Current Nuclear News Archives
Some people believe smaller nuclear weapons can be used to fight battles. But nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and contemplating their use on the battlefield opens the door for full-scale nuclear war.
“Jay [Coghlan] of Nukewatch, invited by Wester to answer an audience question about Ukraine having lost deterrence when it returned Soviet nuclear weapons to Moscow, emphasized that Ukraine never had the controls to actually detonate nuclear weapons stored on its territory. Coughlin then echoed Beamont’s statement, saying ‘we can flip the argument, say that Russia is shielded from consequences because it has nuclear weapons. Deterrence has been flipped on its head.’”
At least 100 parishioners must have been in attendance at the special mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi on Aug. 9, 2022. The Tuesday afternoon service at the historically significant church did not fall under the usual schedule. Following an afternoon rich in monsoon thunderstorms, the clouds cleared, allowing regulars and visitors alike to file in to hear what, exactly, the Archbishop of the Santa Fe Archdiocese had to say about the work of peace.
“In the way that 109 East Palace was the gateway to nuclear oblivion, I hope that the Basilica of St. Francis can be the gateway to global nuclear disarmament,” John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, told the assembled crowd.
The address is instantly familiar to those fluent in nuclear history and opaque outside of it. During the Manhattan Project, the US effort to develop and build an Atomic Bomb in Los Alamos, 109 East Palace was the place to arrive before being covertly whisked away to the lab.
WHEN IT COMES TO SALVATION FROM NUCLEAR OBLIVION, FAITH IN THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE TASK ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH. THERE MUST BE WORK THAT MAKES IT REAL.
It was the work of Los Alamos that made Aug. 9 the occasion for a mass dedicated to nuclear disarmament. On Aug. 9, 1945, the US dropped Fat Man, the second and so far last nuclear weapon used in war. The bomb fell on Nagasaki, a Japanese city hastily added to the targeting list. While the bombardier claims the clouds parted for visual confirmation of the target, it is at least equally plausible the crew decided to drop the bomb by radar targeting and fly back to base, instead of ditching it in the ocean or crashing on the way back.
“I challenge us at the most personal level to ask ourselves, ‘How do we live each day? Do we live each day consistent with the core values of faith, love and compassion … for one another?” – Archbishop Wester
New Mexico archbishop whose archdiocese is home to two major federal nuclear weapons research facilities and an Air Force base apologized for the atomic bombings of Japan and to Indigenous New Mexicans, uranium miners and scientists suffering from ill health related to the nuclear weapons industry.
Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe said the time has come for the world to fervently work to undertake the long process to achieve nuclear disarmament.
He made the comments in a homily during a Mass Aug. 9 marking the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan.Continue reading
“Continuing to develop weapons that don’t just kill but have the potential to decimate the planet is a seemingly accepted part of modern life.
Yet on this anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, it is useful to consider whether humanity can find a different path forward.”
August is a particularly dark month in human history.
On Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, humanity revealed it had the ability to destroy itself; the United States chose to drop atomic bombs first on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender and end World War II. The destruction was horrific, with tens of thousands of people killed, buildings leveled and thousands more dying of lingering radiation sickness in the years that followed.
New Mexico played an outsized role in the bomb’s deployment. It was developed by the Manhattan Project scientists in the then-secret city of Los Alamos and tested at White Sands. Today, Los Alamos National Laboratory continues its mission of solving national security challenges, with the current emphasis gearing up to manufacture the plutonium pits at the core of nuclear weapons.
By 2026, LANL is supposed to be ready to make 30 pits a year, with another 50 pits annually coming from the Savannah River Site in South Carolina by 2030.
“Of the 64 kilograms of uranium in the Hiroshima bomb, less than one kilogram underwent fission, and the entire energy of the explosion came from just over half a gram of matter that was converted to energy.
That is about the weight of a butterfly.”
The design for the first atomic bomb was frighteningly simple: One lump of a special kind of uranium, the projectile, was fired at a very high speed into another lump of that same rare uranium, the target. When the two collided, they began a nuclear chain reaction, and it was only a tiny fraction of a second before the bomb exploded, forever splitting history between the time before the atomic bomb and the time after.
At 17 seconds past 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay released the bomb from a height of 31,600 feet above the target, a T-shaped bridge in the center of Hiroshima, Japan.
The morning was cloudless, as the weather plane sent to scout for the Enola Gay had reported in the hour before. If the weather had been poor, the plane would have set its course to one of the two alternate targets. As the bomb fell, a schoolboy closed his eyes and began to count as his friends hid along the way to school.
“’We are entering a dangerous new age,’ [Lovegrove] added, citing the spread of advanced weapons and cyberwarfare.”
Britain’s national security adviser has warned that a breakdown in dialogue among rival powers is raising the risk of nuclear war, with fewer safeguards now than during the Cold War.
As such, he said, Britain strongly supports President Biden’s talking with Beijing.
“America offers to resume nuclear talks with Russia, and calls for China to join. But the outlook is dark”
Editor’s note (August 1st 2022): President Joe Biden today offered to “expeditiously negotiate” a new nuclear arms-control deal with Russia to replace the New START treaty, which expires in 2026. Mr Biden also put pressure on China to discuss limits on its growing nuclear arsenal. It is not clear whether either power will take up his call, but it allows America to cast itself as a responsible power at the start of a big nuclear conference in New York.
