Governor Udall?

Governor Udall?

Michael Coleman had an interesting article for the Albuquerque Journal – Does New Mexico’s future lie in D.C.?

Coleman relates a conversation with NM Senator Tom Udall that made it clear the Senator isn’t ruling a gubernatorial run out.

It’s not surprising to think that Udall – who has been in Washington as a congressman and U.S. senator since 1998 – might want to come home to beautiful Santa Fe and take up residence in the governor’s mansion as a coda to his long political career.

Just two years into his second six-year term in the Senate, Udall could run for governor without giving up his Senate seat, which doesn’t expire until 2020. If he won the 2018 governor’s race, he would appoint his Senate replacement. That kind of power is alluring to any politician.

But as Coleman says, “it’s all just a parlor game at this point.”

Despite Uncertainty of When/If WIPP Will Reopen, DOE Hatches Plan to Send More Waste

Despite Uncertainty of When/If WIPP Will Reopen,

DOE Hatches Plan to Send More Waste

In a recent  Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board Editorial: Another WIPP delay spells more tax dollars wasted, we are reminded of the delays affecting the reopening  of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), which has not been disposing radioactive waste since February 2014 when an improperly packed drum from Los Alamos exploded.

Almost two years later, the WIPP contractor struggles to figure out how to clean and reopen the underground repository. Serious concerns revolve around the ventilation system, which not cannot supply the required amount of air now because it must be operated in filter mode ever since WIPP was contaminated.

As the Journal editorial explains,

So while the delays pile up, so do cleanup and reopening costs, which may exceed $500 million.

With bumbling progress like this, it remains to be seen if WIPP will ever reopen.

Yet surprisingly, DOE just released a plan to send MORE waste to WIPP.

A Federal Register notice announces the DOE selection of a Preferred Alternative to prepare 6 metric tons (MT) of surplus non-pit plutonium for eventual disposal at WIPP.

In the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued to the public in May 2015, DOE describes the potential environmental impact from alternatives for safe and timely disposition of 13.1 metric tons (14.4 tons) of surplus plutonium for which a disposition pathway is not yet assigned. When the Final EIS was issued, DOE had no Preferred Alternative for the disposition of the 6 metric tons (6.6 tons) of surplus non-pit plutonium.

The Federal Register Notice for DOE/NNSA’s Preferred Alternative for Disposition of Surplus Non-pit Plutonium for the Final Surplus Plutonium Supplemental EIS is expected to be published in the Federal Register by Thursday, December 24, 2015.  The Final SPD Supplemental EIS and related information, including the Federal Register notice will also be available on the SPD Supplemental EIS website, and the DOE National Environmental Policy Act website.

Since WIPP doesn’t have capacity (even if it re-opens) for this additional waste, putting it into WIPP would, among other things, displace waste from other site(s) – Idaho, Hanford, Los Alamos, or Oak Ridge.

The Record of Decision will not be released for at least 30 days. Comments are not requested, but can be made, regarding the notice.

Our friends at Southwest Research and Information Center will be making additional comments about this proposed expansion of WIPP.

The WIPP contractor has much to do before the repository can safely reopen. The task may be unachievable. But in the meantime, expanding WIPP’s mission can only make reopening WIPP more schedule driven instead of safety driven.

If DOE wants to make useful plans, how about plans for WIPP’s replacement?

Four Strikes and You’re Out

Four Strikes and You’re Out

In stunning news on December 18, Justin Horwath of the SF New Mexican reported that the management and operating contractor of Los Alamos National Laboratory will not have its contract renewed after it ends Sept. 30, 2017. This is stunning because LANS LLC, the M&O contractor, could have potentially run the Lab until for 20 years until 2026, had it not had so many problems.

The annual contract for FY 2016 was over $2.2 billion. This means that Los Alamos National Security (LANS) left upwards of $20 billion (9 years of lost contract) on the table. It’s not often that a company gets the opportunity to make mistakes that costs them $20 billion worth of contracts. 

The management of the Lab was privatized when LANS was awarded the contract in 2005. LANS is a partnership between the University of California, Bechtel Corp., Babcock & Wilcox Co., and AECOM (formerly URS). Before 2005 the University of California exclusively managed LANL as a non-profit. The for-profit experiment for managing the Lab will hopefully be reconsidered. 

As a reminder, Nuclear Watch NM, along with our friends at Tri-Valley CARES, submitted a bid to manage the Lab back in 2005We thought the management should be non-profit and that nuclear weapons research should be phased out.

The overall direction of future missions at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – We propose to downgrade the Lab’s nuclear weapons programs and subordinate them under a new Associate Directorship of Nuclear Nonproliferation so that it can be better assured that national and international obligations under the NonProliferation Treaty are met.

LANS lost the M&O contract because they failed to earn the “award term” 4 times. The award term is simply another year added to the contract. Section H-13(f) of the current contract states, ‘If the Contractor fails 4 times to earn award term, the operation of this Award Term clause will cease.” 

LANS lost award term in 2013.

Then, LANS lost award term in 2014 AND had one extra award term that was previously earned taken away because of improperly packing the radioactive waste drum that shut down WIPP.

And LANS lost this award term for 2015. LANL may be negotiating this, but they got a waiver in 2012 that granted them an award term when they didn’t actually earn it. They were told that was their last waiver.

That’s four.

These award terms are based on the Lab’s Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs), which thanks to a successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by NukeWatch, are available onlineWe wonder if having these available to the public could have helped the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in any way to not give the award terms. 

We do thank NNSA and the DOE LA Field Office for sticking to their guns by providing genuine oversight of the Lab this go-around. But the past few years serve as a reminder of the dangerous and difficult side of nuclear weapons work, the continuing health impacts to workers, and the impossibility of isolating the radioactive waste for hundreds of thousands of years. When will the US decide that it’s just not worth it?

The SF New Mexican also tells that NM Congressional delegation has weighed inWe agree with the joint statement issued by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján that, “DOE must hold all of its contractors accountable and be responsible stewards of federal funds.”

But we have some questions about this statement:

“Los Alamos National Laboratory employs some of the best and brightest minds in the country whose contributions are indispensable to our national security. The lab also strengthens our economy by providing quality jobs, and we will always fight to protect its mission. As DOE prepares a new contract proposal, assuring continuity for the employees at LANL and the high-quality scientific, energy, and security contributions they make to our nation will be paramount. We are confident that Los Alamos will continue to have a critical role in national and international security, research and science. We expect to receive further details and regular briefings from NNSA as the process moves forward in the new year.”

The delegation’s joint letter seems to demonstrate how overly concerned they are with LANL’s “mission” of nuclear weapons production and with the institutional benefit of profit-making national security contractors. The Lab’s actual contributions to energy research and basic science are also a small proportion to the taxpayer dollars expended there.

A major rewrite of the Lab’s missions is needed where true national security is not based on nuclear weapons.

LANL contract up for bid after 2017

NukeWatch comment:

As the trillion dollar “modernization” of U.S. nuclear forces moves forward, note how hollow the Department of Energy infrastructure is because of contractor greed, incompetence and waste. While that alone won’t win the day for us, I do expect it to limit the scale and timing of “modernizing” the DOE nuclear weapons complex (“modernization” means the indefinite preservation of the nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting research and production infrastructure, contrary to official U.S. policy that endorses a future world free of nuclear weapons). This includes Life Extension Programs that give existing nuclear weapons new military capabilities despite denials at the highest levels of the U.S. government, and new production facilities such as the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 Plant near Oak Ridge, TN and plutonium facilities at Los Alamos which face constant cost overruns.

There could also possibly be developments in the first quarter of next year related to its illegal lobbying activities that would shake up Lockheed Martin’s grip on the Sandia Labs (the Sandia contract is also scheduled to be put up for bid). In short, 2016 could be a very fluid and unstable year for the DOE nuclear weapons complex, even as it seeks to put the B61-12 smart nuclear bomb into production and move forward aggressively on a nuclear warhead for a new first-strike air-launched cruise missile.

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director

***********

LANL contract up for bid after 2017

By Mark Oswald / Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer

Friday, December 18th, 2015 at 11:40pm

SANTA FE – The National Nuclear Safety Administration has informed
Congress that the Los Alamos National Laboratory contract will be put
out for competitive bidding sometime after 2017, the Journal has learned.

It would be only the second time the contact has been put out to bid
since the lab was created to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.

LANL’s most recent federal government performance evaluation is better
than last year’s, but not good enough for the lab’s private-sector
operator to earn the award of an extra year on its contract, the lab’s
director informed LANL workers this week.

And continuation of Los Alamos National Security LLC holding the
contract was contingent on it being granted the “award term.”

LANL director Charles McMillan said in his Thursday email to lab
employees that he was “deeply disappointed that we did not meet NNSA’s
expectations in a manner sufficient to net another year of award term”
on the contract that runs through fiscal year 2017.

“Nevertheless, the federal government has offered Los Alamos National
Security, LLC (LANS) an extension to the contract to manage the
Laboratory beyond FY17; I will provide additional details about that at
a later date after there has been more discussion between the federal
government and LANS,” McMillan said in a copy of his message obtained by
the Journal.

An extension as described by McMillan is not the same thing as the
merit-based award of an additional contract year that LANS missed out on
this year. It’s unclear from McMillan’s statement whether the extension
he mentioned is intended as merely a holding pattern but, under its
contract, LANS needed to earn an award year this time around to keep the
contract going.

The contract with LANS provides for vacating the contract, awarded in
2006, if the consortium doesn’t earn a series of one-year term awards.
Last year, the Department of Energy – NNSA’s parent organization –
warned that LANS was under the gun to earn an award term for its work in
fiscal 2015.

“Having failed to earn contract term extensions for fiscal years 2013
and 2014,” and with the revocation of a previous extension, “LANS must
earn (an) award term in every future performance period to keep the
contract in force beyond fiscal year 2017,” said a statement provided by
the DOE last December.

On Friday, an NNSA spokeswoman said, “We do not comment on ongoing
assessments.”

Contract over $2 billion

LANS – a consortium that includes the Bechtel corporation, the
University of California, Babcock and Wilcox, and URS Energy and
Construction – won the LANL contract in 2006. The contract now amounts
to about $2.2 billion a year, plus a fee based on performance.

The University of California, on its own, had previously held the Los
Alamos contract since the lab’s beginnings developing the atomic bomb
during World War II. The contract was put out for competition about a
decade ago after a series of security and property management problems
at the lab.

Last year, LANS also didn’t earn an “award term” and even lost a year it
had previously been granted as NNSA hit the lab hard for failures that
led to a radioactive leak at the nation’s nuclear waste repository near
Carlsbad from a drum packaged at Los Alamos. The Waste Isolation Pilot
Plant has been shut down since the leak in February 2014.

The federal government cut the performance-based management fee for LANS
by nearly 90 percent, down to $6.25 million, for fiscal 2014. That
compared with $59 million-plus paid to the LANS consortium the previous
two years. No information on the 2015 fee award has been released.

McMillan’s Thursday message to employees said that, in order to earn an
award year, the lab had to score better than “satisfactory”in all of
six evaluation categories. “We did not accomplish this,” McMillan said,
despite getting high scores in four of the six areas.

NNSA rated LANS only satisfactory for operations and infrastructure, the
same category in which the lab got a crucial “unsatisfactory” grade last
year. LANS this year was rated “very good” in two categories – its
missions to manage nuclear weapons and reduce global nuclear security
threats – and excellent in two others, missions for science technology
and engineering, and for a “DOE and Strategic Partnership Project.” The
NNSA rated LANS’s leadership as “good.”

Despite his disappointment over failing to net an award term, McMillan
wrote, “I am pleased to note that our federal partners once again
acknowledged our strong performance in the areas of mission and science.
We continue to provide strong value to the national security missions
and Los Alamos continues to be regarded highly for the quality of its
science.

‘Shortcomings’ noted

“Our federal partners made it clear that shortcomings in our work
planning and work controls related to safety events, project
performance, cybersecurity, the earned value management system (EVMS)
and continued weaknesses in criticality safety all weighed heavily in
the evaluation of our performance. These are areas we must – and will –
improve going forward,” said McMillan.

