“We’re pleased that LANL is postponing its massive radioactive tritium release, particularly as northern New Mexico braces for the coronavirus pandemic,” Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement. “But postponement is not the answer. Since tritium decays so rapidly into harmless helium the lab should simply sit on it instead of putting the population at risk.”
Los Alamos National Laboratory will indefinitely postpone a project that would release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere because staff needed for the task are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lab had planned to ventilate four containers of tritium-tainted waste April 17 to relieve built-up radioactive hydrogen in the barrels’ headspace to prevent them from rupturing while they are being handled or shipped. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the application for the radioactive release last year.
“The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates why we should get cleanup done once and for all,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “What we do as humans ebbs and flows with history, but the radioactive and toxic wastes that we leave behind last longer than our recorded history. We should be acting now.”
The U.S. government’s efforts to clean up Cold War-era waste from nuclear research and bomb making at federal sites around the country has lumbered along for decades, often at a pace that watchdogs and other critics say threatens public health and the environment.
Now, fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic is resulting in more challenges as the nation’s only underground repository for nuclear waste finished ramping down operations Wednesday to keep workers safe.
Los Alamos National Laboratory will release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere to ventilate several barrels of tritium-tainted waste generated during the Cold War. Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in the 1990s he won a lawsuit against the Energy Department for falsely claiming a building’s “shielding factor” kept radioactive emissions within federal limits.
“The undocumented assertion in the application that half of the tritium could remain behind in equipment should be viewed with suspicion,” Coghlan said.
The lab informed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month that it would ventilate four waste containers, beginning April 17, to relieve the built-up, radioactive hydrogen in the barrels’ headspace to prevent them from rupturing while they’re being handled. The EPA approved the application for the radioactive release last year.
“You can’t preach temperance from a bar stool, you can’t tell others not to have nuclear weapons when you’re busy ‘modernizing’ your own.”
ARTICLE BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO | abqjournal.com
Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose central bargain was that non-nuclear weapons states forswore acquiring them in exchange for which nuclear weapons states promised to enter into serious negotiations leading to their elimination. Those negotiations have never happened.
The Trump Administration has marked the occasion by finally releasing the detailed fiscal year 2021 Congressional Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA’s program for new and upgraded nuclear weapons gets a $3 billion-plus mark-up to $15.6 billion, slated to jump to $17 billion annually by 2025.
Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch, Tri-Valley CAREs Assert “Pit” Pursuit Violates National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
COLUMBIA, SC, USA, January 9, 2020 /EINPresswire.com/ — The Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced that it is proceeding with aggressive plans to expand the production of plutonium pits without required nation-wide “programmatic” public review. The Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs assert this is in violation of the legal requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and a 1998 court order that stipulates that DOE must prepare a “programmatic environmental impact statement” (PEIS) when it plans to produce more than 80 pits per year. Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico concluded, “We need to find smart ways to face the world’s renewed nuclear arms race. Unnecessary expanded production of questionable plutonium bomb cores is not the way to do it. Instead of aggressively modifying nuclear weapons the U.S. should carefully preserve its existing, reliable, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile while working toward a future world free of them. It’s that kind of analysis and consideration of credible alternatives that the National Environmental Policy Act should give Americans instead of the nuclear weaponeers rubber stamping their self-interested agenda of nukes forever at the taxpayer’s expense.”
U.S. plutonium bomb core production ended in 1989 when the FBI raided the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver while investigating environmental crimes. In 1997, DOE relocated pit production to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico after completing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Production was capped at 20 pits per year.
Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The agency that oversees the United States’ nuclear arsenal says it doesn’t need to do any broad environmental reviews of a proposal that calls for ramping up production of plutonium triggers at federal installations in New Mexico and South Carolina.
The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday released a supplemental analysis related to the project, saying the determination was made after reviewing extensive documentation and public comments that were received last year.
A key component of every nuclear weapon, most of the plutonium cores in the stockpile were produced in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the nuclear agency.
Nuclear watchdogs, government accountability advocates and other critics argue that the decision skirts requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and a decades-old court order that included a mandate for an environmental review when the federal government embarked on plans to boost production to more than 80 of the nuclear cores a year.
“NNSA’s refusal to complete programmatic environmental review before plunging ahead with plans to more than quadruple the production authorization for plutonium bomb cores flies in the face of our country’s foundational environmental law, the National Environmental Policy Act, and a standing federal court order mandating that the government conduct such a review,” – Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CARES
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will not complete a programmatic study for environmental impacts of increased plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) and one other lab located in South Carolina. The decision to not do so drew criticism from Nuclear Watch NM and other groups, who argue such assessments are required by law under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and an existing court order.
Plutonium pits are the radioactive cores of nuclear warheads where the chemical reactions occur that cause the warhead to detonate. The U.S. made thousands of cores during the Cold War, but pit production has all but stopped in the last thirty years.
Now, the federal government is getting ready to ramp up pit production in order to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and “assure the nation has a safe, secure and credible deterrent,” said Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the NNSA Administrator, in a statement. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review calls for at least 80 plutonium pits to be produced per year by 2030, with a target of 30 pits produced annually at LANL and 50 pits produced annually at Savannah River Site.
The state of New Mexico is reconsidering its 2016 pact with the U.S. Department of Energy on how to regulate the cleanup of decades-old hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Ryan Flynn, who became the state’s environment secretary in 2013, granted the lab 150 deadline extensions during his tenure, said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Shortly after Flynn announced in 2016 that the consent order was being revised, the Energy Department reduced its top-range estimate for the long-term cleanup to $3.8 billion and said it would need at least 20 years to complete it, Coghlan said.
That reduced the yearly cleanup projection to $150 million from the earlier $250 million estimate, Coghlan said.
“It’s no coincidence that a mere few months after the 2016 consent order came out, DOE low-balled its life-cycle estimate,” he said.
The administration of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to revisit the agreement — known as a consent order — that the state Environment Department crafted under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez to replace a more stringent 2005 version that expired at the end of 2015.
The public will have a chance to air views about the current consent order and suggest changes at a meeting Thursday at the University of New Mexico’s Los Alamos campus. The meeting is being held in response to people expressing concerns about the consent order to state regulators and legislative leaders, said Maddy Hayden, a spokeswoman for the Environment Department.
The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.
Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.
Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.
“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”
Lipsky, who continues to raise concerns about the dangers of radioactive waste, will be in Santa Fe this week for a workshop organized by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which opposes plans for pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The event takes place Wednesday evening at the Mud Gallery.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Jon Lipsky is a retired federal agent with a big notch in his gun – he shut down a plant that made plutonium parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons.In an episode unique in American history, in June 1989, Lipsky led the FBI’s raid on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, where the cores of nuclear weapons, or “pits,” were made.
Later, under a plea deal, the private contractor that ran the plant for the DOE – Rockwell International – admitted to four felonies and six misdemeanors for environmental crimes and paid the government $18.5 million. The plant formally closed forever in 1992 and the U.S. has made only a handful of pits since.
Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats Nuclear Bomb Plant join Xubi to talk about Nuclear weapons, Nuclear clean up and Pit production plans at LANL.
A ‘dirty, dirty process’
Los Alamos has a starring role in a shift to U.S. nuclear policy that’s two presidential terms in the making. Nuclear watchdog groups in the state are concerned about the United States’ evolving nuclear agenda, which will see a sharp increase in plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
LANL recently released its $13 billion expansion proposal to accommodate increased pit production at the site. The expansion is part of a wider push across the country to ramp up the nuclear warhead manufacturing machine, according to Greg Mello, executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group.
Plutonium pits are central to nuclear weaponry. They are the “radioactive cores of modern nuclear weapons,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. He added that the pits themselves are weapons. “It was essentially a plutonium pit that destroyed Nagasaki on August 9, 1945,”
The ramp-up is years in the making, as successive presidential administrations have struggled to address how to modernize the U.S. nuclear stockpile. But nuclear watchdog groups worry an increase in pit production at LANL would have negative repercussions for the region. While LANL has touted the proposed economic benefits of its proposal for the area, activists argue the dangers outweigh the benefits.
SANTA FE – The U.S. Department of Energy’s inspector general is recommending that the department seek reimbursement of up to $300,000 in DOE grant money that a coalition of local governments in northern New Mexico didn’t properly account for.
“The Regional Coalition is not the effective lobbying voice for clean up at Los Alamos that it claims to be because it condones DOE’s plan for cleanup on the cheap that will leave the vast majority of radioactive and toxic wastes permanently buried above our groundwater,” Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said in a statement Wednesday.
“The Coalition should pay the American taxpayer back whatever it improperly spent and be terminated. At a minimum, the City of Santa Fe should resign from this discredited Coalition right away.”
ARTICLE FROM HUNGTINGTON NEWS huntingtonnews.net
“With this ruling,” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, “the NNSA no longer has any legal authority to continue construction of the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant.” The decision may have ramifications for NNSA’s efforts to expand nuclear weapons production at other sites, too, including Los Alamos, NM and Savannah River, SC, where environmental scoping is underway for a new plutonium pit manufacturing facility.
Jay Coghlan, director of co-plaintiff Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, “Uranium and plutonium components manufacturing are two sides of the same coin of expanding nuclear weapons production in an escalating arms race. The Department of Energy should take this court ruling against its Uranium Processing Facility as a warning that it must also comply with National Environmental Policy Act requirements while ill-advisably expanding the production of plutonium pits, the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.”
The ruling also points out the crucial role the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board plays in monitoring safety issues at Y-12 and across the nuclear weapons complex. Since last year, the Department of Energy has worked to reduce the Safety Board’s access to some nuclear facilities, even issuing a revised Order to limit the information available to the Board and the restricting who the Board can and cannot speak to directly.
A federal judge in Knoxville on Tuesday said a critical decision made in 2016 for enriched uranium operations at the Y-12 National Security Complex, including for the $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility, violated a national environmental law, and she ordered the decision vacated, or set aside.
The UPF is already under construction, and Wedenesday morning, the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees work at Y-12, said construction will continue.
The 104-page opinion and order was filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Pamela L. Reeves.
The lawsuit was initially filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, but it was later moved to the Eastern District of Tennessee. Besides OREPA, the plaintiffs included two other public interest organizations—Nuclear Watch of New Mexico and Natural Resources Defense Council of Washington, D.C.— and several individual plaintiffs.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. — Nuclear watchdog groups say they will sue if the U.S. government doesn’t conduct a nationwide programmatic environmental review of its plans to expand production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Lawyers for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment threatened legal action in a letter sent this week to officials.
In June, the National Nuclear Security Administration said it would prepare an environmental impact statement on pit-making at Savannah River. A less extensive review was planned for Los Alamos.
Public Interest Groups Challenge Plans to Fabricate Plutonium Pits for New, Unjustified Nuclear Weapons, at Los Alamos National Lab and Savannah River Site
COLUMBIA, SC, USA, September 17, 2019 /EINPresswire.com/
Today, lawyers for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watchand Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment sent a second letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry and Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the head of the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The letter demands a nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) for the agencies’ proposed expanded production of plutonium pits, the fissile cores or “triggers” of nuclear weapons.
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico director, noted, “The Los Alamos Lab has a long track record of nuclear safety problems that must be resolved before expanded plutonium pit production is even considered. The government’s claimed need for expanded production needs to be critically examined in a new nation-wide supplemental PEIS for its environmental impacts, costs and potentially adverse national security impacts. Following that, given the massive changes proposed for LANL due to expanded pit production, NNSA will also have to prepare a new site-specific site-wide environmental impact statement for the Los Alamos Lab.”
Los Alamos Labs hit with $222,313 fine for safety violations. Meanwhile, clean-up of legacy sites may permanently seal waste in the ground.
Even as Los Alamos National Labs takes on contracts for new weapons manufacturing, taxpayers are still shelling out for the clean-up costs of contamination dating back to atomic bomb testing. The latest clean-up proposals will likely leave hazardous waste in the ground. Meanwhile, recent hazardous waste safety violations add up to $222,313.
N3B, the company recently contracted by the US Department of Energy to complete a significant portion of remaining clean-up efforts, gave a presentation to the public at the Santa Fe Community College on Thursday as part of a series of community meetings leading up to the process to decide methods for cleaning up several contaminated legacy waste sites around LANL.
…The DOE reported that 1,168 of 2,123 contaminated sites have been cleaned and 10,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste removed, leaving 5,000 cubic meters of waste remaining identified for clean-up. Yet, according to watchdog group Nuke Watch New Mexico, that leaves 690,251 cubic meters of waste permanently buried on-sight in unlined pits and shafts above a regional aquifer that provides drinking water for San Ildefonso Pueblo, Española, Los Alamos and Santa Fe, among other communities. Nuke Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan tells SFR this number is from analysis of publicly available LANL documents and data.
At recent public forums, the Department of Energy and the Los Alamos National Laboratory claimed that cleanup is more than half complete.
What these staged events fail to disclose, contradicting repeated claims of transparency, is that decisions already have been made behind closed doors to remove only approximately 6,500 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic waste, while leaving 30 times as much buried permanently above our groundwater aquifer.
LANL used to claim that groundwater contamination from lab operations was impossible. Today, we sadly know otherwise. Deep groundwater under LANL is contaminated with chromium, perchlorate and high explosives. Intermediate aquifers linked to deep groundwater are contaminated with tritium, industrial solvents, heavy metals and plutonium.
The sick people who prevent gun control and support AK47s are the same people who support the building and maintenance of nuclear weapons, which put millions of people at risk from some unimaginable massacre to come.
REFLECTING ON THE 74th ANNIVERSARY OF HIROSHIMA
This week, we drove back up the remote New Mexico mountains to the “atomic city” for our annual peace vigil, sit in and rally. This was our 16th year in a row.
Jay Coghlan of NukeWatch New Mexico talked about the seriousness and stupidity of the Trump Administration’s decision last week to pull out of the Arms Control Treaty, a decision that has gotten lost in all the other bad news (see: www.nukewatch.org). Joni Arends of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety New Mexico spoke of the latest shenanigans by the Labs, to bypass the legal oversight of its water purification system so that plutonium contaminated water can continue to poison the land (see: www.nuclearactive.org). Alicia from NukeWatch explained the latest progress with the U.N. treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons, organized by the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winning group, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (see: www.icanw.org).
VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT
A coalition of nuclear watchers and environmental groups on Friday night hosted a public forum in Aiken, during which speakers unloaded on the proposed plutonium pit production expansion at both the Savannah River Site and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
The get-together, held at the Aiken Municipal Building, was largely led by Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements. He was backed by Marylia Kelley, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, and Jay Coghlan, who leads Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Together, the three called into question the actual need for more pits, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s ability to successfully produce them, and discussed at length the environmental and health repercussions that could come with such a significant weapons-oriented mission.
The public “can be effective against bad Department of Energy ideas, like the pit production one,” Clements said early in his remarks.
At least 80 pits per year are needed by 2030, according to the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, a leading nuclear policy document. Plutonium pits are nuclear weapon cores.
“They keep coming up with this number, 80, and I don’t know where they get this from,” Clements said. “They haven’t justified it.”
AIKEN — A forum regarding the Department of Energy’s proposed expanded production of plutonium pits at Savannah River Site was held Friday evening.
About 70 people gathered in the auditorium of the Aiken Municipal Building to hear speakers present information against the proposal and encourage the public to write to their representatives in opposition to the plan.
The Department of Energy has proposed to use the former Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as the location to produce about 50 plutonium pits per year. The pits make up the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.
Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch, said the department should not rush into a new project at the MOX plant, which was shut down in October.
Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.
The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.
But the proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.
Savannah River Site Watch, a nuclear watchdog organization that tracks SRS, held a public meeting Friday night in Aiken County to brief people on the government’s plan at SRS, a 310-square-mile complex in western South Carolina.
“We don’t think people are really aware of what is going on: that this new mission is fraught with risk that could come to SRS,’’ Savannah River Site Watch director Tom Clements told The State.
Nuclear watchdog groups from New Mexico and California joined SRS Watch for the forum in Aiken County, where many SRS workers live. Before the Friday meeting, the groups held a news conference to voice concerns. The U.S. Department of Energy plans its own forum on the proposal June 27 in North Augusta.
Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.
The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.
Pro-nuclear groups say the pit plant is a good replacement for the mixed oxide fuel facility, commonly known as MOX. Not only will it provide jobs, but it will help keep the United States safe, they say.
Clements and Jay Coghlan, who directs Nuclear Watch New Mexico, don’t see it that way.
“It will be a great waste of taxpayer’s money,’’ Coghlan said. “There also is a long history of chronic safety problems and environmental or waste problems associated with pit production.’’
The proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.
Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A building at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a price pegged at more than $1 billion apparently has some bad plumbing.
A federal safety oversight board recently reported that the operations staff at the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building found a leak in the building’s radioactive liquid waste system.
Lab watchdogs have labeled RLUOB, which got the green light for construction in 2011, as the most expensive building in New Mexico. The lab’s website says it’s part of a capital project to replace aging Cold War-era facilities.
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent LANL critic who called attention to the recent safety board report, said the plumbing problem is symptomatic of the lab’s history of safety issues, which has included using the wrong kind of cat litter as a desiccant when packing a radioactive waste drum. A reaction in the drum caused it to breach in 2014 and contaminate the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad.
“Remember, this is the gang that couldn’t get it straight between organic and inorganic cat litter, sending a radioactive waste drum that ruptured and closed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for three years, costing the American taxpayer three billion dollars to reopen,” Coghlan said in a statement. “Now we learn that they don’t know elementary plumbing for liquid radioactive wastes lines, and we’re supposed to trust them while they unjustifiably expand plutonium pit production?”
LANL is in the process of ramping up for a congressional mandate to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the nation’s weapons complex, for production of “pits,” the plutonium cores of nuclear weapons as part of a huge plan to modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal.
Face-to-face mediation is expected in June between public interest groups and the New Mexico Environment Department over changes to the way waste volume is calculated underground at the Energy Department’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).
exchangemonitor.com | May 23, 2019
The New Mexico Court of Appeals often encourages mediation in cases involving state agencies in hopes parties can bridge their differences outside the courtroom, officials say.
A lawsuit filed in January by Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC), which challenged a change to the state hazardous waste permit for WIPP, has been stayed pending the talks.
New Mexico Court of Appeals Judge Linda Vanzi issued the stay May 2 and called for the parties to file a status report on the mediation by July 31.
The mediation itself should occur in late June, SRIC Administrator Don Hancock said by email.
Then-state Environment Department Secretary Butch Tongate in December authorized a permit modification allowing DOE to stop counting empty spaces between container drums as transuranic waste. The order adopted the findings of state hearing officer, who recommended waste volume counted against the disposal cap set by the 1992 WIPP Land Withdrawal Act should cover only the actual waste inside containers.
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said the report “makes clear that DOE is blowing smoke when it says that it will produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 for new unneeded nuclear weapons. … They need to slow down, do it right and for sure do it safely. Above all the feds must concretely demonstrate a real need for expanded pit production before they fleece the American taxpayer of tens of billions of dollars.”
SANTA FE – A recent study casts serious doubts on the potential success of any of the options considered by the U.S. Department of Energy for meeting mandates on the manufacture of plutonium cores for nuclear weapons – most of them involving Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The congressionally funded study also says that it would be “very high risk” to try to meet the nation’s ambitious goals for making bomb “pits” by installing more equipment and adding an extra work shift for a production “surge” at LANL’s existing plutonium facility, an idea that has been discussed.
Some of the risks cited in the report include whether there is the ability to stage, store and ship waste, and “the transport/transfer complexity of radioactive material.”
The study goes further and questions the overall plan to ramp up U.S. pit production, which is estimated to cost $14 billion to $28 billion, saying that “eventual success of the strategy to reconstitute plutonium pit production is far from certain.”
Nuclear watchdog organizations filed an appeal Thursday of a state Environment Department-approved permit change they say could allow for 30 percent more nuclear waste to be held at a Southern New Mexico storage site.
The request for a New Mexico Court of Appeals review of the agency’s decision in December, which alters procedures for measuring the volume of waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, was filed on behalf of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Southwest Research and Information Center.
The groups allege the permit change violates federal law by allowing plant managers to recalculate the amount of nuclear waste buried underground at WIPP without going through Congress.
The move subtly sidesteps nuclear waste limits outlined under the 1992 Land Withdrawal Act, the groups say.
Los Alamos Reporter, Dec 1, 2018, By Marie O’Neill
Under public comment, Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico confronted the two DOE officials about DOE’s overall plans for clean-up…
Los Alamos Monitor-Nov 5, 2018
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch and Tri-Valley CAREs wrote a letter to NNSA Undersecretary and Administrator Lisa …
Albuquerque Journal-Nov 2, 2018
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, SRS Watch in South Carolina and Tri-Valley CAREs Livermore, Calif. — home of another weapons lab — say an …
Santa Fe New Mexican-Nov 1, 2018
Three nuclear watchdog groups across the U.S., including Santa Fe-based Nuclear Watch New Mexico, are accusing the National Nuclear …
Carlsbad Current-Argus-Oct 24, 2018
Scott Kovac with Nuclear Watch New Mexico said the change could make WIPP’s volume tracking needlessly complicated. “This modification …
SaukValley.com-Oct 4, 2018
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, cited a long history of denial about the claims of “down winders,” the residents …
Los Angeles Times-Sep 28, 2018
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, cited a long history of denial about the claims of “down winders,” the residents of …
U.S. News & World Report-Sep 21, 2018
… four organizations — Southwest Research and Information Center, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Watch New Mexico and …
Albuquerque Journal-Sep 20, 2018
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico also said that the RCLC actually “colludes” with the U.S. Department of Energy – which happens to …
Watchdog groups from across the nuclear weapons complex are pushing back against a new Department of Energy order that severely constrains the oversight capacity of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board [DNFSB] at an August 28 hearing in Washington, DC.
Albuquerque Journal-Jul 13, 2018
The 2016 suit by Nuclear Watch New Mexico alleges DOE and the contractor — Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS) — owe hundreds of …
NukeWatch Media and Public Appearances through August 2018 2018
Daily Bruin, July 1, 2018
UC retains management of Los Alamos nuclear laboratory with new contract https://dailybruin.com/2018/07/01/uc-retains-management-of-los-alamos-nuclear-laboratory- with-new-contract/
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an organization that promotes accountability at nuclear weapon facilities, said in a statement he thinks the UC went forward with its bid with new partners to improve its reputation after the safety lapses of the past several years.
Bloomberg BNA, June 21, 2018
Los Alamos Lab Contract Centers on Improving Worker Safety https://www.bna.com/los-alamos-lab-n73014476701/
” Anti-nuclear group Nuclear Watch New Mexico fought to have the environmental management contract separate from the lab management contract, Scott Kovac, operations and research director, told Bloomberg Environment. Groups also said the number of parties involved in managing the lab could make accountability more difficult.
“We’re going to be focused on who’s running the lab and who are they responsible to,” Kovac said.”
The Nation, June 21, 2018
Nuclear Weapons Pose the Ultimate Threat to Mankind https://www.thenation.com/article/nuclear-weapons-pose-ultimate-threat-mankind/
The current global dynamics of fear, dysfunctional governments, and capitalism run amok are helping to drive the nuclear-arms race. But long-standing groups like Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Tri-Valley Cares, located near nuclear labs and production facilities, are mobilizing with a new intensity against the restarting of industrial-scale plutonium-pit manufacturing.
POGO, June 13, 2018:
Nonprofit group wins LANL contract
"The latest plan would see part of this mission moved across the country to the partially constructed MOX facility at the Savannah River Site. Producing plutonium pits at the site would be a completely new mission for Savannah River and would ultimately cost almost $10 billion more than the agency’s alternative plan to expand plutonium production capacity at Los Alamos, according to new documents obtained by Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch.
"Producing plutonium pits at the site would be a completely new mission for Savannah River and would ultimately cost almost $10 billion more than the agency’s alternative plan to expand plutonium production capacity at Los Alamos, according to new documents obtained by Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch.
"In a letter to the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee last month, the Project On Government Oversight was joined by Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch in requesting justification for this expanded capacity. NNSA has
over 14,000 plutonium cores already constructed and in storage, many of them specifically designated for potential reuse in new nuclear weapons as part of a "strategic reserve." -Lydia Dennett, POGO investigator See her full report at POGO)
Albuquerque Journal, June 8, 2018:
Nonprofit group wins LANL contract
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said UC 'basically ditched Bechtel and went with a safe bet' with new partners after the safety lapses of the past several years."
Augusta Chronicle, May 31, 2018:
Report: MOX project dead, more waste and 1,800 jobs from replacement
"In a nearly 300-page report from the National Nuclear Security Administration released Thursday by Savannah River Site Watch and Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the analysis already assumes Congress will act to terminate the project and it would then be available for conversion to a plutonium pit production facility by 2030.
"But it is also the most expensive of the four alternatives studied in detail, according to a news release from SRS Watch and Nuclear Watch. Upgrading and retrofitting those facilities will cost around $10 billion and run $46 billion over the life cycles of those facilities, costs that are likely to rise with overruns, the groups said. Moreover, each pit produced at the new facility at SRS would generate 10 drums of radioactive waste or 500 drums a year, according to the report.
"SRS Watch and Nuclear Watch said the report fails to make the case for either facility and casts doubt on the need to ramp up production, anyway. There are already 20,000 pits being stored at a DOE plant in Texas and one study estimated each one could last more than a century, the groups said."
Los Alamos Monitor, May 11, 2018:
NNSA announces decision on pit production
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico criticized the decision as purely political. 'First, in Nuclear Watch's view, this decision is in large part a political decision, designed to keep the congressional delegations of both New Mexico and South Carolina happy,' said Nuclear Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan. 'New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich are adamantly against relocating plutonium pit production to South Carolina. On the other hand, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham was keeping the boondoggle Mixed Oxide (MOX) program on life support, and this pit production decision may help to mollify him.'
"Coghlan said he believes the split plan will ultimately fail. 'NNSA has already tried four times to expand plutonium pit production, only to be defeated by citizen opposition and its own cost overruns and incompetence,' Coghlan said. 'But we realize that this fifth attempt is the most serious.
"'However, we remain confident it too will fall apart, because of its enormous financial and environmental costs and the fact that expanded plutonium pit production is simply not needed for the existing nuclear weapons stockpile. We think the American public will reject new-design nuclear weapons, which is what this expanded pit production decision is really all about.'"
Public Integrity, May 11, 2018:
Los Alamos would lose some future bomb production under new Trump administration plan
"Jay Coghlan, who directs the advocacy group Nuclear Watch New Mexico and closely follows weapons activities in the state, questioned why the administration needs to prepare for future production of so many plutonium cores. There is, he said, 'no justification to the American taxpayer why the enormous expense of expanded production is necessary.'"
Public News Service, May 11, 2018:
Los Alamos to Build Part of Next-Gen Nuclear Weapons
"'We're trying to preach restraint to Iran, North Korea, the rest of the world,' says Coghlan, 'and we're going to go on to develop new-design nuclear weapons? That's not practicing what we preach.' Coghlan argues that the NNSA should be required to explain why the increased pit production is needed, and what it will cost taxpayers – in terms of financial, safety and environmental risks. 'We don't need it to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile,' says Coghlan. 'All of this future production is for speculative, new-design nuclear weapons.' Coghlan believes the decision was 'in large part political, designed to keep the congressional delegations of both states happy.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 10, 2018:
Feds: Los Alamos lab to share plutonium work with South Carolina site
"Jay Coghlan, director of Santa Fe-based Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the lack of such a review 'is of questionable legality.' The NNSA also has failed to justify the need to fund such an expensive weapons project, he said. Coghlan called the decision to split the work between the two sites largely a political one, 'designed to keep the congressional delegations of both New Mexico and South Carolina happy.'"
Albuquerque Journal, May 10, 2018:
Feds split 'pit' work between LANL and S.C.
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuke Watch New Mexico, said the NNSA announcement represented 'in large part a political decision, designed to keep the congressional delegations of both New Mexico and South Carolina happy.'
"'There is no explanation why the Department of Defense requires at least 80 pits per year, and no justification to the American taxpayer why the enormous expense of expanded production is necessary,' Coghlan said."
Albuquerque Journal, May 4, 2018:
Assessment of LANL Rad Lab premature, incomplete
This article is an OpEd by Jay Coghlan, essentially the press release of May 2, 2018.
Albuquerque Journal, May 1, 2018:
LANL welcomes new contractor
"'Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent critic of the lab, still has concerns about the transition. 'It's far (from) being a new era when the swamp just gets deeper,' he said in an email to the Journal.
Coghlan said that more than half of Tetra Tech's work cleaning up an old naval base in San Francisco was "downright fraudulent" and cost American taxpayers a quarter of a billion dollars to do over. He also said New Mexico's next governor should throw out the "toothless" consent order governing the cleanup negotiated by Gov. Susana Martinez's Environment Department.
"'When those two things are done, then maybe it will be a new era for cleanup at Los Alamos,' he said."
Albuquerque Journal, April 6, 2018:
Bathroom sink overflow raises safety issue at LANL
"'We never dreamed water could leak to the basement from the first (processing) floor, now apparently proved by a bathroom faucet,' said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico."
Los Alamos Monitor, March 2, 2018:
DOE says Tetra Tech will stay in cleanup contract
"The Department of Energy's Environmental Management Office Thursday responded to a nuclear and environmental safety group's request to reconsider the Los Alamos National Laboratory's choice of contractor to clean up waste generated by the laboratory between the Manhattan Project era and 1999.
"A nuclear watchdog group released information earlier this week, raising concerns about allegations of fraud surrounding Tetra Tech prior to the LANL work.
"The watchdog group, Nuclear Watch, pointed to several earlier reports made regarding the company's work.
"'Serious allegations of fraud by Tetra Tech were raised long before the LANL cleanup contract was awarded,' a written statement from Nuclear Watch said. 'The US Navy found that the company had committed widespread radiological data falsification, doctored records and supporting documentation, and covered up fraud at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard cleanup project in San Francisco, CA.'
Nuclear Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan : "That's B.S. I remind the American taxpayer that DOE cleanup programs have been on the high risk list formulated by the Government Accountability Office since 1990.' Coghlan said. 'DOE is notorious for lack of contractor oversight. It's getting a little bit better... It's getting better because of two things, the security incident at Y-12 and the way Los Alamos closed down WIPP (Waste Isolation Pilot Plant) for three years with a ruptured drum.'
"Coghlan said subcontractor Tetra Tech should not have been on the main contractor (N3B of Los Alamos) team because of past allegations of abuse and fraud related to other Department of Energy Projects.
"Nuclear Watch Research Director Scott Kovac called Tetra Tech's inclusion in the cleanup contract 'Same old monkeys, different trees.'
"'It took years for the DOE Environmental Management Office in Los Alamos to put a cleanup contract in place. We are seriously disappointed that there are major problems before the contract even starts. This situation shines a light on the cozy DOE contractor system, where every cleanup site has different combinations of the same contractors. Call it different trees, but the same old monkeys, where the real priority is to profit off of taxpayers dollars before a shovel turns over any waste,' Kovac said."
* Update note, April 10, 2018:
New EPA docs: Faked cleanup at Hunters Point Shipyard much worse than Navy estimates- 90 to 97 percent of cleanup at two sites is questionable -"biggest case of eco-fraud in U.S.
Santa Fe New Mexican, March 2, 2018:
Funds for ostrich farm fuel criticism of regional coalition
"'It is, at a minimum, unseemly for the Executive Director of the Regional Coalition, which lobbies for increased LANL funding, to receive funding for her private business from LANS, who runs LANL,' Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a news release. 'Ultimately that funding for her private business comes from the American taxpayer.'
"Romero said Nuclear Watch 'very clearly disagrees with the lab's activities across the board, no matter what they are. 'It's been very clear since their inception that their ultimate mission is to take down the lab,' she said.
"Coghlan laughed at the suggestion. 'Clearly, Ms. Romero is in a pretty vulnerable spot right now,' he said, 'and I think she's saying such things and making such categorical statements against Nuclear Watch New Mexico out of desperation.'