In the sea of hostility between America and Russia, an island of co-operation endures: the rival powers routinely share information about their long-range nuclear weapons, from the movement of warheads in and out of maintenance to telemetry from ballistic-missile launches. This is both striking and reassuring in the sixth month of war in Ukraine, as Russia periodically threatens to use nuclear weapons and America warns of “severe consequences” if it does.
“’We felt that the cleanup was not moving as quickly as it should be moving and then we entered into litigation with DOE. It was moved from state court to federal court. The current LANL cleanup end date for DOE is 2036, which is in the Consent Order, and we don’t feel that they’re going to be able to make that timeline based on the progress they’re making at this time,’ Catechis said.”
New Mexico Environment Department Resource Protection Division Director Chris Catechis is not mincing his words when he discusses NMED’s position on the hexavalent chromium plume discovered in 2005 which is part of the legacy waste clean-up mission at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
At a recent meeting of the Legislative Interim Committee on Radioactive & Hazardous Waste, both Catechis and Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos raised concerns that Department of Energy Environmental Management program at LANL is not taking an aggressive enough approach to characterization of the chromium plume.
Catechis explained the 2016 Consent Order between DOE and NMED dealing with legacy waste from LANL left since the Manhattan Project era. The 2016 Consent Order, which is an update from the original 2005 Consent Order, NMED and DOE officials meet each year to set up a series of milestones, campaigns and targets for the coming federal fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Catechis said an example of those is the Chromium Interim Measure that deals with the characterization of the chromium plume.
“According to the Departments of State and Energy, there was a deliberate decision by the U.S. government that U.S. interests would be served by allowing a portion of the highly enriched uranium to be blended into low enriched uranium and to be rapidly removed from Russia while the details of the transparency measures were being worked out,” the GAO report states.”
Residents of Piketon, Ohio have long suspected that the area’s sky-high cancer rate stems from the nearby Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), which served as a uranium enrichment facility for nuclear bombs throughout the Cold War.
Recent reporting from Local 12 WKRC-TV anchor Duane Pohlman sheds light on why the area’s cancer epidemic—more than 500 cases per 100,000, or about 10 percent above state average, according to the Ohio Cancer Atlas—has persisted decades after PORTS stopped helping Uncle Sam build nukes.
Pohlman revealed in May that the PORTS may have been the recipient of polluted uranium from Russia in the 1990s due to a Bill Clinton-era program called “Swords to Ploughshares,” which entailed the United States converting Soviet Union nuclear warheads to uranium that could be used to power U.S. nuclear reactors. Pohlman’s reporting suggests that some of that material was laced with plutonium.
“Multiple properties could be needed to meet LANL needs…Items that would be warehoused or stored include items that are needed for LANL operations,”
The Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration’s Los Alamos Field Office (DOE/NNSA) has issued a Categorical Exclusion to lease properties to provide warehouse and storage space for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) equipment within a 150-mile radius of LANL, which could include properties in several locations of northern New Mexico and southern portions of Colorado.
“Removing U.S. nuclear weapons from Europe and Turkey would not weaken NATO militarily, since nuclear weapons have little or no actual usefulness on the battlefield. If they are truly weapons of last resort, there is no need to deploy them so close to Russia’s border. ”
A bold idea: NATO offers to withdraw nukes from Europe (militarily useless, ineffective deterrents as we’ve just seen, & recklessly dangerous) in return for ending the invasion. Putin gets a “win” which costs us nothing worth having. https://t.co/P5txyLEcMs
— Steven Pinker (@sapinker) July 25, 2022
It is time for bolder efforts to make peace in Ukraine.
War, like fire, can spread out of control, and as President Putin keeps reminding us, this particular conflagration has the potential to start a nuclear war.
At a recent joint news conference with the President of Belarus, Putin announced that Russia would transfer Iskander M missiles to Belarus. Those missiles can carry nuclear warheads, and the move is apparently intended to mirror nuclear sharing arrangements the United States has with five NATO allies — Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Turkey.
U.S. nuclear weapons were introduced into Europe in the 1950s as a stopgap measure to defend NATO democracies whose conventional forces were weak. The number of nuclear weapons in those five countries peaked around 7,300 warheads in the 1960s, then dwindled to about 150 today, reflecting NATO’s growing conventional strength and its diminishing estimation of the military usefulness of nuclear weapons. But even 150 nuclear weapons could be more than sufficient to touch off a dangerous confrontation with Russia.
“The unprecedented, controversial disposal operation is likely to take decades. ”
Tokyo — The fishing industry around Japan’s Fukushima coast expressed disappointment and resignation over the weekend as long-expectedfrom the moved one step closer to reality. The drastic measure has been adopted as the only practical way out of a dilemma that’s plagued the damaged plant for more than a decade.
Late last week, Japan’s national nuclear regulator formally endorsed the plan to discharge more than 1 million tons of wastewater from the plant into the sea off Japan’s Pacific coast. The water will be filtered first to remove about 60 radioactive isotopes, with the exception of tritium, which can’t be extracted using existing technology.
“Both US and Russian officials have said the torpedoes could deliver warheads of multiple megatons, causing radioactive waves that would render swathes of the target coastline uninhabitable for decades.”
Seoul, South Korea (CNN) The Russian Navy has taken delivery of what is the world’s longest known submarine, one its maker touts as a research vessel — but what others say is a platform for espionage and possibly nuclear weapons.
The Belgorod was turned over to the Russian Navy earlier this month in the port of Severodvinsk, according to the country’s largest shipbuilder, Sevmash Shipyard.