He also wrote, “I remain committed to the long-term sustainability of
the Laboratory and to each of you. I am scheduling an all-employee
meeting shortly after the New Year to hear and address your thoughts,
concerns, and questions. Los Alamos will continue to have a valued role
in protecting the nation and the world. It is incumbent upon us during
the remainder of the contract period to deliver mission success through
operational effectiveness and scientific excellence.”

Jay Coghlan of the Nuclear Watch New Mexico watchdog group said the
situation as described by McMillan, with LANS getting an extension
despite failing to earn an award term, was “deja vu all over again,”
similar to a later-rescinded waiver that granted LANS an award year for
fiscal 2012, although it hadn’t met all the performance criteria. “It
seems awfully premature for director McMillan to indicate there’s going
to be a contract extension before it’s actually finalized by the U.S.
government,” Coghlan said. “He’s putting the cart before the horse,
maybe putting on a happy face for his employees before they leave for
Christmas.”

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/feds-won-t-renew-contract-for-private-lanl-operator/article_fa11e970-8bc2-530a-8d22-6e50626e6dcd.html

Feds won’t renew contract for private LANL operator

Posted: Friday, December 18, 2015 9:30 pm | Updated: 10:24 pm, Fri Dec 18, 2015.
By Justin Horwath

The New Mexican | 0 comments

The private consortium that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory will not have its contract renewed after it ends Sept. 30, 2017, The New Mexican has learned. The consortium is currently in negotiations with the federal government that could extend the $2.2 billion annual contract beyond 2017, even as the contract is put back up for bid, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The decision not to renew the contract follows a blistering series of federal investigations and performance evaluations involving the lab’s safety record after a drum from the lab burst and leaked radiation at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in February 2014 near Carlsbad, shutting down the nation’s only underground nuclear repository indefinitely.

The Department of Energy notified staffers with the New Mexico congressional delegation about the decision to put the contract up for bid on Friday, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. Members of the delegation were not available for comment Friday evening.

Lab officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment Friday evening.

The lab has been run since 2006 by Los Alamos National Security, which took over operations after years of accounting scandals, security lapses and other management issues. The company is made up of a partnership between the University of California, Bechtel Corp., Babcock & Wilcox Co., URS Corp. and AECOM.

But the consortium repeatedly has run into its own problems over the past several years. In 2013, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, the arm of the Department of Energy that oversees the lab’s contract, denied LANS a one-year extension of its contract to operate the lab because it fell short of its goals for repairing and reopening some weapons facilities. Still, the NNSA awarded LANS about $52 million in performance fees, or 87 percent of the full amount possible in 2013.

Then, last December, the NNSA issued a stinging performance evaluation in the wake of the WIPP leak. In that evaluation, the lab received grades of “unsatisfactory” in key areas that cost the consortium a year on its contract and about $57 million in incentives.

The lab has received the results of its latest performance evaluation for 2015, according to an internal memo obtained byThe New Mexican. The results, though better, were not good enough to earn a “unilateral” addition of another year in what is known in the contract as an “award term.”

“While I am deeply disappointed that we did not meet NNSA’s expectations in a manner sufficient to net another year of award term, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments,” lab Director Charles F. McMillan wrote in the Thursday, Dec. 17, memo to lab employees.

In the memo, McMillan focuses on the positives and does not mention that the contract will be up for renewal, but the language underscores the gravity of the situation.

“Understandably, this news is sure to generate questions for each of you,” McMillan wrote. “Nevertheless, I once again express my deeply held belief that the Laboratory’s greatest asset continues to be its people.”
A few paragraphs later, he writes, “I am scheduling an all-employee meeting shortly after the New Year to hear and address your thoughts, concerns, and questions.”

The new evaluation is not expected to be released publicly for a few weeks. But the memo purports to show substantially better results than in 2014. The memo says the lab received high scores in four of six categories, including management of the nuclear weapons mission and its mission of reducing global nuclear security threats. But it received only a “satisfactory” in the category of “operations and infrastructure.”

The lab needed to receive better than “satisfactory” in all six categories to qualify for an additional year in its contract.
“We did not accomplish this,” McMillan wrote. He added, however, that the NNSA has offered the consortium an extension. “I will provide additional details about that at a later date after there has been more discussion between the federal government and LANS,” he wrote.

“Our federal partners,” he added, “made it clear that shortcomings in our work planning and work controls related to safety events, project performance, cybersecurity, the earned value management system (EVMS), and continued weaknesses in criticality safety all weighed heavily in the evaluation of our performance,” McMillan wrote. “These are areas we must — and will — improve going forward.”

Justin Horwath can be reached at 986-3017 orjhorwath@sfnewmexican.com.

SF New Mexican – LANL misses cleanup deadline set in 2005 for largest waste site

There are a couple of minor inaccuracies in this story, for instance – “which blazed through waste dump site “Area R.” Nor sure what this refers to.
And – “ the lab has missed several milestones, including a June 2014 deadline to remove above-ground radioactive waste — delayed due to last February’s leak at WIPP.” Technically, removing the TRU is not part of the Consent Order.
~S

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-misses-cleanup-deadline-set-in-for-largest-waste-site/article_188344ac-0fb9-50a6-9ec1-fa2979a0d9b2.html

LANL misses cleanup deadline set in 2005 for largest waste site

Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015 6:45 pm | Updated: 10:41 pm, Mon Dec 7, 2015.
By Rebecca Moss
The New Mexican

A significant deadline to remove all major waste from a key Los Alamos National Laboratory site by Dec. 6 went unmet this weekend.

The deadline Sunday was set in 2005 as part of an agreement between the lab, the state Environment Department and the U.S. Department of Energy. However, officials have said the initial guidelines for cleaning up waste from decades of nuclear weapons production are no longer realistic within the time frame, following the burst of a LANL drum at a waste repository in Southern New Mexico in 2014. That caused a radiation leak that shut down a significant portion of the repository.

The shutdown of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad has pushed back the completion of the cleanup project — estimated to cost more than $1 billion.

A revised cleanup agreement is anticipated for 2016, although a release date has not been scheduled.

Allison Majure, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Environment Department, said despite delays, the intent of the consent order for the LANL cleanup has not changed. “Just because the milestone passed does not mean the consent order is not in effect,” she said Monday.

She said public opinion has been solicited on the revised order.
Representatives for Los Alamos National Laboratory said they were unable to provide comment on the status of the order Monday.

Sunday’s deadline focused on “Area G,” LANL’s largest waste deposit site. A local watchdog group, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said comprehensive cleanup for the site “is still decades away.”

In a statement released Monday, Nuclear Watch stressed the need for public participation in the revised cleanup order, including a public hearing, and condemned a plan proposed by LANL to “cap and cover” waste in Area G.

“Cleanup just keeps being delayed. If not corrected, cleanup simply won’t happen,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch.

“Nobody ever thought cleanup would be fully completed by the end of 2015; nobody is under any illusions about that,” he added.

The 2005 consent order came in response to a lawsuit between the Energy Department and the state Environment Department following several events that triggered federal pressure, including the Cerro Grande Fire in Los Alamos in 2000, which blazed through waste dump site “Area R.” Officials at the time feared the fire could spark an explosion.

Since the consent order was issued, however, the lab has missed several milestones, including a June 2014 deadline to remove above-ground radioactive waste — delayed due to last February’s leak at WIPP.

During a meeting in November, state Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said remaining cleanup costs under the 2005 order have been estimated at $1.2 billion by the federal government, but that these projections are too low; he said additional funds would be needed to meet cleanup targets, as well as the reappraisal of “unrealistic” milestones.

Below are the underground units at Area G –

Underground Pits and shafts at Area G
LANL Area G Underground Disposal Pits and Shafts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More from the SF New Mexican at:

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lanl-misses-cleanup-deadline-set-in-for-largest-waste-site/article_188344ac-0fb9-50a6-9ec1-fa2979a0d9b2.html

NukeWatch Calls for Public Seats at the Table in LANL Cleanup Negotiations

For immediate release December 7, 2015

Contacts: Jay Coghlan, jay[at]nukewatch.org

Deadline for Last Cleanup Milestone of LANL Consent Order Passes

NukeWatch Calls for Public Seats at the Table in Negotiations

Santa Fe, NM – Yesterday, December 6, was the deadline for the last compliance milestone in the Consent Order between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and the Department of Energy (DOE) that governs cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Ironically, that last milestone required the submittal of a report by the Lab on how it successfully completed cleanup of Area G, its largest waste dump. Real comprehensive cleanup is decades away at current funding levels. One of the purposes of the 2005 Consent Order was to prod Congress to increase funding for cleanup of 70 years of neglected Cold War contamination at the Lab.

NMED has the final decision on what form cleanup of hazardous wastes takes at LANL. But any revised Consent Order is still off in the future, and the degree of public participation in its formulation yet to be determined by NMED. Meanwhile, LANL plans to “cap and cover” Area G, thereby creating a permanent nuclear waste dump in unlined pits and shafts, with an estimated 200,000 cubic yards of toxic and radioactive wastes buried above the regional groundwater aquifer, 4 miles uphill from the Rio Grande.

Following protracted negotiations and threatened litigation by DOE against NMED, the Environment Department succeeded in getting DOE and the LANL contractor to sign the original Consent Order in March 2005. However, beginning in 2012, NMED signed a “Framework Agreement” with DOE that prioritized the transfer of 3,706 cubic meters of aboveground, monitored “transuranic” (TRU) wastes from nuclear bomb production at Area G to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southern New Mexico.

The stated rationale of this so-called 3706 Campaign was to minimize the risk from wildfire following the 2010 Las Conchas Fire that burned within 3.5 miles of Area G. However, if those TRU wastes were really at risk from wildfire, they would have burned during the 2000 Cerro Grande Fire that came within a half-mile of Area G. The Framework Agreement allowed LANL to discontinue most legacy cleanup to concentrate on TRU shipments that should have already been completed.

Moreover, the 3706 Campaign itself ended in disaster in February 2014 when an improperly treated radioactive waste drum from LANL ruptured at WIPP, contaminating 21 workers and indefinitely closing down that multi-billion dollar facility. Dealing with the 59 similarly treated “suspect” drums still at LANL will use a substantial amount of scarce cleanup funding for at least the next two years. Combined with the need to address a large chromium groundwater plume discovered after the original Consent Order went into effect, cleanup of buried mixed radioactive wastes will remain on the back burner, if ever addressed.

Further, since 2011 LANL has requested and NMED perfunctorily granted more than 150 milestone extensions, thus effectively eviscerating the Consent Order without public comment and consent. Which brings us to today, after the last compliance milestone deadline has expired, with little cleanup actually accomplished since 2012. A new schedule of cleanup is on hold until a revised Consent Order is negotiated.

Previously NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn has said that a draft revised Consent Order would be released for a 60-day public comment period before the end of 2015. But as of mid-November negotiations had not started. More recently Secretary Flynn has said that a draft renewed Consent Order would be released only after the schedule of payments is finalized for a $73 million settlement over WIPP violations. WhileNuclear Watch New Mexico appreciates NMED’s firmness on the WIPP settlements, we would like to see the same amount of zeal applied to enforcing cleanup at LANL through the Consent Order.

NukeWatch strongly believes that much more vigorous public participation steps, including the opportunity for a public hearing, are legally required by the existing Consent Order. Specifically, the March 2005 Consent Order incorporated the full public participation requirements applicable to hazardous waste permits. Federal environmental regulations, which are incorporated into New Mexico state regulations, establish the public participation procedures for various types of permit modifications, including extending final compliance dates. These are deeper levels of public participation than the 60-day public comment period that NMED is currently contemplating. In our view, a 60-day public comment period on a draft Consent Order is tantamount to commenting on a done deal already negotiated between DOE and NMED.

Scott Kovac, Research and Operations Director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, stated, “The requirements are clear for deep and meaningful public participation in LANL cleanup decisions, including the opportunity for the interested public to have a seat at the negotiating table and the possibility for a public hearing. NMED must make Cold War legacy cleanup a priority at LANL and should start by prioritizing full public participation while negotiating the revised Consent Order.”

Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch Executive Director, added, “Ultimately this is all about the future of cleanup at LANL, which is receiving less federal funding while the nuclear weapons programs that created the mess to begin with are getting more money. We want nothing short of comprehensive cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab. That would be a real win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and the environment while creating hundreds of high-paying jobs.

# # #

Read much more background.

Nuclear Watch’s letter to Secretary Flynn – on Consent Order public participation requirements.

The existing Consent Order governing cleanup at LANL 

 

Area G at LANL

Important Public Meeting On the Future of Cleanup At Los Alamos – Join Us on November 12

Important Public Meeting On the Future of Cleanup At Los Alamos – Join Us on November 12

The future of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of radioactive and hazardous wastes is being evaluated now. Will Northern New Mexico be turned into a permanent nuclear waste dump?

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been revising the 2005 Consent Order (CO), which is the agreement between the State and the Feds for fence-to-fence cleanup of legacy Cold War wastes. The work in the CO, was supposed to be completed by December 2015. It was designed as a plan-to-make-a-plan with investigations of contaminated sites followed by cleanup decisions and remediation. Milestones and penalties were included to keep funding and cleanup on track.

What have LANL and NMED come up with to replace the 2005 Consent Order? Looks like we’ll have to wait until Thursday November 12th to find out. NMED and LANL have announced a public meeting to explain their ideas for the revised CO. There is an opportunity for public comments at the special meeting and we need you there. But it is unclear what NMED will do with any comments made. The public has been left out so far. Nuclear Watch New Mexico is pressing for meaningful responses to all comments and for actual inclusion of the public’s wishes into the revised CO.

In particular NukeWatch will be pushing for concrete milestones that are set from the beginning for all actions, for penalties when deadlines are not met, and for a new final end date. The revised Consent Order cannot be open-ended.

Northern New Mexico has been waiting long enough for cleanup at Los Alamos. Much of the waste buried in unlined dumps perched above our aquifer has been slowly releasing into the ground and heading towards our aquifer since the 1950s and 1960s. The Cold War ended in the early 1990s. Enough is enough.

We hope to see you at the meeting on November 12.

Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board Meeting

Revised NMED/ LANL Consent Order Special Meeting

Thursday, November 12, 2015

1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Cities of Gold Conference Center

10-A Cities of Gold Road

Pojoaque, New Mexico 87506

 

DRAFT AGENDA

1:00 p.m. Call to Order – Lee Bishop, DDFO

Welcome and Introductions  – Doug Sayre, Chair

Approval of Agenda

Opening Remarks

1:15 p.m. New Mexico Environment Department Perspective on Revised Consent Order – Secretary Flynn

1:30 p.m. Department of Energy Perspective on Revised Consent Order – Doug Hintze

1:45 p.m. History of Work Already Completed – Doug Hintze

2:00 p.m. Campaign Approach – Doug Hintze

2:30 p.m. Break

2:45 p.m. Campaign Approach (continued) – Doug Hintze

3:30 p.m. Schedule of Actions – NMED

3:45 p.m. Public Comment Period

4:30 p.m. Adjourn – Lee Bishop

 

Underground Pits and shafts at Area G

Op-ed: B61 bomb is fuel for new arms race

Op-ed: B61 bomb is fuel for new arms race

By Jay Coghlan / Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Albuquerque Journal
Sunday, October 25th, 2015 at 12:02am

http://www.abqjournal.com/665029/opinion/b61-bomb-is-fuel-for-new-arms-race.html

The article “‘New’ U.S. nukes are anything but” should be judged more by
its omissions than its contents.

While arguing that the soon-to-be rebuilt B61 bomb won’t be a “new”
nuclear weapon, the Heritage Foundation omits mentioning that it is
being retrofitted with a tail fin kit that will give it precision
guidance. In effect, once completed, the B61 bomb will be the world’s
first nuclear “smart” bomb, to be delivered by the new super-stealthy
(but problem-plagued) $1 trillion F-35.

If that’s not a new military capability – which the U.S. government
denies – then I don’t know what is.

The Heritage Foundation also bemoans Russia’s 2-to-1 advantage in
tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. It omits mentioning that the new B61
bomb modification will meld three tactical variants and one strategic
version of the same bomb, in effect wiping out the distinction between
tactical and strategic nuclear weapons.

The new B61 will be a precision-guided, selectable yield, multi-purpose
nuclear weapon with relatively less fallout and collateral damage. It
will lower the threshold for potential use of nuclear weapons because it
will be arguably more usable.

I am no Putin apologist – I personally know Russian activists persecuted
by his regime. But don’t be fooled by the Heritage Foundation’s
one-sided narrative that helps propel the new Cold War.

The Russians are paranoid, perhaps deservedly so, starting with Genghis
Khan and on through Napoleon and Hitler. Relentless expansion of NATO
fuels that paranoia.

While offering a laundry list of alleged treaty violations by Russia,
the Heritage Foundation fails to mention how George W. Bush unilaterally
tore up the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for “Star Wars” defenses that
still don’t work after hundreds of billions of dollars, and if they did
would create enhanced nuclear war-fighting capabilities.

The Heritage Foundation warns of Moscow’s “time-honored technique of
denial and deception,” but we as Americans must guard against our own
government’s use of the same that got us into disastrous wars like
Vietnam and Iraq.

Cool heads are needed to avoid a new nuclear arms race, not the
cherry-picked narrative of the Heritage Foundation.

That narrative will profit the war contractors who in turn support the
Heritage Foundation. Among them is Lockheed Martin, who illegally
lobbied to extend its for-profit Sandia Laboratories management contract
and is profiting on both ends with the B61 bomb.

Lockheed runs the program through Sandia to transform the B61 into the
world’s first nuclear smart bomb, and is building the way-over-budget
F-35 to deliver them.

As Pope Francis recently warned us, “Many powerful people don’t want
peace, because they feed off war. It is the industry of death!”

Concerning the B61 smart nuclear bomb, Lockheed Martin and the Sandia
Labs are in the business of megadeath, which the Heritage Foundation
seeks to aid and abet.

NukeWatch Pushes Environment Department for More Public Input in Los Alamos Cleanup

NukeWatch Pushes Environment Department for More Public Input in Los Alamos Cleanup

An in-depth article, Consent order facing changes, by Mark Oswald in the Albuquerque Journal (October 9, 2015) lays out how legacy waste cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is being negotiated between DOE and the NM Environment Department (NMED) without the fully required public participation. The 2005 Consent Order (CO), which addresses the fence-to-fence cleanup of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of Cold War legacy radioactive and hazardous waste in the ground at the Lab, was due to reach it’s final milestone this December. For many reasons, including the closure of WIPP due to improper radioactive waste drum packing practices at LANL, the December 2015 deadline will not be meet.

Please don’t think that, just because deadlines were not reached that it was a failure. Much progress on cleanup at LANL was made under the 2005 Consent Order. About 2,100 cleanup sites were originally identified, ranging from small spills to large landfills. Cleanup of about half of the sites has been completed. Initial investigation of about 90 percent of the remaining sites has been completed. Many cleanup alternatives were also investigated at the remaining sites and options have been presented. A groundwater monitoring well infrastructure was installed, with more monitoring wells on the way.

In Oswald’s article, NMED’s Kathryn Roberts stated that, “The 2005 deal was focused on investigative work and characterization of LANL’s legacy waste.” We at NukeWatch, feel that the goal of the 2005 Consent Order was always the cleanup of LANL and that the investigations and characterization of the many waste sites were just the first steps. There are milestones in the CO, with dates, for the actual cleanup of all the legacy waste sites at Los Alamos. The lab’s final “milestone” from the 2005 Consent Order was supposed to be a “remedy completion report,” due on Dec. 6, on how Area G, the Lab’s largest waste site, had been cleaned up.

NMED and DOE/LANL are negotiating the new CO now and have publically stated plans to rollout the draft for the new CO this November for a 60-day public comment period. Nuclear Watch NM believes that these negotiations must have public input.

This gets us to one of our main reasons why we feel the need for more public input. We are concerned that the new CO will not have enforceable milestones for all cleanup projects from the beginning. Deciding every 1 to 3 years which sites will be addressed for a cleanup ‘campaign’ and then what that schedule should be will insure that Los Alamos never addresses all the sites. This would revert cleanup back to the way it was done before the 2005 Consent Order with budget driving cleanup. But the purpose of the CO is to have cleanup drive the budget.  A schedule for all cleanups must be set from the beginning and the Lab must be held accountable every step along the way by getting the money and doing the work on time.

We will insist on a new final compliance date for the last milestone of the last legacy cleanup project. Cleanup at Los Alamos cannot be open-ended.

NukeWatch’s September 21 letter to NMED that explains our position that a “Class 3 Permit Modification” is required is here.

The 2005 Consent Order, as modified, is here.

 

Public Meeting to Discuss Chromium From Los Alamos That Has Reached Our Aquifer

Public Meeting to Discuss Chromium From Los Alamos That Has Reached Our Aquifer

 

DOE/LANL sponsored Public open house and poster session

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Time: 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Cities of Gold Conference Center

10-A Cities of Gold Rd. Pojoaque, NM  87506

 

Sampling from monitoring wells at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) indicate the presence of chromium contamination in our regional aquifer resulting from historical use of a corrosion inhibitor that was discharged to an outfall as part of operational activities. Concentrations of chromium within the groundwater plume beneath Mortandad Canyon exceed the New Mexico groundwater standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb) near the property boundary between LANL and the Pueblo de San Ildefonso and are as high as 1,000 ppb in the plume center. Recent groundwater monitoring well sampling data show increasing chromium concentrations on the plume edges, which is indicative of plume migration. The LANL management and operating contractor is required to assess, identify, clean up, and otherwise address contamination at LANL.

Chronic human exposure to high levels of chromium (VI) by inhalation or oral exposure may produce effects on the liver, kidney, gastrointestinal and immune systems, and possibly the blood.

DOE’s proposed action is to control plume migration and maintain the 50 ppb and greater chromium contamination level within the LANL boundary while long-term corrective action remedies are evaluated and implemented. In other words, LANL will first focus on trying to keep the chromium from reaching our aquifer under San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Groundwater extraction would occur at up to three extraction wells, in addition to small volumes periodically extracted at monitoring wells. The total groundwater extraction volume would be up to 230 million gallons (707 acre-feet) annually over the approximately 8-year duration of the project. That’s a proposed total of 1.8 billion gallons.

DOE also proposes to conduct field-scale studies to further characterize the plume center to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of implementing a final remedy for the chromium plume.

 

Public Comment Opportunities

The 30-day public comment period for the Draft EA begins September 23, 2015, and ends on October 23, 2015. Comments on the Draft EA can be submitted via the following methods:

Email: CRProjectEA@em.doe.gov

By mail: Department of Energy, Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, 3747 West Jemez Road MS-A316, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87544

By fax: (505) 606-2132

By phone: (800) 342-5363

The DOE Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, in conjunction with the Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board, is hosting a public meeting for comment on the Chromium Project. Join us to learn more about the Chromium Project and to comment on the Laboratory’s proposed actions.

All interested parties are encouraged to attend

 

EA-2005: DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

Chromium Plume Control Interim Measure and Plume-Center Characterization, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM

 

DOWNLOAD DOCUMENT

EA-2005: Draft Environmental Assessment

 

Pope Francis Calls for the Complete Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

September 25, 2015

Pope Francis Calls for the Complete Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  

Santa Fe, NM – In his speech today at the United Nations Pope Francis stated:

The Preamble and the first Article of the Charter of the United Nations set forth the foundations of the international juridical framework: peace, the pacific solution of disputes and the development of friendly relations between the nations. Strongly opposed to such statements, and in practice denying them, is the constant tendency to the proliferation of arms, especially weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons. An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as “nations united by fear and distrust.” There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.

Separately, the United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement in advance of tomorrow’s (September 26) International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons tomorrow. He said:

The norm against the use of nuclear weapons – the most destructive weapons ever created, with potentially unparalleled human costs – has stood strong for seven decades. But the only absolute guarantee that they are never used again is through their total elimination.