"Coghlan said Nuclear Watch advocates for 'genuine and complete cleanup' of radioactive waste, an effort that he said would not only benefit the environment but create hundreds of well-paying jobs.
"'We are arguing for radical expansion of the cleanup programs at the laboratory, so in that sense, she's completely wrong,' he said. 'Not only that, she is complicit, as is the regional coalition, in condoning the incomplete and fake cleanup that the Los Alamos lab is promoting.' "The friction between Romero and Nuclear Watch is the latest entanglement for Romero, who has come under fire over revelations of taxpayer-funded spending by the coalition that included the purchase of alcohol during expensive restaurant meals and tickets for a professional baseball game in Washington, D.C."
Los Alamos Monitor, March 1, 2018:
New high-level nuclear waste facility application OK'd in southeast NM
Nuclear and environmental groups across the state immediately reacted to the news of Holtec's application acceptance by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review.
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, was critical of proposal. 'This is more evidence of how New Mexico is being targeted to be the country's sacrifice zone for radioactive wastes, but now with the most lethal kind in highly irradiated nuclear reactor rods. This is especially ironic given that our state has never had a commercial nuclear power plant,' Coghlan said. 'The Land of Enchantment! First in nuclear weapons and radioactive wastes, second to last in child well-being.'"
Albuquerque Journal, February 28, 2018:
LANL water cleanup firm facing questions over San Francisco work
"Watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico said in a Wednesday news release that awarding the contract to a group including Tetra Tech raises serious questions about DOE's 'due diligence' in reviewing the performance histories of bidding companies. 'This situation shines a light on the cozy DOE contractor system, where every cleanup site has different combinations of the same contractors,' said NukeWatch research director Scott Kovac."
East Bay Express, February 28, 2018:
The University of Nuclear Bombs
"The University of California is once again bidding to manage Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab
at a time when the threat of nuclear war is rising... Watchdog groups have differing views on the UC's role in overseeing such activities. Scott Kovac, operations and research director of Nuke Watch of New Mexico, opposes the current corporate-university consortium but said he would support a return to management by the UC sans its current corporate partners. "University management makes more sense," he said. "The large corporate entities at Los Alamos have had a lot less transparency than the UC did as sole manager."
Al Jazeera, February 23, 2018:
US takes steps to resume plutonium pit production for nukes
"Nuke Watch New Mexico, a group that tracks environmental and budgetary oversight in US nuclear weapon facilities, questioned the need for the increase in a statement provided to Al Jazeera.The US already has 'some 15,000 pits' stored at a facility in Texas, the group said. "Nuclear Watch Director Jay Coghlan said that instead of an increase, 'there should ... be a programmatic review of all aspects of expanded plutonium pit production, including the inevitable cost overruns, nuclear safety problems, and contamination.'"
Albuquerque Journal, February 22, 2018:
NNSA wants more plutonium in Los Alamos facility
"The release of the document drew immediate fire from watchdogs and critics of the lab. Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said recategorizing RLUOB was approved by former Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in 2015 and more than $2 million has been spent since then. Coghlan said conducting an environmental assessment 'after the fact' may violate federal law that requires public comment before commitment of 'irretrievable resources.' "Coghlan added, 'This environmental assessment to raise the plutonium limit in the Rad Lab should not be a standalone document, but instead be part of a far broader programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production.'
"Critics like Coghlan and Mello say no new pits are needed with thousands produced in the past still around and the Navy's distaste for a new kind of warhead for which new pits have been proposed."
Albuquerque Journal, February 11, 2018:
More federal dollars for NM's labs?
"Meanwhile, Jay Coghlan, director of Nuke Watch New Mexico and a close observer of weapons budgets, joins other New Mexico nuclear watchdogs in contending the expensive demand for more plutonium pits and lower-yield nuclear weapons in the Nuclear Posture Review is overkill and a waste of tax dollars.
"Nuke Watch's Coghlan said the Nuclear Posture Review expands the NNSA's demand for plutonium pits from previous benchmarks. He said the 2015 Defense Authorization Act called for production of between 50 and 80 plutonium pits per year. The new posture review says the Defense Department now demands "at least 80 pits per year by 2030."Coghlan said the increase could push at least some production to Savannah River.
"'It's mission creep,' Coghlan said. "'The more pits they want to produce the more it tilts to Savannah River for industrial type production. We're going back to a Cold War configuration.' "Coghlan said he envisions a scenario in which Los Alamos becomes more tilted to 'boutique' research and development of plutonium pits with Savannah River performing more large-scale 'assembly line' pit production."
Santa Fe New Mexican, February 2, 2018:
Nuclear buildup could mean work for labs in N.M.
"What this means for Northern New Mexico is unnecessary plutonium pit production for unneeded new nuclear weapons designs in an escalating arms race," said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. "That will inevitably bring more contamination and safety problems."
Counterpunch, January 25, 2018:
Trump's Draft Nuclear Posture Review Degrades National Security
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico in Santa Fe keeps a critical eye on programs and problems at the state's two nuclear weapons design and production laboratories, Los Alamos and Sandia. In the following, Nuclear Watch NM provides expert analysis of the latest official gibberish."
[Here follow the essential points from the NukeWatch press release of January 12, 2018.]
"Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch's Executive Director, concludes with a grim prognosis:
"'The new NPR does not even begin to meet our long-term need to eliminate the one class of weapons of mass destruction that can truly destroy our country. It will instead set back arms control efforts and further hollow out our country by diverting yet more huge sums of money to the usual giant weapons contractors at the expense of public health and education, environmental protection, natural disaster recovery, etc. Under the Trump Administration and this NPR, expect Medicare and social security to be attacked to help pay for a false sense of military superiority.'"
Los Alamos Daily Post, January 18, 2018:
DOE And NMED Hold Joint Meeting On Legacy Waste Clean-Up
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch told EM and NMED officials there has been no opportunity for the public to provide input before decisions are made and that's what counts. "You're standing here telling us what decisions are being made and we're going to have strong disagreement," Coghlan said.
Other concerns also were voiced about the lack of public participation and the opportunity to comment on the clean-up schedule as well as the feeling that the schedule is determined by funding at DOE's discretion rather than the schedule driving the funding as it was under the 2005 Consent Order.
NMED Hazardous Waste Bureau Chief John Kieling was questioned about whether stipulated penalties under the Consent Order would be paid out of clean-up funds or come from elsewhere such as from funds docked from contractors by NNSA. Kieling said he had not talked to the NMED Secretary recently but he believed the stipulated penalties would come from elsewhere.
Albuquerque Journal, December 20, 2017:
LANL work merged in contract
The contract amount comes to "cleanup on the cheap", said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent lab critic. A federal estimate shows that $3.8 billion in cleanup work remains at the lab, even while leaving much of the waste buried, Coghlan said.
Roswell Daily Record, December 9, 2017:
Groups plan opposition to proposed nuclear fuel site
The Saturday meeting in Roswell at North Main hotel brought together college students, faith leaders and people from various New Mexico advocacy groups. Those included the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, the Sierra Club, Beyond Nuclear, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the Nuclear Issues Study Group, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment. A few representatives from groups in other states also attended.
Santa Fe New Mexican, November 30, 2017:
State auditors challenge WIPP leak settlement
Instead of imposing the fines, however, the state Environment Department issued a new consent order in 2016 that creates milestones for future cleanup but does not stipulate deadlines or penalties.
Jay Coghlan, director of the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico and a critic of the Environment Department, filed a lawsuit against the state for failing to enforce lab cleanup penalties. In a statement this week, he said Tongate "and others are positioning the state's Environment Department to 'cooperate' with the lab. Nuke Watch views it as 'collaborating' with the lab, in the pejorative sense of the word.
"We want a New Mexico Environment Department that actively, aggressively protects the environment," Coghlan said.
Albuquerque Journal, November 28, 2017:
Terry Wallace named new director of Los Alamos lab
A frequent lab critic wasn't impressed with Wallace's history at LANL. "Wallace is a lab good ol' boy," said Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. "He'll no doubt have his hand out for more taxpayer dollars for more nuclear weapons programs on the Hill, plus his own pet billion dollar boondoggles."
Santa Fe New Mexican, November 13, 2017:
Letters: A plume of contamination
New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Butch Tongate must have been joking to accuse Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico of personally profiting from Los Alamos National Laboratory's environmental failures ("Full extent of chromium plume unknown," Nov. 3). Tongate must know his $125,000-a-year salary plus benefits dwarfs Coghlan's salary from his struggling nonprofit.
But even more inappropriate is Tongate's description of the New Mexico Environment Department's relationship to LANL as "cooperative." The city water task force I served on in the early 2000s was told by a LANL hydrologist that there was zero possibility of lab contaminants reaching the regional aquifer where a toxic chromium plume is now spreading. Tongate and his staff's job is to protect our health and environment- it is not to cooperate with LANL in cheating us by allowing "cleanup" on the cheap. Fortunately, in 14 months, this administration will end, and with it the coddling of LANL. Then maybe we can see some real, job-producing cleanup at the lab.
- Cathie Sullivan (Ms. Sullivan serves on Nukewatch's steering committee)
Santa Fe New Mexican, November 3, 2017:
Full extent of chromium plume remains unknown
Butch Tongate, secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, told lawmakers the state was working with the lab on the cleanup and would not require it to drill new wells at this time around the area of the plume.
That spurred criticism from Jay Coghlan, director of the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico and a long-standing critic of the lab. Coghlan said he was disappointed to hear the secretary say that "there is no urgent requirement to put in new monitoring wells in the near future."
Outside the hearing room, Tongate accused Coghlan of profiting from his criticism of environmental failures at the lab. "We think you are in a mode- I would call it a collaborationist- with Los Alamos," Coghlan fired back, "which we don't like." "Well, I would call it cooperative," Tongate said of his agency's relationship with the lab. "I don't see any benefit in being adversarial," he said, "the way it was" under the previous administration.
Los Alamos Monitor, November 1, 2017:
Santa Fe's call to halt plutonium pit program will not affect Los Alamos
Nuclear Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan said they would like to see more communities in the region pass similar resolutions, with a goal to get LANL and the state to listen to their concerns. Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales is the chairman the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, a coalition that represents the community‚Äôs interests in relation to the LANL. "Other local governments may pass resolutions similar to that just passed by the City of Santa Fe. Perhaps this could persuade the Regional Coalition to actively advocate for enhanced nuclear safety before plutonium pit production is expanded, and genuine, comprehensive cleanup that could truly drive regional economic development," Coghlan said in a written statement.
Oak Ridge Today, October 23, 2017:
DOE, NNSA deny alleged risk of 'catastrophic collapse' of old Y-12 buildings
The plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit filed in federal court in July alleged that there is a risk of a catastrophic collapse of old buildings containing nuclear weapon components at the Y-12 National Security Complex, possibly due to a large earthquake. The 44-page civil complaint, which is related to the planned Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, was filed July 20 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. The seven plaintiffs include three public interest organizations- Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, and Natural Resources Defense Council of Washington, D.C.
Santa Fe New Mexican, September 19, 2017:
Further tests are needed after tainted well sample, officials say
"Scott Kovac, with the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which first discovered lab reports of the new well's chromium levels on a website, said the state and federal response to the issue leaves significant questions about how large the plume really is and how the laboratory will proceed in treating the extensive contamination.
"'LANL has spent millions of dollars on the models and used the data to choose the location of the well in question,' he said, yet 'the models missed the size of the plume.' If water is injected into the newly drilled well to pump and treat the contamination, 'the plume will likely grow,' he added. "Now, Kovac said, the lab's whole mitigation plan 'has just turned into big question mark.'"
Albuquerque Journal, September 18, 2017:
High chromium levels found at one Los Alamos well
"The readings were first made public by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which said in a news release, 'The new data suggest there will have to be a complete rethinking of chromium groundwater treatment' and that cleanup will take longer and cost more."
Los Alamos Monitor, September 18, 2017:
Mortandad Canyon chromium plume may be wider than expected
"According to Nuclear Watch Director Jay Coghlan, the data further bolsters the group's argument that the Department of Energy and the New Mexico Environment Department need to rework its 2016 consent order. The order is a blueprint of cleanup criteria and milestones LANL and the DOE Environmental Management office needs to adhere to in its waste cleanup operations around the site.
"Timely budgets for additional urgently needed cleanup work at Los Alamos are far from being a given. The 2016 Consent Order that NMED and DOE negotiated both weakened and delayed cleanup at LANL, and allows DOE to get out of cleanup by simply claiming that it is too expensive or difficult, Coghlan said. 'But we demand that DOE find additional funding to immediately address this threat to New Mexico's precious water resources, without robbing other badly needed cleanup projects.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, September 16, 2017:
Cancer-causing chemicals appear to spread in regional aquifer near LANL
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which first discovered the high levels of chromium in CrIV-6, called the plume a serious threat to New Mexico's water resource.
"'The remediation is turning out to be this decades-long- or longer- process of investigating exactly where the plume is,' said Scott Kovac, director of operations and research for Nuclear Watch.'The geology under Los Alamos is so complicated, anybody that says they know what's happening under there is taking liberties.'
Kovac said the high levels of chromium indicate the plume may be growing more rapidly than the lab anticipated and may result in higher costs, as well as a longer time frame, to clean up the widespread pollution.
"'It is easy for data to get buried and never see the light of day in the Lab's contamination database,' he added in a statement. 'LANL should proactively keep the public continuously informed of important new developments.'"
KSFR Radio Santa Fe, Sept 7, 2017:
Rep. Ted Lieu and Jay Coghlan Interview on 101.1 FM
Congressman Lieu (D.CA) was given the Leadership Award by Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in May of this year for his sponsorship of HR 669, a bill to restrict the president's sole authority to launch nuclear war (mirrored in the Senate by S.200 introduced by Sen. Ed Markey D.MA). Nukewatch director Jay Coghlan is the current chairman of ANA. "Living on the Edge" with David Bacon, 101.1 FM
Albuquerque Journal, September 5, 2017:
When it comes to nukes, it‚Äôs complicated
[Regarding a resolution before the Santa Fe City Council]
"Here's what Jay Coghlan of the watchdog Nuclear Watch New Mexico group said about the Obama administration's last budget plan: 'Recall that President Obama received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Instead, the last budget of his
administrations sets an all-time record for funding Department of Energy nuclear weapons programs. What this means at Los Alamos is that the lab's future is being increasingly tied to expanded production of plutonium pits, the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.'" Albuquerque Journal, September 5, 2017:
LANL director announces retirement
"The watchdog Nuclear Watch New Mexico said of McMillan's departure: 'There's got to be a whole lot more behind this abrupt resignation.‚Ä¶ He's the poster child for why the profit motive should not run nuclear weapons facilities. Here's hoping for better LANL management next time.' The lab listed McMillan's total compensation at $1.5 million in a 2013 federal disclosure report."
Santa Fe New Mexican Sep 5, 2017 :
Los Alamos lab director retiring at year's end
"Others said the high salary that McMillan received while he oversaw serious safety lapses highlighted fundamental issues at the lab. Jay Coghlan, director of the watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, 'We like to call him McMillion for the annual paycheck he was receiving while running the lab into the ground with an exploding radioactive waste drum at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant and ongoing nuclear safety lapses at Los Alamos' plutonium facility. He's the poster child for why the profit motive should not run nuclear weapons facilities,' he said.
"With the lab management contract out for bid, Coghlan and others, including the University Professional and Technical Employees union, have questioned the for-profit management model at the lab, which began when Los Alamos National Security was hired in 2006 to run LANL." Albuquerque Journal, August 14, 2017:
Two board members question move by nuclear safety agency
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico commended the two board members for raising objections. 'It's part of a continuing pattern to try and muzzle the board,' he said of the staff deal. "Don Hancock of the Albuquerque-based Southwest Research and Information Center said it was 'pretty unusual' to see a public split among DNFSB members, who are presidential appointees. 'From the public's standpoint, we need more confidence in the oversight of DOE and the NNSA, not less,' he said."
Colorado Daily, August 10, 2017:
Peace Train: On the brink of nuclear hostilities
"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."
- President Harry Truman, Aug. 6, 1945
"They will be met with fire and fury and, frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before."