Experts say its design is a modified version of Russia’s Oscar II class guided-missile submarines, made longer with the aim to eventually accommodate the world’s first nuclear-armed stealth torpedoes and equipment for intelligence gathering.
If the Belgorod can successfully add those new capabilities to the Russian fleet, it could in the next decade set the stage for a return to scenes of the Cold War under the ocean, with US and Russian subs tracking and hunting each other in tense face-offs.
“We come here to remember those people (who died) so that they’re never forgotten,” Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium co-founder and Director Tina Cordova said.
“We just want to thank the people who have continued to support us and hope that more and more people will get involved with us. We always want to thank the people that have supported us throughout the years… We’re just going to keep fighting the fight.”
Luminarias filled the Tularosa Little League baseball field Saturday, July 16 to commemorate the more than 800 people whose deaths were attributed to radiation exposure believed to result from atomic bomb tests at the Trinity Site near Alamogordo.
The tests that began on July 16,1945 and for decades were blamed for widespread cancers and other diseases among nearby residents.
To mark the 77th anniversary of the Trinity atomic bomb tests, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium held its annual candlelight vigil at the Tularosa Little League baseball field.
“None of this waste we’re talking about is in New Mexico…If it actually were a good thing, if it were safe, Holtec or anybody else wouldn’t be thinking about trying to find someplace else.” Don Hancock, nuclear waste program director at the Southwest Research and Information Center
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced last week it intends to issue a license to Holtec International, to locate a toxic waste storage facility in Lea County. Holtec has proposed to transport high-level nuclear waste from the East Coast across the country via rail lines to a facility slated for the state’s southeast corner.
What was billed as a public forum in Santa Fe for the underground nuclear waste disposal site in Carlsbad turned out to be a lengthy slide show with only a handful of questions addressed, angering activists and at least one public official.
“[Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen] wrote a letter to federal emergency management officials…complaining about how the forum was conducted, she said. One official wrote back, expressing sympathy and saying the forums are supposed to foster public participation and boost transparency, Hansen said. If those are the goals, Hansen added, then this forum failed miserably.”
“I feel the people were treated with such disrespect,” Hansen said.
The 100-plus people who attended the Thursday night forum for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center were told to jot down their questions on index cards about the repository, which has stirred controversy since it opened in 1999.
WIPP takes radioactive materials from Los Alamos National Laboratory as well as out-of-state sources such as the Hanford Site and Idaho National Laboratory.
The containers of transuranic waste — mainly contaminated gloves, clothing, equipment, soil and other materials — are entombed in salt caverns 2,150 feet underground. WIPP was initially planned to bury waste for 25 years, but federal managers now say it can run until at least 2083.
“A watchdog group criticized the Energy Department for choosing a subsidiary of Bechtel, a former partner in the consortium Los Alamos National Security LLC, which improperly packaged the waste drum that exploded at WIPP.”
“A private corporation that blew up WIPP operations in 2014 is now going to run WIPP?” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “Does the Department of Energy have no contractor accountability?”
The U.S. Energy Department has awarded a $3 billion, 10-year contract to a Bechtel subsidiary to replace the current operator running the underground waste storage site in Carlsbad.
Tularosa Basin Range Services, based in Reston, Va., will take over daily operations of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant after Nuclear Waste Partnership’s contract expires Sept. 30.
Tularosa Basin, whose parent company is Chicago-based Bechtel National Inc., was among five bidders, and its proposal was “determined to be the best value to the government,” the Energy Department said in a statement.
The contract will go for four years, with six one-year extensions available after that.
“…At this point Commissioners Hansen and Hamilton walked out as well as several others. Greenwald and others placed green tape over the mouths.
As attendees were being invited to the one-on-one conversations in the next room, Nuclear Watch New Mexico executive director Jay Coghlan shouted out that the 2014 incident that shut down WIPP had not been mentioned during the presentation or the fact that half of WIPP is being reserved for waste from pit production. He called the meeting a “scam”.”
The Los Alamos Reporter sat down late Thursday afternoon with Reinhard Knerr, Manager of the Department of Energy’s Site Office in Carlsbad for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Knerr and Sean Dunagan, President and Project Manager for Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, the contractor operating WIPP, were in Santa Fe to provide an update on WIPP at a public forum Thursday evening.
As background, WIPP is the nation’s only deep geologic repository. Located about 26 miles east of Carlsbad , the facility is authorized to accept transuranic (“TRU”) radioactive waste that is placed 2,150 feet below the surface in a mined bedded salt formation where eight excavated “panels” each with seven rooms and two access drifts lie within some 120 acres that have been mined for the facility. Four shafts connect the underground with the surface and a fifth shaft provides most of the air intake for the underground.
An improperly sealed ventilation system caused the radioactive leak that contaminated three workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility earlier this year, requiring one of the employees to receive medical treatment, according to an internal federal review.
“‘They’re behind the curve all the time,’ said Scott Kovac, the research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.”
The review says a misaligned connection between the ventilation system and a glove box allowed radioactive material to slip through a degraded gasket on an old, unused port, raising questions about how these systems are inspected and maintained.
A glove box is a sealed compartment with attached gloves that workers use to handle radioactive material. The review looked at a January radioactive release involving a glove box, one of several such incidents reported in recent years.
In its newly posted June 3 report, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board gave a summary of the review conducted by the National Nuclear Security Administration, a U.S. Energy Department branch.
The nuclear security agency’s review made 27 conclusions and listed nine areas that need correction to prevent similar incidents.