The Pope’s words builds upon a December 2014 paper entitled “Nuclear Weapons: Time for Abolition” that the Vatican presented at an international conference on the “Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons” held by the Austrian government in Vienna. In it, the Catholic Church declared that the provisional justification it once gave for possession of nuclear weapons for the sake of “deterrence” during the Cold War is no longer valid. The Vatican further stated in no uncertain terms, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.”

Contrary to the Catholic Church’s growing push to ban nuclear weapons, the recent May 2015 NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference ended in failure. The immediate reason was that the United States, United Kingdom and Canada blocked the adoption of a “Final Document” seeking to implement a previously agreed-to conference on a Middle East nuclear weapons free zone, at the behest of Israel, a non-signatory to the NPT and a non-declared nuclear weapons power. A broader, deeper reason is that the majority of non-weapons states are growing increasingly frustrated by the nuclear weapons powers’ failure to honor their NPT Article VI obligation “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament…”, first promised in 1970.  This is now exacerbated by accelerating nuclear weapons “modernization” programs, led by the United States which plans to spend a trillion dollars over thirty years completely rebuilding its nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure.

New Mexico plays a key role in these modernization programs, with two of the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories, Sandia and Los Alamos. Currently the labs’ main focus is “Life Extension Programs” that prolong the service lives of existing U.S. nuclear weapons for up to 60 years and give them new military capabilities despite U.S. government denials. These programs are clearly contrary to the Vatican’s push for nuclear weapons abolition.

New Mexico also has one of the highest percentages of Catholic citizens, at around 40% of the total population. The full name of its capitol Santa Fe (English: “Holy Faith”) is “The Royal City of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi,” the saint from whom Pope Francis took his papal name. St. Francis and the Pope are both known for their focus on the poor. Ironically, Los Alamos County, next to Santa Fe, is the second richest county in the USA because of nuclear weapons programs, while some of the poorest communities in the country (the San Ildefonso and Santa Clara Pueblos) are contiguous to it.

One of New Mexico’s two Catholic Archbishops, Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, is chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, and is playing a leading role in the Catholic Church’s accelerating push for nuclear weapons abolition. He delivered a homily at the Nagasaki Cathedral in Japan on August 9, 2015 commemorating the 70th anniversary of the city’s destruction by a plutonium bomb designed and produced in New Mexico. He described it as a life-changing experience, and declared:

The bishops of the United States join in solidarity with the Church in Japan in advocating for global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the face of the tragedies that occurred here when atomic bombs struck… the U.S. bishops committed themselves to shaping “the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing in 1945. Without that sorrow, there is no possibility of finding a way to repudiate future use of nuclear weapons….”

New Mexico’s other archbishop, Santa Fe’s newly installed John Wester, has not yet stated his position on nuclear weapons. His diocese includes the Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs.

Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, “Northern New Mexico has been a Catholic stronghold for centuries, and the birthplace of nuclear weapons seventy years ago. Catholics and non-Catholics alike must examine their consciences and the Pope’s calling for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and how that squares with the nuclear weapons industry that is so deeply embedded in our culture and economy. The choice is not easy, but clearly we must follow faith and good will toward elimination of these worst of weapons of mass destruction. I hope that Santa Fe’s new Archbishop John Wester will help guide us in following Pope Francis’ call for the complete prohibition of nuclear weapons.”

# # #

Pope Francis’ quote is from http://time.com/4049905/pope-francis-us-visit-united-nations-speech-transcript/ Note: the original transcript erroneously said “weapons of mass distraction” instead of “weapons of mass destruction.”

The Vatican’s December 2014 paper  “Nuclear Weapons: Time for Abolition” is available at http://www.paxchristi.net/sites/default/files/nuclearweaponstimeforabolitionfinal.pdf

See Archbishop Oscar Cantú’s essays on the need to abolish nuclear weapons at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/

In particular, see Homily on Peace and a World without Nuclear Weapons for a Mass at Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan Bishop Oscar Cantú, August 9, 2015

New Mexico’s Archbishop Cantú Helps Lead Vatican Charge for Nuclear Weapons Abolition

On Thursday morning, 9:30 EST/7:30 MT, Sept. 24 Pope Francis will  address both houses of the U.S. Congress, viewable by webcast on C-SPAN. The next morning at 8:30 am EST/6:30 MT he addresses at the United Nations in New York City, viewable on the UN web site http://webtv.un.org/
There is good reason to think that the Pope might address the need for nuclear weapons abolition. In December 2014 the Vatican presented a paper entitled “Nuclear Weapons: Time for Abolition” at the conference on “Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons” held by the Austrian government in Vienna. In it, the Vatican declared that while the possession of nuclear weapons could be justified for the sake of “deterrence” during the Cold War that is no longer true. It further stated, “Now is the time to affirm not only the immorality of the use of nuclear weapons, but the immorality of their possession, thereby clearing the road to nuclear abolition.”

See http://www.paxchristi.net/sites/default/files/nuclearweaponstimeforabolitionfinal.pdf

I met with the Holy See’s permanent delegation to the United Nations during the first week of the NonProliferation Treaty Review Conference this last May 2015. To my surprise I was told that Archbishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, NM, chair of the Vatican’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, is playing a prominent role in the Catholic Church’s accelerating push for nuclear weapons abolition. You can see a number of papers that he has written on nuclear weapons at
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/

For example, in anticipation of the Pope’s speech to Congress, Archbishop Cantú wrote The Pope and the Bomb: New Nuclear Dangers and Moral Dilemmas
September 17, 2015 http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/presentation-the-pope-and-the-bomb-2015-09-17.cfm
In a background paper on nuclear weapons Pope Francis is quoted as saying:
“A world without nuclear weapons” is a goal shared by all nations and echoed by world leaders, as well as the aspiration of millions of men and women. The future and the survival of the human family hinges on moving beyond this ideal and ensuring that it becomes a reality.         — Pope Francis, December 7, 2014″

Archbishop Cantú was at a mass at the Nagasaki Cathedral in Japan this August, 9, 2015, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. See his
Homily on Peace and a World without Nuclear Weapons for a Mass at Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, Japan
August 9, 2015
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/war-and-peace/nuclear-weapons/homily-by-bishop-cantu-at-nagasaki-for-world-without-nuclear-weapons-2015-08-09.cfm

In his homily Archbishop Cantú declares:

“Pope Francis, when asked in November 2014 about what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, said, “… humanity has not learnt its lesson … Humans did this and discovered nuclear energy which has many positive uses, but they also used it to destroy creation, humanity.”

The bishops of the United States join in solidarity with the Church in Japan in advocating for global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the face of the tragedies that occurred here when atomic bombs struck.  In our 1983 pastoral letter on The Challenge of Peace, the U.S. bishops committed themselves to shaping “the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing in 1945. Without that sorrow, there is no possibility of finding a way to repudiate future use of nuclear weapons….”  – End of quote –

Also, see Letter to Secretary of State Kerry on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Bishop Oscar Cantú, May 12, 2015
In it he writes:
The United States and other nuclear weapons possessing states bear a particular responsibility for nuclear disarmament and despite the  success of the New START Treaty in further reducing the numbers of  weapons, there has not been enough progress.  We urge bold and concrete commitments to accelerate verifiable nuclear disarmament, including taking weapons off “launch on warning” status to prevent a catastrophic accident, deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals, ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to bring it into force, serious negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and other prudent measures.

As the Holy See recently said:  “Lack of concrete and effective nuclear disarmament will lead sooner or later to real risks of nuclear proliferation.”  We share the view that ‘[t]he erosion of the credibility of the NPT could have catastrophic consequences for all countries and for the future of humanity as a whole.”  Please be assured of our prayers as you work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Sincerely yours,
Cantú
Most Reverend Oscar Cantú
Bishop of Las Cruces
Chair, Committee on International Justice and Peace

– End of quote –

Nuclear Watch New Mexico finds it very gratifying to see a New Mexico archbishop helping to lead the Vatican’s charge for nuclear weapons abolition. We will take an intense interest in seeing what position the other New Mexico archbishop, Santa Fe’s newly installed John Wester, might take on nuclear weapons. His diocese includes two of the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories, Los Alamos and Sandia. The labs’ main business nowadays is Life Extension Programs that prolong the lives of existing U.S. nuclear weapons for up to 60 years while giving them new military capabilities, despite denials at the highest levels of government. In keeping with New Mexico demographics, the work force at the labs is around  25% Catholic, some of whom may be receptive to the Pope’s call for nuclear weapons abolition.

DOE Sites Partially or Fully Closed: WIPP, Pantex & now Savannah River Site…

From Tom Clements of SRS Watch, our colleague and fellow member of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability:

DOE Sites Partially or Fully Closed: the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Pantex & now the Savannah River Site (SRS)

The main contractor at SRS, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), has halted non-essential operations. See SRS shutdown email below…sent out late on Friday afternoon.

Today’s shutdown stems from operational and procedural problems while preparing plutonium oxide “feedstock” (for fuel pellets) for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) program back in February.

The plutonium oxide for MOX (or perhaps for another disposition option if MOX goes down) has been prepared in the HB-Line, which sits atop the decrepit H-Canyon reprocessing plant.  The National Nuclear Security Administration has been paying the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management division, which manages the H-Canyon, for this job.  Problems developed when a plutonium solution tank was not properly monitored by SRNS staff.  After being shut for six months, H-Canyon operations resumed a few weeks ago but problems have persisted.

Just like for the MOX program at SRS, there is absolutely no accountability for EM contractors at SRS, and every year they just collect a bonus, few questions asked. How long will DOE Secretary Moniz and Congress allow the lack of accountability for MOX, the Uranium Processing Facility, the Waste Treatment Plant, etc,, to go on?

As per the DOE’s Public Relations “Conduct of Operations” textbook [sarcastic], they sent out the public notice below at 5:25 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Go DOE! [A classic maneuver to avoid media attention.]

Tom

[Note: The Pantex Plant, the nation’s site for nuclear weapons assembly and dismantlements (lots of the former, not so much of the latter], is effectively shut down because of a serious labor dispute. The multi-billion dollar Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has been closed since February 2014 following contamination by a ruptured barrel of radioactive wastes sent by the Los Alamos Lab.]

 


From: james-r.giusti <james-r.giusti@srs.gov>
Subject: DOE-SR UPDATE … Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Pauses All Non-essential Operations at SRS
Date: Fri, Sep 11, 2015 5:25 pm

Based on recent Conduct of Operations issues identified with HB-Line activities, effective today Savannah River Nuclear Solutions has implemented an operational safety pause for all non-essential and discretionary Office of Environmental Management activities site-wide.  All work activities are on hold for those facilities under the SRNS management and operations contract.

SRNS is developing a recovery plan for resuming non-essential and discretionary operations and the plan will be submitted to the Department for review and concurrence.  The plan will include corrective actions that will be implemented to assure workers adhere to management expectations for safe work performance, to reinforce accountability, and to re-initiate work in a controlled, phased manner.  

SRNS will notify the DOE-SR management of any non-essential or discretionary work that SRNS believes needs to be performed before executing the work.

This operational safety pause does not affect other contractors at SRS.

James R. Giusti
Director
DOE-SR Office Of External Affairs
W:      (803) 952-7684
M:    (803) 645-1350
E:      james-r.giusti@srs.gov

Los Alamos National Laboratory Files Motion to Dismiss James Doyle Whistleblower Case

Los Alamos National Laboratory Files Motion to Dismiss

James Doyle Whistleblower Case

Santa Fe, NM – On August 25, 2015 the for-profit contractor that runs the Los Alamos National Laboratory filed a motion with the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Hearings and Appeals to dismiss Dr. James Doyle’s whistleblower complaint. Doyle’s case received widespread national and international media attention after Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) terminated his employment in July 2014. In 2013 Doyle had published a study arguing that the global, verifiable abolition of nuclear weapons was in the best national security interests of the United States.

In September 2014, following his termination, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz wrote to Doyle that Frank Klotz, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), had asked the DOE Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate if “Dr. Doyle’s termination resulted in whole, or in part from the publication of his article in question or the views expressed in it.” NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz repeated this promise of an Inspector General investigation in a February 2015 letter to Senator Edward Markey, but it has yet to take place.

