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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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!

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

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and 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

Recent Blog Posts

77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan – Interfaith Discussion

SAVE THE DATE: 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

Interfaith Discussion

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 


5:15 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Followed by Panel Discussion with Interfaith Leaders at 6:15 p.m.


ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, July 1, 2022 – Join Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, for 5:15 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, NM. His homily will be centered on his pastoral letter on nuclear disarmament, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament,” released on January 11, 2022. Following Mass, at approximately 6:15 p.m., a panel discussion with prominent interfaith leaders on today’s need for nuclear disarmament will be held with a question and answer session. All are welcomed to either event.

In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Wester reflects upon his trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the history of Catholic social teaching on nuclear weapons, the history of the development and production of nuclear weapons in New Mexico, and Jesus’ example of nonviolence. He encourages all to read the pastoral letter and use the reflection questions and suggestions for action.

Archbishop’s pastoral letter can be found here.

For more information, contact the Office of Social Justice & Respect Life (505) 831-8205.

“LAZY format”: A Failed WIPP Community Engagement Meeting in Santa Fe

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Environmental Management held a Presentation and “Community Forum” for Santa Fe on the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), formatted as a hybrid in-person and Zoom meeting on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Nuclear Watch New Mexico is extremely unsatisfied with the outcome of this meeting, and is not alone in criticizing both the substance of the meeting and the format.

We have recorded this public forum with the chat included because there was an overwhelming amount of participation within the chat, and we feel the chat is a valuable resource in and of itself, as well as a testament to the large amount of community concern present around the subject of WIPP. View that recording HERE (and below).

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New & Updated

Nagasaki: 77 Years On

August 9, 1945 – Following the bombing of Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The anniversaries of these two atomic bombings are a reminder of the risks nuclear weapons pose & why we must all work together to reduce & eliminate these weapons. Want to know more about the future of nuclear disarmament? JOIN US TONIGHT for a special panel discussion on the topic from Interfaith Leaders of the Santa Fe Community: 

SAVE THE DATE: Interfaith Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament, 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

August 9 – The 77th Remembrance of Nagasaki

On this day 1945, a bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, Japan, destroying everything and killing thousands of people in the blast. We commit to the goal of total peace from the threat of nuclear weapons & today we reinvigorate our efforts to ban nuclear testing and collectively advance our shared goal of a world free from nuclear weapons.

“Each Day Begins with the Sun Rising” – 77 Years Later, 4 Artists from Hiroshima Reflect

Today marks the 77 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan during World War II. Three days ago, August 6, marks the same anniversary for the bombing of the city of Hiroshima, Japan. In both cities the blast completely annihilated everything within a 1-mile radius from the center of explosion. The bombs not only decimated the current population, destroyed property, and scorched the land; the entirety of the ways of life of these communities was ripped away in a terrorizing flash.

"The atomic explosion almost completely destroyed Hiroshima's identity as a city. Over a fourth of the population was killed in one stroke and an additional fourth seriously injured, so that even if there had been no damage to structures and installations the normal city life would still have been completely shattered." - The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (atomicarchive.com)

The total effects of the only two nuclear weapons ever detonated in warfare are not fully known, despite 77 years of people (scientists, military experts, civilians, Japan, etc.) trying to estimate the number of the dead and injured. "The most credible estimates cluster around a “low” of 110,000 mortalities and a “high” of 210,000, an enormous gap (the estimates for each city have a range of ±10,000)." - Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

A man prays as paper lanterns are floated on the Motoyasu river on Aug. 6, 2022 in Hiroshima, Japan. | Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

The events of August 6 and 9, 1945, forever changed the world. But today, besides continuing to attempt to know the extent of the cost of life of these bombings, how are we moving forward in reflection and in growth? How, as a global community, can we explore and prioritize processing the deep, deep pain of these events? The city of Nagasaki has been rebuilt since World War II and is today an important tourist site, serving as a significant spiritual center for movements to ban nuclear weapons. Aging survivors, known in Japan as hibakusha, continue to push for a nuclear ban and hope to convince younger generations to join the movement.

