Website Archives

2020

WIPP gets millions in COVID-19 relief funding, operations contract extended for one year

“Are WIPP workers getting infected at the site and taking it back into the communities?” Don Hancock said. “WIPP is clearly not always a safe place, but we don’t know if WIPP is a place where workers get infected or if infected workers brought it to WIPP.”

BY:  | currentargus.com


In August and September, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant received about $3.8 million per month of federal COVID-19 funding as the U.S. Department of Energy elected to renew the facility’s primary contractor for one year despite an option to keep Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) at the helm of the nuclear waste repository until 2022.

NWP spokesman Donavan Mager said the site received $3.816 million in August and $3.803 in September and that the funding was designated to “support operations” although he did not elaborate on how, specifically, the public money was to be spent.

Per the latest reports from WIPP, 39 workers had contracted COVID-19 as the pandemic appeared to pose a resurgence in New Mexico in recent weeks.

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Delegates Want Open Meeting on Release of Radioactive Vapors at LANL

The public will get a chance to comment and learn more about Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plans to release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere from several barrels of tritium-tainted waste.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

The federal agency that oversees the lab scheduled the meeting for Oct. 20 after three New Mexico delegates — U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján — wrote a letter calling for more transparency and public participation.

An open forum on the release of vapors from Cold War waste is especially important for Pueblo people and others who live near the site, the delegates said in the letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“We strongly believe that protecting public health and safety must always be the highest priority at Los Alamos,” they wrote in the Oct. 1 letter. “Safety is particularly important when there is a possibility of a release to the environment involving radioactive or hazardous materials.”

The agency has said ventilating the containers is necessary to relieve built-up radioactive hydrogen in their headspace, so they can be safely handled and shipped to a commercial storage site.
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Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020

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Today, on Indigenous People’s Day 2020, we join our friends and speakers from indigenous rights and environmental groups from throughout the US in condemning nuclear colonialism. From uranium mining, milling, and processing, to atomic power and nuclear weapons, to radioactive waste – the resulting environmental injustices have disproportionately impacted Native Americans & other indigenous peoples.


Sarah Fields, Uranium Watch and Sierra Club Nuclear-Free CampaignLas Vegas, NV — Indigenous rights and environmental advocates from throughout the US condemned nuclear colonialism on what is recognized as “Columbus Day” Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Native Community Action Council held a press conference in front of the Thomas and Mac Moot Court at the Boyd Law School on the campus of UNLV for participants in the Native American Forum on Nuclear Issues at UNLV.

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LANL’s Waste Storage Poses Dangers, Report Says

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Report demonstrates beyond doubt that a FULL programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production is needed, as well as new site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos Lab.

The 760 rem estimate is equal to 380,000 chest X-rays, said Dan Hirsch, retired director of programs on environment and nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “This is vastly above what’s permissible for workers’ exposure,” Hirsch said, adding that far lower doses can cause cancer.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory is storing hundreds, maybe thousands, of barrels of radioactive waste mixed with incompatible chemicals that have the potential to cause an explosion , putting workers and the public at risk, a government watchdog said in a report.

LANL personnel have failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for an incompatible chemical to be mixed in and cause a container to burst, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in a September report.

Such an explosion would release radiation in doses lethal to workers and hazardous to the public, the safety board said. And yet the radiation levels that would be released have not been sufficiently estimated, it said.

Some of LANL’s facilities store radioactive waste without any engineered controls or safeguards beyond the containers, the board wrote in a cover letter addressed to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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25-Year Study of Nuclear vs Renewables Says One Is Clearly Better at Cutting Emissions

Nuclear power is often promoted as one of the best ways to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels to generate the electricity we need, but new research suggests that going all-in on renewables such as wind and solar might be a better approach to seriously reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

BY: DAVID NIELD| sciencealert.com

Based on an analysis of 123 countries over a quarter of a century, the adoption of nuclear power did not achieve the significant reduction in national carbon emissions that renewables did – and in some developing nations, nuclear programmes actually pushed carbon emissions higher.

The study also finds that nuclear power and renewable power don’t mix well when they’re tried together: they tend to crowd each other out, locking in energy infrastructure that’s specific to their mode of power production.

Given nuclear isn’t exactly zero carbon, it risks setting nations on a path of relatively higher emissions than if they went straight to renewables.

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Virtual Public Information Session on FTWC venting at Los Alamos National Laboratory – 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20

The public information session will be hosted via Webex; people who wish to attend can join by following this link (meeting password GckhzZ5nv33), or call in by phone at 415-527-5035, access code 199 995 9074 if people do not have internet access.

Media Advisory
CONTACT: Peter Hyde, pahyde@lanl.gov

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., Oct. 8, 2020—The National Nuclear Security Administration is hosting a virtual public information session at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20, to inform the public about the process of venting Flanged Tritium Waste Containers (FTWCs) that are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Flanged Tritium Waste Containers are pressure vessels specifically designed to contain waste metal that has been exposed to tritium. As the tritium ages and separates into helium and hydrogen, those gases can create pressure inside the container. This is expected and accounted for in the design.

To reduce the amount of waste stored on site, Los Alamos National Laboratory will ship the containers off-site to a licensed storage facility. In order to ship the containers, the pressurized gases inside the containers must be vented to meet regulatory requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

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Citizens’ Hearing Held at New Mexico Capitol about Increased Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved its plans to increase plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by 50 percent as a way to comply with what is described in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review as a need for “an effective, responsive, and resilient nuclear weapons infrastructure” that can “adapt flexibly to shifting requirements.”

The Pentagon has stated it needs annual production of 80 plutonium pits, the triggers for nuclear weapons.  The DOE has approved its Supplement Analyses for four possible ways to execute this upgrade.
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NASA’s clean-up plan for tainted Santa Susana Field Lab near Simi outrages activists

“NASA’s absurd excuse for cleaning up so much less contamination than it promised is that it has discovered there is much more contamination at the site than it had previously realized,” — cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap

BY: Mike Harris | Ventura County Star vcstar.com

NASA has decided to clean up contaminated soil at its portion of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory site to a less stringent standard than it agreed to in a 2010 legally binding agreement with the state.

The federal agency announced its decision last week, outraging cleanup activists and some local officials.

The activists say NASA’s planned cleanup, outlined in a formal Record of Decision, would leave 84% of its contaminated acres not remediated at the site outside Simi Valley.

That would violate a 2010 legally binding agreement — formally called an Administrative Order on Consent — NASA signed with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to clean up its acres “to background,” the most exacting standard.

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WIPP Resumes Nuclear Waste Shipments from California National Laboratory

Nuclear waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) near San Francisco, California resumed this month after a 10-year pause.

BY:  | currentargus.com

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., which was founded by the University of California in 1952, has grown to a 1-square-mile campus with almost 6,000 employees. A private contractor consortium now operates it. – National Nuclear Security Administration Via Flickr

The waste was received at WIPP and will be permanently disposed of in the underground repository about 2,000 feet beneath the surface.

The resumption of shipments from LLNL was the result of a multi-year project and collaboration between the Department of Energy’s Carlsbad Field Office (CBFO), WIPP contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the NNSA’s Livermore Field Office, read a DOE news release.

LLNL is primarily a research laboratory that generates transuranic (TRU) waste during its research and engineering operations related to nuclear weapons, plutonium and other technological aspects of the DOE’s nuclear complex.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joins opposition to nuclear waste project in New Mexico

“The proposed sites in Texas and New Mexico do not provide the deep geologic isolation required for permanent storage in order to minimize the risks of accidents, terrorism or sabotage which could disrupt the country’s energy supply with catastrophic effects on the American economy,” Abbott wrote to the president.

BY:  | currentargus.com

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was the latest public official to oppose a proposed nuclear storage facility to be built near Carlsbad and Hobbs, along with another in West Texas.

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view
Artist Rendering of proposed ELEA/Holtec “storage” plan for commercial reactor spent fuel rods in southeast New Mexico

In a Sept. 30 letter to President Donald Trump, Abbott wrote that he worried locating high-level nuclear waste facilities in the Permian Basin region could put the U.S.’s most active oil and gas field at risk.

Holtec International proposed building a consolidated interims storage facility (CISF) to hold spent nuclear fuel rods temporarily in southeast New Mexico while a permanent repository — as required by federal law — was developed.

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NUCLEAR DOCUMENTS SEARCH DATABASE

The UNT Digital Library is home to materials from UNT’s research, creative, and scholarly activities, and serves as a centralized repository for the rich collections held by UNT’s libraries, colleges, schools, and departments.

Activists Decry Feds’ Plans to Ramp Up Nuclear Work at LANL

The federal government should not turn Los Alamos National Laboratory into a hub for making nuclear bomb cores and instead should spend the money to assist the state with education, health care, poverty and climate change impacts, a group of activists and concerned residents said Wednesday at the state Capitol.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

The nonprofit Los Alamos Study Group, which supports nuclear disarmament, set up a sound system outside the deserted Roundhouse so critics could express their ire about plans for LANL to produce 30 warhead triggers a year by 2026 without a sitewide environmental study.

The comments, recorded as if the event were a public hearing, will be sent to New Mexico’s congressional delegates, including Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, who support LANL reviving and expanding plutonium pit production, saying it will boost the regional economy and strengthen national security.

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World’s Biggest Wind and Solar Producer Now Worth More than ExxonMobil

“The shift is as significant as the one the world has seen in the auto industry, with electric vehicle maker Tesla overtaking the biggest car companies in the world in the last year, to the point where it is now valued at more than the next five biggest global car makers combined, despite producing just a fraction of the number of cars.”

BY:  | reneweconomy.com

In yet another sign of the pace of the global energy transition – and the massive switch taking place in the investment community – the market value of company that describes itself as the world’s biggest producer of wind and solar power, US utility NextEra, has overtaken that of what used to be the world’s most valuable company, oil major ExxonMobil.

The flip occurred last last week, when NextEra overtook ExxonMobil to become the largest energy company in the US by market value. As Forbes reported, an investment in NextEra a decade ago would have delivered to return of 600 per cent, while an investment in ExxonMobil would have returned minus 25 per cent.

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U.N. Nuclear Ban Treaty Likely to Enter Into Force Early Next Year

“The only way to completely eliminate nuclear risk is to completely eliminate nuclear weapons” and that the nuclear ban treaty “remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime,” Guterres said at a meeting of the General Assembly on Friday.

japantimes.co

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that the world is living “in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe,” fueled by growing distrust and tensions between the nuclear powers.

A U.N.-adopted nuclear ban treaty is likely to enter into force early next year as the number of signatories is anticipated to reach the needed threshold of 50 soon, possibly later this month, a diplomatic source said Friday.

According to the source and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), 46 countries and regions have completed ratification procedures.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted in 2017, will enter into force 90 days after it has been ratified by at least 50 countries and regions.

At least four additional countries have already notified the United Nations of their intention to ratify the treaty, the source and the nonprofit organization said, without revealing the names of any such signatories.

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Nuclear Ban Pact Should Not Erode Validity of NPT: Confab Chief

Noting that the current international security environment “is not very positive,” [Gustavo Zlauvinen, President-designate of the 2020 Review Conference for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)] said a lack of progress on nuclear disarmament will likely “play a big role, unfortunately” at the forthcoming NPT review conference.

KYODO NEWSkyodonews.com

Ambassador Thani Thongphakdi of Thailand, the chair of a UN working group on nuclear disarmament, accepts a global parliamentary appeal from Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in Geneva on May 3, 2016. / Wikimedia Commons

“You can’t have nuclear disarmament without the nuclear weapon states in that system. And that’s why, for the time being, the only treaty that has been accepted by at least five nuclear weapon states, that includes obligations on nuclear disarmament, is the NPT,” Gustavo Zlauvinen said in a recent exclusive interview with Kyodo News.

There is a “huge difference” between the NPT and the pact, Zlauvinen said, adding that it is necessary to make distinctions between the two treaties and “try not to erode the validity and the legitimacy of the NPT.”

He also noted that some members of the NPT are opposed to any reference to the nuclear ban pact at the review conference to be convened early next year and indicated that a wide gap between nuclear power states and those pushing for the nuclear ban treaty could be an “issue of contention” at the NPT gathering.