The promised Inspector General investigation is essential in determining whether LANS and NNSA acted properly in the Doyle case, and must be conducted before the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals rules on LANS’ motion to dismiss. This is underscored by the fact that an earlier Inspector General report had determined that the LANS classification officer who retroactively classified Dr. Doyle’s study had a history of mishandling classified information and misrepresented himself to OIG investigators.

Dr. James Doyle remarked, “This attempt by LANS to have my case dismissed before the promised Inspector General investigation or an administrative hearing is a blatant attempt to deprive me of my rights and to cover up misconduct. I have written to President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz asking that they deny LANS’ motion to dismiss and complete the promised Inspector General investigation.”

Doyle was among only 14 people within the laboratory workforce of over 10,000 employees to be laid off in 2014.

Doyle claimed in his whistleblower complaint that LANS’ Classification Officer abused his authority by improperly and retroactively classifying his article “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons,” which supported President Obama’s declared policy of a future world free of nuclear weapons. Although he wrote the study on his own time, Doyle took the precaution of successfully clearing his article with LANL in advance of publication. Various media articles have reported that his study was retroactively classified only after an inquiry by Republican staff on the House Armed Services Committee as to whether it contained sensitive information.

Because of classification rules Doyle cannot address allegations that his study contains secret information. However, Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, observed, “Anyone can download Doyle’s study from the internet and see for themselves that it contains nothing sensitive about nuclear weapons deployments, designs or materials. There is only one word in his study that can possibly be classified, and that word is “Israel,” whose possession of nuclear weapons is commonly regarded as the worst kept secret in the world. Nevertheless, it is official US government policy to keep it classified. Many officials have crossed that line, but only Doyle has had to pay the price after it was misused in a biased manner to gag him after his article was published and he fought back.”

The DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals has not yet responded to the LANS motion to dismiss the Doyle case.

# # #

Los Alamos National Security, LLC’s motion to dismiss is available at

http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/LANS-motion-to-dismiss.pdf

Dr. James Doyle’s letter to Secretary Ernest Moniz is available at

http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Doyle-Moniz-letter.pdf

Doyle’s January 2013 study “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapon?” is available at:

https://www.iiss.org/en/publications/survival/sections/2013-94b0/survival–global-politics-and-strategy-february-march-2013-3db7/55-1-02-doyle-a88b.

The DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals’ docket on the Doyle case is available at https://cse.google.com/cse/publicurl?cx=011145866664225340457:yhreiv3focq

The February 2015 DOE Inspector General report is available at http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2015/02/f19/DOE-IG-0935.pdf.

Additional background on the Doyle case is available at:

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/07/31/15161/nuclear-weapons-lab-employee-fired-after-publishing-scathing-critique-arms-race

and

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-antinuclear-article-20140815-column.html

What does $4.79 million look like to Lockheed Martin?

What does $4.79 million look like to Lockheed Martin Inc, the world’s biggest defense contractor?

Recently, Lockheed Martin (LM) agreed to pay a $4.79 million settlement to the federal government to settle Justice Department allegations that LM illegally used taxpayer money to lobby for an extension of its Sandia Labs management contract.LM was trying to get its $2.5 billion annual management and operating contract extended without any pesky competition.

What may seem like a large amount to us is just a slap on the wrist to LM, which has scored almost $300 billion in 169,345 different contracts with the US federal government since 2008.

The website USA Spending tells us that LM did $32 billion in business with the federal government in 2014. Of that, $25 billion was contracted with the Department of Defense and almost $3 billion with the Department of Energy (DOE). It is for DOE that LM runs Sandia and co-manages Pantex and Y-12 with Bechtel. These 3 sites are a large part of the US nuclear weapons complex. We are all familiar with LM’s defense contracting, but Lockheed Martin is also contracting to help build the nuclear warheads for the missiles and aircraft that it also builds, for example with the world’s first nuclear “smart” bomb, the B61-12. It’s one-stop nuclear war machine shopping.

Lockheed Martin also has its tentacles in many diverse federal agencies, for instance the Internal Revenue Service where it provides computer-related services. The taxpayer ultimately pays for all contracts.

The settlement on clearly illegal lobbying behavior represents only .015% of LM’s annual total federal contracts and just .16% of the DOE contracts for 2014.

To LM, $4.79 million must look like the cost of doing business.

Here are some Lockheed Martin numbers for 2014:

US Agency Year(s) Amount Contracts Source
Total for LM

2008-2015

$293,176,103,660

169,345

More

Total for LM

2014

$32,496,127,143 20,156

More

Department Of Defense

2014

$25,319,041,531

17,869

 More

Department Of Energy

2014

$2,998,937,872

138

 More

IRS

2014

$27,824,450

83

 More

 

 

 

 

 

Watchdogs Denounce Slap on Wrist for Illegal Lobbying Activities

Watchdogs Denounce Slap on Wrist for Illegal Lobbying Activities
By the World’s Biggest Defense Contractor
Demand Real Accountability by Barring Lockheed Martin
From Future Sandia Labs Contract

 

Santa Fe, NM – In notice given late Friday the Department of Justice announced a settlement with Lockheed Martin over alleged violations of federal anti-lobbying laws to extend its management contract of the Sandia Labs without competition.

Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented:

4.7 million dollars is a slap on the wrist for the world’s biggest defense contractor to pay. Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition, and earned more than 100 million dollars while doing so. Moreover, it engaged in deep and systemic corruption, including paying Congresswoman Heather Wilson $10,000 a month starting the day after she left office for so-called consulting services that had no written work requirements. There should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws, and Lockheed Marin should be barred from future competition for the Sandia Labs contract, expected next year. Holding the revolving gang of greedy politicians and contractors strictly accountable is essential as they get ready to fleece the taxpayer during the planned one trillion dollar “modernization” for what the nuclear weapons labs are now calling “The Second Nuclear Age.”

Rep. Heather Wilson was the protégé of the powerful Senator Pete Domenici and was groomed to succeed him. Historically the New Mexican congressional delegation has always had deep ties to the Los Alamos and Sandia nuclear weapons labs, while the state remains among the poorest in the country. In 2013 Nuclear Watch New Mexico discovered through a Freedom of Information Act request that Wilson signed her contract with Sandia while still in office, and began receiving payment the day after she left Congress. She went on to secure a simultaneous contract with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, also for $10,000 a month for “consulting” services with no written work requirements.

# # #

The Department of Justice’s settlement agreement is available at

http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Sandia-Settlement-Agreement.pdf

Rep. Heather Wilson’s contract and invoices pursuant to our FOIA request are available at

http://nukewatch.org/facts/nwd/HeatherWilson-Sandia contract-invoices.pdf

Federation of American Scientists

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

For immediate release August 12, 2015

Contacts:       Jay Coghlan, NWNM, 505.470.3154, jay[at]nukewatch.org

Hans Kristensen, FAS, 202.454.4695, hkristensen[at]fas.org

Robert Alvarez, IPS, 301.585.7672, kitbob[at]rcn.com

Dr. James Doyle, nonproliferation expert, 505.470.3154, jimdoyle6[at]msn.com

 

Nuclear Weapons Experts File Amicus Brief

To Support Marshall Islands Lawsuit

To Require Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations

Under U.S. NonProliferation Treaty Commitments

 

Washington, DC and Santa Fe, NM – Four nuclear weapons experts have filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief in support of a lawsuit filed by the Republic of the Marshall Islands to compel the United States to meet its requirements under the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty (NPT). The basic bargain of the NPT is that non-weapons states agreed to never acquire nuclear weapons, in exchange for which nuclear weapons states promised to enter into good faith disarmament negotiations. Ratification of the treaty by the Senate in 1970 made its provisions the law of the land under the U.S. Constitution.

The experts filing the brief are: Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists; Dr. James Doyle, a nuclear nonproliferation expert fired by the Los Alamos national lab after publishing a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition; Robert Alvarez, a former Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, now at the Institute for Policy Studies; and Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Hans Kristensen explained, “The United States, as one of the five original nuclear weapons states under the NPT, has a clear legal obligation to pursue negotiations toward nuclear disarmament. Yet despite progress on reducing overall nuclear arsenals, forty-five years later there are and have been no negotiations on their elimination. Instead, all nuclear weapon powers are pursuing broad and expensive modernization programs to retain and improve nuclear weapons indefinitely.”

The Marshall Islands’ lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in San Francisco, asserts that the U.S. has failed to fulfill its treaty duties. The case was initially dismissed in February 2015 by a federal judge after the U.S. government argued in part that enforcement of the NPT’s requirement for nuclear disarmament negotiations was not in the public interest. This is now being appealed. As the Marshall Islands’ original complaint notes, “While cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament are vitally important objectives to the entire international community, the Marshall Islands has a particular awareness of the dire consequences of nuclear weapons.” While still a U.S. protectorate after World War II, the American nuclear weapons complex used the Marshall Islands for more than a hundred atmospheric nuclear weapons tests that included newly developed H-bombs, and the displaced Marshallese have suffered severe health and contamination effects to this day. However, the Marshall Islands’ lawsuit is not asking for compensation, but instead seeks to hold the nuclear weapons powers accountable to the NPT’s requirement for good faith nuclear disarmament negotiations.

Andrea St. Julian, an attorney based in San Diego who specializes in federal appellate proceedings, filed the 94-page amicus brief. She observed, “The level of expertise and understanding the amici bring to this appeal is remarkable. Their arguments show how profoundly mistaken the district court was in its misapplication of the law. If the Court of Appeals takes adequate note of the briefing, it will have no alternative but to reverse the dismissal of the Marshall Islands’ suit. If not, we expect the Marshall Islands to take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we will strongly support it there.”

Dr. James Doyle commented, “It’s not possible to eliminate the knowledge to build nuclear weapons, but it’s possible to make them illegal and remove them from all military arsenals, as existing treaties on chemical and biological weapons have already substantially done. The Marshall Islands’ case is an important step on the path to the elimination of nuclear weapons and deserves a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Robert Alvarez added, “The Republic of the Marshall Islands has exposed the abuse of the good faith and trust of the non-weapons states that signed the NonProliferation Treaty on the understanding that the nuclear weapons states would begin disarmament negotiations. By seeking a binding legal requirement to actually begin negotiations, the Marshall Islands is simply trying to get the United States to honor the promises and commitments it made to the world 45 years ago.”

Jay Coghlan noted that the recently concluded 2015 NPT Review Conference ended in failure, in large part because nuclear weapons nations are modernizing their arsenals. He observed, “The U.S. government is getting ready to spend a trillion dollars on new production facilities for nuclear weapons and new bombers, missiles and submarines to deliver them. Because of that, we are keen to help the Marshall Islands hold the U.S. and other nuclear weapons powers accountable to their end of the NPT bargain, which is to enter into disarmament negotiations.”

# # #

The amicus brief is available at http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Dkt-38-Amicus-Brief.pdf

Bios of the four amici are available in the amicus brief, beginning page 1.

Complete 9th circuit court proceedings in the Republic of Marshall Islands’ lawsuit are available at https://www.wagingpeace.org/nuclearzero/

 

 

Major Protests at U.S. Warhead Facilities Across the Nation Unite to Decry Trillion Dollar Plan for New U.S. Nuclear Weapons

For more information:
Ralph Hutchison, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, orep@earthlink.net
<mailto:orep@earthlink.net> , 865-776-5050
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs, Livermore, marylia@trivalleycares.org
<mailto:marylia@trivalleycares.org> , 925-443-7148
Other key national and regional contacts are listed at the end of this release

For immediate release, August 4, 2015

HISTORIC 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF ATOMIC BOMBING OF HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI:

Major Protests at U.S. Warhead Facilities Across the Nation Unite to Decry Trillion Dollar Plan for New U.S. Nuclear Weapons; Advocate Disarmament

A thousand or more peace advocates, Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors), religious leaders, scientists, economists, attorneys, doctors and nurses, nuclear analysts, former war planners and others across the country are coming together to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki this August 6 through 9 at key sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

Major commemorations, rallies, protests and/or nonviolent direct actions will place at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in CA, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM, the Kansas City Plant in MO, the Y-12 Plant in TN, the Rocky Flats Plant in CO, the Pantex Plant in TX, and in GA near the Savannah River Site. These events are united by their reflection on the past, and, uniquely, their focus on the present and future with a resolute determination to change U.S. nuclear weapons policy at the very locations that are linchpins in producing the new trillion dollar stockpile of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

“We stand on the brink of a new, global nuclear arms race,” noted Ralph Hutchison, the longstanding coordinator for the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “This is epitomized by government plans for a new Uranium Processing Facility to produce H-bomb components at Y-12, including for new-design weapons.”