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The weight of a butterfly

“Of the 64 kilograms of uranium in the Hiroshima bomb, less than one kilogram underwent fission, and the entire energy of the explosion came from just over half a gram of matter that was converted to energy.

That is about the weight of a butterfly.”

By Emily Strasser, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | August 6, 2022 thebulletin.org

The design for the first atomic bomb was frighteningly simple: One lump of a special kind of uranium, the projectile, was fired at a very high speed into another lump of that same rare uranium, the target. When the two collided, they began a nuclear chain reaction, and it was only a tiny fraction of a second before the bomb exploded, forever splitting history between the time before the atomic bomb and the time after.

At 17 seconds past 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay released the bomb from a height of 31,600 feet above the target, a T-shaped bridge in the center of Hiroshima, Japan.

The morning was cloudless, as the weather plane sent to scout for the Enola Gay had reported in the hour before. If the weather had been poor, the plane would have set its course to one of the two alternate targets. As the bomb fell, a schoolboy closed his eyes and began to count as his friends hid along the way to school.

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Nuclear threat higher now than in Cold War, British official warns

“’We are entering a dangerous new age,’ [Lovegrove] added, citing the spread of advanced weapons and cyberwarfare.”

BY  © WASHINGTON POST | July 28, 2022 washingtonpost.com

Britain’s national security adviser has warned that a breakdown in dialogue among rival powers is raising the risk of nuclear war, with fewer safeguards now than during the Cold War.

Western nations had a greater “understanding of the Soviet doctrine and capabilities — and vice versa” at the time because they kept more negotiation channels open, Stephen Lovegrove said at an event in Washington on Wednesday.

“This gave us both a higher level of confidence that we would not miscalculate our way into nuclear war,” he said. “Today, we do not have the same foundations with others who may threaten us in the future — particularly with China.”

As such, he said, Britain strongly supports President Biden’s talking with Beijing.

The Economist on “The NPT at 50+”: Will the Ukraine war ring the knell for nuclear arms control?

“America offers to resume nuclear talks with Russia, and calls for China to join. But the outlook is dark”

© THE ECONOMIST | July 31, 2022 economist.com

Editor’s note (August 1st 2022): President Joe Biden today offered to “expeditiously negotiate” a new nuclear arms-control deal with Russia to replace the New START treaty, which expires in 2026. Mr Biden also put pressure on China to discuss limits on its growing nuclear arsenal. It is not clear whether either power will take up his call, but it allows America to cast itself as a responsible power at the start of a big nuclear conference in New York.

Russian Defense Ministry officials show off the 9M729 cruise missile at the military Patriot Park outside Moscow on January 23, 2019.CreditVasily Maximov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the sea of hostility between America and Russia, an island of co-operation endures: the rival powers routinely share information about their long-range nuclear weapons, from the movement of warheads in and out of maintenance to telemetry from ballistic-missile launches. This is both striking and reassuring in the sixth month of war in Ukraine, as Russia periodically threatens to use nuclear weapons and America warns of “severe consequences” if it does.

Action Alerts

Interfaith Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament, 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki

Tuesday, August 9, 2022 


5:15 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Followed by Panel Discussion with Interfaith Leaders at 6:15 p.m.


August 9, 2022, 5:15 p.m. Mountain Time – Santa Fe Archbishop John C. Wester will offer a healing prayer for those harmed by the production and use of nuclear weapons. This includes victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings in Japan; Trinity Test Downwinders; uranium and nuclear weapons workers in New Mexico and beyond; and any future victims in the accelerating new nuclear arms race.

Mass Commemorating the 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

Mass and healing ritual will be followed by a panel discussion with prominent interfaith leaders on the need for nuclear disarmament and a Q&A session at 6:15 p.m.

Confirmed interfaith leaders include Archbishop John C. Wester; Rev. Talitha Arnold, Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe; Mrs. Samia Assed of the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque; The Rev. Holly Beaumont of Interfaith Worker Justice; Roshi Joan Halifax of the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe; and Former Governor of Cochiti Pueblo, Regis Pecos.