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State Public Land Commissioner Speaks Out Against Nuclear Waste Facility

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state Public Lands Commissioner is speaking out against a proposed nuclear waste storage facility in Lea County. In comments submitted to the National Regulatory Commission, Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says that Holtec International ignored concerns about storing nuclear waste in a highly active oil field.

BY:  | krqe.com

Read Garcia Richard’s full comment and submission to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

Commissioner Garcia Richard’s released the following statement in a news release Monday regarding the public comment:

I remain vehemently opposed to this proposal for reasons stated since I took office in January 2019. Holtec has misrepresented themselves and this project through every step of the process, including recently raising the intended number of nuclear canisters from 500 to 10,000. They have misrepresented their purported control of the site while also lying about their ability to restrict oil and gas operations in the area.

Holtec has ignored numerous safety concerns regarding the transportation of high-level nuclear waste through New Mexico communities, as well as failing to address questions about storing such waste in the middle of a highly active oil field. As Commissioner of Public Lands, I have a constitutional obligation to protect state trust land for future generations. This project comes with far too much risk and little to no reward.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Activists Push Congress to Revive Probe Into Links Between Nuclear Plants and Cancer

“Nuclear Regulatory Commission killed study in 2015 after spending five years and $1.5 million on the effort”

BY:  | ocregister.com

Scientists and activists were stunned back in 2015 when the Nuclear Regulatory Commission pulled the plug on what was designed to be the best study of cancer near nuclear power plants ever done.

The pilot study’s price tag was $8 million — a pittance in the NRC’s $1 billion budget — and five years of work had already gone into it. But it was killed because officials were convinced it would be too costly and couldn’t link reactors to disease, a Southern California News Group investigation found.

Last week, a petition with some 1,200 signatures demanding that the study resume went to members of Congress representing Southern and Central California.

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Texas Governor Urges Trump To Oppose Nuclear Waste Plans

“It’s an unusual thing for environmentalists and oil companies to be on the same page, and we are on this issue,” says an Austin-based environmental advocate.

BY:  | texasstandard.com

Photo courtesy of Waste Control Specialists
A view of an existing site in West Texas where a company wants to store highly radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants, one of two such proposals the Texas governor now says he opposes.

From Courthouse News Service:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has come out against two rival plans to ship highly radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants to sites on the Texas-New Mexico border, saying either plan would be unsafe and would threaten the region’s sprawling Permian Basin oilfield.

“A stable oil and gas industry is essential to the economy, and crucial to the security of our great nation,” Abbott, a Republican, wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday. “Allowing the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste at sites near the largest producing oilfield in the world will compromise the safety of the region.”

The nuclear waste plans have for years drawn the ire of advocacy groups who worry about a range of possible environmental and safety threats, but oil and gas interests have become increasingly involved in the fight as well.

coalition of oil companies and West Texas landowners called Protect the Basin was launched in 2018 to oppose the plans and has more recently stepped up its outreach. One of the coalition members, a ranching and oil company tied to one of the nation’s richest families, has been involved in fighting the issue all the way up to the D.C. Circuit.

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Two’s a crowd: Nuclear and renewables don’t mix

“If countries want to lower emissions as substantially, rapidly and cost-effectively as possible, they should prioritize support for renewables, rather than nuclear power.”

BY:  | techxplore.com

That’s the finding of new analysis of 123 countries over 25 years by the University of Sussex Business School and the ISM International School of Management which reveals that nuclear energy programs around the world tend not to deliver sufficient carbon emission reductions and so should not be considered an effective low carbon energy source.

Researchers found that unlike renewables, countries around the world with larger scale national nuclear attachments do not tend to show significantly lower carbon emissions—and in poorer countries nuclear programs actually tend to associate with relatively higher emissions.

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U.S., Russia Move Toward Outline of Nuclear Deal, Administration Says

“Trump administration official’s comments suggest the two sides might be able to come to terms on broad principles”

BY: MICHAEL R. GORDON | wsj.com

U.S. and Russian negotiators made progress Monday on a new framework accord that would freeze each side’s nuclear arsenal and outline the parameters for a detailed treaty that would be negotiated next year, a senior Trump administration official said.

The accord, if it comes together in the coming month, would give each side something it has sought. President Trump would have a demonstration that his diplomacy toward Moscow has borne fruit, arriving before the November election. Russia would get an extension of the New START…

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The Day Nuclear War Almost Broke Out

“In the nearly sixty years since the Cuban missile crisis, the story of near-catastrophe has only grown more complicated. What lessons can we draw from such a close call?”
“…what almost no one knew until four decades later—was that one of B-59’s torpedoes was carrying what the Soviets called “special ammunition.” The “special” part was a fifteen-kiloton nuclear warhead. Had Savitsky’s orders been carried out, chances are good that the Americans would have responded in kind, and a full-scale nuclear war would have broken out. There should, it seems, be a useful lesson to be learned from that frantic afternoon. But what, in God’s name, is it?”

BY: ELIZABETH KOLBERT | newyorker.com

Photo by Darrell-Ann/ Flickr – Creative Commons

On October 27, 1962, a day that’s been described as the “most dangerous” in human history, a Soviet submarine designated B-59 was churning through the Sargasso Sea when suddenly it was rocked by a series of explosions. “It felt like you were sitting in a metal barrel, which somebody is constantly blasting with a sledgehammer,” Vadim Orlov, a communications specialist on board the sub, later recalled. “The situation was quite unusual, if not to say shocking, for the crew.”

Four weeks earlier, B-59 had been dispatched from the U.S.S.R. with three other so-called F-class subs as part of Operation Anadyr, Nikita Khrushchev’s top-secret effort to install ballistic missiles in Cuba. (The Anadyr is a river that flows into the Bering Sea; the code name was intended to make even soldiers participating in the operation believe they were headed somewhere cold.) Pretty much from the outset of the voyage, things had not gone well.

“For the sailors, this Cuban missile crisis started even before its beginning,” Ryurik Ketov, the captain of another Cuba-bound sub, once observed. The Atlantic that October was turbulent, and the pitching sea made it tough for the boats to maintain their desired speed.

“You have to hold on to something even in your sleep, or else you’ll fall off,” a crew member complained. Communications, too, were difficult. Once past Iceland, the subs had trouble contacting Moscow; for a while, according to Ketov, the only voices audible over the radio “were those of Murmansk fishermen.”

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US, Russia to hold latest nuclear arms talks in Finland

“The Finnish president’s office says the United States and Russia will hold a round of nuclear arms control talks in Finland’s capital, Helsinki, on Monday to follow up on negotiations in Austria this summer

Associated Pressabcnews.com

The office said nuclear arms negotiators from Washington and Moscow met a previous time in Finland in 2017.

“Finland welcomes the negotiators, this time (U.S.) Ambassador (Marshall) Billingslea and (Russian) Deputy Foreign Minister (Sergei) Ryabkov,” the statement said, adding that Niinisto would meet both representatives after the talks.

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Revival of Renewables Sought in Debate Over Nuclear Bailout

“Most of the effects of the law at the heart of a $60 million Statehouse bribery scandal are set to take effect Jan. 1. The law generally creates or expands consumer-fueled subsidies for legacy nuclear and coal-fired power plants in Ohio and offsets those costs by rolling back and eliminating existing surcharges designed to create markets for renewable sources like wind and solar and reduce energy consumption overall.”

Jim Provancelimaohio.com

COLUMBUS — EDP Renewables North America, the world’s fourth-largest wind developer, invested more than $700 million into projects in Paulding and Hardin counties when Ohio first rolled out the red carpet.

But more recent signals from the state — including last year’s passage of the $1 billion bailout of two nuclear plants — have convinced the company to look elsewhere for its future investments.

“HB 6 created a false dichotomy — that Ohio must sacrifice a clean-energy future at the expense of its energy past,” Erin Bowser, EDP’s director of project management, on Wednesday told a House of Representatives select committee now considering repealing House Bill 6.

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Nuclear Power: A Gargantuan Threat

“But if we are truly to have a world free of the horrific threat of nuclear arms, the goal needs to be more. A world free of the other side of the nuclear coin – nuclear power –is also necessary. Radical? Yes, but consider the even more radical alternative: a world where many nations will be able to have nuclear weapons because they have nuclear technology. And the world continuing to try using carrots and sticks to try to stop nuclear proliferation — juggling on the road to nuclear catastrophe.

KARL GROSSMANindependentaustralia.net

Risk to the Earth from nuclear power sees the Doomsday Clock ticking ever closer to midnight, doomsday (Image via YouTube)

At the start of 2020, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight — the closest to midnight, doomsday, since the clock started in 1947.

There are two gargantuan threats — the climate crisis and nuclear weapons/nuclear power.

The only realistic way to secure a future for the world without nuclear war is for the entire planet to become a nuclear-free zone — no nuclear weapons, no nuclear power. A nuclear-free Earth.

How did India get an atomic bomb in 1974? Canada supplied a reactor and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission provided heavy water for it under the U.S. so-called “Atoms for Peace” program. From the reactor, India got the plutonium for its first nuclear weapon.

Any nation with a nuclear facility can use plutonium produced in it to construct nuclear arms.

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India Successfully Tests Nuclear-Capable Shaurya Missile

“’This kind of demonstration of capability/power is extremely important to give a loud message to another nuclear-powered country that they should not take us for granted. This will bring in inherent dissuasion that will further discourage our adversaries from using nuclear weapons (against us),’ said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal (retd).

Debabrata Mohanty, Rahul Singh | Edited by Sparshita Saxena Bhubaneshwar/New Delhihindustantimes.com

India on Saturday successfully test-fired a new version of the nuclear-capable hypersonic Shaurya missile with a range of 750 kilometres from a defence facility off the Odisha coast on Saturday, officials said. The launch is the latest in a string of recent weapons tests amid military tensions with China in the Ladakh sector.

The launch came three days after India test-fired an extended-range BrahMos surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore in Odisha. The cruise missile can hit targets 400 kilometres away – its range increased from the existing 290 kilometres.

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In Memoriam: Ardeth Platte, OP, Will Be Remembered as a Prophet of Peace

Photo by Adam Bird of Bird + Bird Studio.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – September 30, 2020 – Ardeth Platte, OP: justice preacher, peace seeker, teacher, compassionate neighbor and friend stood with people on the margins—God’s people—and helped to lift up their cries again and again, each and every day. As the sun rose this morning, we discovered that God called home our prophet of peace.

Sister Ardeth died in her sleep in the early morning hours of September 30, 2020.

Today, we remember and are grateful for her 66 years as a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids, and we grieve as we prepare for a farewell, unexpected in our time. We hold Sr. Ardeth’s family and friends, her religious community, local community, and the global community in which she served in our hearts and prayers. May she rest in the loving embrace of our God.

Sr. Ardeth carried the burdens of the world willingly, preaching love, peace, and human dignity always. She stood for restorative justice and rehabilitation against a broken criminal justice system, even if it meant being imprisoned herself. Her commitment to universal human rights meant living her life fully dedicated to peace and the abolishment of nuclear weapons. She reminded us that hunger is a real and present danger in the United States of America; and she did something about it: sowing and harvesting a garden and offering God’s bounty to neighbors.

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2019

Plutonium Pit Production Forum – Full Video

Workshop on expanded production of the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos National Laboratory

Presenters:

  • Jon Lipsky, FBI agent that led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats bomb plant
  • Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, on plutonium pit production at LANL
  • Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs (Livermore, CA) on the new nuclear arms race
  • Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, on LANL cleanup issues

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How to Change the Face of Nuclear Policy: Diversify

Research has repeatedly shown that diverse teams generate the best outcomes and that the presence of women in policy discussions adds value and sustainability to policies and impact.

ARTICLE BY: LAURA S. H. HOLGATE & MICHELLE DOVER| nationalinterest.org

Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

It has been one year since more than thirty leaders in nuclear policy stood up to advance gender equality through public pledges in support of institutional change. Since then, Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, a leadership network in nuclear policy committed to breaking down gender barriers and making gender equality a working reality, has grown to include the leaders of over forty-two organizations worldwide. The latest, Thomas Mason, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, marks the first U.S. national laboratory director to join their ranks.