The UK’s nuclear plants could be on the frontlines of any conflict with Russia and would be vulnerable to an attack in any future conflict: “If a nuclear power plant was hit by a missile in the UK, Europe or Ukraine, there could be catastrophic widespread radioactive contamination.” – Dr. Paul Dorfman, Associate Fellow, Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), Sussex Business School, University of Sussex.
The war in Ukraine has put civilian nuclear plants on the frontline of a military conflict for the first time in history, Dr Paul Dorfman has claimed that the conflict in Ukraine has shown that the UK’s own civilian nuclear infrastructure is at risk of attack, and likely cannot be defended.
In 2010, UNESCO declared Bikini Atoll a World Heritage Site as a reminder of the immense power and influence of nuclear weapons on human civilisation.
“Starting in the late 1960s, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission declared Bikini Atoll finally to be safe again for human habitation, and allowed some former residents to return…But this action was cut short a decade later, when a study showed that the levels of Cesium-137 in returnees’ bodies had increased by 75 percent.”
A small ring of coral islands in the Pacific Ocean named Bikini Atoll remains uninhabitable to humans after it was used as a site for nuclear weapon testing.
After atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War 2, US military leaders began plotting extra nuclear weapons tests.
They landed on the remote location of Bikini Atoll – which has a land mass of just two square miles, and is part of the larger Marshall Islands chain.
“This post outlines how a small group of focused, committed individuals successfully reduced catastrophic risk from inside the US federal bureaucracy, and considers potential lessons from their experiences.”
Before the mid-70s, US nuclear weapons were not rigorously protected against the effects of “abnormal environments” like fires or plane crashes. Meanwhile, there were multiple “near-miss” accidents in exactly those types of environments, some of which came uncomfortably close to catastrophic detonations. Those, in turn, could have plausibly triggered all-out war if misinterpreted as intentional deployments.
Engineers at Sandia National Laboratories did intensive design and development work to address the problem between 1968 and 1972. But it took until 1990 before older weapons that didn’t meet 1968 safety standards were removed from US Quick Reaction Alert.
Why the delay? Stonewalling, evasion, and entrenched interests, both bureaucratic and military. Several of the Sandia engineers, led by Bob Peurifoy, advocated relentlessly for older weapons to be retrofitted or retired and for decision makers to see reason. They continued those efforts for almost two decades despite considerable resistance.
Units deployed across eight eastern and southeastern NATO countries to deter Russia hostilities will rise in size from 1,000-strong battlegroups to brigades, which comprise around 3,000-5,000 troops with more war-fighting equipment in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
NATO will significantly increase the number of forces on high alert to over 300,000 from 40,000 as part of the biggest overhaul of the alliance’s defences since the Cold War.
With Vladimir Putin‘s invasion of Ukraine changing the security environment across Europe, the head of the alliance also confirmed that allies will expand troop deployments in NATO countries that sit closest to Russia.
Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
The decisions will be set out at a landmark summit this week in Madrid.
“Together, this constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War,” Jens Stoltenberg said, in a briefing at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday.
He said the 30-member alliance is expected to consider Russia to be “the most significant and direct threat to our security”.
Throughout the decades of fusion research, plasma physicists have been single-minded about reaching the breakeven point and producing excess energy. They viewed other issues, such as acquiring enough tritium, just “trivial” engineering. But as reactors approach breakeven, nuclear engineers say it’s time to start to worry about engineering details that are far from trivial. “Leaving [them] until later would be hugely mistaken.”
In 2020, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories delivered five steel drums, lined with cork to absorb shocks, to the Joint European Torus (JET), a large fusion reactor in the United Kingdom. Inside each drum was a steel cylinder the size of a Coke can, holding a wisp of hydrogen gas—just 10 grams of it, or the weight of a couple sheets of paper.
This wasn’t ordinary hydrogen but its rare radioactive isotope tritium, in which two neutrons and a proton cling together in the nucleus. At $30,000 per gram, it’s almost as precious as a diamond, but for fusion researchers the price is worth paying. When tritium is combined at high temperatures with its sibling deuterium, the two gases can burn like the Sun. The reaction could provide abundant clean energy—just as soon as fusion scientists figure out how to efficiently spark it.
Last year, the Canadian tritium fueled an experiment at JET showing fusion research is approaching an important threshold: producing more energy than goes into the reactions. By getting to one-third of this breakeven point, JET offered reassurance that ITER, a similar reactor twice the size of JET under construction in France, will bust past breakeven when it begins deuterium and tritium (D-T) burns sometime next decade. “What we found matches predictions,” says Fernanda Rimini, JET’s plasma operations expert.
But that achievement could be a Pyrrhic victory, fusion scientists are realizing. ITER is expected to consume most of the world’s tritium, leaving little for reactors that come after.
“We cannot allow the nuclear weapons wielded by a handful of States to jeopardize all life on our planet. We must stop knocking at doomsday’s door.”
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message to the opening of the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in Vienna today:
Nuclear weapons are a global scourge. A deadly reminder of countries’ inability to solve problems through dialogue and collaboration. These weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence — while guaranteeing only destruction, death and endless brinksmanship.
Today, the terrifying lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory. The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility. More than 13,000 nuclear weapons are being held in arsenals across the globe. In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation.