- President Donald Trump, Aug. 8, 2017
"Steve Miller of Nuclear Watch New Mexico noticed the two similar quotes, from Truman and Trump, 72 years apart. Two hours later, North Korea said it was reviewing plans to strike U.S. military targets in Guam with medium-range ballistic missiles to create "enveloping fire," according to North Korean state media.
"Miller went on to say, '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 is planned. Where does that road lead?'"
Aug 3, 2017
Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch Director Interview
With David Bacon on Living on the Edge, KSFR. Archived podcast here
Santa Fe New Mexican, August 4, 2017:
Lab Might Have Known Dangerous Waste Was Unmarked
"Jay Coghlan, director of the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico, questioned why, if the state had discovered the problem with the container, it didn't 'deal with it immediately as an imminent danger that put workers and the public at risk?'
"Coghlan said the state has undervalued the lab's waste management violations in the past, setting fines that are too low. And, he said, millions of dollars in fines for a number of violations that accrued under a 2005 consent order governing the management of the lab's legacy waste went unpaid. Instead, the cleanup order was revised in June 2016, and outstanding penalties were wiped away.
"Coghlan filed a lawsuit against the state for not imposing penalties under the former cleanup agreement, but a ruling in that case is still pending.
"The Environment Department has said the new consent order creates a stronger enforcement policy than the previous agreement.
"Coghlan disagrees. 'All of this demonstrates a lack of oversight,' he said, 'and a failure to use its authority on the part of Governor Martinez and the Environment Department.'"
ABC News, May 27, 2017:
US nuclear lab's future up in the air after recent fire
"Fattening up our already bloated nuclear weapons stockpile is not going to improve our national security," said Jay Coghlan, the director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, in a news release issued Friday. "New Mexicans desperately need better funded schools and health care, not expanded plutonium pit production that will cause more pollution and threaten our scarce water
(Article picked up from the SF NewMexican piece below)
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 20, 2017:
Lab fire highlights ongoing LANL waste problems
"Fattening up our already bloated nuclear weapons stockpile is not going to improve our national security," said Jay Coghlan, the director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, in a news release issued Friday. "New Mexicans desperately need better funded schools and health care, not expanded plutonium pit production that will cause more pollution and threaten our scarce water resources." Los Alamos Monitor, March 31, 2017:
Citizen board recommends DOE shed more light on WIPP waste storage
"Scott Kovac, of Nuclear Watch, wished the DOE didn't propose the above ground facility in the first place, because it adds an extra step and delays in getting the dangerous waste into WIPP's permanent below ground facility.
"'They should just spend the money fixing up WIPP instead of these other things, I think they'd be farther along.' Kovac said."
Reaching Critical Will, March 28, 2017:
US Nuclear Weapon Modernization: Implications For The Ban Treaty
Report on the panel discussion at the UN, March 28, 2017.
"Coghlan said that responsibility for pit fabrication shifted to Los Alamos National Lab in the late 1980s, but repeated efforts to establish full-scale (80 warheads/ year) production capacity have failed. The Trump Administration and a Republican Congress are likely to advance funding for new pit facilities at Los Alamos. 'All of this is in the name of Stockpile Stewardship,' said Coghlan, 'which is a fig leaf to disguise new weapons design.'"
"More information on US modernization plans can be found in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability's Trillion Dollar Trainwreck."
Truth-Out, March 6, 2017:
Trump Is Bankrupting Our Nation to Enrich the War Profiteers
This is a well researched paper [in spite of blaming Obama admin developments on Trump] with many linked sources, including in three instances, links to NukeWatch.org:
- "Yet the Trump administration [sic] is proposing to spend a trillion dollars or more over the next three decades upgrading the US nuclear weapons triad..."
- "We know from other sources that $1.4 billion a year is coming from the DOE for operation of the Sandia nuclear weapons lab..."
- "Components arm, fuse, fire, generate neutrons to start nuclear reactions..."
The Daily Beast, February 28, 2017:
What Was Trump‚Äôs Air Force Pick Doing For All That Cash?
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear watchdog group in Wilson‚Äôs home state, was even more skeptical. Wilson's work for Lockheed Martin and other nuclear contractors "obviously raises very serious ethical questions," Coghlan said. Coghlan conceded that the recent presidential election represented a vote for change, but added that "part of that change should be appointing ethical people to senior positions. And [Wilson has] failed that test."
Center for Public Integrity, February 8, 2017:
Air Force Secretary Nominee Helped A Major Defense Contractor Lobby For More Federal Funds
Wilson's appointment got the attention of an anti-nuclear watchdog group in her home state, Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Wilson ignored pleas by the group's executive director, Jay Coghlan, to step down from the congressional commission over the perceived conflict of interest.
For Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Coghlan, Wilson's prospective role as the head of the Air Force- one of the primary customers for Lockheed Martin and the other nuclear weapon contractors that employed her- sets off alarms.
"It obviously raises very serious ethical questions," Coghlan said. "The presidential vote can be viewed as a popular vote for change, but part of that change should be appointing ethical people to senior positions. And she's failed that test. I anticipate she's going to be asked some tough questions during her confirmation hearing."
Politico, February 8, 2017:
Records show how Air Force nominee skirted lobbying restrictions
Same article by Patrick Malone as above, including the same citations of Nuclear Watch and Jay Coghlan.
NM Political Report, February 10, 2017:
Air Force Secretary nominee helped a major defense contractor lobby for more federal funds
Same article by Patrick Malone as above, including the same citations of Nuclear Watch and Jay Coghlan.
Santa Fe New Mexican, January 4, 2017:
LANL Improves In Annual Federal Evaluation; Safety, Waste Issues Persist
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement that while the Energy Department has said it learned its lesson from Rocky Flats, Los Alamos "has had a long history of inadequate safety analyses and unacceptable nuclear criticality risks."
"Clearly these issues need to be 100 percent resolved before NNSA even thinks about expanding plutonium pit production," he said.
Albuquerque Journal, January 4, 2017:
Amid transitions, both NM nuke labs get good evaluations
Despite this year's "very good" rating for LANL, Watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico noted shortcomings that NNSA cited in the evaluation over criticality safety issues related to plutonium work (a nuclear criticality event is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction) as the lab moves toward ramping up production of plutonium "pits," the cores that trigger nuclear weapons' explosions. Parts of the evaluation say that required improvements "to the Criticality Safety Program are moving at an unacceptably slow rate" and that the leadership in operations management "has not prioritized needed criticality safety activities and improvements adequately... The number and latency of infractions in the plutonium facility is of concern." 2016
The Guardian, November 1, 2016:
Atomic City, USA: how once-secret Los Alamos became a millionaire's enclave
Home to the scientists who built the nuclear bomb, the company town of Los Alamos, New Mexico is today one of the richest in the country ‚Äì even as toxic waste threatens its residents and neighboring Espa√±ola struggles with poverty
"'It's a stark example of the proverbial 1% and the other 99%,' says Jay Coghlan, sitting in a large reclining chair in the living room of his home in Santa Fe. A 45 minute drive south-east from Los Alamos, his home doubles as an office for Nuclear Watch New Mexico. 'Neighboring communities have not benefited much at all, with the obvious exception that there's jobs,' he says. 'Benefits have been very insular and privileged to the nuclear enclave itself.' The environmental impact of living next door to a nuclear research lab is another sore issue. Some radioactive waste is still disposed of at the lab's 'Area G' compound (although this could end next year), and there is still so-called 'legacy waste', which has not been cleaned up and will take billions of dollars to address. The carcinogenic plume of hexavalent chromium, meanwhile, which was discovered 10 years ago, is migrating towards nearby Native lands and the regional aquifer."
Santa Fe New Mexican, October 10, 2016:
LANL makes progress on Area G cleanup, but doubts remain
"Watchdog groups suggested the decision was based on the fact that Area G is nearing capacity. The last open trench, pit 38, which spans more than 100 meters, is the only area with space to accept new waste. 'The pit is going to be full,' said Scott Kovac, research director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico. 'It is not like they are just stopping out of the goodness of their own heart.' Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said these estimates were based on false
assumptions. 'I will call it willful misrepresentation, ignoring 90 percent of the waste that is there,' he said. Coghlan estimates that the full scope of waste is 30 times higher than the numbers provided by the lab."
Sputnik International News, October 6, 2016:
End of US-Russia Plutonium Pact 'Not Catastrophic' for Nonproliferation Goals
WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Leandra Bernstein. Nuclear Watch New Mexico Executive Director Jay Coghlan claims that Moscow's decision to cancel the US-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which is aimed at reducing stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium, will not hurt the goal of nuclear nonproliferation.
"Moscow's decision to cancel the US-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which is aimed at reducing stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium, will not hurt the goal of nuclear nonproliferation, Nuclear Watch New Mexico Executive Director Jay Coghlan told Sputnik. "It's significant, but not catastrophic," Coghlan said on Wednesday. "I still think that both countries will eventually dispose of the excess plutonium. But I cynically add that this is only because‚Ä¶both countries already have too much plutonium for their weapons, so they don't really care."
"Coghlan expressed skepticism that any significant nonproliferation goals would have been met under the agreement.
"'The US has more than enough plutonium to do what it wants with nuclear weapons on into the indefinite future,' he said. Because the agreement calls for converting weapons-grade plutonium into a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel to be used for civilian nuclear power, Russia could continue producing plutonium, Coghlan argued. 'Russian use of MOX in breeder reactors could produce additional plutonium, depending on how the reactors are configured,' he stated."
Albuquerque Journal, October 6, 2016:
Report: Los Alamos to end radioactive on-site waste disposal
"Critics maintain the DOE's cost estimates are low and note that the agency expects to use an engineered cover' at the site, instead of exhuming and removing hazardous materials, which Nuclear Watch New Mexico says would leave the materials permanently buried above the regional aquifer and three miles uphill from the Rio Grande.
"New Mexico and the U.S. Energy Department first signed a consent order that guides cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory more than a decade ago. A revised order was signed this year. Nuke Watch is challenging the new agreement in court."
Santa Fe New Mexican, September 24, 2016:
After controversial firing, ex-LANL employee looking to rebuild career
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said it was "highly unethical of the lab to fire him in the first place, and they were stomping on his right to free speech because he wasn't stomping for the party line... His study was retroactively classified and the lab could do that because of just one word that he used," Coghlan said. "And that word is 'Israel.' He listed Israel among the known nuclear weapons powers - didn't single Israel out, just, again, mentioned the word Israel. So it goes to show just how ridiculous the nuclear weapons policies are about the use of classification. That's kind of the worst-kept secret in the world - that Israel has nuclear weapons."
Albuquerque Journal, September 21, 2016:
Nuke Watch: Lab cleanup report understates costs, waste amounts at Los Alamos
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico says a highly touted new cost estimate for completing cleanup of decades‚Äô worth of radioactive and hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory is based more on the likely stream of federal funding rather than the actual cost of dealing with the toxic materials." Note: This entire article is a review of Nuclear Watch's critique of the new DOE report on LANL cleanup; see the full article.
San Francisco Chronicle, September 10, 2016:
Los Alamos Lab in for long environmental clean-up process
"Advocacy groups have challenged the validity of the clean-up process. Some say the polluted water is still doing damage and making animals sick. 'The Department of Energy and Los Alamos Labs, they need to have their feet held to the fire,' said Jay Coghlan, director of anti- nuclear weapons group Nuke Watch New Mexico. His group recently filed a lawsuit, calling for a judge to void a new clean-up agreement between the state and federal government." (Article deleted)
Amarillo Globe-News, September 8, 2016:
Report: Pantex in dire need of upgrades
"However, some nuclear watchdogs are not convinced. Jay Coghlan- a representative of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a group that seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities- said the cost of nuclear facilities is 'a real burden on the American taxpayer. The $3.7 billion is a big number that has accrued over the years that shows chronic disregard of safety.' He pointed to comments from Thornberry made in 2015 during a talk at the Atlantic Council, a think tank in the field of international affairs, alleging that workers at nuclear facilities have to 'shoot rats off of their lunch in some of the facilities that they were working in.' In Coghlan's view, the federal government is too lax in its oversight of Pantex and other national security complexes. 'This is one of the root problems. The private contractors who essentially run (Pantex) are greedy and on the lookout for more money, however they can get it,' Coghlan said. 'If they had prudently safeguarded things as it went along, they wouldn't be asking for more taxpayer money.'"
KUNM FM, September 7, 2016:
LANL's Long Environmental Cleanup
All said, the cleanup at Los Alamos has been a contentious process, to put it mildly. "'It's gutless,' said Jay Coghlan, director of the anti-nuclear weapons group Nuke Watch New Mexico. 'The Department of Energy and Los Alamos Labs, they need to have their feet held to the fire.' "Nuke Watch recently filed a lawsuit asking a judge to throw out a new cleanup agreement between the state and the federal government- called a consent order- saying it is ineffective and was put together without the required public input.
"'They've now come out with a new consent order that lacks any true enforceability,' Coghlan said. "For example, the department of energy or Los Alamos lab can simply claim that it doesn't have enough money for cleanup and then get out of cleanup. Or claim that it's too technically difficult.'
"The New Mexico Environment Department has criticized the DOE's cleanup proposals, too, but they've called Nuke Watch's lawsuit 'frivolous' and are now seeking to block it in court."
Albuquerque Journal, September 1, 2016:
State: Dismiss LANL cleanup lawsuit
"The New Mexico Environment Department has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Nuclear Watch New Mexico that seeks invalidation of a new agreement between the state and federal governments over cleanup of radioactive and hazardous waste from nuclear weapons work at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"Nuke Watch maintains that a June 'consent order' agreement between the Environment Department and DOE was executed without a formal public hearing, as required by terms of an original 2005 cleanup deal between the state and the federal government.
"The Nuke Watch litigation also alleges DOE and the private contractor that runs the laboratory owe hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for missing cleanup deadlines set in 2005... The department wasn't named as a defendant in the Nuke Watch suit but intervened in the case. "Nuke Watch director Jay Coghlan said via email Wednesday there's 'great irony in that NMED intervenes against us, raising the question whose side is it on, the environment or the polluter (in this case a $2.3 billion/year nuclear weapons facility).' Coghlan also noted state government's budget woes, which include a $600 million deficit. 'Yet by our tally NMED forgave more than $300 million in potential fines for missed milestones in the 2005 Consent Order,' he wrote."
Santa Fe New Mexican, August 31, 2016:
State seeks to block lawsuit over LANL cleanup deal
The 2016 cleanup agreement explicitly states that the final version is not subject to appeal or public hearing, which drew criticism in June from several groups that said such language stifles public input.
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch, called the department's argument "flimsy semantics." "The so-called Environment Department, whose charge is to protect the environment, takes an existing consent order that was pretty tough and essentially guts it, and further claims the public has no recourse," he told The New Mexican on Wednesday.
Coghlan said Nuclear Watch maintains that the full public participation requirements apply to the new guidelines.
At a time when the state faces a massive deficit, Coghlan added, the state deferred to the interests of the lab and the Department of Energy rather than enforcing violations that would have generated funds for the state through fines and would have provided jobs in waste cleanup.
Some people praised the new agreement, but others raised concerns that it fails to establish any real, long-term cleanup deadlines and includes language that would enable cleanup work to be suspended if it were deemed too costly or "unreasonable."
"We are seeing the level of funding go down for cleanup while weapons programs are rising, and the consent order is no longer the stick by which to compel increased funding for cleanup because its not enforceable," Coghlan said. "It's a giveaway."
Amarillo News, August 16, 2016:
Pantex Plant to store more nuclear materials produced at Los Alamos lab
"'Here you have the NNSA site with the most weapons-grade plutonium, a dramatically increasing mission in weapons production, yet the old site-wide environmental impact statement dates back to 1996,' said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. 'I would assert that an environmental statement is long overdue, whether we are approaching the cap on storage
at Pantex or not.'"
Albuquerque Journal, August 12, 2016:
LANL plutonium project called 'a house of cards'
"Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the GAO report reveals the CMMR project to be 'a house of cards.' He said the DOE, because of cost overruns and busted deadlines, has been on GAO's 'high-risk list' watch list for the past 25 years. 'I assert this is more of the same,' he said.