Collectively, the group has made 140 specific, time-bound commitments ranging from pledging to increase women’s participation in panels, events, and publishing, to establishing paid internship programs and bringing gender diversity to their Boards of Directors. Champions also pledge to use their own cachet as speakers to improve the gender balance of panel discussions.

Together, they are demonstrating that we can create change within our own institutions and networks to create better outcomes through diversity.

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DOE Secretary Rick Perry believes Trump is God’s Chosen One

Rick Perry says Trump (and Obama) were ‘ordained by God’ to be president

ARTICLE BY: DANIEL BURKE | cnn.com

Rick Perry avoids impeachment questions ahead of resignation(CNN) Like a lot of evangelical Christians, Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes in a God who gets involved in every aspect of our lives — including the election of Donald Trump as President.

“I’m a big believer that the God of our universe is still very active in the details of the day-to-day lives of government,” Perry told Fox News in remarks aired on Sunday.

“You know, Barack Obama doesn’t get to be the President of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.”

Perry went on to say that being God’s instrument on Earth doesn’t mean that Trump is a perfect person. Echoing the argument of other white evangelical Christians, the Texas Republican went on to cite several biblical figures, including King David, whose private lives didn’t always align with biblical standards.

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LETHAL LEGACY: The US wants to bury SC’s plutonium stockpile forever. Its new home isn’t sure it wants it.

WIPP was supposed to be a demonstration for the rest of the country, a test run to see if nuclear waste could be buried in salt elsewhere.

It wasn’t meant to become America’s only nuclear repository — “pilot plant” is in its name — yet today it is. Watchdogs say that by tabbing thousands of barrels of plutonium waste to go there, the Energy Department is reshaping the mine’s purpose.
“What it (implies) is quite dramatic expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or another WIPP-like facility somewhere,” said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, another watchdog group.

BY: tmoore@postandcourier.com postandcourier.com

In the time it will take for South Carolina’s stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium to decay, you could repeat most of human history, starting back in the Stone Age.

By the time its byproducts lose the explosive potential to be used in nuclear weapons, some 7 billion years will have passed. The Earth itself will have doubled in age, and then some.

The U.S. government will officially decide in the next few years where the plutonium — the metal used to trigger nuclear weapons — will spend that eternity. And when it does, it will ask another part of the country to bear a profound burden: to house thousands of barrels filled with scraps of the Cold War and America’s nuclear arms race, a legacy that may well outlast our civilization.

That question will soon be posed to New Mexico, where the U.S. Department of Energy has excavated cavernous vaults deep below the ruddy soil in the state’s southeastern corner. The government hopes it will eventually hold tons of plutonium it has decided it no longer needs — enough to build a few thousand bombs the size of the one dropped over Nagasaki, Japan.

If New Mexico says yes, the Energy Department will bury some 20,000 steel drums deep underground there, in a ribbon of salt as thick as Charleston’s Ashley River is wide.

If it says yes, trucks will carry the plutonium load by load down Interstate 20 for the next three decades, and workers will lower it almost half a mile underground, where it will await its final fate: the mine’s slow collapse, and salt entombing it forever.

In Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Pope Francis calls for abolishing nuclear weapons

Pope Francis calls for a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ during visit

Pontiff urges disarmament as he tours Japan’s atomic bomb sites and meets survivors of the 1945 attacks

ARTICLE BY: JUSTIN MCCURRAY | theguardian.com

Pope Francis speaking at the Nagasaki hypocenter memorial. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/EPA

Pope Francis has condemned the “unspeakable horror” of nuclear weapons during a visit to Nagasaki, one of two Japanese cities destroyed by American atomic bombs towards the end of the second world war.

Speaking on the second day of the first papal visit to Japan for 38 years, Francis urged world leaders to end the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, saying it offered their nations a false sense of security.

“Convinced as I am that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary, I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security,” he told hundreds of people at the city’s rain-drenched atomic bomb hypocenter park on Sunday.

Earlier, Francis had placed a wreath and prayed at the foot of a memorial to the 74,000 people who died instantly and in the months after the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, three days after it had carried out a nuclear attack on Hiroshima, in which 140,000 people died by the end of the year.

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Pope Frances Calls for Nuclear Weapons Abolition – – Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese Likely Has Largest Presence of Nuclear Weapons in the World

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 24, 2019

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Pope Francis called for the global abolition of nuclear weapons while paying homage to the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two cities were both destroyed by atomic weapons designed and produced by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, located in northern New Mexico’s Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese.

The Holy Father declared:

“With deep conviction I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago. We will be judged on this. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth.  How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”

Two of the U.S.’ three nuclear weapons laboratories, the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, are located within the Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese. Together the two labs spend $4 billion per year on core nuclear weapons design, testing and production programs. In addition, up to 2,500 nuclear weapons are estimated to be held in strategic reserve at the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex, less than two miles south of the Albuquerque International Airport. That complex is probably the largest repository of intact nuclear weapons in the country and perhaps the world.Continue reading

Deval Patrick: the latest presidential candidate to be uninformed on nuclear weapons

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, became the latest latecomer to the 2020 presidential campaign when he entered the fray last week. At the time of this writing, he does not have very many clear policy positions, or even a campaign website. But anyone running for president—even someone who’s still on the honeymoon period of his announcement—should expect to be asked tough policy questions, especially on important issues like nuclear weapons. Was Patrick prepared? Well, not really.

In a video circulating on social media, Jeremy Love, who identifies himself as a board member of New Hampshire Peace Action, approaches Patrick and starts to ask him about a no-first-use policy in the United States.

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US to Europe: Fix Open Skies Treaty or we quit

ARTICLE BY JOE GOULD & AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — NATO allies worried U.S. President Donald Trump will abandon the Open Skies Treaty have been told the administration views the arms control agreement as a danger to U.S. national security, and that unless those nations can assuage such concerns, the U.S. will likely pull out, Defense News has learned.

At a meeting in Brussels last week, Trump administration officials laid out for the first time a full suite of concerns with the treaty and made clear they were seriously considering an exit. The agreement, ratified in 2002, allows mutual reconnaissance flights over its 34 members, including the U.S. and Russia.

The U.S. outreach comes amid unusually strong and coordinated pressure from European allies inside and outside of NATO upon both the administration and Congress to remain in the treaty — and before a planned NATO leaders summit in London next month.

Allies generally argue the treaty is a valuable channel for transparency and dialogue between Russia and the United States, the world’s top two nuclear superpowers.

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Screw Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas?! U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee approves dangerously bad nuke waste bill

H.R. 2699 aims to open one or more dumps in the Southwest — so-called consolidated interim storage facilities (CISFs), targeted at New Mexico and/or Texas, as well as a permanent burial dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, on Western Shoshone Indian land. If any one of these dumps open, large-scale shipments of high-risk irradiated nuclear fuel, by road, rail, and/or waterway, would travel through most states, past the homes of millions of Americans.

H.R. 2699, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019, was passed by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee on Wed., Nov. 20, by voice vote.

That is, there is no roll call record as to how each U.S. Representative voted.

Voice votes are usually applied only to non-controversial matters, such as naming a post office. This dangerously bad high-level radioactive waste legislation should be among the most controversial bills Congress addresses.
H.R. 2699 aims to open one or more dumps in the Southwest — so-called consolidated interim storage facilities (CISFs), targeted at New Mexico and/or Texas, as well as a permanent burial dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, on Western Shoshone Indian land. If any one of these dumps open, large-scale shipments of high-risk irradiated nuclear fuel, by road, rail, and/or waterway, would travel through most states, past the homes of millions of Americans.
Considering their targeting for the nuke waste dumps, this bill could be called the Screw Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas bill.
But when it comes to the high-risk transportation impacts, we all live in Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas!
See the self-congratulatory press release by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, Frank Pallone Jr. (Democrat-New Jersey), here 
What can you do? Contact your U.S. Representative, and urge opposition to this dangerously bad bill, H.R. 2699!

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2018

Donald Trump Welcomes In the Age of “Usable” Nuclear Weapons

BY James CarrollTomDispatch  truthout.org |


Of the failure of Reykjavik, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze would then comment: “When future generations read the transcripts of this meeting, they will not forgive us.” [While meeting in 1989 in Reykjavik, Iceland, U.S. President Ronald Raegan and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev came close to agreeing to abolish nuclear weapons. Raegan held out for the Livermore Lab’s false programs of working ballistic missile defenses (AKA “Star Wars”), which blocked the historic deal.]

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New Mexico Environment Department Conducts Hearing On LANL Groundwater Discharge Permit In Los Alamos

DP-1793 Hearing Courtroom

BY MAIRE O’NEILL thelosalamosreporter.com

A public hearing being conducted by the New Mexico Environment to consider the ground water discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory headed into its second day Thursday in the Los Alamos Magistrate Courtroom.

On Wednesday, public comment was heard throughout the day from members of the public, tribal representatives, public officials and watchdog groups such as Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

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Colorado Wildlife Refuge Opens at Former Nuclear Weapons Plant Amid Controversy

BY  PAM WRIGHT weather.com


FORMER COLORADO THERMONUCLEAR PARTS PLANT NOW A WILDLIFE REFUGE
The former Rocky Flats plutonium plant that encountered fires and radioactive spills is now open as a wildlife refuge in Colorado.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opened the gates of Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge on Sept. 15 near a former Environmental Protection Agency superfund site which used to house a plant that manufactured plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs for nearly four decades, the Associated Press reports.

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Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun

gorbachev
Illustration by Delcan & Company; Photograph by Dennis Cook, via Associated Press

BY MIKHAIL GORBACHEV  nytimes.com
Mr. Gorbachev is the former president of the Soviet Union.

Over 30 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and I signed in Washington the United States-Soviet Treaty on the elimination of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles. For the first time in history, two classes of nuclear weapons were to be eliminated and destroyed.

This was a first step. It was followed in 1991 by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which the Soviet Union signed with President George H.W. Bush, our agreement on radical cuts in tactical nuclear arms, and the New Start Treaty, signed by the presidents of Russia and the United States in 2010.

There’s no such thing as a perfect nuclear arms deal. Trump doesn’t get that.

We have them to reduce the chances of catastrophe.

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty signing ceremony in the White House on Dec. 8, 1987. (Bob Daugherty/AP)

BY ALEXANDRA BELL  The Washington Post

When President Trump walked away from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA — he called it “disastrous,” saying that at “the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.”

He had long complained the agreement was “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and that he could get a better one. This week, the president found a new target in the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Force Treaty or INF, an agreement that helped diffuse Cold War nuclear tensions on the European continent by obligating the United States and Russia to eliminate all land-based missiles with ranges between a few hundred and a few thousand miles. On the sidelines of a political rally, Trump said “Russia has violated the agreement,” and added “I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.”

If his point is that these agreements are less than ideal, he’s right. What he doesn’t seem to get is that there’s no such thing as a perfect nuclear deal. Continue reading

Terminating the INF Treaty Could Be Disastrous

BY DEREK JOHNSON  cnn.com
Derek Johnson is the executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for a world without nuclear weapons.

INF
(CNN) President Donald Trump announced during a campaign stop in Nevada that he would terminate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which was used to eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons.

This was probably the first time most folks had ever heard of this Reagan-era arms control agreement that helped end the Cold War and kept Europe stable for a generation. Which may explain why the American public is not yet reacting to this disaster with the level of panic it deserves.

It’s tempting to think of treaties as little scraps of paper collecting dust on a historian’s bookshelf. Interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing, but largely irrelevant. The INF Treaty is something else entirely: This scrap of paper is a powerful leash, one of the few things restraining Russia and the United States (which together hold around 92% of the world’s nuclear weapons) from arms-racing us all into oblivion.

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George Shultz: We Must Preserve This Nuclear Treaty

BY GEORGE P. SHULTZ nytimes.com
Mr. Shultz was a secretary of state in the Reagan administration.

Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty at the White House in 1987. Universal History Archive/UIG, via Getty Images

Nuclear weapons are a threat to the world. Any large-scale nuclear exchange would have globally catastrophic consequences. Conscious of this reality, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the Soviet Union, worked in the 1980s to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal of getting rid of them.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987, was a major step toward this goal, eliminating a large class of nuclear weapons that were viewed as particularly destabilizing. The treaty is still in force, although both the Obama and Trump administrations have said that Russia is in violation. Whatever the case, we need to preserve the agreement rather than abandon it, as President Trump has threatened to do.

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Watchdog Groups Claim Nuclear Agency is Moving Forward to Manufacture New Plutonium Bomb Cores in Violation of National Environmental Law and Public Review

Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch, and Tri-Valley CAREs sent a letter of demand to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to inform the government that its plan to quadruple the production rate of plutonium bomb cores is out of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

NNSA’s premature plan to quadruple the production rate of plutonium bomb cores (“pits”), the heart of all US nuclear weapons, is out of compliance with requisite environmental law, the groups argue, as NNSA has failed to undertake a legally-mandated programmatic review and hold required public hearings.

View/Download the entire press release here


Read The Letter To NNSA On NEPA Requirements For Expanded Plutonium Pit Production

Related News Articles ↓

Fihn ICAN Talks of Ban Treaty Coming to Force in 2019

Nuclear Ban Treaty Could Come Into Force in 2019, Campaigners Say

OCTOBER 28, 2018 / 5:12 PM
Tom Miles
REUTERS WORLD NEWS

GENEVA (Reuters) – A treaty banning nuclear weapons could come into force by the end of 2019, backers of a campaign that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize said in an annual progress report on Monday.

The treaty aims to stigmatize nuclear weapons as previous treaties marginalized landmines and cluster munitions. Signatories promise to reject nuclear strategies and encourage others to follow suit.

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Monitor, published by Norwegian People’s Aid, said 19 states had already adhered to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, putting it well on the way to the 50 ratifications it needs to come into force.

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2017

Kim Jong Un and H-Bomb fitting nose cone of ICBM, photo released September 2, 2017

North Korea: Sunday’s test was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit an ICBM

Sunday morning North Korea set off what is thought to have been a 120 kiloton hydrogen bomb, a day after press pictures were released showing Kim Jong Un and staff with what was said to be a miniaturized thermonuclear warhead ready to load in an ICBM nose cone. [Note Sept 14: 38North has revised the estimated yield to 250 kilotons.

“Based on the seismic signature, the yield of this test definitely is an order of magnitude higher than the yields of the previous tests…”

Catherine Dill, James Martin Center

In China, the blast was felt as a strong tremor (USGS: 6.3 mags.) shaking windows. Chinese officials said they were carrying out emergency radiation testing along the border with North Korea.

North Korea’s brief period of “restraint”, what Secretary Tillerson called a possible “pathway” to dialogue, is over, following the launch of a missile over Japan on August 28, and now it’s most powerful nuclear test to date. Pres. Trump had said only last week that his threat to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea was working and that Kim was “starting to respect us”. Well, apparently not. Kim probably feels like he’s on a run, and might just as well go full speed ahead; he may well believe he has outplayed the US and won’t be stopped. Some have suggested that when Kim feels he has an effective enough arsenal to deter the US, he may be ready for a freeze or suspension and negotiations toward a peace treaty. On the other hand, one can imagine that he may see no need of that, and just keeps growing his nuclear forces. (Note that at some point he will also be a threat to China.)

The test was rather irritating for China, as Premier Xi is hosting the BRICS Conference this week, an important element of China’s foreign policy agenda, and he will not like being upstaged by Mr Kim’s latest feat.

Regarding the Hwasong-12 missile launch on August 28:

In “North Korea’s Hwasong-12 Launch: A Disturbing Development” Michael Elleman, 38North.org wrote: “An alternative disturbing hypothesis is that tests of the missile have included a small post-boost vehicle (PBV) to provide extra boost to the payload after the main stage is discarded…” read more…

Recommended: End the 67-year war by Robert Alvarez, at the Bulletin. “It’s time to find a path to end the 67-year-long Korean war. As the threat of military conflict looms, the American public is largely unaware of the sobering facts about America’s longest unresolved war and one of the world’s bloodiest.” read more…

September 13: DPRK launches another missile over Japan, with greatest range yet, enough to hit Guam.

Ban The Bomb

What Will Be Different After September 20, 2017?

“So here is a question for all of us to think about: how will it change the global conversation when a treaty is affirmed by so many countries from all over the world? What will it feel like to know the clock is ticking down to nuclear weapons abolition . . . instead of worrying that the clock is ticking down to nuclear war? What will be different about the way people talk about the behavior of the states that still stubbornly hold on to nuclear weapons (and threaten each other with them)? In what light will it cast the countries that rely on the “nuclear umbrella” of countries like the US?”

-Joe Scarry, “Nuclear Weapons Abolition: What Will Be Different After September 20?”

Navy Families Sue Fukushima Operators for Wrongful Death

Families of five Navy service members who died after responding to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown have sued Tokyo Electric Power Co., blaming the deaths on radiation illnesses contracted from the March 2011 disaster.

The families will join a lawsuit from 152 other members or survivors of members of the 7th Fleet who performed humanitarian response from March 11, 2011 until March 14, when the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was moved away from Fukushima due to detection of nuclear radiation in the air and on helicopters returning to the ship.

Read More…

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to advocate for nuclear weaponeers?

From our colleague Don Hancock at the Southwest Research and Information Center:

Two members (Roberson and Santos) of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) have gone public over an internal dispute about a Memorandum of Agreement between DNFSB and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in which DNFSB staff would be detailed to NNSA so that, among other things, they would be “advocating for and defending NNSA’s FY 2018 budget request.” The internal memo is posted at: https://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/document/12526/Memo%20from%20Roberson%20and%20Santos%2C%20Objection%20to%20Memorandum%20of%20Agreement%20with%20DOE.NNSA%20.pdf

The memo is dated last Friday (August 11) and the detail would start August 21. Not a good sign that DNFSB is, in part, going from overseeing DOE weapons sites to advocating for NNSA’s budget. – End –

Our comment:

“Nuclear Watch New Mexico strongly objects to this attempt by the National Nuclear Security Administration to compromise the Safety Board. DNFSB has played a vital role in protecting the public from dangerous nuclear weapons activities that have been riddled with safety lapses, incompetence, cost overruns and mismanagement. The Safety Board is commissioned by Congress, not NNSA, and we fully expect the New Mexican congressional delegation to protect the Safety Board’s independence and objectivity.”

Nuclear war can be avoided – let’s get it right!

Despite the hyperbole from both Trump and Kim Jong Un, nuclear war can be avoided. This not an argument for complacency, but rather to get it right.

Perhaps the silver lining in the crisis with North Korea can be that that the focused attention of the peoples of the world will rise to demand brakes on nuclear weapons, as it did to great effect in the 1980’s. But now we finally have an international treaty banning nuclear weapons, just like chemical and biological weapons.  It won’t be easy, but let’s roll up our sleeves and get the job done!

http://thebulletin.org/north-korea%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cnot-quite%E2%80%9D-icbm-can%E2%80%99t-hit-lower-48-states11012

North Korea’s “not quite” ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states

Theodore A. Postol, Markus Schiller, Robert Schmucker 

From the point of view of North Korean political leadership, the general reaction to the July 4 and July 28 launches could not have been better. The world suddenly believed that the North Koreans had an ICBM that could reach the West Coast of the United States and beyond. But calculations we have made—based on detailed study of the type and size of the rocket motors used, the flight times of the stages of the rockets, the propellant likely used, and other technical factors—indicate that these rockets actually carried very small payloads that were nowhere near the weight of a nuclear warhead of the type North Korea could have, or could eventually have. These small payloads allowed the rockets to be lofted to far higher altitudes than they would have if loaded with a much-heavier warhead, creating the impression that North Korea was on the cusp of achieving ICBM capability.

In reality, the North Korean rocket fired twice last month—the Hwasong-14—is a “sub-level” ICBM that will not be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental United States. Our analysis shows that the current variant of the Hwasong-14 may not even be capable of delivering a first-generation nuclear warhead to Anchorage, Alaska, although such a possibility cannot be categorically ruled out. But even if North Korea is now capable of fabricating a relatively light-weight, “miniaturized” atomic bomb that can survive the extreme reentry environments of long-range rocket delivery, it will, with certainty, not be able to deliver such an atomic bomb to the lower 48 states of the United States with the rocket tested on July 3 and July 28.

….

We emphasize at this point that advances in rocketry demonstrated by North Korea in the Hwasong-14 are significant, and although the Hwasong-14 is not an immediate threat to the continental United States, variants that are almost certainly now under development, but probably years away from completion, will eventually become missiles with sufficient payloads to deliver atomic bombs to the continental United States.

General conclusions—for now. Our general conclusions from intensive study of a wide variety of data relating to the two rockets that North Korea launched in July:

  • The Hwasong-14 does not currently constitute a nuclear threat to the lower 48 states of the United States.
  • The flight tests on July 4 and 28 were a carefully choreographed deception by North Korea to create a false impression that the Hwasong-14 is a near-ICBM that poses a nuclear threat to the continental US.
  • The Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 and 28 may not even be able to deliver a North Korean atomic bomb to Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Although it is clear that North Korea is not capable of manufacturing sophisticated rocket components, their skill and ingenuity in using Soviet rocket motor components has grown very substantially. This is not good news for the long run.

It is time for the United States to get serious about diplomacy and appropriate defensive preparations (see sidebar, “Comments on the developing situation with North Korea”) to constructively support those diplomatic efforts.

 

fire and fury

North Korea: Red Lines Crossed, Threats Intensify

“If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air,
the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

Truman, August 6, 1945

“They will be met with fire and fury the likes of which this world has never seen before…”

Trump, August 8, 2017

Within hours of Trump’s “fire and fury” warning, North Korea announced it was “carefully examining” plans to launch 4 missiles toward Guam.

Could we be seeing the confluence of events that bookends a 72-year hiatus with another nuclear bombing in Asia?

August 8: The Washington Post is reporting that a ‘confidential assessment’ by the “intelligence community” that Kim has already miniaturized his bombs, that he has as many as 60 nukes, that he’s scaling up his ICBM missile production… in other words, red lines crossed.

Senator Lindsay Graham, Aug 1, 2017: Trump has “got to choose between homeland security and regional stability… If there’s going to be a war to stop [Kim Jong Un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And [Trump’s] told me that to my face. That may be provocative, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States.” Read More…

So here we stand on the brink of nuclear hostilities. Note that the nuclear weapons state with the smallest arsenal and a barely functioning ICBM is still an existential threat, even to the country with the largest arsenal and the most advanced delivery systems on the planet.

It seems that the nuclear weapon is most useful to the smallest power, transforming it from a military gnat into a lethal danger to even the most powerful states.

One would think that it would be in the interest of the powerful country to seek the complete removal of nuclear weapons from the picture. ASAP. But in fact, given the opportunity- of the Ban Treaty negotiations for example- the US has refused to have anything to do with any such effort. (“We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”) Instead, a trillion dollar renewal and ‘modernization’ of our nuclear forces are planned.

Where does that road lead?

NMED claims revised Consent Order is a stronger enforcement tool. Not so!

Rebecca Moss at the New Mexican has another hard charging article on safety lapses at the Los Alamos Lab.  See “Lab might have known dangerous waste was unmarked” at www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/lab-might-have-known-dangerous-waste-was-unmarked/article_19d37b31-219a-5620-954c-a62fa9620d2a.html

If the New Mexico Environment Department is claiming, as this article reports, that its revised Consent Order governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a stronger enforcement tool than the original 2005 Consent Order, then it is being highly disingenuous (to put it politely).

Interested citizens should judge for themselves. The 2016 revised Consent Order is available at http://www.lanl.gov/environment/protection/compliance/order-on-consent.php

The revised Consent Order was a giveaway by NMED to the Department of Energy and the Lab, surrendering the strong enforceability of the old Consent Order. It is clearly the opposite of the old Consent Order, whose underlying intent was to make DOE and LANL get more money from Congress for accelerated cleanup.

