Weapons Center, Sandia National Laboratories, and what is probably the nation's (and perhaps the world's) largest repository of nuclear weapons, estimated at up to 2,500 warheads... (read more)
Successful Citizen Activism Against
Expanded U.S. Plutonium Pit Production
This is the unsung story of successful citizen activism against repeated government attempts to expand the production of plutonium pit cores, which has always been the choke point of resumed U.S. nuclear weapons production. This history is a critical part of the march toward a future world free of nuclear weapons.
(View/download full report- PDF)
July 14, 2016: Debate Is On Over Making More Nuclear Triggers At Los Alamos Lab
"The National Nuclear Security Administration is under orders from Congress to produce as many as 80 new nuclear weapons triggers a year by around 2030, and Los Alamos National Laboratory is the only place in the country that is equipped to make them now... The plans for a higher-capacity plutonium pit production facility make Los Alamos key - some call the lab 'ground zero'..." (ref: Albuquerque Journal)
Updated March 2017: NukeWatch Fact Sheet: "Plutonium Pit Production at LANL" (View/download PDF)
By award-winning documentary filmmaker Deborah Cammissa
"The City of St. Louis has a little known nuclear past as a uranium-processing center for the Atomic bomb. Government and corporate negligence led to the dumping of Manhattan Project uranium, thorium, and radium, thus contaminating North St. Louis suburbs, specifically in two communities: those nestled along Coldwater Creek- and in Bridgeton, Missouri adjacent to the West Lake-Bridgeton landfill..."
What is both sobering and addictive? This "Wheel of Near Misfortune" created by Union of Concerned Scientists- don't miss it!
Beyond the Summit:
New Approaches to Nuclear Security William Perry: "Danger of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than during the Cold War. Our public is blissfully unaware.
Consequently, the policies that this country follows are in no way commensurate to the danger."
Help us boost public awareness of the reality and risks of nuclear weapons today. Please share Nukewatch.org with your friends using the buttons below:
"If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!" - Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.
August 15, 2017: DNFSB Staff Deployed to NNSA, DOE- Board Members File "Strong Objection"
Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board has "entered into an arrangement" with NNSA and DOE by which some DNFSB technical staff are to be deployed to NNSA and DOE offices. Two DNFSB board members filed a "strong objection" to DNFSB staff deploying to NNSA or any office of DOE "whose duties are external advocacy on behalf of the organizations and functions the DNFSB is required by statute to independently evaluate."
Board members Roberson and Santos sent a memo to the DNFSB board and chairmen documenting their objections. The memo appeared briefly on the DNFSB website but disappeared with no explanation shortly afterwards. We were able to save the memo during it's short appearance in the public domain. Here's the memo of objection. Nukewatch statement on the matter: "Nuclear Watch New Mexico strongly objects to this attempt by the National Nuclear Security Administration to compromise the Safety Board. DNFSB has played a vital role in protecting the public from dangerous nuclear weapons activities that have been riddled with safety lapses, incompetence, cost overruns and mismanagement. The Safety Board is commissioned by Congress, not NNSA, and we fully expect the New Mexican congressional delegation to protect the Safety Board's independence and objectivity."
Homeland Security Wants You To Be Ready for a Nuclear Attack
The US has belligerently refused to have anything to do with the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, in spite of President Obama's 2009 Prague speech and his Nobel Peace Prize. Instead Obama set us on a path to remake anew all our nuclear weapons and delivery systems to the tune of a trillion dollars over the next 30 years, assuring our nuclear arsenal "superiority" through the lives of our grandchildren and great grandchildren. But no worries! The Dept. of Homeland Security has put up a webpage with instructions on how to be "ready" for a nuclear attack. OK then!
North Korea: Red Lines Crossed, Threats Intensify "If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air,
the like of which has never been seen on this earth."
- Truman, August 6, 1945 "They will be met with fire and fury the likes of which this world has never seen before..."
- Trump, August 8, 2017
Within hours of Trump's "fire and fury" warning, North Korea announced it was "carefully examining" plans to launch 4 missiles toward Guam.
Could we be seeing the confluence of events that bookends a 72-year hiatus with another nuclear bombing in Asia?