More states than initially expected attend the 1st meeting of the states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as observers: Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium. Some of them will be speaking later this afternoon. #TPNW1MSP #Vienna pic.twitter.com/4tpZn6a22t
— Stephanie Liechtenstein (@StLiechtenstein) June 21, 2022
“From the heart of the U.S.’ nuclear weapons research and production complex here in New Mexico, I call upon the United States and other nuclear-armed states to attend the First Meeting and future meetings as observers, to bear witness to the need for nuclear disarmament and take this first small step toward signing, ratifying, and implementing the Treaty.”
Most Reverend John C. Wester has issued a statement in support of the First Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:
The United States and the eight other nuclear-armed states are boycotting the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons taking place in Vienna this June 21-23. The Treaty, banning nuclear weapons just like previous weapons of mass destruction treaties banning chemical and biological weapons, has been signed by 122 countries and ratified by 62.
Non-party states, like the U.S., have been invited to attend as observers. Historically, major allies such as Norway, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium are attending (the last three countries host U.S. nuclear bombs on their soil). Many organizations and several members of Congress have written to President Biden, urging him to send a representative. The U.S. government refuses to go despite the declared official policy of supporting a future world free of nuclear weapons. What is it afraid of?
“In a message read at the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Pope Francis renews his call for an end to war and to the causes of conflict, and reaffirms that the use, and even possession, of nuclear weapons is immoral.”
The “courageous vision” of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons “appears ever more timely,” Pope Francis says in a Message for the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
The Treaty, which aims at achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapons-free world, went into effect in January 2021. To date, 65 states have ratified or acceded to the Treaty, although no nuclear-armed countries have done so.
In his message, which was read by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Pope Francis says that, while speaking of disarmament “may seem paradoxical to many … we need to remain aware of the dangers of short-sighted approaches to national and international security and the risks of proliferation.”
The Pope, therefore, renews his appeal “to silence all weapons and eliminate the causes of conflicts through tireless recourse to negotiations.”
“But critics of the lab’s push to bolster its nuclear weapons program think the pit production goals are unrealistic and unnecessary.
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, asked Mason in a written question why the lab is spending tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars ramping up production of the bomb cores when a 2006 study found the ones left over from the Cold War are good for 85 years.”
Nuclear deterrence is in full display during the war in Ukraine, with Russia and the U.S. threatening each other with nuclear destruction to force restraint, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s director said during an online forum Tuesday.
Russia has told the U.S. and its allies not to intervene militarily in Ukraine, and President Joe Biden has made clear that Russia must not encroach one inch upon a NATO country — and both sides raise the specter of nuclear attacks if these boundaries are breached, lab Director Thom Mason said.
“The role that deterrence is playing in the Ukraine right now, really from both the U.S. and Russian side, is to attempt to limit that conflict,” Mason said.
Mason is a staunch advocate of the lab producing 30 plutonium warhead triggers, also known as pits, per year by 2026, saying it’s necessary to modernize the nuclear arsenal and maintain a strong deterrent against adversaries like Russia.
“All of the world’s nuclear-armed states are “increasing or upgrading their arsenals and most are sharpening nuclear rhetoric and the role nuclear weapons play in their military strategies…This is a very worrying trend.” – Wilfred Wan, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s weapons of mass destruction program.
“The risk of global nuclear war has practically disappeared,” Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, said in his 1991 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, even though Russia and the United States retained their massive nuclear arsenals.
Three decades later, nine countries are members of the nuclear club. Even so, many were reassured last summer when Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden during a Geneva summit reiterated the Gorbachev-Regan statement that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
But ever since Russia’s late-February invasion of Ukraine, political leaders, nuclear arms control experts, and world citizens have tried to answer some version of the question: Will Putin use nuclear weapons in his war in Ukraine?
The utterances by individuals of note listed below might have been responses to this question. These statements, arranged chronologically, offer a still-unfolding existential narrative on whether nuclear war may or may not be imminent.
New nuclear reactor deal with US could give Seoul the fuel it needs to indigenously develop long-coveted nuclear submarines.
“More recently, South Korea’s nuclear sub drive may have gained new impetus by rival North Korea’s efforts to build similar boats as part of an undersea-based nuclear arsenal.”
In a potential crucial strategic development, the United States and South Korea agreed last month to share small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology, a move that could pave the way for Seoul’s indigenous development of nuclear-powered submarines.
The publicly announced agreement marked a change in longstanding US policy toward South Korea, dating back to 1972, that restricts the sharing of sensitive nuclear technology.
During the recent Joint US-South Korea Summit held in Seoul, South Korea formally joined the US-led Foundational Infrastructure for Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) program.
While SMRs have been used in nuclear submarines for decades, most studies on the technology have focused on civilian purposes due to their maximum power-generating capacity of less than 300 megawatts.
“Then what is the answer?” the poet Robinson Jeffers asked.
—Not to be deluded by dreams.
To know great civilizations have broken down into violence, and their tyrants come, many times before.
When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not wish for evil; and not be duped.
To know this, and know however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful.
Emmet Gowin is an artist who bears witness to wholeness in beauty and violence. He understands that one cannot exist without the other. The middle ground of wisdom is found in the making of his prints, shimmering acts of awe that reveal themselves through the spectrum of black-and-white photography. We are born and we die through violent, perfect moments of birth and death. What we create through our species’ collective imagination — be it a blessing or a curse, an explosion of glory or a nightmare revisited — is in the eye of the one who beholds a vision. Gowin holds a vision of transcendence. What can be seen can be understood and in time, perhaps, reimagined. The gods within us are both creators and destroyers. The atomic bombs “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” that America dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, ended World War II. But war still resides in each nuclear warhead stockpiled in the U.S., some 3,750 nuclear warheads as of 2020, plus approximately 2,000 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, according to the U.S. Department of State. Imagine, in 1967, during the peak of the Cold War, 31,255 nuclear warheads scattered throughout the countryside. Today, they are stockpiled in 11 states and five foreign countries.
