Talking Points: DOE Order 140.1 Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

– The Department of Energy’s Order 140.1 Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is misguided and likely illegal because it acts contrary to the Board’s 1988 enabling legislation. See https://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/page/Enabling%20Legislation%20-%202016.pdf

– The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board’s (DNFSB’s) two decades of reporting and recommendations reflect the chronic safety problems endemic to the nuclear weapons complex. DOE Order 140.1 seeks to kill the messenger and muzzle the message that nuclear weapons research and production is inherently dangerous, requiring independent safety oversight to help keep workers and the public protected.

– DOE Order 140.1 is the nuclear weaponeers’ latest attempts to cripple the DNFSB, previously attempted through legislation passed by the House Armed Services Committee. Those pieces of legislation sought to either cut the Board’s budget or hogtie it with onerous reporting requirements but were rejected by Congress as a whole. This could possibly explain the genesis of DOE Order 140.1 as an attempt to do an end run around Congress.

– The Safety Board’s observations and formal recommendations have slowed down the nuclear weaponeers agenda for exorbitant new production facilities and increased nuclear weapons production for a new arms race. What is DOE’s completely misguided answer? It is to cripple DNFSB oversight, thereby increasing the chances for serious nuclear safety mishaps.

– DOE Order 140.1 “Formulate[s] consolidated DOE positions on policy… so that DOE speaks with one voice.” (emphasis added). This smacks of political control by DOE Washington DC headquarters that again seeks to kill the messenger rather than resolve nuclear safety issues. DOE’s track record demonstrates that critical safety problems often get fixed only when they become locally disclosed and publicly known. In contrast, Order 140.1 will likely suppress local disclosure of potential dangers and discourage whistleblowers, possibly exposing them to added retaliation.

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For Decades, the United States and Russia Stepped Back From the Brink. Until Now.

Kelsey Wroten
Will there be a dangerous new era of unchecked nuclear weapons development?

BY The Editorial Board | nytimes.com February 10, 2019


Before the fear of being blown up on a plane, or a train, or a sidewalk gave millions of people sleepless nights, before the threat of global climate disaster stirred dread, nuclear annihilation was the stuff of nightmares.

By the mid-1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union had amassed 63,000 nuclear weapons, with the promise of mutually assured destruction if even one were ever used, even accidentally.

Then, after years of global protests and skyrocketing budgets, American and Soviet leaders stepped back from the brink and began a process of arms control diplomacy, accelerated by the fall of the Soviet Union, that shrank those arsenals by nearly 90 percent. For decades, that process and that diplomacy continued … until now.

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Joe Cirincione (@Cirincione)
2/7/19, 7:50 PM

This is an incredible interview. If you doubted that Bolton was behind the killing of the #INFTreaty , or that Trump has no plan for what to do next, or that we are in a new arms race, just watch ⁦‪@UnderSecT‬⁩ struggle under ⁦‪@nickschifrin‬⁩ honest questioning.

Red Cross warns of ‘growing’ risk of nuclear weapons, urges ban

straitstimes.com February 8, 2019

The International Committee of the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on Dec 4, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (AFP) – The Red Cross called on Friday (Feb 8) for a total ban on nuclear weapons, warning of the growing risk that such arms could again be used with devastating effect.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) launched a global campaign to raise awareness about the rising nuclear threat facing the world.

In a joint statement, they said some nuclear-armed states were straying from their “longstanding nuclear disarmament obligations” and were “upgrading their arsenals, developing new kinds of nuclear weapons and making them easier to use”. The notonukes.org campaign comes after the United States and Russia ripped up a key arms control treaty, with US President Donald Trump announcing last week that Washington was beginning a process to withdraw from the Cold War-era agreement in six months.

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The Cost to Clean Up America’s Cold War Nuclear Waste Jumps to $377 Billion

The bill for a half century of nuclear weapons production is growing fast.

“The GAO [Government Accountability Office] estimates the EM’s “environmental liability grew by almost $105 billion, from $163 billion to $268 billion.”That’s the equivalent of taking one step forward and then being pushed seven steps back.”

BY popularmechanics.com February 5, 2019

The United States developed and built tens of thousands of nuclear weapons during the Cold War. A new report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates the total cleanup cost for the radioactive contamination incurred by developing and producing these weapons at a staggering $377 billion, a number that jumped by more than $100 billion in just one year.

Most people think of the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and think of oil rigs, coal mines, solar energy panels, and wind farms. While the DoE does handle energy production—including nuclear power—it also handles the destructive side of nuclear energy. A large part of the DoE’s portfolio over the past several decades has been the handling of nuclear weapons research, development, and production. The DoE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for cleaning up radioactive and hazardous waste left over from nuclear weapons production and energy research at DoE facilities.

Mock-ups of Poseidon Missiles
Polaris and Poseidon missiles. GETTY IMAGES//HULTON DEUTSCH

In 1967 at the height of the U.S.–Soviet nuclear arms race, the U.S. nuclear stockpile totaled 31,255 weapons of all types. Today, that number stands at just 6,550. Although the U.S. has deactivated and destroyed 25,000 nuclear weapons, their legacy is still very much alive. Nuclear weapons were developed and produced at more than one hundred sites during the Cold War. Cleanup began in 1989, and the Office of Environmental Management has completed cleanup at 91 of 107 nuclear sites, Still, according to the GAO, “but 16 remain, some of which are the most challenging to address.” Those sites include Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Hanford site in Washington, and the Nevada National Security Site.

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Nuke Waste Destined to Remain

BY COLIN DEMAREST | thetandd.com 

Aiken Standard: ‘I’m not confident at all’: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham casts real doubt on Energy Department

GREENVILLE — South Carolina’s senior senator, who often stumps for the Savannah River Site, has little faith in the U.S. Department of Energy’s abilities going forward.

“No, I’m not confident the DOE can do almost anything,” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Monday during a question-and-answer session with reporters. “I’m not confident at all.”

That lack of trust casts a dark shadow over the prospective expansion of plutonium pit production, an enduring weapons mission of which SRS is an integral part, according to a joint recommendation from the National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense.

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