"Coghlan noted that the report makes it clear that NNSA intends to upgrade the existing Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building that opened in 2014 to a nuclear facility that can accommodate additional plutonium and giving it a 'Hazard Category 3' designation - the rating for a nuclear facility where the risks are 'for only local significant consequences,' as opposed to bigger risks of off-site or more widespread on-campus contamination.
"Coghlan said there's been no environmental impact statement on that change and points to findings in the report that LANL has already started acquiring glove-boxes for the rad-lab that would have to be changed out and that the ventilation system also would need to be improved. "'This is the first time ever the NNSA, a troubled agency to begin with, has taken a radiological lab and tried to make it into a Hazard Category 3,' he said."
August 6, 2016
Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch Director Interview
Earth Matters Radio re legacy of the US nuclear weapons program on the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings. Thursday Aug 6 at 10 am and 8 pm on 89.1FM. Archived podcast here
Albuquerque Journal, July 29, 2016:
Environment secretary resigns from Cabinet post
"'The departure of Ryan Flynn is very welcome for those of us who believe that the mission of the state Environment Department is to protect the environment,' said Douglas Meiklejohn, executive director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Flynn has also been at odds with Nuclear Watch New Mexico over a "consent order" agreement last month with the federal government over cleanup of decades worth of radioactive and hazardous waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Nuclear Watch has filed a court challenge to the deal, saying it contains too many loopholes.
"Nuclear Watch Director Jay Coghlan said the consent order 'is going to be a big stain on (Flynn's) legacy. Having said that, I'll give him kudos that he did give us pretty good access and did hold serious discussions with us.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, July 28, 2016:
Feds estimates LANL cleanup at $1 billion less than state
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement that the federal cost estimate is not merely too low but also suggests "that the Lab's major radioactive and toxic wastes dumps will not be cleaned up." The lower price point, he said, indicates the Energy Department plans to "cap and cover" the estimated 200,000 cubic yards of toxic waste at sites atop Los Alamos mesas rather than move it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad or another secure facility. The "so-called cleanup ‚Ä¶ leaves tons of radioactive and toxic wastes in the ground that will permanently threaten Northern New Mexico's precious water resources," Coghlan said. Nuclear Watch New Mexico has been critical of both the Energy Department and
the state Environment Department over delays in cleanup at Los Alamos. The organization filed a recent lawsuit against the lab and its federal regulators over an agreement with the state that governs the lab's cleanup activities.
New Mexico Political Report, July 22, 2016:
Lowered deadline standards on new nuclear cleanup plan worries some
"'The Department of Energy hates penalties,' Scott Kovac, research and operations director with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in an interview. 'A deadline might shake out some funding from its budget.'
"Jon Block, a Santa Fe attorney helping Nuclear Watch in a lawsuit against the Environment Department over the cleanup issue, said consent orders on waste cleanup are supposed to allow states to hold the federal government accountable to complete the clean up. Instead, he argued that the state Environment Department is doing the opposite. 'They've turned over the cleanup to the polluter,' Block said in an interview. 'Instead of being the enforcer of noncompliance, they're the cooperator, the negotiator, 'we're your pal.' Block says this presents a problem because DOE's approach to cleaning up nuclear waste is to 'do the least work possible and spend the least amount of money.'
"The new consent order also gives DOE power to 'update' the Los Alamos cleanup deadlines based on issues like 'actual work progress, changed conditions and changes in anticipated funding levels.' To Kovac, this means that if DOE loses some of its money, the agency can use that as an excuse to not meet even the less flexible deadlines set under the new consent order."
Albuquerque Journal, July 19th, 2016:
Nuke Watch wants June LANL cleanup agreement tossed
"NuclearWatch New Mexico is asking a federal judge to invalidate a new agreement between New Mexico and the federal government over how and when to clean up decades' worth of hazardous waste left over from nuclear weapons work at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
"In an expanded version of a lawsuit Nuke Watch filed in May, the advocacy group maintains that the June "consent order" agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department and the federal Department of Energy was executed without a required, formal public hearing. "Scott Kovac, Nuke Watch's research director, said in statement, "We will not let the public's right for cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab be papered over by DOE and NMED. Both agencies agreed to all parts of the 2005 Consent Order, which included rigorous public participation requirements and a detailed the cleanup schedule, including a final compliance date. We will continue to push for the public to have a true voice in these important matters."
New Mexico Environmental Law Center, July 19th, 2016:
Groups Ask Judge to Declare New LANL Consent Order Invalid
"On behalf of Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NukeWatch), the New Mexico Environmental Law Center filed an amended complaint in its federal case to obtain 'reasonable but aggressive' cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The amended complaint asserts that the Consent Order signed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on June 24, 2016 is invalid."
Albuquerque Journal, July 14th, 2016:
Debate is on over making more nuke triggers at Los Alamos lab
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico notes that the wording of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that calls for making 80 pits annually asserts that the need is not driven solely by 'life extension programs' intended to keep current weapons in good shape.
"'It's not about simple maintenance,' Coghlan said. 'It's about advancing weapons designs ‚Ä¶ I assert that that's a blank check for them to do what they want to do.' He added: 'They are seeking to divorce expanded pit production from the technical necessities of the stockpile.'"
"Critics still say nothing has been offered to specifically justify up to 80 pits a year. 'You see the stated need and then there's no solid justification,' said Coghlan. He cites a 2008 interview with former Republican House member David Hobson of Ohio, who helped fight off the Modern Pit Facility. When Hobson questioned the need for 450 pits annually after years of being told that the weapons stockpile was in good shape, NNSA came back with a new offer of 250 pits, Hobson told Mother Jones magazine. 'These were nuclear weapons we were talking about and they hadn't given it more thought than that?' said Hobson, who served in the House from 1991 through 2009.
"Coghlan and Mello dispute the need to replace or retire weapons that have ostensibly been well- maintained over the years and with the 2006 report supporting a long life remaining for existing pits. Coughlan cites a study by Sandia National Laboratory from 1993, just after the U.S. stopped real-world nuclear weapons test explosions, that found no example of 'a nuclear weapon retirement where age was ever a major factor in the retirement decision.'"
Albuquerque Journal, June 24, 2016:
New Mexico, feds ink new agreement for Los Alamos cleanup
"But the head of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which called for more public input on the new order and recently sued DOE and the lab‚Äôs contract operator for missing deadlines set in the 2005 consent order, says the new deal allows too much leeway. It 'puts DOE in the driver's seat' by permitting milestones or targets to be changed if there‚Äôs not adequate funding or when DOE determines that cleanup plans are 'technically infeasible.' Nuke Watch's Jay Coghlan said." "Coghlan said Flynn's claims about the new agreement are 'hollow and misleading' and that the document contains 'no long-term enforceability for cleanup at Los Alamos.' ... 'DOE can just go, 'This is not practical or feasible', and get out of it,' he said. Coghlan also said Flynn allowed LANL more than 150 compliance extensions under the old consent order and is 'now giving DOE a new gift' of enforcement loopholes.
Albuquerque Journal, June 17, 2016:
Environment Department: LANL cleanup could cost $4B
Some critics, however, have said that having flexible deadlines for cleanup work is not an effective way to hold the lab accountable.
In April, Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a lawsuit against Los Alamos National Security and the Department of Energy over their failures to meet cleanup milestones under the 2005 consent order. The watchdog group said the state could have collected more than $300 million in penalties if the federal government was held accountable for the deadlines.
The state issued 150 extensions under the Martinez administration, which the lab still failed to meet, the group said.
Nuclear Watch Director Jay Coghlan said in a news release at the time that the group was aiming to make the lab and federal agency "clean up their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need."
He was referring to plans pending in Congress to increase plutonium pit production in Los Alamos over the coming decades.
Albuquerque Journal, June 17, 2016:
National military, policy experts to attend nuclear symposium
"But critics contend the billions spent on nuclear weapons in New Mexico don't help the economy as much as the labs' boosters claim. Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which advocates for nuclear weapons budget reductions, characterized the coming symposium as a 'love fest for the pending $1 trillion modernization of U.S. nuclear forces, which has the usual giant defense contractors salivating over huge profits.'"
KSFR FM, June 3, 2016:
Nuke Safety Activists Criticize Delayed LANL Performance Report
"Jay Coghlan, director of nuclear safety organization Nuclear Watch New Mexico, says there‚Äôs no good reason to have kept this information from the public for so long, especially when we‚Äôre footing the bill for LANL‚Äôs budget. KSFR‚Äôs Kate Powell checked in with Coghlan and brings us this report."
Albuquerque Journal, June 3, 2016:
Lockheed Martin planning Sandia bid
'Critics of Lockheed Martin have said the company should be disqualified based on a 2014 report by the Department of Energy's Office of Inspector General that concluded the firm wrongfully used federal funds for lab operations to lobby for the no-bid contract extension it received several years ago. Sandia Corp. and its parent company, Lockheed Martin, paid the federal government a $4.8 million fine for using tax dollars to lobby Congress and federal agencies for renewal of its then-$2.4 billion Sandia contract with the Department of Energy in violation of federal law. '"How can Lockheed Martin be entrusted to run the country's biggest nuclear weapons lab when it intentionally violates established U.S. law?" asked Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which scrutinizes budgets and operations at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories.
Public News Service, May 31, 2016:
Watchdog Sues Feds Over Los Alamos Nuke Waste Removal
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, says the DOE and its contractor, Los Alamos National Security or LANS, has done little more than kick the can down the road. 'We are alleging 12 counts, and it's pretty much indisputable, where they have missed compliance milestone deadlines,' says Coghlan. 'So, that's what our lawsuit's about, to try and compel the lab to meet those deadlines, which have passed.'
"Coghlan says the New Mexico Environment Department is revising its 2005 consent order to extend the deadline beyond 2018 to clean up the dumpsite. But he says there is a loophole, for it to be enforceable Congress would have to OK enough funds to complete the project. Today is the last day for public comment on the revisions. Coghlan says under the original consent order, DOE and LANS a partnership that includes Bechtel Corporation and the University of California have racked up and not yet paid more than $300 million in fines for missing deadlines. He thinks they should be forced to pay and to complete the work they've already been paid billions to perform.
"'There is an estimated 200,000 cubic yards of mixed waste, both radioactive and hazardous,' says Coghlan. 'The lab's idea (of) cleaning up is capping and covering them, and leaving them permanently buried.'"
Santa Fe Reporter, May 18, 2016:
Stalled LANL Cleanup to Court
"'The federal government plans to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding US nuclear forces. Meanwhile, cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed,' Jay Coghlan, executive director of NukeWatch, said in a press release. 'We seek to make the for-profit nuclear weaponeers clean up their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need.'"
Albuquerque Journal, May 17, 2016:
Nuke Watch sues for fines against DOE, Los Alamos lab over missed cleanup deadlines
"Nuke Watch's lawsuit asks for a court order requiring DOE and LANS to meet the 2005 cleanup requirements "'according to a reasonable but aggressive schedule ordered by the court' and imposing the $37,000-per-day fines for each expired deadline- now approaches $300 million, Nuke Watch said in a news release.
"The suit, filed for Nuke Watch by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, does not name NMED as a defendant. But Nuke Watch attacked the state agency in its news release, saying that in 2011 under Gov. Susana Martinez, NMED allowed LANS 'to stop virtually all cleanup, instead engaging in a 'campaign' to move above-ground, monitored radioactive transuranic wastes to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.'
"'‚Ä¶ 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,' said Nuke Watch, referring to a February 2014 incident for which DOE has payed a $74 million settlement.
"Nuke Watch says NMED's proposed consent order revisions would settle the outstanding cleanup violations and 'absolve' DOE and LANS of any fines.
"Scott Kovac, Nuke Watch's research director, said that 'under the Martinez administration NMED granted more than 150 extension requests, and DOE and LANS have still missed many of those deadlines. Nuke Watch has taken this necessary step to enforce cleanup at LANL, to hold DOE accountable for protecting New Mexicans, and to 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.'"
Amarillo Globe-News, May 17, 2016:
Feds Give Pantex Contractor 'Scathing' Review
"'That blew my mind,' said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and board president of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. 'They were saying, 'We gotta have the B61-12. We gotta rush production. Then they send the wrong tail kit.'
... "'I was a little surprised,' Coghlan said. "(The strike) was one area where I thought that maybe CNS got unfairly dinged.'
... "'I think this is a root cause of a number of deficiencies. They are not being self-critical and they have their hand out for taxpayer money and expect to be paid,' Coghlan said.
"'We are talking about extremely serious matters here. We are talking about special nuclear materials where you could end up having criticality events.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 14, 2016:
Feds find progress in LANL's performance, but still short of mark
NukeWatch Director Jay Coghlan published comment:
"The article's last sentence on how LANL did not agree to standard whistleblower protection deserves special attention. This raises the question of who is calling the shots, the federal government as overseers, or the self-vested for-profit nuclear weapons lab that receives more than $2 billion in taxpayer money every year, and has a long dismal history of whistleblower retaliation.
"The NNSA's Performance Evaluation Report reads:
Several contract clauses that were bilaterally incorporated into prime contracts at all other NNSA sites, including clauses for whistleblower protection for Laboratory employees and for conference management requirements, were not accepted by the Laboratory, resulting in atypical unilateral modifications by NNSA. ((report, see p. 44)
"I find this a shocking example of Lab exceptionalism, when every other NNSA site has agreed to standard whistleblower protections, but LANL does not. This is especially striking when Los Alamos is arguably the most scandal-ridden NNSA site, from the botched Wen Ho Lee affair to the missing classified tapes to the abrupt firing of two highly experienced investigators brought in to root out corruption at the Lab. How can an institution that routinely retaliates against whistleblowers be trusted?
"One of the things I am most proud about Nuclear Watch New Mexico is that we have three LANL whistleblowers on our Steering Committee. Whistleblowers must be honored, not retaliated against, for standing up on principle and exposing the incompetence, malfeasance, waste, fraud and abuse that is endemic across the Department of Energy‚Äôs nuclear weapons complex, but seems especially pronounced at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). "One cure is to have Congress make Los Alamos National Security, LLC, the for-profit contractor running the Lab, pay out of its own pocket for litigation costs against whistleblowers, instead of letting it keep its nose in a trough of unlimited taxpayers' money."
Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 14, 2016:
Sandia Labs contract up for bid
Lockheed Martin is considered the front-runner, but Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, thinks it should be barred. A Department of Energy Office of Inspector General report in 2014 found that Lockheed Martin used taxpayer money in lobbying for its no- bid contract extension several years ago. Sandia Corp. and Lockheed Martin paid a $4.8 million fine. "The lab does create jobs, of that there is no dispute, but there is a lot of economic propaganda that it has this multiplying effect," Coghlan also said. "I just don't think it's true."
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 13, 2016:
Nuclear watchdog group sues feds, LANL over 2005 accord
"The nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court, accusing the federal government and lab managers of over a dozen violations of a 2005 consent
order to clean up hazardous waste left after decades of nuclear weapons and chemical research. Under federal law, if the nonprofit wins the case, the lab and the federal agency could be on the hook for $37,500 a day for each violation of the order."
Albuquerque Journal, May 13, 2016:
Sandia gets outstanding evaluation from feds, but is criticized for lobbying
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, in a statement today, reacted to the evaluation's comment that the lobbying controversy had hurt Sandia's reputation.
"'What an understatement!' he wrote in an email. He said 'Lockheed Martin should be made to seriously pay for its lobbying crimes at Sandia' and called the $140,000 fee deduction for leadership 'peanuts.'
"'This is absurd and another sign of the out-of-control nuclear weapons industry, when Sandia officials should have been prosecuted for blatantly illegal lobbying activities and Lockheed Martin barred from competing for Sandia's new management contract because of its criminal history.'"
Albuquerque Journal, May 13, 2016:
Sandia Labs earn high marks in annual review
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico reacted by saying in a statement that Lockheed Martin ‚Äúshould be made to seriously pay for its lobbying crimes at Sandia‚Äù and called the $140,000 fee deduction ‚Äúpeanuts.‚Äù ‚ÄúSandia officials should have been prosecuted for blatantly illegal lobbying activities and Lockheed Martin barred from competing for Sandia‚Äôs new management contract because of its criminal history,‚Äù he said
Santa Fe New Mexican May 12, 2016:
Nuclear watchdog group sues feds, LANL over 2005 accord
The nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court, accusing the federal government and lab managers of over a dozen violations of a 2005 consent order to clean up hazardous waste left after decades of nuclear weapons and chemical research. Under federal law, if the nonprofit wins the case, the lab and the federal agency could be on the hook for $37,500 a day for each violation of the order.