Congressional and Local Elected Officials Release Letters to CalEPA Complaining that the SSFL Soil Cleanup, Which Was to Have Been Completed by 2017, Hasn’t Even Begun
A peer-reviewed study, just published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, found that radioactive contamination from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) migrated offsite during the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which began at SSFL. The study calls into question widely distrusted claims by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its toxics department that no contamination was released.
SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing facility located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Decades of accidents, spills, and releases – including a partial nuclear meltdown – resulted in extensive radioactive and chemical contamination that still has not been cleaned up.
“I’m old enough that I grew up as a child during the Cold War. We are back in a new nuclear arms race,” said Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And I personally find it disgusting that, some 30 years after the end of the Cold War, we’re back in, arguably, an even more dangerous nuclear arms race than the first one.”
“We’re in a very deep and dangerous situation,” he said. “We’re back in a dangerous nuclear arms race in which the United States plays a very prominent role, not by any means the only role but a very prominent role.”–
“Europe must stop its cooperation with Rosatom – stop participating in joint projects, including building nuclear power plants. Stop buying nuclear fuel from Rosatom,” – Co-chairman of Ecodefense, Vladimir Slivyak
Ecodefense, Russia May 29, 2022 | Europe needs a plan in place for cutting ties with Russia’s nuclear giant Rosatom, says 2021 Right Livelihood Award winner and co-chairman of Ecodefense Vladimir Slivyak | beyondnuclearinternational.org
With the European Union tightening its sanctions against Russia, banning Russian imports of oil, gas, and coal has emerged as one powerful tool to starve the Kremlin’s war machine of funding it needs to continue its brutal aggression in Ukraine.
But one other major source of Russia’s revenue in Europe has largely remained unnoticed: Russia’s supplies of nuclear fuel and services to European nuclear power plants.
The war in Ukraine shows the urgency of nuclear arms control
“It is either the end of nuclear weapons, or the end of us,” wrote 16 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in an open letter in March that has since been signed by more than a million people.
Decades after the end of the cold war and mere months after the U.S., Russia and other members of the United Nations Security Council agreed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the specter of nuclear apocalypse again looms over humankind.
Western powers contemplating intervention in the war in Ukraine “must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history,” President Vladimir Putin warned in a not so veiled threat of nuclear retaliation on February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Days later he raised the alert levels of Russian nuclear forces.
“People feel, you know, this was not the deal when these [nuclear power] plants were built.”
WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut.
Granholm was invited to tour Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford by Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the local congressional member. They are both working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored nationwide to solve a decadeslong stalemate.
Spent fuel that was meant to be stored temporarily at current and former nuclear plant sites nationwide is piling up. Some of it dates to the 1980s.
“Around PORTS, plutonium, and plutonium isotopes, which are far more dangerous than uranium, are now being picked up government air monitors. An independent study by Dr. Michael Ketterer at Northern Arizona University confirmed plutonium isotopes were found in river sediment and in dust collected from homes surrounding the Southern Ohio facility.
When Nadezda learned that information, she was stunned to learn America would accept anything from Mayak…”
MAYAK AND THE CLOSED CITY
With a simple phrase typed in the search bar of Google Earth, a massive nuclear complex in Russia’s Ural Mountains comes into full view.
From the beginning, the Mayak Production Association – or simply, “Mayak,” played a critical role in providing plutonium for the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.
For more than four decades it was on the front lines of the atomic efforts in Russia, while very little was known about this once-secret facility.
Nadezda Kutepova grew up in the shadow of Mayak in Ozersk, a city as secret as the plant itself.
“Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor, and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.”
I was stunned to read in a recent article (“LANL would get over $1B bump in proposed budget,” April 20) that Los Alamos National Lab would get more than a $1 billion increase in its proposed budget, ensuring the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2023 spending in the Land of Enchantment would exceed New Mexico’s entire state budget by nearly a billion dollars ($9.4 billion vs. $8.5 billion).
Out of that, over 70 percent would go for programs that seek to indefinitely preserve existing nuclear weapons and build new plutonium “pit” bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons. Further, much of the remaining money supports those nuclear weapons programs, such as $450 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the dump for future radioactive wastes from expanded pit production.
“A World Without Nuclear Weapons” Discussion with Archbishop John Wester, Dr. Ira Helfand and Pat Ferrone
A World Without Nuclear Weapons
Russia has railed against NATO expansion towards its borders and used the presence of the alliance near its borders as one of the justifications for its invasion of Ukraine.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned of the risk of “open conflict” between Moscow and NATO, which could escalate into a nuclear war, just as Finland announced plans to join the alliance.
Although he did not mention Russia’s neighbor by name, Medvedev, who is the deputy chairman of his country’s Security Council, raised the threat of nuclear war in a Telegram post which was published less than an hour after Helsinki announced its NATO intentions.
The Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday that, following Finland’s move, it will be “forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature to stop the threats to its national security,” RIA Novosti reported.
Earlier, Medvedev had described how there was “endless talk by foreign analysts about NATO’s war with Russia,” which in his view was “becoming more and more forthright.”