“U.S. plans to ‘modernize’ the arsenal are also underway at Livermore Lab,” stated Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs’ executive director. “A new Long-Range Stand Off warhead design and the start of plutonium shots in the Lab’s National Ignition Facility reveal two facets of this new arms race,” Kelley continued. “In contrast to the cold war, which was largely about sheer numbers, the new arms race and its dangers stem from novel military capabilities now being placed into nuclear weapons.”

Around the world, pressure for the U.S. to show leadership toward the abolition of nuclear weapons is growing. Pope Francis has repeatedly pressed the moral argument against nuclear weapons, inveighing not only against their use but also against their possession. In the wake of the successful Iran agreement, many are suggesting that since it has been settled that it would never be legitimate for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, shouldn’t we also agree that the 16,000 nuclear weapons in existence have no legitimacy either. Moreover, 113 governments recently signed the “Humanitarian Pledge,” circulated by Austria, to press the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states to fulfill their disarmament obligations.
Actions this week at U.S. nuclear weapons facilities will highlight the mounting international calls for nuclear abolition, with U.S. organizers lending their deep and often unique “on the ground” knowledge from the gates and fence lines of the facilities involved in creating new and modified U.S. nuclear weapons. “This 70th anniversary should be a time to reflect on the absolute horror of a nuclear detonation,” mused Ann Suellentrop of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Kansas City, “yet the new Kansas City Plant is churning out components to extend U.S. nuclear weapons 70 years into the future. The imperative to change that future is what motivates me to organize a peace fast at the gates of the Plant.”

Key events at U.S. nuclear weapons complex sites include:
• Y-12
– pastoral letter, remembrance, rally and nonviolent direct action, peace fast and lanterns. (More at http://orepa.org/action/hiroshimanagasaki-70/ <http://orepa.org/action/hiroshimanagasaki-70/> )
• Livermore Lab – peace camp, August 6 rally and nonviolent direct action, peace fast at the gates. (More info at www.trivalleycares.org <http://www.trivalleycares.org> )
• Los Alamos Lab – film screening, panels, rally and conference (More at www.nuclearwatch.org <http://www.nuclearwatch.org> )
• Kansas City Plant – atomic photographers exhibit, speakers, film screening, and peace fast at the gates. (More info at www.psr.org/chapters/kansas/ <http://www.psr.org/chapters/kansas/> )
• Savannah River Site – film screening, vigil, and circle of hope. (More: www.nonukesyall.org <http://www.nonukesyall.org> )
• Rocky Flats Plant – peace quilt, concert, film screening, labyrinth mourning walk. (More from judithmohling76@gmail.com <mailto:judithmohling76@gmail.com> )
• Pantex Plant – Hiroshima exhibit, panel discussion. (More at: www.peacefarm.us <http://www.peacefarm.us> )

These and other Hiroshima events and actions at sites in the U.S. nuclear weapons complex are being led by organizations that are members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, which represents about three dozen groups. More about ANA can be found at www.ananuclear.org <http://www.ananuclear.org> .

ANA contacts available for interviews include:
Joni Arends
, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, jarends@nuclearactive.org <mailto:jarends@nuclearactive.org> ,  505 986-1973 (NM sites)
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, jay@nukewatch.org <mailto:jay@nukewatch.org> , 505-989-7342 (NM sites)
Ann Suellentrop, Physicians for Social Responsibility-KC, annsuellen@gmail.com <mailto:annsuellen@gmail.com> , 913-271-7925 (MO site)
Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear, kevin@beyondnuclear.org <mailto:kevin@beyondnuclear.org> , 240-462-3216 (Ohio sites)
Jerry Stein, Peace Farm, Cletus@am.net <mailto:Cletus@am.net> , 806-351-2744 (TX site)
Judith Mohling, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center, judithmohling76@gmail.com <mailto:judithmohling76@gmail.com> , 303-447-9635 (CO sites)
Glenn Carroll, Nuclear Watch South, atom.girl@nonukesyall.org <mailto:atom.girl@nonukesyall.org> , 404-378-4263 (SC, GA sites)
Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, pmartin@peace-action.org <mailto:pmartin@peace-action.org> , 951-217-7285 (in Hiroshima)
Ralph Hutchison, Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, orep@earthlink.net <mailto:orep@earthlink.net> , 865-776-5050 (TN sites)
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs. marylia@trivalleycares.org <mailto:marylia@trivalleycares.org> , 925-443-7148 (CA sites)
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, United for Peace & Justice, wslf@earthlink.net <mailto:wslf@earthlink.net> , 510-839-5877 (CA sites, calendar of national events)

Additional resources for media:
Physicians for Social Responsibility calendar and map of Hiroshima and Nagasaki actions at: www.psr.org/news-events/events/hiroshimadayevents-2015.html <http://www.psr.org/news-events/events/hiroshimadayevents-2015.html>
United for Peace and Justice, Nuclear Free Future Month calendar of events at: www.nuclearfreefuture.org <http://www.nuclearfreefuture.org>

###

 

Please join Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Global Zero at CCA for the premier of “Message from Hiroshima.”

Please help us prepare for Thursday evening by registering today. Speaking of silent auctions, we have a great list of items that can be yours.

For instance, one of the pieces is “Daybreak” by Santa Fe artist Jamie Chase (18” x 24”, 2015)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other items include this beautiful canvas printed photograph from “Ireland, One Island, No Borders” by Elizabeth Billups and Gerry Adams (16” X 24” 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck Montano will be joining us for a benefit sale of autographed copies of his recently published, “Los Alamos: A Whistleblower’s Diary,” documenting fraud and abuse at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. All sales will benefit us

This Thursday evening, August 6, is the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.

Please join Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Global Zero at the Center for Contemporary Arts for the premier of “Message from Hiroshima.” This will followed by a panel discussion of nuclear weapons issues by Valerie Plame of Global Zero, Rev. John Dear of Campaign Nonviolence, and Jay Coghlan of NukeWatch.

 

Tickets for the event are:

$25 for a 6:30 pm reception with the panel members, the film and panel discussion.

$15 for the film at 7:30 and panel discussion afterward.

Reservations are recommended – call CCA at (505) 982-1338.

http://www.ccasantafe.org/cinematheque/upcoming-films

Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, Santa Fe, NM

 

As we work toward a future world free of nuclear weapons, we hope you will join us to commemorate the day that changed history 70 years ago.  We look forward to seeing you. If you have any questions, please contact us at 505-989-7342. Tax-deductible financial contributions to the two organizations are encouraged!

 

Event Sponsored by VES & HET Fund For Change

Special thanks to Santa Fe Brewery Co, Kelly’s Liquor Barn, and CCA.

Response to the Inaccurate Wall St. Journal Op-Ed “The Faded U.S. Nuclear Deterrent”

On July 13, 2015 the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed entitled The Fading U.S. Nuclear Deterrent by Robert Monroe, a retired Navy vice admiral and  former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency. The op-ed’s byline is “The next president must restore America’s aging arsenal to face a world of new atomic threats.” Among other things Monroe argues for “an entirely new nuclear-weapons stockpile, including specialized low-yield advanced weapons” and that “military force must be used if necessary” to prevent others from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Jim Doyle submitted the following to The Wall Street Journal seeking to challenge the op-ed’s inaccuracies, which the Journal rejected. Jim is the nonproliferation expert fired by the Los Alamos Lab after writing a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition. He is also a crucial member of Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Steering Committee.

Response to the Inaccurate Wall St. Journal Op-Ed “The Faded U.S. Nuclear Deterrent”

 “The Fading U.S. Nuclear Deterrent,” By Robert R. Monroe is loaded with factual inaccuracies and bad advice for America’s national security policymakers.  As a consequence, Mr. Monroe’s essay is political theater, void of any logical strategic thinking.  Unfortunately, Mr. Monroe targets a vulnerability we all share – fear.   But America should not scare itself into making bad decisions with our finite national defense resources.

Now and for the foreseeable future our nuclear forces are in no danger of failing to provide deterrence against nuclear attack.  Increasingly however, the United States and its allies face a growing panoply of threats including radical Islam, cyber attacks and the consequences of environmental degradation that are immune to nuclear firepower.  US national security strategy must make balanced investments in defensive capabilities that can address the full spectrum of threats.  Contrary to what Mr. Monroe advocates, defense investments based on a nostalgic preoccupation with the meaningless concept of “nuclear superiority” will weaken America over time and increase our vulnerability to the most likely threats.

Mr. Monroe claims that the “U.S. began a debilitating nuclear freeze” at the end of the Cold War.  This is pure disinformation.  During the 20 years from 1990-2010 the US completed deployment of the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile and the B-2 stealth strategic nuclear bomber and rebuilt the entire Minuteman III land-based nuclear missile force.  Additional upgrades to nuclear command and control and warhead accuracy provided the US with the world’s most capable nuclear force.  It remains that way today.

During this same timeframe Russia’s nuclear capabilities declined precipitously. By 2006, it had 55 percent fewer intercontinental ballistic missiles, 39 percent fewer strategic bombers, and 80 percent fewer ballistic-missile submarines compared to 1990. The Russian nuclear arsenal continued its decline until approximately 2010 when its nuclear modernization programs began to come on line and initiate restoration of nuclear capabilities that had been maintained by the Soviet Union.  China’s nuclear forces with fewer than 250 deployed nuclear warheads remain small compared to the US and Russia which each possess more than 1,500 deployed warheads.

Ironically, nuclear superiority over the last 25 years has not provided America with the strategic advantages implied by Mr. Monroe.  Nuclear weapons did not help secure any meaningful victory in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, or Syria, did not prevent the rise of Al Qaida, ISIS and Boko Harem or deter Russia’s actions in Georgia and Ukraine.  Nuclear weapons did not check China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, or thwart the DPRK’s acquisition and testing of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear weapons cannot give their possessors the ability to prevent or defeat these threats.  Other non-nuclear military, diplomatic and strategic capabilities are required.

Mr. Monroe urges us to dismiss President Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons as an “impossible vision” that is “terribly damaging” to America.  Perhaps he is comfortable with successive generations of Americans living with the threat of nuclear holocaust for time immemorial.  Fortunately, he is in a minority that believes nuclear deterrence can work forever without fail.  Science and rationality tell us it cannot.

The most alarming of Mr. Monroe’s fantasies is his description of nuclear deterrence: “You threaten your adversary with intolerable consequences if he does not comply with your demands. Then, through reinforcing actions, you convince him that you have the will and capability to carry out your threat.” Your threat, of course is mutual nuclear suicide.  These sound like the delusions of General Jack Ripper from the film Dr. Strangelove, or the motto of so many failed empires that have tried to rule the world.

Mr. Monroe also claims “for the past two decades nuclear deterrence has been missing from the U.S. toolbox.”  Bullocks.  Nuclear deterrence is a condition that obtains when any nation has the ability to threaten nuclear attack or devastating nuclear retaliation. It has never been absent from US strategy since the deployment of nuclear weapons in 1945. The delusion to which Mr. Monroe ascribes is that nuclear weapons somehow allow us to reliably influence the decisions of our adversaries.  They can never provide this capability.

Mr. Monroe advocates the production and testing of “an entirely new nuclear-weapons stockpile, including specialized low-yield advanced weapons.”  Such a course of action will not give America the ability to achieve the outcomes it desires in the world.  It will most likely encourage other nations to accelerate plans to increase their nuclear arsenals and acquire similar capabilities as some are now doing.