Without the extensions, argue attorneys for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the lab and the Department of Energy are violating the consent order.
Albuquerque Journal, May 12, 2016:
Who will run Sandia Labs?
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a nuclear weapons watchdog group, told the Journal the expectation that significant private-sector job growth can result from any new Sandia contract is na√Øve, especially given that the lab has been a part of the Albuquerque community for decades and the city‚Äôs economy is still sputtering.
"'The lab does create jobs, of that there is no dispute, but there is a lot of economic propaganda that it has this multiplying effect,' Coghlan said. 'I just don‚Äôt think it‚Äôs true.'
Coghlan also said although Sandia is 'clearly better-run' than Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, he would prefer that Lockheed Martin be barred from receiving a Sandia contract.
"'In my view, Lockheed Martin should be barred from competing because of its clearly illegal
lobbying practices,' Coghlan said."
Huntington News, May 3, 2016:
NNSA releases Environmental Review of UPF Bomb Plant Plans
"The Supplement Analysis (SA) does exactly what we expected," said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance which, along with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the Supplement Analysis more than a year ago. "It attempts to shrug off radical changes as no big deal in order to move forward with the modernization of Y12."
‚ÄúAn SA is supposed to take a look at the existing environmental analysis and decide if it still matches up with the new proposed action. In this case, even though the new action is profoundly different from the old proposal, the NNSA says no new analysis is required.‚Äù
Los Alamos Daily Post, April 21, 2016:
Montano's Whistleblowing Recognized On Capitol Hill
On Tuesday, Montano was given an award by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a national network of organizations devoted to issues of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. He was recognized for his lifetime achievement as a whistleblower at LANL, where he worked for 32 years and retired in 2010, when his long-standing complaint of whistleblower retaliation was settled. During his embattled career he stood up to withering retaliation, while revealing business practice scandals at the lab, fighting for workers‚Äô rights and uncovering pay discrepancies for female workers.
At a ceremony in the Senate Hart Building, Montano, along with Sen. Diane Feinstein, (D-Calif) and Rep. Adam Smith, (D-WA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, also were honored for their efforts to hold the nuclear weapons military-industrial complex accountable.
"Nothing could mean more to me from any other group," Montano said. "These are people who are not paid for trying to do the right thing, dealing with issues of nuclear weapons and contamination of sites. They are my kind of people, doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do."
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and president of the ANA Board of Directors, said Montano's award was a tribute to his tireless efforts to expose fraud, waste and abuse and standing up against whistleblower retaliation. "We so value his courageous stance and he's been doing it over decades," Coghlan said in a call between lobbying visits in Washington Wednesday. "Whistleblowers are invaluable. We need to nurture them, not retaliate against them, and to listen carefully to the truth they speak to power."
Chuck Montano serves on the NuclearWatch NM steering committee.
Albuquerque Journal, April 8, 2016:
Watchdog pushes for labs' eval data
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico has filed a second request under the Freedom of Information Act for the evaluation reports, this time calling for 'expedited processing' for the documents that Nuke Watch maintains is required by law.
"Nuke Watch's new request cites part of the federal open records law that said agencies should provide a quick response to records requests if 'a compelling need exists when failure to obtain records expeditiously could reasonably be expected to pose a threat to the life or physical safety
of an individual or, when a request is submitted by a person primarily engaged in disseminating information and there is an urgency to inform the public about actual or alleged Federal Government activity.'
"Nuke Watch says that there is 'great public interest in the NNSA's Contractor Performance Evaluation Reports for many NNSA Facilities, but particularly in those reports for the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories.'
"The letter from the watchdog group's Jay Coghlan and Scott Kovac cites a recent Journal editorial that said, 'Either the National Nuclear Security Administration is running really late in completing performance evaluations of national weapons contractors or it is stonewalling in releasing them. Neither possibility is good.' The Journal also has submitted a FOIA request for the evaluations.
"Nuke Watch notes that, in 2012, after release of PERs was denied, it filed a lawsuit. The evaluations were released six days later and have since been posted annually. The latest request says that, under FOIA, the reports must be posted online in the NNSA's 'Electronic Reading Room' because the evaluations are 'frequently requested records.'"
Albuquerque Journal, March 31, 2016:
State proposes overhaul of LANL cleanup agreement with DOE
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said Wednesday he found too many loopholes in the draft agreement. He said it essentially holds cleanup hostage to DOE funding and that 'if DOE finds cleanup impractical' or technically unfeasible, 'they can get out of it.' Under the draft plan, milestones required of the DOE would be enforced using penalties. Coghlan commented that Flynn 'said the current consent order doesn't work. The reason it didn't work is because he eviscerated the consent order with more than 150 milestone extensions.' "Coghlan also said again that there hasn't been enough public participation in the consent order changes and they should have faced a formal process under which interested parties could request hearings to resolve disagreements."
Albuquerque Journal, March 30, 2016:
NM Environment Dept. rolls out new plan to require cleanup at Los Alamos
"Critics including Nuclear Watch New Mexico have said development of the draft proposal should have gone through a more formal public hearing process under which interested parties can request hearings to resolve disagreements and call witnesses that can be cross-examined. A hearing officer then would make recommendations to the Environment Department."
Santa Fe New Mexican, March 30, 2016:
Feds plan to send nuke waste to N.M.
"In January, the watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico filed a notice with the state Environment Department of its intent to sue over the missed deadline.
"Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the ventilation problems at WIPP are worrisome and need to be resolved before the plutonium is stored there. 'We don‚Äôt think they can do it without compromising workers safety,' he said of the plutonium plan. Plutonium is highly carcinogenic when it‚Äôs inhaled, he said."
Santa Fe New Mexican, March 30, 2016:
New Mexico rolls out cleanup proposal for federal lab
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico argued that there are "giant loopholes" in the proposal that would allow the Department of Energy to call the shots and even delay cleanup if funding isn't available... He also voiced concerns about the lack of public participation in developing the order and the ability of the public to weigh in on future changes.
"Watchdog groups have been critical of cleanup efforts at the lab, suggesting officials aren't going far enough to address the waste that was placed in drums, plastic bags and cardboard boxes and buried years ago in unlined pits and shafts on lab property. Nuclear Watch New Mexico contends soil samples taken from Area G show detectable amounts of plutonium and americium. The group maintains there are still threats to the regional aquifer that supplies water to several Northern New Mexico communities and that the radioactive waste needs to be moved before cleanup can begin at Area G.
"We want nothing short of comprehensive cleanup at the Los Alamos lab," Coghlan said. "That would be a real win-win for New Mexicans, permanently protecting our water and the environment while creating hundreds of high-paying jobs."
Albuquerque Journal, March 23, 2016:
LANL meeting with safety board reveals concerns
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said the lab‚Äôs belief in its own ‚Äúexceptionalism‚Äù is the problem and that LANL feels it doesn‚Äôt have to follow DOE rules."
Albuquerque Journal, March 18, 2016:
NNSA fails to release lab evaluations for past fiscal year
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said this week, "There is no good reason why the government should withhold information on how contractors paid by the American taxpayer perform. It looks like we going to have to sue again to get what should have already been automatically released in the name of good governance and contractor accountability."
Independant News, Jan 28, 2016:
Lawsuit Filed Against DOE, Los Alamos
"A New Mexico anti-nuclear group last week announced plans to sue the U.S. Department of Energy and Los Alamos National Laboratory, charging that the Laboratory has continually failed to meet hazardous waste cleanup milestones established by the state's Environment Department. The plans were detailed in a January 20 letter from the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, a Santa Fe based firm representing the anti-nuclear organization, Nuclear Watch New Mexico. "According to a news release issued by Nuclear Watch, the January 20 letter gives the formal notice that is required in order to file the suit, 'which (we) intend to do within 60 days.' Jay Coghlan, director of the anti-nuclear group, complained, 'The nuclear weaponeers plan to spend a trillion dollars over the next 30 years completely rebuilding U.S. nuclear forces (while) cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab, the birthplace of nuclear weapons, continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed.' He said the lawsuit would aim to force DOE and Los Alamos 'to clean up their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need.'
"A $74 million settlement between DOE and the New Mexico Environment Department, announced late last week, will not affect plans for the lawsuit, according to Scott Kovac, another Nuclear Watch leader. That settlement was related to problems arising from shipments of
transuranic radioactive waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant."
Amarillo News, Jan 24, 2016:
Rise in plutonium production points to more work at Pantex
"'Expanded plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos Lab is really all about future new-design nuclear weapons with new military capabilities produced through so-called Life Extension Programs for existing nuclear weapons,' said Nuclear Watch Director Jay Coghlan.
"'The real irony is that this Interoperable Warhead has been delayed for at least five years, if not forever, because of its enormous estimated expense and Navy skepticism. Yet this doesn't keep Los Alamos and the (National Nuclear Security Administration) from spending billions of taxpayer dollars ... for unnecessary and provocative expanded plutonium pit production.'
"'In reality, no stockpile pits have been manufactured since 2011, and none are currently scheduled, to us illustrating the lack of true need for any pit production to begin with,' Coghlan said. 'Future production would be for W87 pits for the Interoperable Warhead that would be a combined W78 and W97 warhead. But again, the IW has been delayed for 5 years, which bureaucratically could mean its death, especially given lack of Navy support.'"
- Story also carried by Lubbock Online
Los Alamos Daily Post, Jan 24, 2016:
LANL's Plutonium Plans Move Forward, Draw Fire
"The over-all 100-fold increase in exposure was criticized last week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Watch New Mexico and will certainly be challenged as the project unfolds."
KRQE/AP, Jan 23, 2016:
Nuclear trigger production could resume at Los Alamos lab
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said there is no need for expanded production in terms of the safety and reliability of the current stockpile, but that it is needed for future designs."
Public News Service, Jan. 22, 2016:
Watchdog Plans Lawsuit Over Lack of Los Alamos Cleanup
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico has put the federal government and the Los Alamos National Laboratory on notice that it plans to sue over what it contends is the failure to clean up nuclear and toxic waste at the lab site. The watchdog group says the lab hasn't executed its part of a 2005 consent order with the New Mexico Environmental Department to remove the waste. The group's biggest concern at Los Alamos is a site known as 'Area G,' which Nuclear Watch director Jay Coghlan said contains up to 200,000 cubic yards of poisonous debris, much of it left over from the Cold War. 'It's a waste dump for both radioactive and toxic materials that dates back to 1957,' he said. 'The lab plans to simply cap and cover it, and leave it forever.'
"Coghlan said the deadline for the lab to have a cleanup plan in place was last December. Coghlan said his group's concerns were raised recently when DOE announced plans for a trillion-dollar upgrade of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, with much of that money earmarked to improve the facilities at Los Alamos. 'To oversimplify, the nuclear weaponeers are getting ready to create a whole new round of nuclear weapons,' he said. 'Before cleaning up their first mess, they're getting ready to cause another.' He said Nuclear Watch filed a legally required notice with
DOE this week, and if the department takes no action, his group will file suit within 60 days to enforce the consent agreement.
"The DOE complaint letter is online at Nukewatch.org."
Albuquerque Journal North, Jan 22, 2016:
‚ÄòSteps‚Äô toward pit production made at Los Alamos
The Nuclear Watch New Mexico watchdog group, in a news release last week, said the recent moves "make explicit" the decision to expand pit-production capabilities at Los Alamos.
Lab watchdogs in New Mexico don't believe a case has been made for mass production of pits, even as they also question DOE's plans for how to make more of the nuclear triggers.
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said, "There is no need for expanded plutonium pit production to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile, but it is vital for future new designs that the nuclear weaponeers want."
Santa Fe New Mexican, Jan. 22, 2016:
Watchdog plans to sue over LANL's delayed cleanup
"Cleanup at the Los Alamos Lab cannot be open-ended or it will never be accomplished," said Scott Kovac, a NukeWatch research director, in a statement issued Wednesday.
"We've got to stop seeing the decline in cleanup funding," Jay Coghlan, executive director of NukeWatch, said in an interview Thursday. Coghlan said the money should be directed to waste management rather than creating new waste. He believes the lab needs at least $50 million more than its annual funding for cleanup, a budget of about $185 million. "I really doubt [cleanup] will move forward without the lawsuit," he said.
NukeWatch said it is seeking full accountability at every step of the cleanup effort, as well as a public comment period before the new consent order is "set in stone."
Albuquerque Journal North, Jan. 21, 2016:
Nuclear Watch to sue over LANL cleanup problems
"We are putting the weaponeers on notice that they have to clean up their radioactive and toxic mess first before making another one for a nuclear weapons stockpile that is already bloated far beyond what we need," said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuke Watch, a nonprofit watchdog group. He was referring to DOE's recent preliminary approvals for changes at Los Alamos, including new underground facilities, to accommodate re-starting production of plutonium "pits," the triggers for nuclear weapons.
Nuke Watch's Coghlan said Wednesday that cleanup at Los Alamos "continues to be delayed, delayed, delayed," despite plans to spend a trillion dollars over 30 years to rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons force.
Nuke Watch also has been pushing for a formal public hearing process- which Nuke Watch contends is required and allows interested parties to submit materials and question witnesses- as a revised consent order on cleanup is developed.
Albuquerque Journal North, Dec. 18, 2015:
LANL contract up for bid after 2017
"Jay Coghlan of the Nuclear Watch New Mexico watchdog group said the situation as described by McMillan [in the Lab Director's letter to LANL employees], with LANS getting an extension despite failing to earn an award term, was 'deja vu all over again,' similar to a later-rescinded
waiver that granted LANS an award year for fiscal 2012, although it hadn't met all the performance criteria. 'It seems awfully premature for director McMillan to indicate there's going to be a contract extension before it's actually finalized by the U.S. government,' Coghlan said. 'He's putting the cart before the horse, maybe putting on a happy face for his employees before they leave for Christmas.'"
Santa Fe Reporter, Dec. 18, 2015:
Some Cleanup, Some Patience
"Here we are more than 40 years after the last chromium was dumped into Sandia Canyon, and we are now starting cleanup," Nuclear Watch New Mexico's Scott Kovac writes SFR in an email. "This shows the Lab's preferred cleanup method, 'natural attenuation,' is really not cleanup at all. It's time to start comprehensive cleanup across Los Alamos, instead of hoping for the contaminants to go away."
McClatchy DC, Dec. 11, 2015:
America‚Äôs modernized nuclear arms roil diplomatic waters
"'What they're doing is taking a dumb bomb and turning it into a smart bomb and claiming that it's not a new military capability,' said Jay Coghlan, executive director at Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a nonproliferation group. 'It just doesn't square with reality.'
"Coghlan added that the B61-12's improved accuracy and lower yield could make it easier to justify its use in the future, since smaller, more precise blasts mean less radioactive fallout. "Russia has its own modernization programs, Coghlan points out. 'The end result is an arms race.'"
Santa Fe Reporter, Dec. 8, 2015:
Los Alamos Cleanup Past Due
"'It's delay, delay, delay,' says Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a watchdog group that took the occasion to sound the alarm on the practices and failures that they see bogging down cleanup at the lab. 'Under the Martinez administration, the [New Mexico Environment Department] granted more than 150 extensions, which is the opposite of enforcement, and essentially eviscerated the consent order and we see declining levels of funding for cleanup at Los Alamos.' The concern is that the longer this cleanup is postponed, the more it will fade from memory, and the less people will think to argue for a cleanup that could bring jobs to the area now, and protect its groundwater for the long term. "'We hear that we can't afford to do cleanup and at the same time the US government is ready to embark on a trillion dollar modernization of nuclear forces, so budget arguments against cleanup ring pretty hollow in our view,' Coghlan says. 'Go ask the public what they want, and ask northern New Mexicans what they want. They want cleanup over weapons.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, Dec. 7, 2015:
LANL misses cleanup deadline set in 2005 for largest waste site
Sunday's deadline focused on "Area G," LANL's largest waste deposit site. A local watchdog group, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said comprehensive cleanup for the site "is still decades away." In a statement released Monday, Nuclear Watch stressed the need for public participation in the revised cleanup order, including a public hearing, and condemned a plan proposed by LANL to "cap and cover" waste in Area G.