“They make it sound like they’re helping us and protecting our children and they’re doing the opposite,” said Melissa Bumstead of West Hills, founder of Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab.
Bumstead’s daughter Gracie developed a rare cancer at age four. “This agreement is going backwards. It’s putting our kids at risk, we’re not safer,” says Bumstead.
In a statement to the I-Team, Boeing said the agreement “provides a clear, accelerated path forward” for the cleanup of SSFL, and calls it “a win for California.”
The state on Monday announced an agreement with the Boeing Corporation to clean up a large part of one of California’s most contaminated sites–the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL)–located in the hills above the San Fernando and Simi Valleys.
In a 2015 investigation called “LA’s Nuclear Secret,” the NBC4 I-Team exposed how radioactive and chemical contamination from the Field Lab was spilling into nearby neighborhoods, where there were dozens of childhood cancer cases.
SSFL was the site of a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown and then decades of rocket tests, all of which left a stew of radioactive and toxic chemicals in the ground. Boeing now owns the majority of SSFL.
But a watchdog group argued Los Alamos lab adopting a higher radiation limit for workers than other labs is to create more leeway when it ramps up plutonium pit production.
“The collective worker doses would probably go up once they start actual manufacturing,” said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Jay Coghlan, the executive director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the agency in charge of nuclear security is pushing the lab to crank up pit production, yet it won’t install what’s known as a “safety class active confinement system” that would prevent a heavy radioactive release during an earthquake, catastrophic fire or a serious accident.
“This is a longstanding recommendation that Los Alamos [lab] and NNSA refuse to honor while continually downplaying the risk of expanded pit production,” Coghlan said.
Los Alamos National Laboratory allows workers to have a higher yearly radiation exposure than other national labs do and has not followed a longtime recommendation by safety officials to install a ventilation system in its plutonium facility they say would better protect workers and the public during a serious radioactive breach, according to a recent government watchdog’s recent report.
On January 23rd, just three days after John. F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural speech as the 35th President of the United States, one little known event could have changed American history in the most catastrophic way imaginable.
A refuelling accident caused a B-52 bomber to break apart above a farm in Goldsboro, North Carolina, causing two 3.8 megaton nuclear bombs to plummet to the ground. Bar one small safety switch and a huge amount of luck, millions could have been killed. Accidents like this are known as ‘Broken Arrows’ and they have happened more than many people realise.
Video by Michal Bialozej
Narration by Dan John
Murray and Feinstein press DOE on waste cleanup, Secretary says agency will continue to make progress
By Daniel Moore | bloomberglaw.com
The Biden administration is under-funding the biggest U.S. nuclear cleanup site and moving too slowly in finding nuclear waste storage solutions, two Democratic senators told Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at a hearing Wednesday.
“Explain to us why the department proposes major increases for nuclear weapons and naval reactors but cuts cleanup sites like Hanford,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked Granholm during a testy exchange at the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The DOE’s request of about $2.5 billion for Washington state’s Hanford Site represents a cut of $172 million from current enacted levels, Murray said. About 56 million gallons of liquid waste …
Nuclear News Archives – 2021
Some people believe smaller nuclear weapons can be used to fight battles. But nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and contemplating their use on the battlefield opens the door for full-scale nuclear war.
For many of us, the holidays are a time to give thanks, take stock and look forward to a new year. We at Nuclear Watch New Mexico are doing just that – and we want you to know how grateful we are for your support. Without you, we couldn’t make important strides toward building a safer world and a safer Land of Enchantment.
The pandemic has taken much away from us and challenged our future. It has given us a real perspective on what is important. It has shined a light to remind us that nuclear weapons are unneeded relics that sap money from important programs that really address our national security (such as global vaccinations). Our ultimate goal is a world free of the scourge of nuclear weapons, something that every president pays lip service to, but we are actually working toward.
As we climb out of the hole left by past administrations, we have increased hope that we can better protect New Mexico’s environment as well. It won’t happen without you and us, and we can’t afford to take our hands off the wheel. Our well-informed analysis and advocacy are needed now more than ever. We can all have the world we deserve, as long as we get up and work for it!
Again, thank you for all your support this past year (and it’s not too late to send a tax-deductible contribution before the New Year). We are poised to make ever-greater progress in 2022. Please judge us by what we actually get done, not just by what we say!
– Sophie, Jay, and Scott
“In the face of escalating alarm about climate change, the siren song of “clean and affordable and reliable” power finds an audience eager to overlook a business model that is dependent on state support and often greased with corruption; failed experiments now hailed as “innovative”; a pattern of artful disinformation; and a trail of poison from accidents and leaks (not to mention the 95,000 tons of radioactive waste currently stored at reactor sites with nowhere to go) that will affect generations yet unborn.”
Last June, Bill Gates addressed a crowd of politicians and reporters in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “Fifteen years ago I assembled a group of experts . . . to solve the dual problems of global energy poverty and climate change,” the sweater-clad multibillionaire declared, speaking by video. “It became clear that an essential tool to solving both is advanced nuclear power.” But the technology, he continued, needed to become safer and less expensive. To this end, he had promised to invest $1 billion in TerraPower, a company he founded in 2008 to develop small modular reactors that can be churned out on an assembly line. He was now happy to announce the construction of a plant on the site of a defunct coal facility in Wyoming.
“The Environment Department “should be equally considerate towards the judicial review process as it was in the administrative permit modification process, to ensure the courts have sufficient time to review objectively the facts and arguments associated with the appeal.” – Steve Zappe, a member of the Environment Department who worked on WIPP for 17 years.”