In the pastoral letter, Archbishop Wester reflects upon his trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Catholic social teaching on nuclear weapons, the history of the development and production of nuclear weapons in New Mexico, and Jesus’ example of nonviolence. He encourages all to read the pastoral letter and use the reflection questions and suggestions for action. The complete pastoral letter can be accessed here, and the summary here. Panel bios can be found here.

Livestream the event on August 9, 2022:

5:15 p.m. Mass and healing ceremony youtu.be/M4SnixeGwyE

6:15 p.m. Interfaith dialogue youtu.be/U88tJwq7yNsm

Masks and social distancing are encouraged. For more information please see: https://archdiosf.org/documents/2022/8/220803_News_Release_77th_Anniv_Nagasaki_Mass_Interfaith_Discussion.pdf

Coming soon! Opportunity to participate in the 10-year renewal of the hazardous waste permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP):

The New Mexico Environment Department is required to maintain a Facility Mailing List to which you can add your name and address to get the latest information – just email Ricardo Maestas at the New Mexico Environment Department at ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us and ask to be added to the list.  Or mail your request with your mailing address to:

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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th PDA CNM Community Gathering:

PDA CNM Community Gathering - March 9, 2022 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

PDA CNM welcomed Archbishop John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, to speak at their March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester's] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos National Lab, and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. He prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded plutonium pits last at least a century, refuting the NNSA’s assertion that we “need” new-design nuclear weapons and expanded plutonium pit production.”

HELP US SUPPORT NEW MEXICO’S GOVERNOR IN ACTING TO STOP WIPP EXPANSION!

STOP “FOREVER WIPP!”

The Department of Energy is seeking to modify the nuclear waste permit for southeastern New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Dragging out WIPP’s operations decades past the original 20-year agreement violates the social contract made with New Mexicans. WIPP is being equipped to take the waste that will be generated from production of plutonium pits for nuclear warheads, and it was never supposed to do that. An expansion of WIPP will impact the entire country, not just residents of southeastern New Mexico.

View the videos below for more information, and, if you live in an area that may be endangered by these nuclear waste transportation risks, please consider making your own “This is My Neighborhood” video!

Background Information –  Problems with Nuclear Waste
Playlist: Problems with Nuclear Waste


Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

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New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

Past Nuclear News

OUT OF GAS? A shortage of tritium fuel may leave fusion energy with an empty tank.

Throughout the decades of fusion research, plasma physicists have been single-minded about reaching the breakeven point and producing excess energy. They viewed other issues, such as acquiring enough tritium, just “trivial” engineering. But as reactors approach breakeven, nuclear engineers say it’s time to start to worry about engineering details that are far from trivial. “Leaving [them] until later would be hugely mistaken.”

By DANIEL CLERY SCIENCE MAGAZINE science.org

In 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories delivered five steel drums, lined with cork to absorb shocks, to the Joint European Torus (JET), a large fusion reactor in the United Kingdom. Inside each drum was a steel cylinder the size of a Coke can, holding a wisp of hydrogen gas—just 10 grams of it, or the weight of a couple sheets of paper.

This wasn’t ordinary hydrogen but its rare radioactive isotope tritium, in which two neutrons and a proton cling together in the nucleus. At $30,000 per gram, it’s almost as precious as a diamond, but for fusion researchers the price is worth paying. When tritium is combined at high temperatures with its sibling deuterium, the two gases can burn like the Sun. The reaction could provide abundant clean energy—just as soon as fusion scientists figure out how to efficiently spark it.

Last year, the Canadian tritium fueled an experiment at JET showing fusion research is approaching an important threshold: producing more energy than goes into the reactions. By getting to one-third of this breakeven point, JET offered reassurance that ITER, a similar reactor twice the size of JET under construction in France, will bust past breakeven when it begins deuterium and tritium (D-T) burns sometime next decade. “What we found matches predictions,” says Fernanda Rimini, JET’s plasma operations expert.

But that achievement could be a Pyrrhic victory, fusion scientists are realizing. ITER is expected to consume most of the world’s tritium, leaving little for reactors that come after.

Wake up call on nuclear waste! Meet the National Radioactive Waste Coalition!

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