"Cleanup just keeps being delayed. If not corrected, cleanup simply won't happen," said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch. "Nobody ever thought cleanup would be fully completed by the end of 2015; nobody is under any illusions about that," he added.
Santa Fe Reporter, Nov. 18, 2015:
Consenting to Cleanup
"Jay Coghlan said, 'My biggest fear is that through this revised consent order, the NMED is basically giving up on being in the driver's seat.' Coghlan said annual planning should be in the state's control, and pointed to 'the Department of Energy's presence on the Government Accountability Office's high-risk list for 25 years as justifying the skepticism... The department has a record of blown schedules and blown costs.' he said."
Albuquerque Journal, Nov. 13, 2015:
What price a LANL cleanup? Somewhere north of $1.2B, says NMED secretary
"During a public comment period, Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said Hintze shouldn't ask the public to be 'realistic' about the LANL cleanup because DOE itself is a 'thoroughly unrealistic department' with a history of blown deadlines and blown cost estimates. He said that what LANL gets for cleanup is small compared to what's being spent by DOE to develop 'smart' new nuclear weapons.
"Coghlan said NMED needs to be 'in the driver's seat' in dictating cleanup work to DOE and that NMED had 'eviscerated' the 2005 consent decree by granting more than 100 milestone extensions. The intent of the 2005 agreement was to 'make it hurt' when the lab didn't meet requirements, Coghlan said. Flynn responded that he agrees that NMED needs to be in the driver's seat and that his administration has fined DOE more than any agency in the country. But he said it was his job to make sure the lab is clean, and to protect people and the environment, not to 'punish the lab.'"
Los Alamos Daily Post, Nov. 13, 2015:
Wash, Dry And Repeat... Billion Dollar Cleanup Settlement Starts Over
"Scott Kovak of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said he would reserve his judgement until there were more concrete details about the nature of the campaigns, but that he didn't see what was wrong with having deadlines and deliverables. Why, when problems and surprises came up, did the managers not revise the schedules, he wondered. 'There is no reason that schedules could not have been updated along the way,' he said."
PBS News Hour, Nov. 5, 2015:
America's nuclear bomb gets a makeover
"Jay Coghlin is with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear watchdog group. 'The American taxpayer should know that the directors of these nuclear weapons laboratories that are pushing these extreme proposals actually have an inherent conflict of interest: they are both the lab directors, and at the same time they are the presidents of the corporations running the labs. It's in their interest and to their bottom line to be able to have these life extension programs...'" (watch clip)
Albuquerque Journal, Oct. 9, 2015:
Consent Order on Los Alamos Lab Clean-up Facing Changes
"... But Nuclear Watch New Mexico is raising questions about how NMED is proceeding. The watchdog group says the state is violating the existing 2005 consent order by not following strict public participation rules that are part of the agreement.
'Our core fear is, we're afraid that the public participation ends up being public comment on a done deal already negotiated between DOE, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the environment department,' said Nuclear Watch's Jay Coghlan. 'We are just not confident that deep changes would occur that way.
'What NukeWatch wants is genuine, comprehensive cleanup that would be real win-win for New Mexico, permanently protecting New Mexicans while creating hundreds of high-paying jobs,' said Coghlan.
Nuclear Watch's Coghlan and Scott Kovac point to a portion of the existing consent order that mandates using the permit rules for public participation before certain kinds changes to the consent order, including 'extension of final compliance date.'
'It's there in black and white,' said Coghlan.
In a letter to NMED, NukeWatch's leaders say 'we seek the full public participation process required by the existing Consent Order, which includes the opportunity for a hearing if negotiations are not successful.'
Coghlan said the rigorous public participation rules 'get to disagreements before there is a done deal.' NukeWatch wants to assure that the public has 'a role in defining a matter of public interest- cleanup at Los Alamos to protect our water supply,' he said.
Coghlan said NMED has in the past granted more than 100 extensions of the consent order milestones and that its previous effort at a 'campaign' approach- the 3706 Campaign to push the lab to move out all of the TRU waste drums- 'ended in disaster with the closure of WIPP.'
'Can we be confident that the environment department is going to meet the genuine expectations of the public and that the lab will thoroughly be cleaned up? The answer to that is no.'
In a formal statement, NMED said that, under the consent order revisions, 'We've received Nuclear Watch's letter indicating that they believe that the revision of the CO agreement should be treated as a permit renewal instead, with public involvement to include full, year-long adjudicative hearings and we are taking that point of view into consideration because we agree that active public involvement improves outcomes.'"
Santa Fe Reporter, Oct. 7, 2015:
Leaks from the Lab: LANL works to pull chromium contamination back across property line and out of aquifer
"'The fact that it's 1,000 parts per billion 3 miles from where they dumped into the canyon is kind of scary, because it seems like there might be a lot of it out there,' says Scott Kovac, operations and research director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico. 'Chromium is very soluble; it's an indicator, like a canary in a coal mine... They dumped chromium in the upper part of Sandia Canyon from the '50s to the '70s, and it's already in the aquifer, so you can't tell me that the rest of the stuff [won't get there, too].' Ultimately, for all possible contaminants still stored on site at LANL, Kovac adds, 'The conclusion has to be to remove all the sources.'"
KZFR California, September 4th 2015:
Jay Coghlan Radio Interview
(podcast link)- begins Part 1, 33 minutes in.
The Independent, Livermore, CA, August 27, 2015
Effort to Avoid Contract Competition Will Cost Sandia Corp. $4.8 Million
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico, on the other hand, stated on its blog that it 'denounces the... settlement agreement as a slap on the wrist for the world's biggest defense contractor' Lockheed Martin. It called for Lockheed Martin to be banned from future competition for Sandia's operating contract."
Sputnik News, August 25, 2015:
US Nuclear Weapons Contractor Must Pay Millions for Misuse of Federal Funds
"For Jay Coghlan, executive director of watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Sandia‚Äôs punishment amounts to 'a slap on the wrist.' 'There should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws,' he wrote on NWNM‚Äôs website. 'Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition, and earned more than 100 million dollars while doing so.'"
Washington Post, August 24, 2015:
Lockheed Martin Pays $4.7 Million To Settle Charges It Lobbied For Federal Contract With Federal Money
"Friday's settlement was disparaged by bloggers critical of the national labs. Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico called the deal a 'slap on the wrist for the world's biggest defense contractor to pay.'
"'Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition, and earned more than 100 million dollars while doing so,' Coghlan wrote on the NuclearWatch blog, calling for criminal prosecution of the company. 'Lockheed engaged in deep and systemic corruption, including paying Congresswoman Heather Wilson $10,000 a month starting the day after she left office for so-called consulting services that had no written work requirements.'"
Center for Public Integrity, August 24, 2015:
Nuclear weapons contractor to pay millions for misuse of federal funds
By Patrick Malone
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of the nonprofit watchdog organization Nuclear Watch New Mexico, called the sum Sandia Corporation agreed to pay 'a slap on the wrist.' He said 'there should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws.'"
Patrick Malone's story was also carried, with Jay's quote, in several venues, including: - Public Radio International
- The Daily Beast
- NM Political Report
AllGov.com, August 24 2015:
Lockheed Pays Minor Penalty for Using Federal Funds to Lobby for more Federal Funds
AllGov provided a research link to the settlement agreement hosted at Nukewatch.org. "To Learn More:
- Settlement Agreement (NukeWatch.org) (pdf)"
Albuquerque Journal, August 24, 2015:
Feds fine Sandia for improper lobbying
"Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the fine was 'a slap on the wrist for the world's biggest defense contractor.' 'Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition,' Coghlan said. 'There should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws, and Lockheed Martin should be barred from future competition for the Sandia Labs contract, expected next year.'"
Panel Discussion, Santa Fe, August 8, 2015:
Nuclear Weapons, Los Alamos and Nonviolence
Panel discussion on the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with Bud Ryan, Jay Coghlan, Rev. Jim Lawson, Marian Naranjo, and Beata Tsosie- Pena.
Earth Matters Radio, Aug 6, 2015:
The Legacy of the US nuclear weapons program on the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings.
Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch Director, interview: Earth Matters Radio 89.1 FM
Huffington Post, August 5, 2015:
John Dear: Bob Dylan and America's 70-Year Nuclear Nightmare
"... On Saturday, we will hear from the leading voices of nonviolence in the nation- such as the great historian of nonviolence, Professor Erica Chenoweth; Ken Butigan, director of Campaign Nonviolence; Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence; Medea Benjamin, founder of CODEPINK; Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the HipHop Caucus; Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico; Marian Naranjo of Honor Our Pueblo Existence from the Santa Clara Pueblo, NM; Beata Tsosie-Pena from Tewa Women United in New Mexico; Dr. James Boyle, formerly of the Los Alamos National Labs; and Sister Joan Brown, an environmental activist and teacher."
Santa Fe New Mexican, July 30, 2015:
Latest audit cites more safety shortfalls at LANL
"'Los Alamos National Laboratory has been absolutely dismal about keeping its safety bases current and updated,' said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico."
Public News Service, July 15, 2015:
Udall: We Need to Understand Iran Nuclear Deal Specifics
"Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said he agrees with Udall that any agreement with any nation wanting a nuclear bomb is a good thing.
"'This has been a long dance between the United States and Iran, full of mutual recriminations and grievances,' he said. 'Let's just hope that this is a step forward towards a peaceful and potentially productive relationship.' More information on Nuclear Watch is online at nukewatch.org."
Truth Out, June 12, 2015:
Nuclear Weapons Labs Hit With Sizable Fines for New Security Violations
"'The fact that [Los Alamos National Security] didn't realize this material was missing for five years, and the unreliable nature of their review of it when they did learn about it is very disturbing,' Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a nonprofit watchdog organization that tracks nuclear labs in that state, said. 'It's particularly troubling because the investigators' report says it could have had a high level of damage to national security.'"
Santa Fe New Mexican, May 1, 2015:
$73M in WIPP leak fines to pay for roadwork, other projects
"Scott Kovac of the Santa Fe-based nonprofit watchdog Nuclear Watch New Mexico also saw good and bad in the settlement. 'It‚Äôs great that the fines did not come out of LANL‚Äôs cleanup budget... ' he said in an email. 'But have the for-profit contractors that run these facilities learned anything, except that Daddy DOE will bail them out?'‚Äù
Counterpunch, April 30, 2015:
Arresting the Wrong Suspects
"The day before, Sec. of State John Kerry double-spoke to the Gen. Assembly, promising to both continue with US nuclear posturing and dream of a nuclear-free world. I skipped the puffery and listened to Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch South explain the US government‚Äôs plans for three new H-bomb factories (one each in Tenn., Kansas and New Mexico), and the building of 80 new warheads every year until 2070. In 1996, the World Court declared the NPT to be a binding legal obligation to denuclearize. We got charged with it, but it‚Äôs the US that has refused a lawful order."
Albuquerque Journal, Feb. 2, 2015
White House budget plan a mixed bag for state's labs, WIPP
"Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico said the jump in spending is 'for an agency that the Government Accountability Office has long put on its high-risk list for wasting taxpayers‚Äô money.' He said, 'the guilty are being rewarded.' They also criticized an announcement in the
budget to spend $675 million on plans to upgrade a radiological lab facility to handle heavier grades of plutonium and another $1.4 billion to upgrade the lab's main plutonium facility. 'It‚Äôs common knowledge that NNSA's nuclear weapons programs have a staggering track record of cost overruns, schedule delays and security breaches,' Coghlan said."
Santa Fe New Mexican Jan. 18, 2015
New report by fired by LANL worker questions U.S. commitment to nonproliferation
"Last week, Doyle released a report developed in conjunction with the Santa Fe-based nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico. In the report, 'Essential Capabilities for Nuclear Security', he argues the merits of arms-control technology that he says was gaining momentum before funding efforts in Congress died. Instead, resources were diverted to building new components for aging nuclear weapons, such as the long-range campaign at Los Alamos, authorized by Congress and Obama, to produce replacement triggers at a pace not seen since the Cold War.
"'There's essentially technology with these capabilities sitting on the shelf up at Los Alamos and other national labs that haven't really been pushed out for deployment', said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico."
Public News Service, Jan. 17, 2015
Nuclear Watch NM: Government Could Spend $1 Trillion Modernizing Nukes
"Santa Fe, N.M. Nuclear Watch New Mexico says the U.S. government could spend a trillion dollars modernizing nuclear weapons that may not need modernizing.
Jay Coghlan, the watchdog group‚Äôs executive director, cites a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that projects the government could spend $355 billion updating the atomic weapons over the next decade.
Coghlan says the plan could reach the trillion-dollar mark over the next three decades.
He calls it an effort backed by the defense industry to make more money.
'And we do suggest that institutional greed is at the bottom of much of this,' he adds. 'You must remember, the nuclear-weapons complex is being run by for profit contractors.'
Coghlan points out U.S. nuclear bombs and defense strategy date back to the Cold War.
He says a modern attack would likely be similar to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, not a nuclear hit from another country.
Coghlan adds there is no point in spending a fortune modernizing weapons that research shows work just fine.
'Repeated studies have shown the existing stockpile to be even more reliable than previously thought,' he explains."
Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2015
Los Alamos lab contractor loses $57 million over nuclear waste accident
"'The size of the cut was astounding,' said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a group that scrutinizes operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 'It is a step in the right direction.' Coghlan said the Energy Department also reduced the duration of the management contract by one year for the consortium, which was selected in 2007 to help restore order to the lab's operations after more than a decade of security lapses, management errors and accounting scandals." This report was also carried on Phys.org entitled $57-million pay cut for lab contractor.
KVSF Santa Fe, January 9, 2015:
Jay Coghlan Radio Interview
NukeWatch executive director Jay Coghlan appeared on the Julia Goldberg Show (KVSF 101.5 FM) on January 9, speaking on the recent 90% award fee cuts against Los Alamos, as well as nuclear 'modernization' and the so-called 'second nuclear age'. Jay is on beginning at 28m 56s.
Albuquerque Journal, Dec. 29, 2014
Feds slash management fee for LANL contractor
"Jay Coghlan, of the Nuclear Watch New Mexico watchdog group, said he was stunned by the fee cut and said the lab contract should be rebid now. 'LANL lives in a little bit of a fantasy world and their own echo chamber of how great they are,' he said. 'This ought to be a real wake- up call.'"
Santa Fe Reporter, Dec. 19, 2014
Labs On The Naughty List- Watchdog groups urge feds to block incentives for Sandia and LANL
"'It's an incentive to do their job well... [and] both are misbehaving more than normal' says Scott Kovac, a research director at Nuclear Watch"
LA Times, Dec. 6, 2014
Mishaps at nuke repository lead to $54 million in penalties
"Last week, the Project on Government Oversight and Nuclear Watch New Mexico, two organizations that closely monitor the Energy Department, said in a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz that the consortium operating the Los Alamos lab should have its profits 'slashed' because of substandard performance. The two groups noted that the contractor could earn fees of up to $57 million for the fiscal year that ended in September."
KUNM, Nov. 18, 2014
Nuclear Security Expert James Doyle Talks WIPP, LANL And Non-Proliferation
"Doyle was terminated in July due to a reduction in force. He‚Äôs begun doing contract work for Nuclear Watch New Mexico in Santa Fe and the Belfer Center at Harvard University. He says the real reason he lost his job is that he had published an article challenging the logic behind nuclear weapons."
The Jicarita, October 28, 2014:
The B61 Bomb or Nonproliferation: Which Do You Prefer?
"At the end of July, the Center for Public Integrity revealed that LANL had fired James Doyle, its non-proliferation specialist. Doyle is the author of a study, "Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?", which LANL retroactively classified, although Doyle wrote it as a personal project and it remains available on the Nuclear Watch New Mexico website and other internet sites. In an October 9 press release, Nuclear Watch stated that Doyle's firing 'was widely viewed as a political move to punish an internal voice of nuclear weapons abolition.' In the report Doyle makes the argument for limiting this country's nuclear stockpile as a first step towards global disarmament.