The new Consent Order allows LANL and DOE to get out of future cleanup by simply claiming that it’s too expensive or impractical to clean up. Not long after the revised Consent Order went into effect, DOE took advantage by estimating a lifetime budget that projected a top range of $3.8 billion to clean up the Lab by 2040. That works out to only around $150 million per year, when NMED is already on record that $250 million per year is needed. Most egregious of all, DOE claimed that only 5,000 cubic meters of wastes needed to be cleaned up, purposively misleading the public and politicians by willfully ignoring the ~200,000 cubic meters of radioactive and toxic wastes known to be buried in LANL’s biggest dump alone.

Some of the highlights (or perhaps better put as lowlights) of the revised Consent Order are:

  • “The Parties agree that DOE’s project’s plans and tools will be used to identify proposed milestones and targets.” P. 28. “DOE shall define the use of screening levels and cleanup levels at a site…” P. 32. This puts the Department of Energy in the driver’s seat, not the New Mexico Environment Department
  • “DOE shall update the milestones and targets in Appendix B on an annual basis, accounting for such factors as… changes in anticipated funding levels.” P. 29. Therefore the new Consent Order is held hostage to DOE’s budget.“… [DOE and NMED] shall meet to discuss the appropriation and any necessary revision to the forecast, e.g. DOE did not receive adequate appropriations from Congress…” P. 30. Again, the new Consent Order and therefore cleanup at LANL will be held hostage to DOE funding, when DOE’s own track record makes clear that its priority is expanded nuclear weapons production paid for in part by cutting cleanup and nonproliferation programs.
  • “If attainment of established cleanup objectives is demonstrated to be technically infeasible, DOE may perform risk-based alternative cleanup objectives…” P. 34. DOE can opt out because of “impracticability” or cost of cleanup. P. 35. This creates giant loopholes that threaten comprehensive cleanup at LANL.

Given all this, how can NMED claim with a straight face that the 2016 revised Consent Order is a stronger enforcement tool? This is just more of the Martinez administration coddling the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico. Indeed, NMED had the gall to give LANL more than 150 extensions to the original Consent Order, and then turned around and claimed the Consent Order was not working and replaced it with a toothless tiger. Furthermore, and this is telling, the main Consent Order negotiator for NMED left shortly after it was signed to go work for a DOE contractor!

New Mexicans should demand comprehensive, enforceable cleanup at the Lab, which would be a real win-win, permanently protecting our precious water resources while providing hundreds of high paying jobs.

 

Lawsuit aims to halt Uranium Processing Facility construction to review earthquake risks

Lawsuit aims to halt Uranium Processing Facility construction to review earthquake risks
Brittany Crocker, USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Published 11:00 a.m. ET July 28, 2017

Prior to this lawsuit, a federal safety board also raised concerns over seismic risks at the UPF and at two older buildings Y-12 plans to continue using.

A lawsuit filed last week against the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) alleges the government agencies ignored new information about seismic risks during a second environmental review on Y-12 National Security Complex’s Uranium Processing Facility.

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance filed the lawsuit in Washington with Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Natural Resources Defense Council to stop the building’s construction until another environmental review is completed.

The plaintiff organizations asserted revised plans for the Uranium Processing Facility are significantly different from those the NNSA analyzed in 2011. They said NNSA’s supplementary environmental review of the revised plans only covered earthquake risks at the new facility, and not the two legacy buildings Y-12 plans to continue using.

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2016

Sign the Petition – No Loopholes, No Excuses – Full Cleanup at Los Alamos!

Dear Friends,

Thanks to those who made it to the meeting last night!

 

NukeWatch has a new petition –

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has issued a proposed new “Consent Order” governing cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of nuclear weapons.

We demand NMED close the giant loophole in the proposed Consent Order that would allow Los Alamos Lab and DOE to get out of cleanup by simply saying that they don’t have enough money.

And we demand NMED hold a public hearing on the proposed Consent Order, given the intense public interest in cleaning up the Lab.

For more info –

https://www.change.org/p/kathryn-roberts-no-excuses-no-loopholes-full-cleanup-at-los-alamos-lab

AND WE HAVE EXPANDED OUR SAMPLE COMMENTS FOR YOU TO USE AS YOU SEE FIT

Please let your voice be heard and turn in public comments.

Copy the sample comments below and paste into an email.

Please modify as you see fit, then email to the address below.

If you don’t mind, please cc: us at: info(at)nukewatch(dot)org

 

[date]

 

Ms. Kathryn Roberts

New Mexico Environment Department

Post Office Box 5469

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502

 

Via email to kathryn.roberts@state.nm.us 

 

Dear Ms. Roberts,

I urge the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to abandon the proposed 2016 Compliance Order on Consent, or Consent Order, for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), released for public comment on March 30, 2016.  It creates serious problems and represents a giant step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine cleanup of the Laboratory.

The Environment Department should keep the existing Consent Order that went into effect March 1, 2005, while modifying and updating a cleanup schedule that includes a realistic final compliance date.  I also formally request that NMED provide the opportunity for a public hearing on the revised cleanup schedule and new completion date, in accordance with the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act and the 2005 Consent Order.

 

GENERAL COMMENTS

The opportunity for a public hearing must be provided

  • Any extension of a final compliance date must be treated as a Class 3 permit modification to the 2005 Consent Order and therefore requires a 60-day public comment period.
  • Any extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order can be implemented only after the opportunity for public comment and a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination of witnesses.
  • The Environment Department is legally required to follow these public participation requirements that explicitly incorporated into the 2005 Consent Order.

Withdraw the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order 

  • The proposed draft represents a big step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine cleanup of the Laboratory.
  • The Environment Department should keep the current 2005 Consent Order and revise the Section XII cleanup schedule and final compliance date.
  • I request that the Environment Department withdraw the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order.

The public deserves the opportunity to comment on all following drafts 

  • It seems likely that a later draft – after the Lab’s and public comments are incorporated into a revised draft – and after closed-door negotiations between the Environment Department and the Laboratory – could be substantially different from the current draft.
  • I request that the public have the opportunity to review and comment on any further drafts of a revised proposed 2016 Consent Order.

Public participation provisions in the existing 2005 Consent Order must be incorporated into the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order

  • The proposed draft 2016 Consent Order explicitly limits public participation requirements incorporated into the existing 2005 Consent Order.
  • I request that all notices, milestones, targets, annual negotiations, and modifications require public review and comment, and the opportunity for a public hearing.

The current state of cleanup must be updated and next steps scheduled

  • Work under the existing 2005 Consent Order needs to be subject to public review.  In 2005 DOE agreed to complete cleanup under the Consent Order by December 6, 2015, which did not happen.  In order for the public to understand where the work under the existing Consent Order stands, LANL should be required to provide a current, publicly available list of the status of all cleanup projects under the 2005 Consent Order.
  • Further, I request that next steps for cleanup at every site listed in the 2005 Consent Order be documented in detail and given a scheduled completion date, or alternatively verified as already completed.
  • All documents submitted under the 2005 Consent Order must be incorporated into any revised Consent Order.

All documents must be made public as required in the 2005 Consent Order

  • The State and the Lab must make all communications, documents, submittals, approvals, notices of deficiencies and denials under any revised Consent Order readily and electronically available to the public.
  • The State and the Lab must notify individuals by e-mail of all submittals, as required in the 2005 Consent Order.

The Environment Department must respond in writing to all public comments

  • I request that the State reply individually to each and every comment submitted.
  • The Lab’s comments and NMED’s response to comments must be made public.

All future work must have enforceable deadlines

  • The proposed draft 2016 Consent Order proposes a “Campaign” approach with enforceable cleanup deadlines limited to the work scheduled only for that year.
  • I request that all anticipated cleanup projects have scheduled, enforceable cleanup deadlines from the beginning of any revised Consent Order.

The Consent Order cannot be open-ended

  • Any Consent Order for LANL cleanup must have a final compliance date to which the State and the Lab agree to and are so bound.
  • The public should be given an opportunity for a public hearing on the new final compliance date as required by New Mexico’s hazardous waste regulations.

 

SPECIFIC COMMENTS

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Extend the Original Final Compliance Date Without Required Public Participation

The proposed 2016 consent order would indefinitely extend the final compliance date for completing corrective action at the Laboratory, without the opportunity for a public hearing with formal testimony and cross-examination of witnesses. Any extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order requires a 60-day public comment period and the opportunity for a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination.  The Environment Department is legally required to follow these procedural requirements.

The legal requirements that mandate a public hearing are clear. Section XII of the 2005 Consent Order establishes the compliance schedule for implementation and completion of corrective actions at specific sites at the Laboratory. This schedule is mandatory. The final report that was to be submitted under the 2005 Consent Order – therefore, the final compliance date – was the remedy completion report for the huge Area G waste dump, required to be submitted by December 6, 2015. The proposed 2016 Consent Order would indefinitely extend this final compliance date by not designating a specific final compliance date.

But this revision must be treated as a major Class 3 permit modification. Section III.W.5 of the 2005 Consent Order explicitly provides for the preservation of full procedural rights for the public as follows:

This Consent Order hereby incorporates all rights, procedures and other protections afforded the Respondents [DOE and UC, now LANS] and the public pursuant to the regulations at 20.4.1.900 NMAC (incorporating 40 C.F.R. § 270.42) and 20.4.1.901 NMAC, including, but not limited to, opportunities for public participation, including public notice and comment, administrative hearings, and judicial appeals concerning, for example, remedy selection decisions of the [Environment] Department.

Thus, extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order requires a 60-day public comment period and the opportunity for a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination.

 

The Proposed New Consent Order Must Not Limit Other Public Participation Procedures

The proposed 2016 Consent Order expressly limits public participation requirements in a way that completely diverges from those provided in the 2005 Consent Order.  As explained above, the 2005 Consent Order explicitly protects procedural due process rights available to the public.  The proposed 2016 Consent Order explicitly removes these protections, as follows:

The Parties agree that the rights, procedures and other protections set forth at 20.4.1.900 NMAC (incorporating 40 C.F.R. § 270.42), 20.4.1.901 NMAC, and 20.4.1.902 NMAC, including, but not limited to, opportunities for public participation, including public notice and comment, administrative hearings, and judicial appeals, do not apply to modification of the Consent Order itself. [Emphasis added]

Thus, as proposed in the above language, the Parties (the Environment Department, Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security, LLC) have inappropriately agreed to remove the due process rights, procedures and other protections provided to the public under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.  This provision must be stripped from the proposed 2016 Consent Order.

 

The Proposed New Consent Order Must Not Eliminate Enforceable Deadlines

The proposed 2016 consent order would eliminate all the deadlines for completing cleanup under the 2005 Consent Order, and replace them with an open-ended and vague scheduling process, with limited enforcement opportunities.

The 2005 Consent Order, in Section XII, established dozens of deadlines for the completion of corrective action tasks, including completion of investigations at individual sites, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, submittal of groundwater monitoring reports, evaluation of remedial alternatives for individual sites, and completion of final remedies. These deadlines are enforceable under section III.G.

The proposed 2016 Consent Order would abandon the 2005 Consent Order provisions and replace them with a so-called “Campaign Approach” under Section VIII.  Under Section VIII.A.3, it would be up to the DOE, not the regulator at the New Mexico Environment Department, to select the timing and scope of each “campaign.”

Enforceable deadlines for cleanup tasks would apply no more than one year into the future. Deadlines would be based on “Campaigns” negotiated each year with DOE with no public participation and opportunity to comment on the schedule. To add insult to injury, the annual schedule would be determined by funding at DOE’s discretion, rather than the schedule driving the funding, which was the fundamental approach of the 2005 Consent Order.

All cleanup projects must mandatory completion dates scheduled from the beginning date of any revised Consent Order, and must be fully enforceable.

 

Existing Violations Must Not Be Eliminated

Section II.A of the proposed 2016 Consent Order would “settle any outstanding violations of the 2005 Consent Order.” This is a get out of jail free card.  Without enforceable schedules from the beginning, any consent order is not truly unenforceable, and the Environment Department would be abdicating its responsibility to protect human health and the environment as required by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.  NMED must not surrender its regulatory and enforcement powers!