August 8: The Washington Post is reporting that a 'confidential assessment' by the "intelligence community" that Kim has already miniaturized his bombs, that he has as many as 60 nukes, that he's scaling up his ICBM missile production... in other words, red lines crossed.
Senator Lindsay Graham, Aug 1, 2017:
Trump has "got to choose between homeland security and regional stability... If there's going to be a war to stop [Kim Jong Un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they're going to die over there. They're not going to die here. And [Trump's] told me that to my face. That may be provocative, but not really. When you're president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States." (source)
The sixth in the series of lengthy investigative reports from the Center for Public Integrity entitled "Nuclear Negligence".
August 1, 2017, "Nuclear Negligence" Part 6: Nuclear weapons contractors repeatedly violate shipping rules for dangerous materials
"Los Alamos Laboratory's recent mistakes in shipping plutonium were among dozens of incidents involving mislabeled or wrongly shipped materials associated with the nuclear weapons program.
"Plutonium capable of being used in a nuclear weapon, conventional explosives, and highly toxic chemicals have been improperly packaged or shipped by nuclear weapons contractors at least 25 times in the past five years, according to government documents.
"In total, 11 of the 25 known shipping mistakes since July 2012 involved shipments that either originated at Los Alamos or passed through the lab. Thirteen of the 25 incidents involved plutonium, highly-enriched uranium (another nuclear explosive), or other radioactive materials. Some of the mislabeled shipments went to toxic waste dumps and breached regulatory limits on what the dumps were allowed to accept, according to the reports.
"But in more than 20 instances, the contractors were not directly fined by regulators in enforcement actions stemming from the shipping errors, according to government reports.
"For the mistakes at Los Alamos and WIPP that led to the radioactive release at WIPP in 2014, the New Mexico Environment Department imposed an unprecedented $73.25 million in fines, but the Energy Department- not Los Alamos- wound up paying it." (read full report)
From left, Bonnie Urfer, Steve Baggarly, Susan Crane, John LaForge and Gerd Buentzly.
At least 20 U.S. B61 thermonuclear bombs are deployed at Büchel Air Base. (photo by Ralph Hutchison)
July 18, 2017 : Activists cut fences, occupy nuclear weapons bunker at Büchel Air Base A group of five peace activists cut through fences and got far inside the Büchel Air Base in Germany, managing to climb on top of a large bunker used for nuclear weapons.
"The five spent more than an hour unnoticed sitting on the bunker until two of them climbed down to write "DISARM" on the bunker's metal front door, setting off an alarm. Surrounded by vehicles and guards searching on foot with flashlights, the five eventually alerted guards to their presence by singing, causing the guards to look up. After being detained, searched and photographed, the five were released without charge.
"Ralph Hutchison, from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where a new thermonuclear core for the B61-12 will be manufactured, said: 'It is important that we show this is a global movement. The resistance to nuclear weapons is not limited to one country. The new B61-12 program will cost more than $12 billion, and when production starts sometime after 2020, Büchel is scheduled to get new nuclear bombs.'"
(read more at NukeResister)
July 20, 2017: OREPA, NukeWatch, and NRDC File Lawsuit Against New Nuclear Bomb Plant
Our lawsuit against the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) over the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is important for many reasons. First, despite the fact that 122 countries just passed a nuclear weapons ban treaty, the UPF is the tip of the spear for the U.S.' planned one trillion dollar-plus makeover of its nuclear arsenal, delivery systems and productions plants. Those production plants are expected to be operational until ~2080, modifying existing nuclear weapons while endowing them with new military capabilities.
Our lawsuit seeks to compel NNSA compliance with the law, when the National Environmental Policy Act requires supplemental public review when major federal proposals are substantially changed. The UPF is also an issue of good governance and proper use of taxpayers dollars, since it has had constant cost overruns and a half-billion dollar design mistake for which no contractor was held accountable.
Finally, our lawsuit against this new bomb plant near Oak Ridge, TN will hopefully benefit New Mexicans by reminding NNSA to conduct legally required public review for new or upgraded plutonium facilities at the Los Alamos Lab. - Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch Exec. Director.