America’s nuclear deterrent is not rusting away but as former US statesmen Schultz, Kissinger, Perry and Nunn have repeatedly warned in these pages “nuclear deterrence is becoming decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous.” For now American must and is maintaining a more-than-sufficient nuclear deterrent.  But developing and testing new types of nuclear bombs and engaging in a new nuclear arms race will not make that deterrent more effective against the full range of threats nor less hazardous.  The world’s nuclear weapons addiction leads only to disaster.  America, with it partners and allies, needs to lead the way to a better system for international stability and development.

James E. Doyle

Lockheed Martin’s illegal lobbying to extend Sandia contract

The Center for Public Integrity has come out with a hard-hitting article about illegal lobbying by the world’s biggest defense contractor Lockheed Martin to extend its management contract of the Sandia Labs. Sandia contracted former congresswoman Heather Wilson for consulting services that had no written work requirements, although she denies engaging in illegal lobbying activity. Notably, Wilson was the groomed successor to the powerful Republican senator Pete Domenici (“St. Pete” to the labs for the money be brought them), but was defeated by Tom Udall in the 2007 race for the Senate after Domenici retired. Ironically, the “liberal” Udall now functions as the new Pete Domenici from the same budget seat in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. My point is how deeply in bed the New Mexican congressional delegation is with the nuclear weapons industry in this state, no matter which political party they come from.

But this business about Lockheed Martin engaging in illegal lobbying to extend its Sandia contract takes it to a whole new level. We believe this is a story that won’t go away – – more developments are bound to come. Looking ahead, because of its illegal activities Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s position is that Lockheed Martin should be barred from competing for the Sandia Labs contract when the National Nuclear Security Administration next puts it out for bid, currently scheduled for next year.

The Center for Public Integrity’s must-read article is at

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/07/08/17628/nuclear-weapons-lab-lobbied-federal-funds-block-competition-lucrative-c

excerpts:

““Given the specific prohibitions against such activity, we could not comprehend the logic of using Federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition,” [DOE Inspector General] Friedman said in the report….

In 2009, the report explains, Sandia Corp. hired a consulting firm headed by former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-New Mexico, and two unnamed former employees of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, at least one of whom previously had oversight authority at the lab. Wilson’s company, Heather Wilson, LLC, provided explicit directions about how to influence the most crucial decision-makers in the contract-award process, according to the IG report.” – End –

A few comments on the article follow, notably begun by Heather Wilson herself, followed by yours truly and Jim Doyle.

Heather Wilson ·

Rapid City, South Dakota

For your readers, this is what I said to the reporter of this story: “The full report confirms what I have said all along. I was not a lobbyist for Sandia and I did not contact any federal official — Congressional or Executive — to try to extend the Sandia contract. I was not a member of the “Sandia Contract Strategy Team” that is criticized in the report. Interestingly, someone’s notes from a conversation with me contained in this full report confirm that I advised that contract extension activities should be done by Lockheed Martin, not Sandia. That is the same position taken by the Department of Energy Inspector General.
Jay Coghlan ·

Executive Director at Nuclear Watch New Mexico

I am not contesting what former Congresswoman Wilson says below. But it should be noted that Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a FOIA request and got her contract with the Sandia Labs. It makes clear that she entered into that contract with Sandia Labs while still serving in congressional office, and started getting paid $10,000 a month the day after she left office. See http://nukewatch.org/facts/nwd/HeatherWilson-Sandia contract-invoices.pdf

Ms. Wilson then went on to get a similar contract with the Los Alamos Lab. The DOE IG reported that both contracts had no written work requirements. Pretty sweet work if you can get it, $20K a month, and for what?

The Los Alamos and Sandia Labs had to pay back the government the ~$425,000 they paid Wilson, but as far we know she kept the money. Perhaps she didn’t do anything technically illegal, but it sure doesn’t pass the smell test. Especially when she ran for the U.S. Senate as a strong supporter of the nuclear weapons labs that had paid her. She has also served on the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance Structure of the National Nuclear Security Administration that made recommendations favorable to the labs. We think she should have resigned from that panel when her conflicts-of-interest were revealed.

That is history. The more profound question now is should Lockheed Martin be allowed to bid for the Sandia contract next year when it has clearly engaged in illegal lobbying activity? Nuclear Watch New Mexico thinks not.

Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch New Mexico
www.nukewatch.org

Jim Doyle ·

Works at Self-Employed

I certainly have to object to the reported view of Sandia’s Lockheed-Martin management that it is “not merely in the corporation’s best interest, but in the country’s for Lockheed-Martin, Sandia, and the nation to work together towards influencing DOE to retain the Lockheed-Martin team.” Why would it be to the nation’s best interest to retain a contractor that allowed costs for it largest project, the B-61 nuclear bomb refurbishment, to skyrocket from an estimated $4 billion in 2010 to more than $8 billion today? I do not call this good management. The nation deserves better.

 

[Jim’s self-description as self-employed is an understatement. He is a former Los Alamos Lab nonproliferation expert who authored a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition, which ultimately led to his firing.  He is now self-employed as an independent nuclear weapons nonproliferation expert, and among many other things serves on Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Steering Committee.]

 

Watchdog Groups Seek Info On Alleged Rat Shootings in Nuclear Weapons Facilities

Peace Farm

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

 

For immediate release June 30, 2015

Contacts: Cletus (Jerry) Stein, Board President, Peace Farm, 806.351.2744, cletus@arn.net

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, NWNM, 505.989.7342, jay@nukewatch.org

Watchdog Groups Seek Info

On Alleged Rat Shootings in Nuclear Weapons Facilities

Amarillo, TX – Today, the Peace Farm and Nuclear Watch New Mexico have filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and sent a letter to Rep. Mac Thornberry (R.-TX), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. The two groups are seeking additional information concerning a startling remark he made in a June 23, 2015 speech entitled “A Strategy for America.” In that speech, he argued for “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and its supporting research and production complex. Along with new nuclear-armed missiles, subs and bombers, this modernization is expected to cost taxpayers a trillion dollars over the next 30 years. As an example of why it is needed, Thornberry said

We have lost people, engineers in the nuclear complex, who go work in the energy industry, partly because they had to, well, shoot rats off of their lunch in some of the facilities that they were working in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLdCpbe8IZ0, beginning minute 45:49

On the same day the trade newspaper Defense Daily quoted Thornberry as saying

 Nuclear engineers no longer consider national laboratories “desirable” places to work, “partly because they had to shoot rats off their lunch in some of the facilities that they were working in.” (Quotation marks indicate the newspaper’s direct quotes of Thornberry) http://www.defensedaily.com/hasc-chair-increase-u-s-defense-spending-to-counter-russian-nuke-modernization/

 Rep. Mac Thornberry represents the 13th congressional district in the Texas Panhandle. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) site for the final assembly and disassembly of nuclear weapons, the Pantex Plant, is located in that district, 17 miles northeast of Amarillo. A local watchdog and peace group, The Peace Farm, has long monitored nuclear weapons programs at Pantex.

The Peace Farm’s Board President Cletus (Jerry) Stein, who lives in the 13th district, commented, “I am surprised to hear what my congressman House Armed Services Chairman Thornberry has reported. The Peace Farm wants to know who is doing the rat shooting and where this occurs. Does this possibly mean that employees are carrying personal firearms and weapons at some of the nation’s most sensitive nuclear weapons facilities? Is this shooting taking place near explosives and nuclear materials? Is this occurring at Pantex? Mr. Thornberry’s remarks raise a number of serious safety and security questions that we are keen to have answered.”

Nuclear weapons modernization begins with very expensive “Life Extension Programs” for each type of nuclear weapon in the planned stockpile, performed at Pantex and the Y-12 Plant near Oak Ridge, TN. Thornberry is on record stating that Life Extension Programs and not dismantlements are the priority at Pantex. An estimated 2,500 nuclear weapons are in the queue for disassembly, and dismantlements are proven to enhance security and permanently save taxpayers money. A December 2013 Government Accountability Office study found that the Navy saved $190 million through accelerated dismantlements, which eliminated the need to build a new safe and secure storage facility.

To help foster better public understanding of the need (or not) for a trillion dollar taxpayer investment in nuclear weapons modernization, and some of the stated rationales in support of that investment, the Peace Farm and Nuclear Watch New Mexico have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Nuclear Security Administration. Nuclear Watch has extensive FOIA experience, and has twice won FOIA litigation in federal court. In this instance, the two groups are asking for documentation of where and when these reported rat shootings occurred, whether authorized personnel did the shooting, and if explosives and nuclear materials were within bullet range.

The two groups have also requested more information directly from Rep. Mac Thornberry, in his capacity as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

# # #

The joint Peace Farm – Nuclear Watch New Mexico Freedom of Information Act request is available at

http://www.nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Peace-Farm-NWNM-FOIA-Request-RatShootings-Nuclear-Facilities.pdf

Their joint letter to Rep. Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is available at

http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Peace-Farm-NukeWatch-Thornberry-Letter.pdf

NukeWatch response to ABQ Journal article “Putin’s plans to add nukes closely watched in New Mexico”

Putin clearly cannot be trusted, but this article is very one sided. First, it is alarmist to say Putin is “adding” 40 ICBMs. Instead, Russia is replacing old ones and, as the article points out, staying within New START limits. Putin claims that these new ICBMs are more capable of penetrating missile defenses. But this is largely in response to George W. Bush unilaterally tearing up the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a profoundly negative watershed in U.S. –Russian relations. And above all is continuous expansion of NATO to Russia’s border. The Russian military will be keenly aware that the life extension program for the B61 bomb that Tom Udall so ardently supports will create the world’s first nuclear smart bomb. This is contrary to U.S. claims that it only maintains stockpile safety and reliability and would never give existing nuclear weapons new military capabilities. The revamped bomb’s main mission is forward deployment in Europe against Russia.

The much-quoted ex-Sandia director Paul Robinson was prominent in undermining U.S. ratification of the long-sought-for Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by damning it with faint praise in 1999 congressional testimony. The CTBT failed, but the labs kept the quid pro quo money for so-called Stockpile Stewardship. There is hardly a nuke that Robinson doesn’t like. In the past, he argued for a “To Whom it May Concern” target list (fill in the blank) for U.S. nuclear weapons.

Finally, the 900 pound gorilla.  This article has no mention of U.S. plans to spend at least a trillion dollars over the next 30 years on “modernization” of nuclear forces. This will rebuild every existing type of nuclear weapon in the planned stockpile, and buy completely new missiles, subs and bombers to deliver them. That makes Putin look like a chump.

You bet that the for-profit, giant defense contractors running the Los Alamos and Sandia Labs (Bechtel and Lockheed Martin) and their politicians are closely watching deteriorating relations with Russia (which the U.S. has done so much to cause). They can hear the cash registers going ca-ching, ca-ching! Meanwhile, as schools and bridges are falling apart and the 70th anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings approach, the nuclear weapons labs are internally trumpeting “The Second Nuclear Age.”

Jay Coghlan,

NukeWatch Director

Putin’s plans to add nukes closely watched in New Mexico

By Michael Coleman / Journal Washington Bureau
PUBLISHED: Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 12:02 am

WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement last week that he plans to add 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to his country’s nuclear arsenal could have implications for New Mexico’s nuclear weapons laboratories and the spending debate on Capitol Hill.

Putin’s announcement was a blunt reminder of Russia’s nuclear might amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Relations between Russia and the West have plunged to their lowest point since the Cold War with Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and support for a pro-Russia separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.

“Over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of penetrating any, even the most technologically advanced, missile defense systems, will join the nuclear forces in the current year,” Putin said.

The declaration came at the opening of an arms show at a shooting range in Alabino, just west of Moscow. Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Putin’s nuclear weapons declaration was troubling.

“Putin’s military aggression is disturbing on a number of fronts,” Udall told the Journal. “A nuclear conflict should never occur in today’s world, and the U.S. and Russia should continue to commit to our agreements to reduce these weapons and prevent proliferation to additional countries.”

Russia’s nuclear developments are likely to be closely watched by workers at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.

“These developments do underscore the importance of the work at our national nuclear labs, which keep the nation’s arsenal safe, secure and reliable, and provide critical capabilities to track and prevent proliferation,” Udall said.
UDALL: This military aggression is “disturbing”

UDALL: This military aggression is “disturbing”

Last year, Russia added 38 ICBMs to its arsenal, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Modernizing its nuclear forces is a top priority for the Russian military, which needs to gradually decommission its aging Soviet-built ICBMs.

