Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

New & Updated

The Bizarre Mystery of the Only Armed Nuke America Ever Lost

The lost nuke has never been found—only the pilot’s helmet was recovered, and the government kept it secret for years.

By Matthew Gault, Vice News | 2022 vice.com

In the early days of the Cold War, the United States wanted to make sure it could launch a retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union as quickly as possible if it launched a nuclear strike. The goal was 15 minutes. This was before the advent of submarines that launch ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missile silos. From 1960 until 1968, America maintained that 15-minute ability to pepper the globe with nukes by putting pilots on 24-hour alert. For more than a decade, hundreds of U.S. pilots criss-crossed the planet in planes loaded with nuclear bombs. To keep up with brutal hours, many of the pilots and crew took amphetamine.

As noted in Task & Purpose, the U.S. military had 32 nuclear accidents during the Cold War, and six of the weapons are still unaccounted for. Every story of a Broken Arrow—the military term for a missing nuke—is harrowing, but what happened off the coast of Japan in 1965 was especially frightening.

On December 5, 1965, U.S. Navy Lt. Douglas Webster was supposed take an A-4E Skyhawk loaded with a nuclear bomb into the sky. On the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier, stationed in the Philippine Sea about 70 miles from Okinawa, Japan, the crew loaded the weapon onto the vehicle and Webster got into the cockpit. The crew then pushed the plane to an elevator that would bring it up to the flight deck.

Watch a brief YouTube Clip about this event:

Live Nuke Still Missing In American Swamp

Making the Case That Nuclear Weapons Are Immoral: An Interview With Archbishop John C. Wester

If nuclear weapons are ever eliminated, it will be the result of actions big and small at every communal level, from international leaders to civil society.

Arms Control Association | December 2022 armscontrol.org

(Photo by Leslie M. Radigan)
(Photo by Leslie M. Radigan)

The Reverend John C. Wester occupies a unique role in this continuum as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe, whose archdiocese is home to the Los Alamos and Sandia national nuclear laboratories and site of the first Manhattan Project nuclear tests. In January, Wester issued a pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament,” which called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and declared that the archdiocese “must be part of a strong peace initiative.” He had a compelling basis for action: In 2021, Pope Francis shifted the church’s position from accepting deterrence as a legitimate rationale for nuclear weapons to decrying the possession of nuclear weapons as “immoral.” Even with the pope’s admonition, however, Wester is finding his peace initiative slow going. He discussed his efforts with Carol Giacomo, editor of Arms Control Today. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

ARMS CONTROL TODAY: You often tell the story of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2017. It almost seems like an epiphany. How did that trip and other forces, including serving as the top Roman Catholic Church official in Santa Fe, home to Los Alamos and Sandia, propel you to take on the mission of eliminating nuclear weapons?

Archbishop John C. Wester: Until I came here to Santa Fe, I was pretty much like I believe most people are, lulled into a false sense of complacency.

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Where Are All the Nuclear Bunkers?

Many of these shelters, which are marked by a characteristic yellow sign, were not specifically designed for such purposes and may not have provided sufficient levels of protection against radiation.

BY , Newsweek | November 22, 2022 newsweek.com

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, concerns over the potential use of nuclear weapons have grown. Specially designed bunkers may provide some degree of protection to people in the event of a nuclear attack.

But where are all the nuclear bunkers in the United States and who are they for?

During the Cold War, the U.S. government constructed a number of bunkers around Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that were designed to provide a safe haven for high-ranking members and staff during a nuclear attack on the country.

New Mexico’s Revolving Nuclear Door: Top Environment Officials Sell Out to Nuclear Weapons Labs

Santa Fe, NM – As part of a long, ingrained history, senior officials at the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) have repeatedly resigned to go to work for the nuclear weapons labs, the Department of Energy, or DOE contractors. In a number of cases that is where they came from to begin with.

The hierarchy of leadership at NMED starts with the Secretary, Deputy Secretaries and then Division Directors. The position of Resource Protection Division Director is particularly critical because it oversees the two NMED bureaus most directly involved with DOE facilities in New Mexico, the Hazardous Waste Bureau and the DOE Oversight Bureau. However, all four former or current Resource Protection Division Directors have gone or are going to work for the nuclear weapons labs, the DOE or its contractors. They are:

  • Chris Catechis, currently Acting Resource Protection Division Director, is reportedly assuming a job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) within days. Prior to NMED he had worked at the Sandia National Laboratories for 22 years.[i] See https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-catechis-ma-b76b1a8/
  • Catechis’ immediate supervisor Stephanie Stringer resigned October 31 to go to work for DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). She was Resource Protection Division Director prior to being promoted to Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Operations (second only to NMED Secretary James Kenney).