View/download complete Press Release. / View/download the complaint PDF.
** July 28, Brittany Crocker, USA Today Network: Lawsuit aims to halt Uranium Processing Facility construction
to review earthquake risks
This is a good description of the lawsuit and the basis of the complaint against the NNSA.
"When we saw the final document, admitting that they were going to continue to use dangerous, risky facilities without bringing them up to code, we realized why the NNSA was so determined not to make its plan public..." - Ralph Hutchison, OREPA.
(full report: Knoxnews July 28)
July 11, 2017: Interview with Rick Wayman and Ira Helfland on the Ban Treaty
"I think one of the most exciting things about this treaty process is the very deep and meaningful involvement of civil society, of my group, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Many of us were under the umbrella of an international campaign called the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. This voice really was unstoppable, but I also want to mention, to the credit of the nations that participated in this UN process, they gave civil society a big voice. It was really unlike any other UN process that I have been a part of before. I think that this, in many ways, revolutionized the way that international diplomacy and international treaties are made, so I'm very excited about that and very hopeful for the future."
"The nuclear weapons states did not participate in this process and that's been the root of the problem. They have not wanted to honor their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. The rest of the world has finally lost patience. They're concerned by the overwhelming medical evidence that even a very limited nuclear war would be a worldwide catastrophe. The rest of the international community has issued a real challenge saying that they will no longer accept a situation in which nine countries hold the entire world, including their own people, hostage to these terribly dangerous nuclear arsenals."
Read the full interview at The RealNews.com
- Rick Wayman is the Director of Programs and Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, and is Co-Chair of the 'Amplify: Generation of Change' network for nuclear abolition.
- Ira Helfand is a co-Founder and Past President of Physicians for Social Responsibility and co-President of PSR's global federation the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
July 7, 2017: UN Adopts Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
- The treaty prohibits nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities. In addition, nations must not allow nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory. (See FAQs on the treaty provisions at ICAN)
ICAN's executive director, Beatrice Fihn: "We hope that today marks the beginning of the end of the nuclear age. It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security... No one believes that indiscriminately killing millions of civilians is acceptable- no matter the circumstance- yet that is what nuclear weapons are designed to do. Today the international community rejected nuclear weapons and made it clear they are unacceptable." (ref: ICAN)
US/UK Trident: A Hackable Doomsday Machine?
Earlier this year we learned that in June 2016, an unarmed Trident nuclear missile launched from a British submarine off the coast of Florida targeting a point in the south Atlantic instead turned around and headed for Georgia, and had to be destroyed in mid-flight. In our coverage of the incident, we wondered whether "the mishap" may have been caused by a hack. (see "Trident Malfunction and Hacking")
On May 31, British American Security Information Council released a major in-depth and detailed survey of the vulnerabilities of Britain's Trident nuclear force to hacking:
Hacking UK Trident: A Growing Threat(View/download PDF)Some excerpts:
- "A cyber-attack may target the submarine, command and control, or the missile launch system. It can attempt to disrupt or change launch coordinates to divert the original course of the missile, or to disrupt or neutralize the warheads themselves...
- "To imagine that critical digital systems at the heart of nuclear weapon systems are somehow immune or can be confidently protected by dedicated teams of network managers is to be irresponsibly complacent. When states invest hundreds of billions of dollars in offensive nuclear weapon systems, the incentives are there amongst adversaries to develop capabilities that could neutralize that threat."
Note the report's remarks regarding the June 2016 incident: "The failure could have several explanations... It was also consistent with the injection of malware into the failing component or into the system transmitting telemetry data from the missile. In other words, if there had been a hack, this is possibly what it would have looked like."
- A related must-read: NYTimes: A Cyberattack 'the World Isn't Ready For' "this is a nuclear bomb compared to WannaCry"
The Nuclear Enterprise is More Problematic Than Ever- And It Has a Dark Side
The cloud hanging over the future of nuclear power grew darker recently with the bankruptcy of Westinghouse over cost overruns by the principle contractor, Shaw, and the huge hit, roughly $7 billion, that its corporate owner Toshiba had to take on it, pushing Toshiba itself to the brink of bankruptcy.