No violation

Nuclear policy experts interviewed by the Journal this week said the addition of the nuclear weapons would not put Russia in violation of the 2010 New START agreement, in which the U.S. and Russia both agreed to nuclear weapons limits.

“Putin’s move is mainly symbolic, because 40 more ICBMs does not significantly affect the strategic balance and keeps Russia within the limits of the New START agreement,” said Gary Samore, who served for four years as President Barack Obama’s White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Rodney Wilson, director of nonproliferation programs at Sandia, referred the Journal‘s questions about implications for the New Mexico lab to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the labs.

An NNSA spokeswoman also declined to comment on the labs’ work related to Russian nuclear arms issues and instead referred the Journal‘s questions to the State Department or the White House.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest dismissed Putin’s pledge to build more nuclear weapons as “saber-rattling” and said it “does nothing to de-escalate conflict.”

“The United States has repeatedly stressed our commitment to the collective defense of our NATO allies,” Earnest told reporters at the White House this week. “That is a commitment that we are willing to back up with action, if necessary. And that stands in pretty stark contrast to the saber-rattling that we’ve seen from Mr. Putin.

“And you could also make a case – and I think with some credibility – that invoking the nuclear arsenal is even an escalation of that saber-rattling,” Earnest added. “That’s unnecessary and not constructive.”

The U.S. and the EU have slapped Russia with economic sanctions, and Washington and its NATO allies have pondered an array of measures in response to Russia’s moves toward Ukraine. The three Baltic members of the alliance – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have asked NATO to permanently deploy ground troops to their nations as a deterrent against an increasingly assertive Russia.

And Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak says he and U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter have held talks about placing U.S. heavy army equipment in Poland. The uptick in Russia’s nuclear ambitions would seem to stymie President Barack Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world during a much heralded 2009 speech in Prague in which Obama vowed “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Asked whether there is a possibility of another U.S.-Russian arms race, Earnest suggested that Russia – hit hard by falling energy prices – may not be able to afford Putin’s latest nuclear pledge.

“There are legitimate questions that have been raised about whether or not Russia would be able to succeed in following through on many of the claims and threats that President Putin has had to offer,” Earnest said.

Work at labs

Paul Robinson, a former director of Sandia National Laboratories, said Putin’s announcement last week reinforces the importance of the work done at Sandia and Los Alamos, which are integral to the nation’s nuclear weapons complex.

Both labs are heavily involved in maintaining the nuclear stockpile, and working to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and materials around the world.
ROBINSON: Concerned about a new weapon

ROBINSON: Concerned about a new weapon

“Nuclear deterrence is just as important as it ever was, and to say we’re going to relax and we don’t have to worry about strategic war any more would be a huge mistake,” Robinson said in a Journal interview, adding that he is concerned about Russia’s reported work on developing a new tactical nuclear weapon that would emit low radiation and could be used in conventional warfare.

“I think it is time for us to worry about it,” said Robinson, who was an ambassador and chief negotiator during U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms talks in Geneva in the 1980s.

“Clearly, if these things are going to arise again to threaten our future, (the labs) would do almost anything they could in being a part to protect it.”

Steven Pifer, director of Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, said Putin’s announcement might trigger additional sympathy for nuclear weapons spending on Capitol Hill. Nuclear weapons budgets remain steady – including for work on the B61 Life Extension Project carried out at both New Mexico labs – but some in Congress are questioning the need for increases.

“My guess is that it might increase a little bit the push for doing more on the nuclear side, but I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact,” Pifer said.

“The more worrisome thing is, why does Putin feel the need to keep talking about nuclear weapons? I sincerely hope he does not see these things as weapons of coercion, because that could be potentially very dangerous. I hope there are sensible people around him who are explaining to him just exactly what one should do to manage nuclear weapons in a responsible way.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

WIPP Sold With a 10,000 Year Guarantee

WIPP Sold With a 10,000 Year Guarantee

WIPP CRA Meeting June 17 2015, Albuquerque, NM

 

10,000 years ago:

  • Jericho has been inhabited for a thousand years
  • Many megafauna go extinct, including the giant ground sloths, woolly rhinoceros, cave bear, and sabre-toothed cats (Mammoths survive in small groups for another 6500 years)
  • Cattle are domesticated and the plow is invented
  • In what is now northern Iraq, cultivation of barley and wheat begins.
  • Beer is first brewed.

 

10,000 years from now:

  • Sea levels will rise 3 to 4 meters
  • Technological civilization could reach end of its lifespan
  • Humanity has a 95% probability of being extinct
  • Pioneer 10 will pass within 3.8 light years of Barnard’s Star
  • The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, for nuclear weapons waste, is planned to be protected until this time, with a “Permanent Marker” system designed to warn off visitors through both multiple languages (the six UN languages and Navajo) and through pictograms

 

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency officials are also guaranteeing that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeast New Mexico will not release larger amounts of radiation for 10,000 yrs from the time that WIPP closes. Before recent events, WIPP was to end operations in the 2030 to 2035 timeframe when the last underground waste panel was full of nuclear weapons generated transuranic waste. Then there will be a 5-10 year period where it will be filled in and closed.

This 10,000-year guarantee is reevaluated and recertified every 5 years during a Compliance Recertification Application (CRA) process. EPA, has a unique authority – included in the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act – regarding radiation. EPA could deny certification and close WIPP down.  EPA last recertified WIPP in November 2010. The recertification decision is not subject to judicial review.

The protection requirement focuses on the annual radiation dose to a person living on the surface just outside the WIPP Land Withdrawal Act (LWA) boundary. In particular, the LWA requires that the “WIPP be constructed in such a manner as to provide a reasonable expectation that, for 10,000 years after disposal, undisturbed performance of the disposal system will not cause the annual committed effective dose equivalent (hereafter called “dose”) to exceed 15 millirems (mrem) (150 microsieverts) to any member of the public in the accessible environment.” (Pg. 55-1)

The difference this go ‘round is that a waste drum, improperly packaged at Los Alamos National Laboratory, released radiation and contaminated 21 workers at WIPP in February 2014.  WIPP has been closed since then. Hundreds of similarly improperly packaged drums are still in the underground at WIPP.

But wait, due to the CRA cycle, input data for this CRA was cut off in December 2012. It is unclear how information from the 2014 accident will impact this CRA. What is WIPP but the sum of all its operations? But DOE claims that current operations will not cause any radiation releases for the 10,000 years after WIPP closes.

 

How can such a claim be made? DOE uses computer modeling to do a Performance Assessment (PA). DOE claims that the information can be boiled down to a simple chart. 

Figure PA- 83. CRA-2014 PA and CRA-2009 PABC Overall Mean CCDFs for Total Normalized Releases

I can’t explain it but I was assured that that the 2014 CRA showed that WIPP was safer for 10,000 years than the 2009 CRA showed. (The solid 2014 curve is farther away the notched “Release Limits” line than the dashed red 2009 curve.) Image that – WIPP allegedly got safer in the last 5 years.

 

I guess the good news is that DOE and EPA are thinking about 10,000 years. The bad news is that we have to. We cannot continue to generate this waste that is only safe into the future because some software deems it so. The existing radioactive waste should be monitored and stored as close to the generating site, as safely as possible, where it was generated.

The radioactive isotope of the transuranic waste in WIPP is mostly plutonium 239. Plutonium 239 has a half-life of 24,000 yrs – more than twice the time addressed in this assessment.

 

Thanks to all who came out to the WIPP/EPA meetings last Wednesday, June 17.  And thanks for your concern in this important issue.

 

Read Olivier Uyttebrouck’s Albuquerque Journal Report on the afternoon session.

There is a video of the evening session comments.

All the Compliance Recertification Application documents are here

 

There is an opportunity to comment.

Please consider commenting that:

EPA must consider including all aspects of the Feb 2014 accident in this CRA.

EPA must forward all public comments to DOE for an official response.

EPA must re-inspect LANL before it can ship to WIPP.

EPA should re-inspect and approve all waste generating sites related to waste characterization before allowing WIPP to reopen.

Do not recertify WIPP until an independent qualified organization (independent of DOE, DOE con) provides an analysis that WIPP operation meets the intents and the promises made to New Mexico, is compliant with all statutory and regulatory requirements.

 

Please contact me if you have any questions.

 

WATCHDOG GROUPS HEAD TO D.C.TO URGE CONGRESS TO CONFRONT “THE GROWING U.S. NUCLEAR THREAT”

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

A national network of organizations working to address issues of nuclear weapons production and waste cleanup

Nuclear Watch New Mexico

 

May 14, 2015

 

WATCHDOG GROUPS HEAD TO D.C. TO URGE CONGRESS, OBAMA ADMIN.

TO CONFRONT “THE GROWING U.S. NUCLEAR THREAT;”

NEW REPORT SEEKS CUTS IN BOMB PLANTS, WARHEAD MODERNIZATION

DIVERTING SAVINGS TO CLEANUP AND WEAPONS DISMANTLEMENT

            Dozens of community leaders from around the country will travel to Washington, DC next week to oppose U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons projects, which they say will waste billions in taxpayer funds, damage the environment and undermine the nation’s non-proliferation goals. The group will meet with leading members of Congress, committee staffers, and top administration officials with responsibility for U. S. nuclear policies to press for new funding priorities.

Activists from nearly a dozen states are participating in the 27th annual Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) “DC Days.” They will deliver copies of ANA’s just-published report, The Growing U.S. Nuclear Threat (http://bit.ly/growing_nuclear_threat). The new 20-page analysis dissects the Obama Administration’s latest plans to spend hundreds of billions more on nuclear weapons programs without, the authors conclude, enhancing U.S. security.

Joining the Alliance will be four members of Nuclear Watch New Mexico: Dr. James Doyle, a nonproliferation expert fired by the Los Alamos Lab after writing a study arguing for nuclear weapons abolition; Chuck Montano, former LANL auditor and author of his just-released book Los Alamos: A Whistleblower’s Diary (http://losalamosdiary.com/index.html); Jay Coghlan, Executive Director; and Scott Kovac, Operations Director. “We will use this opportunity to represent New Mexicans who oppose the open checkbook policy for nuclear weapons by Congress to the National Labs,” Kovac stated.

Both Doyle and Coghlan have recently returned from the NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations in New York City where they witnessed U.S. officials claiming that one trillion dollar plans for nuclear weapons modernization “contribute to and do not detract from progress on our NPT nuclear disarmament obligations.” But as Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, the report’s editor, noted, “Massive spending on nuclear weapons ‘modernization’ increases the nuclear danger for the U.S. Lack of accountability at DOE wastes billions and puts the public at even greater risk. ANA members from across the country will urge policy-makers to cut programs that fund dangerous boondoggles. The money saved should be redirected to cleaning up the legacy of nuclear weapons research, testing and production.” Participants in DC Days include activists from groups that monitor such U.S. nuclear weapons facilities as Hanford, Lawrence Livermore, Rocky Flats, Los Alamos, Kansas City Plant, Pantex, Sandia, Oak Ridge, Savannah River and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is a network of local, regional and national organizations representing the concerns of communities downwind and downstream from U.S. nuclear weapons production and radioactive waste disposal sites. As part of its DC Days, ANA will sponsor an Awards Reception honoring leaders of the movement for responsible nuclear policies on Monday evening, May 18. Honorees include U.S. Senator Harry Reid, U.S. Representative John Garamendi, Los Alamos whistleblower Dr. James Doyle, former FBI investigator of Rocky Flats Jon Lipsky, and nuclear campaigner Michael Keegan: The event will take place in Room B-340 of the Rayburn House Office Building from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.

After learning of his award, Dr. James Doyle replied, “It is an honor to be recognized by citizen organizations across the country who have been opposing nuclear weapons at the grassroots for decades.  The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability is an important part of the fabric of our civil society and helps create an informed citizenry essential to our freedom and security.  My case shows that even in America you must be careful when you question nuclear weapons.  These groups have been trying to change that since before I knew what nuclear war would mean for humanity.  I am proud to be working with them to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

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