 

Attorney General Approval Must Be Obtained

The 2005 Consent Order was signed by the Attorney General of New Mexico for purposes of the Covenant Not to Sue (section III.) and the Reservation of Rights (section III.). As indicated on the draft signature page, there is no indication of the NM Attorney General plans to sign the proposed 2016 Consent Order. Yet it would provide the State of New Mexico with a covenant not to sue DOE on behalf of the State of New Mexico, not merely on behalf of the Environment Department. The Attorney General was an active participant, representing the People of New Mexico, in the 2005 Consent Order.  The Environment Department has a responsibility to ensure that the NM Attorney General is consulted, and his approval obtained, before any consent order is adopted.

 

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Omit Detailed Requirements Found in the 2005 Consent Order

The 2005 Consent Order includes numerous detailed requirements for such things as well installation, sample collection, and preparation of work plans and reports. These ensure that the cleanup work is done properly, consistently, and according to standard industry practices.  They also ensured that work plans and reports were consistent, easy for the Environment Department to review, and easy for the public to understand.  The proposed 2016 Consent Order omits many such requirements, which should be corrected.

 

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Allow Budget To Dictate Cleanup 

The proposed 2016 Consent Order allows DOE to provide cleanup priorities based on anticipated budget, which is backwards. . By the time NMED receives an estimated annual cleanup budget from DOE, the horse has left the barn. The original purpose of the 2005 Consent Order was to compel DOE and LANL to ask Congress for additional funds to accelerate cleanup. The giant loophole in the proposed 2016 Consent Order that allows DOE and LANL to say that they don’t have sufficient funding and therefore can choose to exempt themselves from cleanup should be eliminated.

 

Cleanup Levels Must Remain Strict

Section IX Cleanup Objectives and Cleanup Levels of the proposed 2016 Consent Order would allow DOE to “develop site specific ecological cleanup levels” to mitigate unacceptable ecological risk due to release of site-related contaminants. There is no mention of NMED’s role in this process. DOE would be allowed to demonstrate to NMED that any particular “cleanup objective is impracticable.” To do this, DOE may consider such things as technical difficulty, the cost of the project, hazards to workers or to the public, and any other basis that may support a finding of impracticability. If NMED approves the impracticability request, DOE can then propose alternative cleanup methods using site-specific risk assessments. All of this could take place behind closed doors, as there are no public participation requirements in this section. Please clarify what cleanup levels will be used and when and where they will be applied.

 

New Mexico deserves better

In closing, the Environment Department’s proposed 2016 Consent Order allows the federal government to leave Northern New Mexico contaminated if DOE believes that cleanup is too difficult or costly– a sorry situation indeed for a nuclear weapons facility that receives over 2 billion taxpayer dollars a year. Instead, the New Mexico Environment Department should implement a new revised Consent Order that is aggressive and enforceable and in which the State of New Mexico stays in the driver’s seat, not LANL and DOE. That would be a real win-win for New Mexicans, helping to permanently protect the environment and our precious water resources while creating hundreds of high-paying cleanup jobs. .

 

Sincerely,

Name

City

 

The new draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/lanlperm.html#COOC

 

NMED’s public notice for the draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/documents/PublicNotice__English.pdf

 

The public comment period ends 5:00 pm May 31, 2016.

Comments should be submitted to kathryn.roberts@state.nm.us

Public Meeting: Los Alamos Cleanup at the Crossroads

Dear Friends,

Please join us for an informal public meeting Tuesday, May 24 at 6pm.

Main Library Community Room, 145 Washington Ave, Santa Fe, NM

Please remember that no refreshments are allowed at the Library.

See you there!

 

Los Alamos Cleanup at the Crossroads
A Discussion on the Future of Cleanup at Los Alamos

 

We have opportunities to take new directions

How do we get to the Northern New Mexico we want leave for future generations?

Learn how your input can help make better cleanup decisions at Los Alamos National Laboratory

 

Join us for a
Public Meeting: Tuesday May 24, 2016, 6 – 7:30pm
at the
Main Library Community Room, 145 Washington Ave, Santa Fe

Topics to be Addressed
Los Alamos Cleanup Order

  • For “fence-to-fence” cleanup of legacy Cold War wastes
  • The 10-year trip since the original Consent Order was signed in 2005
  • New “Consent Order” Proposed by the NM Environment Department
    • Proposed changes from the existing
    • What can be improved?
    • Who is in the driver’s seat?
    • Just along for the ride, or will the public have real input?
    • Public comments due May 31

 

Department of Energy’s new Environmental Management at Los Alamos

  • Cleanup work no longer under nuclear weapons work
  • Looking for a new contractor
  • Can cleanup accelerate?

 

Nuclear Watch’s lawsuit

  • Alleging violations of the 2005 Consent Order

 

Questions, answers, and discussion

  • What’s on your mind
  • Your comments are important

 

Brought to you by Nuclear Watch New Mexico

(505) 989-7342

info@nukewatch.org

www.nukewatch.org

 

Materials Disposal Area B (MDA B) Contamination Excavation at LANL - Will removal of wastes continue?
Inside a protective enclosure, Cold War wastes are excavated at Los Alamos - Will it continue? (LANL photo)

 

Public Meeting, Los Alamos Cleanup at the Crossroads, 6:00 pm Tuesday May 24

Los Alamos Cleanup at the Crossroads

Public Meeting

 

6 – 7:30pm, Tuesday May 24, 2016

Community Room, Main Library,  145 Washington Ave, Santa Fe

Presentation on the Future of Cleanup at Los Alamos:

What the public needs to know and how to get involved and be informed

•     Focus on new cleanup order proposed by the NM Environment Dept. and its lack of enforceability.

•     Public comments due May 31

•     New Energy Dept. Environmental Management at the Lab – same as the old boss?

•     Nuclear Watch’s lawsuit

•     Questions and answers

Brought to you by Nuclear Watch New Mexico

              (505) 989-7342 info@nukewatch.org

www.nukewatch.org <http://www.nukewatch.org>  

Nuclear Watch NM Files Lawsuit Over Lack of Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab

May 17, 2016

Nuclear Watch NM Files Lawsuit

Over Lack of Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab;

NM Environment Dept. Forgoes Nearly $300 Million in Penalties

Santa Fe, NM – Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), the for-profit operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, over their failure to meet cleanup milestones under a 2005 “Consent Order” they agreed to with the New Mexico Environment Department. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing NukeWatch in this legal action to enforce cleanup at LANL.

The suit was filed under the citizen suit provisions of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which the 2005 Consent Order explicitly incorporated. The law provides that any person who violates any requirement of RCRA is liable for a civil penalty up to $37,500 for each day of violation. Our suit claims twelve violations, which range in length of time of up to 675 days each. Our current cost estimate of the alleged violations approaches 300 million dollars and counting.

Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch Executive Director, commented, “The federal government plans to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding U.S. nuclear forces. Meanwhile, cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed. We seek to make the for-profit nuclear weaponeers cleanup their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need. Real cleanup would be a win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and environment while creating hundreds of high paying jobs.”

In 2005 the New Mexico Environment Department compelled DOE and the University of California (LANL’s manager at the time) to enter into a detailed Consent Order that mapped the way toward comprehensive cleanup at LANL. However, beginning in 2011 with Governor Martinez’s administration, the New Mexico Environment Department allowed LANL’s new contractor, the for-profit Los Alamos National Security, LLC, to stop virtually all cleanup, instead engaging in a “campaign” to move above ground, monitored radioactive transuranic wastes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). That campaign ended in disaster when an improperly treated radioactive waste drum from LANL ruptured, contaminating 21 workers and indefinitely closing that multi-billion dollar facility.

The 2005 Consent Order required DOE and LANL to investigate, characterize, and clean up hazardous and mixed radioactive contaminants from 70 years of nuclear weapons research and production. It also stipulated a detailed compliance schedule that the Lab was required to meet. Ironically, the last milestone, due December 6, 2015, required a report from LANL on how it successfully cleaned up Area G, its largest waste dump. However, real cleanup remains decades away, if ever. The Lab 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, four miles uphill from the Rio Grande.

Scott Kovac, NukeWatch Research Director, noted, “DOE and NMED agreed to all parts of the 2005 Consent Order, including the schedule. Then under the Martinez administration NMED granted more than 150 extensions requests, and DOE and LANS have still missed many of those deadlines. NukeWatch has taken this necessary step to enforce cleanup at LANL, to hold DOE accountable for protecting New Mexicans and make cleanup of legacy wastes the top priority. It’s ridiculous that we have to have this cleanup debate after 70 years of contamination from nuclear weapons research and production.”

The New Mexico Environment Department has issued a draft revised proposed Consent Order, for which the public comment period expires on May 31. The proposed new Consent Order specifically states that it “supersedes the 2005 Compliance Order on Consent (2005 Consent Order) and settles any outstanding alleged violations under the 2005 Consent Order.” (Sec. II.A.) This then would absolve DOE and LANS of nearly $300 million in potential penalties.

Moreover, the new draft Order puts DOE in the driver’s seat instead of New Mexico. It explicitly states that, “DOE’s project plans and tools will be used to identify proposed milestones and targets” (p. 27) and “DOE shall define the use of screening levels and cleanup levels” (p. 31) Moreover, DOE can opt out of any cleanup because of “impracticability” or cost of cleanup (p. 34) and that “DOE shall update the milestones…. [according to] changes in anticipated funding levels.” (p. 28). So the new Consent Order is made subordinate to DOE’s budget, which has been cutting cleanup while increasing funding for nuclear weapons programs that caused the mess to begin with. This is the opposite of the original Consent Order, whose intent was to make DOE and LANL get increased funding for cleanup.

The relief or remedy that Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks through its lawsuit is simple, asking the Court to enter a judgment “Enjoining the Defendants [DOE and LANS] to take action to come into compliance with the March 1, 2005 Consent Order, as amended on October 29, 2012, according to a reasonable but aggressive schedule ordered by this Court…”

With that, Nuclear Watch New Mexico hopes to get real, comprehensive cleanup back on track at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

# # #

 Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s lawsuit complaint is available at http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/NukeWatch-Complaint-Filed-20160512.pdf

Our complaint alleges twelve counts of milestone compliance violations where NMED did not grant extensions. From there we calculate 7,853 total days of noncompliance at $37,500.00 per day, equal to $294,487,500, with the clock still ticking.

Our May 5, 2016 second notice of intent to sue (which is a good summary of our complaint) is available at http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/NukeWatch-2nd-NOI-DOE-LANS-5-5-16.pdf

Our January 20, 2016 notice of intent to sue is available at http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/NukeWatch-NM-NOI-to-DOE-and-LANS-20160120.pdf

NMED’s revised Consent Order is available at http://energy.gov/em/nnmcab/downloads/nmed-revised-lanl-consent-order-draft-march-2016

 

 

Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC Performance Evaluation Report – Wrong B61-12 tail case?

Buried in the just released NNSA FY 2015 Performance Evaluation Report (PER) for Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (the combined contract for Pantex and Y-12 run by Lockheed Martin and Bechtel) is the remarkable note that Pantex sent to the Defense Department a Joint Test Assembly (JTA) of the B61-12 nuclear smart bomb with the wrong tail case. Generally, a  JTA is a full scale mock up of the nuclear weapon (just not nuclear armed), in this case for a real life drop test from an Air Force fighter at the Tonapah Test Range in Nevada (which is run by the Sandia Labs).

P. 5:  “CNS experienced several issues with the builds of the new B61 JTA Modernization configurations. CNS experienced quality issues on five of the six First Production Units. The most severe of which was the installation of an incorrect tail case on the JTA S/N 602 that was delivered to Department of Defense (DoD). The DoD chose not to proceed with the flight test and returned the unit to Pantex.” [S/N is the serial number of the particular unit.]   – End –

How do you put the wrong tail case on the mock bomb, especially given all the hoopla we’ve heard about the B61-12 and the rush to get it into production? Did this involve the now-well known tail fin kit that turns the “dumb” B61 bomb into the precision-guided B61-12?