Ironically, Toshiba's AP1000 nuclear power plant model was meant to reduce construction and operation costs through standardization. (see photo at left)
The bankruptcy "is a powerful signal of the end of the fantasy of a nuclear revival", Daniel Hirsch, director of the program on environmental and nuclear policy at UCSC, told the Christian Science Monitor. (ref)
With Westinghouse's reactor design off the table, nuclear supporters have pinned their hopes on next-generation technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs). But we're a long way from there. DOE's website states that "demonstrating the viability of SMRs will require overcoming many technical, regulatory, financial and institutional challenges".
View Small Modular Reactors Fact Sheet, By Arjun Makhijani and Michele Boyd:
No Solution For The Cost, Safety, And Waste Problems Of Nuclear Power "Nuclear energy is, simply, in a rapidly accelerating crisis"
- Only 2 of Japan's 42 commercial reactors are back online since the Fukushima meltdowns following the earthquake and tidal wave of 2011.
- Four global nuclear industry giants- French utilities Électricité de France (EDF) and Areva, US-based Westinghouse and Japanese conglomerate Toshiba- face crippling debts and possible bankruptcy because of their investments in nuclear power. (ref)
"With the French nuclear industry crippled and Toshiba-Westinghouse out of the nuclear construction business, the West is effectively ceding the future of nuclear energy to China, Korea and Russia."
(ref) Meltdowns may be rare, but when they do happen, the disaster lasts forever.
Six years ago several reactors at the Fukushima plant in Japan experienced meltdowns following an earthquake and tidal waves. And six years on, thousands of gallons of radioactive water still flow out into the sea every day. Humans can't get close enough to the reactor cores to see what exactly is happening, even robots are quickly fried by the high levels of radiation.
- April 26: "Experts: Japan 'wants to just drop tanks' of Fukushima nuclear waste into ocean. Americans worried over plumes hitting West Coast. Fukushima Radiation Alert: Concern 'nuclear chain reaction' could occur at plant; Reactors are still melting down and spewing radioactivity; Fuel has burned through containment..." (ref)
See also: Dying robots and failing hope...
From left: Hanford in Washington, Rocky Flats in Colorado, Los Alamos Area G in New Mexico Then there's the waste from nuclear weapons production
Billions of dollars are spent every year in the effort to clean up the nuclear waste produced so profligately during the headlong rush to build tens of thousands of nuclear weapons during the cold war.
- One site, the Hanford site in Washington State, is considered to be "the most toxic place in America".
- The Rocky Flats site in Colorado was shut down by an FBI raid in June of 1989 due to radioactive pollution spread in the Denver region. (ref) Billions were spent in a cleanup effort ending in 2005, but doubts remain. (ref)
- At Los Alamos Lab here in New Mexico barrels of nuclear weapons production waste are still piled outdoors, awaiting shipment to the WIPP storage site in Carlsbad, New Mexico. WIPP has just partially re-opened after a several year long closure following the explosion of a barrel of waste from LANL, one of many packed with the wrong kind of kitty litter.
- Santa Fe New Mexican, April 23: LANL's Area G at center of nuclear cleanup effort
- See our page on the Nukewatch lawsuit regarding LANL cleanup.
- See our LANL Area G file
"If atomic bombs are to be added... to the arsenals of a warring world, ...then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people of this world must unite or they will perish."
-Robert Oppenheimer, Director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, acceptance speech, Army-Navy "Excellence" Award, Nov. 1945
Nuclear New Mexico
Click to see NukeWatch's annotated map of nuclear sites, including those on the way, in The Land of Enchantment
*** Urgent Funding Appeal ***
Friends, We need your financial support to bridge a funding gap so that we can work without interruption. Of particular concern, there is a serious proposal for "interim" storage in New Mexico of 70,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, plus some 30,000 future tons.
And on July 20 we will be filing a lawsuit with the Oak Ridge Environmental and Peace Alliance against a new nuclear bomb plant called the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) near Oak Ridge, TN. The UPF is the 'tip of the spear' for the planned trillion dollar makeover of the US arsenal and supporting nuclear weapons complex, with new bomb-making plants expected to be operational until ~2080.