The press release announced a new collaborative project between Doyle and Nuclear Watch to
"assess and augment the nonproliferation programs of the National Nuclear Security administration. Our ultimate goal is to redirect the focus of three national security labs from wasteful nuclear weapons research and production programs to expanded research and development of the monitoring and verification technologies needed for global abolition." Nonproliferation programs are slated for a 21 percent cut in FY 2015, and nuclear weapons dismantlements will be cut by 45 percent.
Now there's something you'd think Udall and Lujan and Heinrich would get behind instead of the B61 bomb: "the monitoring and verification technologies needed for global abolition." If they're so convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the well being of our state- particularly El Norte- is so dependent on the federal trough and the "trickle-down economics" trope, then let's keep the money rolling in for nonproliferation.."
The Guardian, September 29, 2014:
Congress pushes nuclear expansion despite accidents at weapons lab
"'We view the Obama administration's position as increasingly hypocritical,' said Jay Coghlan of New Mexico Nuclear Watch, a non-profit watchdog group. 'Obama's proposed 2015 budget is the highest ever for nuclear weapons research and production. And at the same time they're cutting nonproliferation budgets to pay for it.'"
Albuquerque Journal, August 1, 2014:
LANL fires anti-nuke article author
"Jay Coghlan, director of the watchdog group Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said Doyle‚Äôs article was reposted on its website about a year ago and remains on the Nuclear Watch website. He called Doyle‚Äôs dismissal 'a clear political firing and abuse of classification procedures' in a statement issued Thursday. He demanded that federal officials reprimand the lab, reinstate Doyle, fire those responsible for his dismissal and cut award fees for Los Alamos National Security, the contractor that runs the lab, because of 'chronically poor performance and leadership'. Coghlan says that Doyle was let go because LANL didn‚Äôt like his message and sought to kill it through retroactively deciding his article contained classified information that is not supposed be released publicly."
Santa Fe New Mexican, July 31, 2014:
LANL worker says firing tied to anti-nuke article
"'The laboratory is going to regret this- mark my words- making a political firing' said Jay Coghlan, executive director of the watchdog organization Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
'In nuclear watchdog circles, Doyle is revered for his work verifying the drawdown in nuclear stockpiles by the United States and Russia', Coghlan said.
"Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which has posted an unabridged copy of the classified report on its website, nukewatch.com[sic], said the lab's treatment of Doyle raises questions about how far its administration is willing to go to silence critics of its mission to produce nuclear weapons.
"'It's absurd that the laboratory would retroactively classify Jim's report,' Coghlan said. 'Any reasonable reader would conclude that there is no classified information in the report to begin with, and secondly, it's been on the Internet for a substantial amount of time. There's no bringing it back. The laboratory is foolish in this and it's political retribution to a messenger whose message they don't like.'"
Albuquerque Journal, June 27, 2014:
State denies waste clean-up time waivers at LANL
"A watchdog group praised NMED's denial of the extensions. Nuclear Watch New Mexico said more extensive clean-up of long-term waste has been on hold because of the focus on removing the above-ground barrels. Projects to deal with more than a million cubic meters 'of all types of radioactive waste, hazardous waste, and contaminated backfill buried across the Lab were put on the back burner,' the group said.
"'After granting more than one hundred extension requests to delay cleanup, we salute the New Mexico Environment Department for denying further requests,' said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch's executive director.
"Coghlan said his group encourages NMED 'to make LANL comply with its legally mandated cleanup order' from 2005. 'This in turn will drive increased federal funding for genuine cleanup at the lab, creating hundreds of jobs while permanently protecting our precious water and environment.'
"Nuclear Watch said LANL doesn't face any penalties for missing the Monday deadline because the 2012 agreement over removing the above-ground barrels was 'non-binding.' NMED's Winchester said via e-mail: 'Penalties/sanctions for missed deadlines and/or the June 30th deadline are still under consideration.'"
Albuquerque Journal, June 15, 2014:
Closure of WIPP Casts Long Shadow
"The lab remains under a consent order to remediate some 200,000 cubic meters of radioactive and hazardous waste in what's known as 'Area G,' some of which is believed to be transuranic, according to Scott Kovac of Santa Fe's Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
"WIPP also takes the roughly 400 cubic meters of transuranic waste Los Alamos generates annually from its work maintaining and upgrading the weapons stockpile, Kovac said.
Huntington News, May 19, 2014:
Nuclear Site Watchdogs Offer Fresh Analysis, Solutions
"Scott Kovac from Nuclear Watch New Mexico continued, 'With federal budget caps, funding hikes for nuclear weapons projects mean cuts in programs that clean up the radioactive and toxic legacy of the Cold War. As a result, environmental work at many sites is falling short of legally mandated milestones. That results in additional contamination and increased long-term costs. At the Hanford Washington site, leaking waste tanks threaten the Columbia River, and at the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in New Mexico radioactive particles were recently released to the environment.'"
Voice of Russia US, May 1, 2014:
U.S. disguises nuclear proliferation in modernization program
Nuclear Watch reports the Department of Energy is misleading Congress
"Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch, says, 'The nuclear weapons agency of the Department of Energy is trying a new sales pitch to Congress that intentionally seeks to give the impression of lower costs. And we're talking about costs on the order of $100 billion over the next couple of decades to heavily modify existing nuclear weapons, but it's actually more on the order of $1 trillion over 30 years.'
"Adding to the price tag, the Obama administration is asking for a delay in the production of the 'interoperable' missiles [sic], which Coghlan says will inevitably add more money to the bill. As for the Life Extension Programs, Coghlan argues it's just a way for the U.S. to create new warheads by pretending to upgrade the current ones.
"'All of this is under the so-called name of modernization, which is deceptive- who can be against 'modernization'? But what is actually occurring is that the Department of Energy and the nuclear weapons labs, through this heavy modifications that they intend to take place under life extension programs for existing nuclear weapons, they're going to so heavily modify those weapons and give them new nuclear capabilities at the same time.'
"President Obama has promised to scale back the U.S.'s nuclear weapons program, but the Congressional Budget Office recently reported the U.S. plans on spending $355 billion over the next decade on nuclear weapons and their delivery systems.
"'For all of Obama's rhetoric, the U.S. has actually dismantled or made inactive only on the order of 300 nuclear warheads over the last four years.'"
Voice of Russia, May 1
RSN, March 25, 2014:
As Nuclear Summit Begins, Critics Slam Expansion of US Arsenal
"Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, argued in an interview last week that a reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal would be a step towards greater 'national security.' 'Every weapon that we retire is one less nuclear weapon waiting for an accident or that we cannot fail to keep absolutely secure,' he argues."
Ploughshares Blog, March 20, 2014:
In Desperate Need of Spring Cleaning? The US Nuclear Complex
"While the rest of the nation is concerned with shrinking budgets, incompetence among the nuclear personnel, and pullback from wars abroad, the Obama Administration's FY 2015 budget inexplicably calls for an increased nuclear weapons budget. Even more disturbingly, the Administration is calling for a decrease in programs to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and a slowdown in the dismantlement of nuclear weapons that we've already committed to destroying. To get an expert view, we talked to our grantee, Executive Director Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Here, he describes how the time is ripe for reform to the American nuclear weapons complex..."
Cibola County Beacon, March 11, 2014:
2014 Film Fest This Weekend in Grants
"... a panel discussion led by Susan Gordon, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) coordinator, and Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico operations and research director."
ABQ Journal, Feb 21 2014:
WIPP leaks 'should never occur'
"They've wanted to bring different types of waste and expand WIPP's mission and the size of WIPP," said Scott Kovac, operations and research director with Nuclear Watch New Mexico. "It's not the place. The problem is that WIPP is the only functioning geological repository in the country. What's lacking in the discussion is, what replaces WIPP?"
NukeWatch Presentation to Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board on LANL's Area G, February 12, 2014
Scott Kovac, Director of Operations for NukeWatch, gave a talk at the public meeting of the Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board on the problem of LANL's Area G, February 12th, 2014.
View the slide presentation (pdf)
See NukeWatch Area G Fact Sheet Updated Dec.12, 2013 (PDF)
NYTimes, Jan 20 2014:
Texas Company, Alone in US, Cashes In on Nuclear Waste
"WCS began disposing of nuclear waste in April 2012... Kovac, operations and research director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which has criticized¬†..."
ABQ Journal, 1/15/14:
Budget bill would boost New Mexico labs, bases
"In a statement, Jay Coghlan, president of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the increased funding for the B61 "contradict(s) Obama's rhetoric of¬†..."
Troy Wilde, Public News Service-NM, Jan 17 2014:
Nuclear Watch NM: Government Could Spend $1 Trillion Modernizing Nukes
"SANTA FE, N.M. ‚Äì Nuclear Watch New Mexico says the U.S. government could spend a trillion dollars modernizing nuclear weapons that may not need modernizing. Jay Coghlan, the watchdog group's executive director, cites a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report that projects the government could spend $355 billion updating the atomic weapons over the next decade. Coghlan says the plan could reach the trillion-dollar mark over the next three decades..." Jay Coghlan is quoted extensively in this article.
Dec. 5, 2013
Jay Coghlan On Mayor Coss Radio Show on Santa Fe's KVSF-FM, discussing City Council Resolution re Area G
Nov. 6, 2013
Independence Examiner: Anti-nuclear activist speaking in Independence
"Jay Coghlan will speak in Independence on Friday night on the topic of nuclear weapons production..."
Nov. 6, 2013
POGO: New Documents Show Former Rep. Ran Through Revolving Door
"Now, new documents obtained by Nuclear Watch New Mexico director Jay Coghlan and publicized by the Albuquerque Journal reveal that Wilson left Congress on January 3, 2009, and began working for Sandia National Laboratories for $10,000 a month the very next day..."
November 1, 2013
Santa Fe New Mexican: New ideas, technologies from LANL could boost region's economy see article comments by Jay Coghlan
Oct 30, 2013
ABQJournal: Budget battles threaten U.S. nuclear modernization
"Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico, a government watchdog group, said Tuesday that the potential spending spike illustrates his contention that nuclear budgets- including that of the B6- are out of control. 'Only in government can you cut tens of millions and end up adding hundreds of millions,' Coghlan said."
Jay Coghlan on the Nuclear Defense Industry
KSFR Santa Fe: Living on the Edge, October 17, 2013. David Bacon with Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch E.D. (online podcast)
More audio podcasts:
Jay Coghlan on Unicopia Radio
November 10, 2012; October 6, 2012; August 25, 2012
Oct 6, 2013
ABQJournal: Editorial: Bureaucratic ineptitude entrenched at LANL See article comments by Jay
August 1, 2013
Jay Coghlan radio interview, Santa Fe KSFR-FM
July 7, 2013
Santa Fe New Mexican: Letter to the editor
Richard Johnson (NWNM Steering Committee), re the Udall vote on the B61 upgrade.
June 28, 2013
ABQJournal: Panel OKs funds for B61 nukes
"Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the Senate committee's decision to set B61 funding lower than Obama's request ‚Äì at least unless cost and schedule benchmarks are met ‚Äì was a 'victory for good governance.'"
June 18, 2013
Lease Aims at Big Savings
Maura Webber Sadovi, Wall St. Journal
The U.S. General Services Administration agreed to lease five buildings on a new 185-acre campus in Kansas City, Mo., for $61.5 million annually for the next 20 years.
"Critics of the nuclear agency such as Jay Coghlan, director of Nuke Watch New Mexico, said the agency should have consolidated the Kansas City workers at one of its other sites. The NNSA's other sites include the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Mr. Coghlan, whose group has pushed for the U.S. to reduce its nuclear-weapons complex, said it more efficient to own given the long life span of such sites. 'After 20 years, the NNSA is throwing money away to private developers', Mr. Coghlan said."
May 17, 2013
Larry Barker KRQE TV report w. interview Jay Coghlan. (video) / NWNM press release (PDF)
March 15, 2013
NNSA outlines steps taken to improve safety culture at Pantex
By Greg Rohloff, The Amarillo Independent
During a daylong hearing on concerns over safety at Pantex, Dr. Peter S. Winokur, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, addressed an array of National Nuclear Security Administration officials on Thursday and noted that, of all the facilities in the nuclear weapons complex, Pantex is the one he considered to be the gold standard for safety.
"And while questions continually came back to meeting production goals versus stressing safety, no one on the board asked the obvious one, raised in the public comments of the afternoon session by Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Kovac noted that the nine-page document listing the criteria for awarding the 2013 performance bonus did not list safety as a criteria. Nor did anyone ask if the perception that workers were unappreciated was triggered more by general economic conditions of high unemployment and a constant push for reductions in government spending in Washington, than by the actual relationship with managers."
March 12, 2013
NNSA Defends Contract Extensions but Congressional Scrutiny Expected
Douglas P. Guarino, Global Security Newswire
"The National Nuclear Security Administration is defending itself against charges that it renewed lucrative deals for undeserving contractors, but the issue is likely to come up at congressional oversight hearings in the coming months, sources say.
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico said last week that earning at least 80 percent of an 'at-risk incentive award fee is the threshold for eligibility for a one-year contract extension' at NNSA sites. The firm that manages the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico 'received only 68 percent of its possible at-risk award fee of $46.5 million for the last budget year, primarily because of cost overruns that ballooned a security project from $213 million to $254 million,' according to a press release from the organization.
"Nonetheless, Neile Miller, then the agency's top award determining official and now its acting chief, overrode a decision by NNSA site personnel and granted Los Alamos National Security a waiver that extends its contract through fiscal 2018, the group said.
"According to Nuclear Watch, a similar situation occurred regarding the contract of a consortium- consisting of Bechtel National, the University of California, Babcock and Wilcox, the Washington Division of URS and Battelle- that manages the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Lawrence Livermore National Security earned 78 percent of its 'available at-risk incentive fee, still short of the gateway of 80 percent,' the group said.
'However, acting NNSA Administrator Neile Miller overrode that too, giving the lab contractor an extra $541,527 to help it meet the 80 percent mark and extending the management contract another year.'
"Nuclear Watch New Mexico cited the spiraling cost of the Los Alamos security system for its Technical Area 55 as one of a number of NNSA projects in which expenses have exceeded projections. The organization said that to avoid future cost overruns, the government should emphasize conservative life-extension programs for nuclear warheads that do not involve the creation of new military capabilities. In addition to costing more, introducing "untested changes to existing nuclear weapons" could "erode confidence in their reliability," the group suggested. Congress should also "pull the plug on exorbitant failed projects" such as Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility and an unfinished plant for turning nuclear-weapon plutonium into reactor fuel at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the group says."
February 15, 2013
Nuclear Lab Remains Vulnerable to Cyberstrikes: DOE Inspector General
Chris Schneidmiller, Global Security Newswire
"Among the issues identified in the latest report . . . Computer network servers and systems featured ‚Äúeasily guessed log-in credentials or required no authentication. For example, 15 web applications and five servers were configured with default or blank passwords."
"I'm concerned that sensitive data at LANL could be at risk, given the lab's past security scandals and still unresolved cyber security issues," Jay Coghlan, executive director of the watchdog organization Nuclear Watch New Mexico, stated by e-mail. "After all of the security problems and exploding cost overruns all across NNSA's nuclear weapons complex, Congress should be mandating strict federal oversight and demanding greater return on taxpayers' dollars from contractors by requiring them to meet specific performance goals."
January 17, 2013
NNSA Override of recommendation raises questions
Watchdogs react to 'waiver' -By John Severance
Reaction has been a bit slow but watchdog groups are weighing in on the National Nuclear Security Administration's decision that gave the Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a one-year contract extension through a one-time waiver. According to documents obtained by the Los Alamos Monitor, the lab originally was not awarded a one-year contract extension. But acting NNSA administrator Neile Miller reversed the recommendation.
Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch NM Program director commented, "By getting these performance evaluations released publicly, Nuclear Watch expects that outraged taxpayers will demand more NNSA oversight and an end to the federal government paying the usual nuclear weapons contractors millions without enforcing performance accountability. Nuke Watch is going back to Congress to demand that it require measurable performance benchmarks before enriching the nuclear weapons contractors. In these tough economic times Americans should expect nothing less."