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Strong earthquake rattles remote West Texas desert

Many of these shelters, which are marked by a characteristic yellow sign, were not specifically designed for such purposes and may not have provided sufficient levels of protection against radiation

BY TEXAS | November 16, 2022 spectrumlocalnews.com

MENTONE, Texas (AP) — A strong earthquake shook a sparsely populated patch of desert in West Texas on Thursday, causing tremors felt as far away as the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. The magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck around 3:30 p.m., according to Jim DeBerry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the West Texas city Midland. He said the strength of the quake means it likely caused damage in the remote oil patch and scrubland, but none had been reported so far.

DeBerry said the epicenter was about 23 miles (37 kilometers) south of Mentone, a tiny community south of the New Mexico state line and 95 miles (153 kilometers) west of Midland.

State Rep. Eddie Morales, Jr., whose district includes Mentone, said he spoke with local authorities and there were no reported injuries. He said via Twitter that state officials will be “inspecting roads, bridges and other infrastructure as a precaution.”

DeBerry said there were reports of people feeling vibrations from the quake 200 miles (515 kilometers) west in the border city of Ciudad Juárez and as far south as Terlingua, a small community near the Rio Grande and Big Bend National Park.

Russia-US nuclear disarmament talks postponed

Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6.

ALJAZEERA | November 28, 2022 aljazeera.com

Nuclear disarmament talks between Russia and the United States set to take place this week have been postponed, according to Moscow’s foreign ministry and the US Embassy.

Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6 to discuss resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which had been suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Is nuclear disarmament possible? | UpFront

After decades as a nuclear powerhouse, France makes its play in offshore wind

EDF says the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals.”

By Anmar Frangoul | November 25, 2022 cnbc.com

Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race
Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race

A facility described as “France’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project” is fully operational, multinational utility EDF said this week.

The news represents a significant step forward for the country’s offshore wind sector, with more projects set to come online in the years ahead.

In a statement Wednesday, EDF said the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals, which include targets to generate 32% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.” EDF’s majority shareholder is the French state.

Gov. Lujan Grisham demands President Biden block nuclear waste site in southeast New Mexico

Nuclear waste storage in southeast New Mexico drew the ire of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who called on President Joe Biden via a Wednesday letter to block such a project near Carlsbad and Hobbs for perceived threats to nearby residents and implications of environmental racism.

“New Mexico has grave concerns for the risk this proposed storage site would pose to our citizens and communities, our first responders, our environment, and to New Mexico’s agriculture and natural resource industries,” Lujan Grisham wrote.

CALRSBAD CURRENT ARGUS | Carlsbad Current-Argus | November 18, 2022 currentargus.com

Holtec International proposed the project, which would store up to 100,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods on the surface in a remote area near the Eddy-Lea county line, after being recruited by a consortium of local leaders in the area known as the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance.

The Alliance provided the land, about 1,000 acres amid the oilfields of the Permian Basin, and worked with Holtec to promote the project and seek public support.

But Lujan Grisham, her administration and elected officials both at the state government and in Congress became opposed to the project, frequently voicing their disapproval in the years since.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could start a race for nukes, Austin says

The Defense secretary painted a bleak picture for the world, alluding to a scenario in which autocrats will race to acquire the bomb if Russia isn’t repelled.

“Austin further warned that “Putin may resort again to profoundly irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling” as the war drags on and if Ukrainian forces continue their gains against Russian troops.

POLITICO | ALEXANDER WARD, November 19, 2022 politico.com

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could entice autocrats around the world to race to develop nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday, potentially sparking a dangerous era of nuclear proliferation.

Moscow has threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine several times over the past nine months, leading to a flurry of phone calls this month between U.S., European and Russian officials trying to tamp down tensions.

A day before he leaves for a multi-day swing through the Indo-Pacific, Austin painted a bleak picture for the world, alluding to a scenario in which autocrats will race to acquire the bomb if Putin isn’t successfully repelled.

ACTION ALERTS

Stay Informed of All Permit-Related Happenings at WIPP! Sign Up for Updates:

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

Ricardo Maestas

New Mexico Environment Department-Hazardous Waste Bureau

2905 Rodeo Park East, Bldg. 1

Santa Fe, NM 87505

WIPP also uses the facility mailing list to inform you about opportunities to provide public comments.  NMED provides their list to WIPP.

More Info and signup options:

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Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9

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

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

STOP “FOREVER WIPP!”

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

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

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


Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

Mixed Waste Landfill Facts

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

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