A few other worthy items from the CNS PER:

•     p. 5: Pantex is falling behind in dismantlements, and this is before the announced planned 20% increase in dismantlements. “CNS achieved 101% of dismantlements related to secondaries and 66% of the revised Production Control Document (PCD) baseline schedule. The low performance against the revised PCD baseline schedule resulted in NNSA falling below the trajectory to achieve the 2022 dismantlement goal.”

Secondaries are dismantled at Y-12, with all of the rest of the nuclear weapon dismantled at Pantex. The 2022 dismantlement goal is to dismantle the ~2,500 nuclear weapons scheduled by 2009 for dismantlement. This does not include any weapons retired since then.

•     p. 7: “CNS did not meet the majority of the expectations for scheduled surveillance activities, deliverables, and requirements as documented within each applicable weapons system approved Integrated Weapon Evaluation Team (IWET) Plans and associated directive documents.”

Rigorous surveillance is the prerequisite for maintaining stockpile safety and reliability (the claimed rationale for the Stockpile Stewardship Program), but has chronically suffered lower prioritization.

• p. 10: “W76-1 LEP: CNS achieved 101% of the secondary production schedule, met the military shipment schedule, but only achieved 85% of the total FY15 delivery commitment to the Department of Defense.”

This doesn’t bode well for future Life Extension Programs that are growing only more complex and ambitious.

•     p. 11: “CNS is behind schedule on pit recertification projects and is working on recovery plans. The CNS delays have not adversely impacted the B61-12 schedule.  However, if delays continue the impacts to the B61-12 schedule are certain.”

•     p. 14: The future uranium casting process for the Uranium Processing Facility is still unproven.

“CNS did not fully meet expectations on the use of the production microwave caster in [Building] 9212 [at Y12]. This is partially due to equipment issues including the stack 11 filter issues and a failure in the microwave’s bottom lift assembly. Unfortunately, CNS was unable to recover the schedule. Running the microwave caster early and often is valuable since this technology represents the future Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) casting capability.”

•     p. 24: Pantex and Y-12 are beginning “additive manufacturing” (3-D printing) of nuclear weapons components. What are the future proliferation consequences of this?

“CNS began advancing manufacturing capabilities through additive manufacturing initiatives. CNS procured and received a Connex 500-UV Resin multi-color, large-scale plastic machine. This machine will be used for prototyping, proof of principle, displays and cutaways, and training aids. CNS also procured its first metal additive machine and installation will begin at Y-12 in July. Once R&D material testing is complete, the first area of focus will be tooling applications. A second, identical machine has been procured for Pantex and will be delivered late summer for similar applications.”

•     p. 35: CNS, composed of Lockheed Martin and Bechtel, gave the construction contract for the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 to Bechtel. There was no competition that I heard about.

Concerning Bechtel’s track record, it took the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at LANL from an original $600 million to $6 billion, and the Waste Treatment Facility at Hanford from $3.5 billion to $13 billion, and it may still never work.

•     p. 42: “While NNSA has noted the CAS [Contractor Assurance System] reports have gotten more self-critical over FY15, the CNS end of year self-assessment was not self-critical. Given all the issues this year that impacted mission, it was unusual that the report was not more introspective.”

In fact, CNS gave itself a glowing self-assessment, which NNSA did not agree with. In all, NNSA awarded CNS $11.3 million out of a possible $20 million in incentive fees, along with a fixed fee of $31 million. For NNSA, that’s a pretty big slap on the wrist.

The Performance Evaluations Reports are available at https://nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/ouroperations/apm/perfevals

NukeWatch successfully sued in 2012 to get the reports publicly released, but NNSA was misbehaving again and did not release the FY 2015 PERs until now. These reports are invaluable for insight into what NNSA sites actually do and related contractor performance. The reports are also becoming increasingly critical of contractor performance ever since the major security incident at Y-12 and the closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant caused by an errant radioactive waste drum from Los Alamos.

NukeWatch Files Second FOIA Request for Los Alamos and Sandia Labs Evaluations, Demand Expedited Release to E-FOIA Reading Room

Santa Fe, NM.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a second request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s FY 2015 Performance Evaluation Reports for the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. Nuclear Watch filed its first request on December 22, 2015, which has still not been fulfilled despite the law’s statutory requirement that FOIA requests be honored within 20 working days. Because of that, Nuclear Watch is demanding expedited processing and posting of these reports to an electronic FOIA reading room, as required by the 1996 E-FOIA amendments.

Read More…

Nuclear Watch NM Files Lawsuit Over Lack of Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab

Santa Fe, NM.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS), the for-profit operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, over their failure to meet cleanup milestones under a 2005 “Consent Order” they agreed to with the New Mexico Environment Department. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center is representing NukeWatch in this legal action to enforce cleanup at LANL.

Read More…

Comment Period Extended for Proposed Los Alamos Cleanup Order

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau is extending the public comment period on the proposed changes to the Draft Consent Order which governs legacy clean-up at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The public comment period now continues through May 31.  To obtain a copy of the documents or a portion thereof, visit the NMED website at https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/lanlperm.html under Consent Order.

Written comments must be based on information available for review and include, to the extent practicable, all referenced factual materials.

NMED is scheduled to present on the public comments received to date at the May 18 Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Committee meeting at the Cities of Gold Hotel, 10-A Cities of Gold Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M.

 

AND WE HAVE EXPANDED OUR COMMENTS

Please let your voice be heard and turn in public comments. Copy the sample comments below and paste into an email. Please modify as you see fit, then email to the address below. If you don’t mind, please cc: us at: info(at)nukewatch(dot)org

 

[date]

 

Ms. Kathryn Roberts

New Mexico Environment Department

Post Office Box 5469

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502

 

Via email to kathryn.roberts@state.nm.us

 

Dear Ms. Roberts,

I urge the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to abandon the proposed 2016 Compliance Order on Consent, or Consent Order, for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), released for public comment on March 30, 2016.  It creates serious problems and represents a giant step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine cleanup of the Laboratory.

The Environment Department should keep the existing Consent Order that went into effect March 1, 2005, while modifying and updating a cleanup schedule that includes a realistic final compliance date.  I also formally request that NMED provide the opportunity for a public hearing on the revised cleanup schedule and new completion date, in accordance with the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act and the 2005 Consent Order.

 

GENERAL COMMENTS

 

The opportunity for a public hearing must be provided

  • Any extension of a final compliance date must be treated as a Class 3 permit modification to the 2005 Consent Order and therefore requires a 60-day public comment period.
  • Any extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order can be implemented only after the opportunity for public comment and a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination of witnesses.
  • The Environment Department is legally required to follow these public participation requirements that explicitly incorporated into the 2005 Consent Order.

 

Withdraw the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order

  • The proposed draft represents a big step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine cleanup of the Laboratory.
  • The Environment Department should keep the current 2005 Consent Order and revise the Section XII cleanup schedule and final compliance date.
  • I request that the Environment Department withdraw the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order.

 

The public deserves the opportunity to comment on all following drafts

  • It seems likely that a later draft – after the Lab’s and public comments are incorporated into a revised draft – and after closed-door negotiations between the Environment Department and the Laboratory – could be substantially different from the current draft.
  • I request that the public have the opportunity to review and comment on any further drafts of a revised proposed 2016 Consent Order.

 

Public participation provisions in the existing 2005 Consent Order must be incorporated into the proposed draft 2016 Consent Order

  • The proposed draft 2016 Consent Order explicitly limits public participation requirements incorporated into the existing 2005 Consent Order.
  • I request that all notices, milestones, targets, annual negotiations, and modifications require public review and comment, and the opportunity for a public hearing.

 

The current state of cleanup must be updated and next steps scheduled

  • Work under the existing 2005 Consent Order needs to be subject to public review.  In 2005 DOE agreed to complete cleanup under the Consent Order by December 6, 2015, which did not happen.  In order for the public to understand where the work under the existing Consent Order stands, LANL should be required to provide a current, publicly available list of the status of all cleanup projects under the 2005 Consent Order.
  • Further, I request that next steps for cleanup at every site listed in the 2005 Consent Order be documented in detail and given a scheduled completion date, or alternatively verified as already completed.
  • All documents submitted under the 2005 Consent Order must be incorporated into any revised Consent Order.

 

All documents must be made public as required in the 2005 Consent Order

  • The State and the Lab must make all communications, documents, submittals, approvals, notices of deficiencies and denials under any revised Consent Order readily and electronically available to the public.
  • The State and the Lab must notify individuals by e-mail of all submittals, as required in the 2005 Consent Order.

 

The Environment Department must respond in writing to all public comments

  • I request that the State reply individually to each and every comment submitted.
  • The Lab’s comments and NMED’s response to comments must be made public.

 

All future work must have enforceable deadlines

  • The proposed draft 2016 Consent Order proposes a “Campaign” approach with enforceable cleanup deadlines limited to the work scheduled only for that year.
  • I request that all anticipated cleanup projects have scheduled, enforceable cleanup deadlines from the beginning of any revised Consent Order.

 

The Consent Order cannot be open-ended

  • Any Consent Order for LANL cleanup must have a final compliance date to which the State and the Lab agree to and are so bound.
  • The public should be given an opportunity for a public hearing on the new final compliance date as required by New Mexico’s hazardous waste regulations. 

 

SPECIFIC COMMENTS

 

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Extend the Original Final Compliance Date Without Required Public Participation

The proposed 2016 consent order would indefinitely extend the final compliance date for completing corrective action at the Laboratory, without the opportunity for a public hearing with formal testimony and cross-examination of witnesses. Any extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order requires a 60-day public comment period and the opportunity for a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination.  The Environment Department is legally required to follow these procedural requirements.

The legal requirements that mandate a public hearing are clear. Section XII of the 2005 Consent Order establishes the compliance schedule for implementation and completion of corrective actions at specific sites at the Laboratory. This schedule is mandatory. The final report that was to be submitted under the 2005 Consent Order – therefore, the final compliance date – was the remedy completion report for the huge Area G waste dump, required to be submitted by December 6, 2015. The proposed 2016 Consent Order would indefinitely extend this final compliance date by not designating a specific final compliance date.

But this revision must be treated as a major Class 3 permit modification. Section III.W.5 of the 2005 Consent Order explicitly provides for the preservation of full procedural rights for the public as follows:

This Consent Order hereby incorporates all rights, procedures and other protections afforded the Respondents [DOE and UC, now LANS] and the public pursuant to the regulations at 20.4.1.900 NMAC (incorporating 40 C.F.R. § 270.42) and 20.4.1.901 NMAC, including, but not limited to, opportunities for public participation, including public notice and comment, administrative hearings, and judicial appeals concerning, for example, remedy selection decisions of the [Environment] Department.

Thus, extension of a final compliance date under the 2005 Consent Order requires a 60-day public comment period and the opportunity for a public hearing, including formal testimony and cross-examination.

 

The Proposed New Consent Order Must Not Limit Other Public Participation Procedures

The proposed 2016 Consent Order expressly limits public participation requirements in a way that completely diverges from those provided in the 2005 Consent Order.  As explained above, the 2005 Consent Order explicitly protects procedural due process rights available to the public.  The proposed 2016 Consent Order explicitly removes these protections, as follows:

The Parties agree that the rights, procedures and other protections set forth at 20.4.1.900 NMAC (incorporating 40 C.F.R. § 270.42), 20.4.1.901 NMAC, and 20.4.1.902 NMAC, including, but not limited to, opportunities for public participation, including public notice and comment, administrative hearings, and judicial appeals, do not apply to modification of the Consent Order itself. [Emphasis added]

Thus, as proposed in the above language, the Parties (the Environment Department, Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Security, LLC) have inappropriately agreed to remove the due process rights, procedures and other protections provided to the public under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.  This provision must be stripped from the proposed 2016 Consent Order.

 

The Proposed New Consent Order Must Not Eliminate Enforceable Deadlines

The proposed 2016 consent order would eliminate all the deadlines for completing cleanup under the 2005 Consent Order, and replace them with an open-ended and vague scheduling process, with limited enforcement opportunities.