And by the way, NukeWatch provided much of the factual basis for CPI's landmark articles which are largely based on the Department of Energy's contractor Performance Evaluation Reports. Those reports are publicly available only because Nuclear Watch successfully sued for them in 2012.
Our Land of Enchantment is targeted by multiple nuclear threats (see our Nuclear New Mexico map). But we can continue to be effective only with your help, which we need more than ever. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution now. Thank you!
NukeWatch gets a Santa Fe Mayor's Award
In addition to our work toward limiting and ultimately eliminating nuclear weapons, NukeWatch also works to protect Northern New Mexico aquifers from the radioactive wastes dumped over the last 70 years of atomic bomb production at Los Alamos Lab. This week, Nukewatch was given the Santa Fe Mayor's Sustainability Award in the category of Environment for that work. (more)
Above: Scott Kovac, Jay Coghlan, Mayor Javier Gonzales
Cleanup Lawsuit: NukeWatch v. DOE, LANS See all docs related to the ongoing Nuclear Watch lawsuit against DOE and LANS (the corporate manager of Los Alamos Lab), over multiple missed deadlines and failures to execute cleanup of radioactive wastes at the Los Alamos site: Cleanup Lawsuit.
Defense Nuclear Safety Board review Understanding the Safety Posture of the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Lab.
See archived video of public hearing June 7, 2017
See comments submitted by NukeWatch here.
Santa Fe, Sept 7, 2017: Rep. Ted Lieu and Jay Coghlan on KSFR radio For his sponsorship of a bill to restrict the president's sole authority to launch nuclear war, Congressman Lieu was given the Leadership Award by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in May. Nukewatch director Jay Coghlan is the current chairman of ANA.
6-7pm, "Living on the Edge" with David Bacon, KSFR radio, Santa Fe.
Trinity: the First Nuclear Test Nukes of Hazard Podcast: Listen
ANA Report 2017: Accountability Audit
This year's report examines the extraordinary spending at Department of Energy nuclear facilities and examines ways to reduce risks and save billions of dollars across the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. (View/download PDF)
Alliance For Nuclear Accountability 2016 Report Out-of-control U.S. nuclear weapons programs accelerate spending, proliferation, health and safety risks: The Trillion Dollar Trainwreck (PDF)
Newsletters and Calendars
- The Bulletin's Nuclear Roundup
Daily nuclear news; subscribe or view online. Very good selection.
- Ploughshares' Early Warning
"Daily news on the issues we're following from the desk of Joe Cirincione." Subscribe or view online.
- Nuclear Policy News (CSIS) Subscribe or view online. Very good selection. Note that CSIS's top ten corporate donors include Lockheed Martin, Northrup-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics and Leonardo-Finmeccanica.
- Nuclear Calendar FCNL
Extensive email listing of all nuclear-related events, from the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
Subscribe or view online.
- National Security Legislative Calendar
From the Council for a Livable World. (ref)
Very extensive daily dump of nuclear-related news items; unfortunately hard on the eyes and often redundant, but again, extensive.
July 28 DPRK Missile Test
Union of Concerned Scientists reports North Korea's ICBM launched on July 28, could reach many major US cities, including New York and Boston (ref) / More on our Flashpoints:DPRK page.
Current nuclear stockpiles
For country reports and other details see original annotated infographic at Ploughshares.org.
What Putin Wants
Alexei Arbatov details the basis for an understanding between the US and Russia from Putin's perspective; this event organized and hosted by the Graduate Initiative in Russian Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies on May 13, 2016.
See our report: Nuclear Flashpoints: NATO-Russia
"The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way."
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
"Nuclear war is more likely than one may hope, because it can start by mistake, miscalculation or terrorist provocation. There is a steady stream of accidents and false alarms that could trigger all-out war, and relying on never-ending luck is not a sustainable strategy."
- from the 'Open Letter from Scientists in Support of the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Negotiations'. See the full letter, signers to date, and sign-on form: Future of Humanity
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Our Mission: 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.