The 2005 Consent Order, in Section XII, established dozens of deadlines for the completion of corrective action tasks, including completion of investigations at individual sites, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, submittal of groundwater monitoring reports, evaluation of remedial alternatives for individual sites, and completion of final remedies. These deadlines are enforceable under section III.G.

The proposed 2016 Consent Order would abandon the 2005 Consent Order provisions and replace them with a so-called “Campaign Approach” under Section VIII.  Under Section VIII.A.3, it would be up to the DOE, not the regulator at the New Mexico Environment Department, to select the timing and scope of each “campaign.”

Enforceable deadlines for cleanup tasks would apply no more than one year into the future. Deadlines would be based on “Campaigns” negotiated each year with DOE with no public participation and opportunity to comment on the schedule. To add insult to injury, the annual schedule would be determined by funding at DOE’s discretion, rather than the schedule driving the funding, which was the fundamental approach of the 2005 Consent Order.

All cleanup projects must mandatory completion dates scheduled from the beginning date of any revised Consent Order, and must be fully enforceable.

 

Existing Violations Must Not Be Eliminated

Section II.A of the proposed 2016 Consent Order would “settle any outstanding violations of the 2005 Consent Order.” This is a get out of jail free card.  Without enforceable schedules from the beginning, any consent order is not truly unenforceable, and the Environment Department would be abdicating its responsibility to protect human health and the environment as required by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.  NMED must not surrender its regulatory and enforcement powers!

 

Attorney General Approval Must Be Obtained

The 2005 Consent Order was signed by the Attorney General of New Mexico for purposes of the Covenant Not to Sue (section III.) and the Reservation of Rights (section III.). As indicated on the draft signature page, there is no indication of the NM Attorney General plans to sign the proposed 2016 Consent Order. Yet it would provide the State of New Mexico with a covenant not to sue DOE on behalf of the State of New Mexico, not merely on behalf of the Environment Department. The Attorney General was an active participant, representing the People of New Mexico, in the 2005 Consent Order.  The Environment Department has a responsibility to ensure that the NM Attorney General is consulted, and his approval obtained, before any consent order is adopted.

 

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Omit Detailed Requirements Found in the 2005 Consent Order

The 2005 Consent Order includes numerous detailed requirements for such things as well installation, sample collection, and preparation of work plans and reports. These ensure that the cleanup work is done properly, consistently, and according to standard industry practices.  They also ensured that work plans and reports were consistent, easy for the Environment Department to review, and easy for the public to understand.  The proposed 2016 Consent Order omits many such requirements, which should be corrected.

 

The Proposed 2016 Consent Order Must Not Allow Budget To Dictate Cleanup

The proposed 2016 Consent Order allows DOE to provide cleanup priorities based on anticipated budget, which is backwards. . By the time NMED receives an estimated annual cleanup budget from DOE, the horse has left the barn. The original purpose of the 2005 Consent Order was to compel DOE and LANL to ask Congress for additional funds to accelerate cleanup. The giant loophole in the proposed 2016 Consent Order that allows DOE and LANL to say that they don’t have sufficient funding and therefore can choose to exempt themselves from cleanup should be eliminated.

 

Cleanup Levels Must Remain Strict

Section IX Cleanup Objectives and Cleanup Levels of the proposed 2016 Consent Order would allow DOE to “develop site specific ecological cleanup levels” to mitigate unacceptable ecological risk due to release of site-related contaminants. There is no mention of NMED’s role in this process. DOE would be allowed to demonstrate to NMED that any particular “cleanup objective is impracticable.” To do this, DOE may consider such things as technical difficulty, the cost of the project, hazards to workers or to the public, and any other basis that may support a finding of impracticability. If NMED approves the impracticability request, DOE can then propose alternative cleanup methods using site-specific risk assessments. All of this could take place behind closed doors, as there are no public participation requirements in this section. Please clarify what cleanup levels will be used and when and where they will be applied.

New Mexico deserves better

In closing, the Environment Department’s proposed 2016 Consent Order allows the federal government to leave Northern New Mexico contaminated if DOE believes that cleanup is too difficult or costly– a sorry situation indeed for a nuclear weapons facility that receives over 2 billion taxpayer dollars a year. Instead, the New Mexico Environment Department should implement a new revised Consent Order that is aggressive and enforceable and in which the State of New Mexico stays in the driver’s seat, not LANL and DOE. That would be a real win-win for New Mexicans, helping to permanently protect the environment and our precious water resources while creating hundreds of high-paying cleanup jobs. .

 

Sincerely,

Name

City

 

The new draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/lanlperm.html#COOC

 

NMED’s public notice for the draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/documents/PublicNotice__English.pdf

 

The public comment period ends 5:00 pm May 31, 2016.

Comments should be submitted to kathryn.roberts@state.nm.us

Sample General Comments on the proposed new Los Alamos Cleanup Agreement

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) has issued a draft revised Consent Order (CO), which was the agreement in 2005 between the State and the federal Department of Energy (DOE) for fence-to-fence cleanup of legacy Cold War wastes at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The Consent Order 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.

Serious investigation and cleanup began under the 2005 Consent Order. From 2005 through 2010, DOE and its contractors, under NMED oversight, accomplished significant progressed towards cleanup of the Laboratory. Much investigation work was completed. A large plume of hexavalent chromium was discovered in groundwater. Remedies were completed at dozens of individual sites.

Little cleanup has been accomplished in the last few years. We fear that the new Consent Order, if adopted, would continue that downward trend. It does not have enforceable milestones for all cleanup projects from the beginning. Instead the new plan is for NMED and DOE to decide every 1 to 3 years which sites will be addressed for cleanup “Campaigns”. This may allow Los Alamos to never address all the sites, and revert cleanup back to the way it was done before the 2005 Consent Order with budget driving cleanup. This is contrary to the original purpose of the CO, which was to compel DOE and LANL to get additional money from Congress for cleanup.

NMED’s public notice for the draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/documents/PublicNotice__English.pdf

The new draft Consent Order is available at

https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/lanlperm.html#COOC

 

 

Please let your voice be heard and turn in public comments. Copy the sample comments below and paste into an email. Please modify as you see fit, then email to the address below. If you don’t mind, please cc: us at: info(at)nukewatch(dot)org

The 45-day public comment period ends 5:00 pm May 16, 2016.

Comments should be submitted to:

kathryn.roberts@state.nm.us

 

 

Ms. Katherine Roberts

Division Director

New Mexico Environment Department

Post Office Box 5469

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502

Comments on the proposed new Consent Order

 

Withdraw this draft

  • This draft represents a big step backwards in achieving the goal of genuine, comprehensive cleanup of the Laboratory.
  • The Environment Department should keep the current 2005 Consent Order with necessary revisions to the cleanup schedule.
  • I request that the Environment Department withdraw this draft Consent Order.

 

A 45-day comment period on this first draft is inadequate

  • The March 30, 2016 draft document is a new Consent Order and, as such, thoroughly reviewing the document is a big task.
  • I request that at least another 15 days be added to the public comment period.

 

The public deserves the opportunity to comment on all following drafts

  • It seems likely that a later draft – after the Lab’s and the public’s comments are incorporated – could be substantially different from the current draft.
  • I request that the public have the opportunity to comment on any further drafts of the new Consent Order.

 

Public participation must be put back into the new Consent Order

  • The new Consent Order would expressly limit public participation requirements which would be opposite from the 2005 Consent Order.
  • I request that all milestones, targets, annual negotiations, and modifications require the opportunity for public review and comment.

 

The current status of all areas of cleanup must be updated

  • A current list of the status of all cleanup at Los Alamos must be included in the new Consent Order.
  • I request that the next step for cleanup at every site be documented in detail.
  • All previous 2005 Consent Order documents must be incorporated in to the new Consent Order.

 

All documents must be made public

  • The State and the Lab must make all communications, documents, and submittals specified in this Consent Order readily available to the public.
  • The State and the Lab shall notify individuals by e-mail of all submittals as specified in this Consent Order.

 

All future work must have enforceable deadlines

  • The new Consent Order would institute a “Campaign” approach with enforceable cleanup deadlines for only one year at a time.
  • I request that all cleanup work items have scheduled, enforceable dates.
  • The new revised Consent Order creates a giant loophole for DOE and LANL to plead that they don’t have enough funding and therefore don’t have to do the cleanup. The original intent of the Consent Order was to make DOE and LANL get more funding for cleanup from Congress. The “I’m too poor” excuse should be eliminated from any final Consent Order.

 

The revised Consent Order cannot be open-ended

  • Any new Consent Order must have a detailed, enforceable schedule of genuine cleanup milestones.
  • I request that the public be given an opportunity for a hearing on the new Consent Order.

 

Sincerely,

Your name

City

State

 

 

 

 

How A War Game Brought The World To The Brink Of Nuclear Disaster

1983: Once-classified documents show how close Soviet Union came to launching nuclear war

“Chilling new evidence that Britain and America came close to provoking the Soviet Union into launching a nuclear attack has emerged in former classified documents written at the height of the cold war… Cabinet memos and briefing papers released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a major war games exercise, Operation Able Archer, conducted in November 1983 by the US and its Nato allies was so realistic it made the Russians believe that a nuclear strike on its territory was a real possibility…”

(Jamie Doward, The Observer, 10/02/13)

2015

Amicus Brief in Support of Marshall Islands Lawsuit

In April 2015 the U.S. State Department issued a so-called Fact Sheet entitled Myths and Facts Regarding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Regime. Its targeted audience was international delegations attending the 2015 NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Given the increasing dissatisfaction of non-nuclear weapons states, the State Department argued that numerical stockpile reductions since the end of the Cold War is ample evidence that the U.S. is complying with the NPT’s Article VI obligation for nuclear disarmament.Continue reading

Nuclear Weapons Experts File Amicus Brief to Support Marshall Islands Lawsuit to Require Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations Under U.S. NonProliferation Treaty Commitments

Hans Kristensen, Director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists; Dr. James Doyle, a nuclear nonproliferation expert fired by 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, 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).

Read More…

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.

More on the New Nuclear Cruise Missile

Russia is Proving Why Nuclear-Tipped Cruise Missiles Are a Very Bad Idea

“Those four cruise missiles that crashed in Iran could’ve been carrying nuclear warheads- which is why the US should ban them, not renew them.”

…inherently ambiguous… can add major risks to a crisis… In 2007, six nuclear-armed cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber and flown across the United States. Because nuclear-armed cruise missiles are virtually indistinguishable from conventional ones, the error went undetected for 36 hours..”

-Tom Collina and William Saetren, Ploughshares Fund. 

Jan. 13: Just How New is the New, Nuclear-armed Cruise Missile?

“Deploying the planned new nuclear-armed cruise missile will actually make the United States less secure. Known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, or LRSO, it will be significantly more capable than the existing nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). And for just that reason, by demonstrating that the United States sees this weapon as a valuable military tool, it will undermine higher priority U.S. security goals. Specifically, pursuing the LRSO ignores the reality that nuclear weapons are no longer a security asset for the United States, but a liability that should be constrained.” Stephen Young, Sr. Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists 

Dec. 15: Eight Senate Democrats, including three members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to terminate the Air Force’s plans for its next-generation air-launched cruise missile. Read More

LRSO: The Nuclear Cruise Missile Mission

“It seems clear from many of these statements that the LRSO is not merely a retaliatory capability but very much seen as an offensive nuclear strike weapon that is intended for use in the early phases of a conflict even before long-range ballistic missiles are used.” – Analysis by FAS/Hans Kristensen

Freeze The Arms Race

New York City, 1982: One Million Rally for Nuclear Freeze

On June 12, 1982, one-million concerned citizens gathered in Central Park in New York in an unprecedented call for “the United States and the Soviet Union . . . to adopt a mutual freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.” A few months later, Freeze referenda were on the ballots in 9 states and dozens of major cities. Across the nation some 18 million Americans voted on the Freeze in the fall of 1982, with some 10.7 million, or 60 percent, voting in favor.

As Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said years later:

“It was the closest our country has ever come to a national plebiscite on nuclear arms control. Within a very brief time the freeze had taken education at the grassroots and translated it into political muscle at the ballot box, delivering to the White House a resounding vote of no confidence in its nuclear buildup.”

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.]

 

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