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety | December 23, 2021
Two appeals have been filed in the New Mexico Court of Appeals to challenge the decision by New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney to approve the new shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety filed the second appeal on November 29th. On November 9th, Southwest Research and Information Center and Cynthia Weehler had filed the first appeal. Visit: env.nm.gov/opf/docketed-matters/, scroll down to HWB 21-02 – APPEAL: Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Class 3 Permit Modification Request, “Excavation of a New Shaft and Associated Connecting Drifts.
SRIC and Weehler also asked Secretary Kenney for a stay, that is, a delay, of shaft construction until the Court of Appeals rules on their appeal. On the stay motion, Secretary Kenney can grant, or deny, or take no action. If he does not grant the stay, or if he takes no action by January 10th, a stay motion then could be filed with the Court of Appeals. Visit: env.nm.gov/opf/docketed-matters/ , scroll down to HWB 21-02 –Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Class 3 Permit Modification Request, “Excavation of a New Shaft and Associated Connecting Drifts.
Unfortunately, key documents are missing, including the SRIC/Weehler Motion for Stay Pending Appeal, the Hearing Officer’s Report and the Secretary’s Final Order.
The stay motion was supported by three affidavits. Cynthia Weehler stated that she purchased her home near U.S. Highway 285 knowing that the WIPP Permit anticipated that shipments to WIPP would end in 2024. Now, the WIPP expansion plan that requires the new shaft “would result in thousands of additional shipments coming near my house for many decades.” She is very concerned that accidents could result in health effects and “such shipments will reduce my property values.”
Kathleen Wan Povi Sanchez, an Elder from the Tewa Pueblo of San Ildefonso and among the founding mothers of Tewa Women United, stated in her affidavit that an increase in waste transportation near two schools located on New Mexico Highway 502 would endanger the health of Pueblo children in attendance. Further, “The WIPP expansion plan would result in thousands of new shipments using  Highway 502 for decades transporting plutonium from the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas to [Los Alamos National Laboratory], and from [Los Alamos] to the Savannah River Site, followed by shipments from that site to WIPP.”
“Germany’s move [planning to to attend the meeting as an observer] has put Japan — which has stated it aspires to a world free of nuclear weapons as the only country to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings — in the spotlight. Both countries are key U.S. allies that rely on American nuclear forces for protection.”
© KYODO NEWS | December 20, 2021
The United States has urged Japan not to attend as an observer the first meeting of signatories to a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, according to U.S. government sources, reflecting Washington’s opposition to the pact.
The Japanese government has suggested it will come into line with the United States and take a cautious approach to the issue, the sources said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that Tokyo has no “concrete plans” to attend the meeting as an observer.
The sources said the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden made the request to Japan through diplomatic channels after German political parties announced Nov. 24 that the deal for the new ruling coalition included taking part as an observer at the meeting scheduled for March in Vienna.
Maybe because of the request, Kishida also suggested last week that participation in the meeting would be premature “before building a relationship of trust with President Biden.”
At least 125 people were present for the service, many bearing roses in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe. Among them was Karen Weber, who said it’s “highly symbolic” for Wester to speak out on the “abolishment of nuclear weapons.”
Looking up at the sky as a young teen one day in Daly City, Calif., Archbishop John C. Wester had one thought as he saw military planes overheard.
Were they ours, or were they Russian planes?
The year was 1962, perhaps the first time nuclear war between the two superpowers seemed likely to erupt as the Cuban Missile Crisis played out and students were taught to prepare for an atomic attack by diving under their desks at schools.
“I don’t think going under our desks was very helpful,” Wester said Sunday in Santa Fe, moments before issuing a call for the world to rid itself its nuclear weapons.
Now, some 60 years later, he said he wants to do more to end the threat of an atomic war. Wester spoke and prayed during a 30-minute prayer service and ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe before he unveiled a sign bearing an image of Pope Francis and a quote uttered by the pope in Hiroshima in 2020: “The possession of nuclear arms is immoral.”
Wester said “our archdiocese needs to be facilitating, encouraging an ongoing conversation” about nuclear disarmament.
“While the labs work on relearning high-stakes industrial techniques for terrifying weapons, it is estimated that most of the existing warheads will remain fully functional for at least 100 years after first manufacture. Given an arsenal of hundreds of deployed warheads, the stakes of failure to modernize are that, in the event of the worst war humanity has ever known, some warheads might fail to detonate, letting millions live.”
Plutonium pits, the potent hearts of modern nuclear weapons, degrade over time. As these cores decay, so too does the certainty that they will work as designed when detonated. Los Alamos National Laboratory, the organization that grew out of the Manhattan Project to design and equip the nuclear arsenal of the Cold War, is advancing towards its goal of manufacturing 30 new plutonium pits to go inside nuclear bomb cores by 2026.
The project is both a specific manufacturing challenge, and an opening for the United States to newly consider how many warheads it needs on hand to achieve its stated strategic objectives.
Inside a nuclear warhead, a plutonium pit is crucial to setting off the sequence of reactions that make a thermonuclear explosion. Inside the pit is a gas, like deuterium/tritium, and around the pit is chemical explosive. When the chemical explosive detonates, it compacts the plutonium around the gas until the core is dense enough to trigger a fission reaction. What makes a warhead thermonuclear, as opposed to just atomic, is that this is combined in the same warhead with a uranium core, which creates a fusion explosion.
The letter argued that “by making clear that the United States will never start a nuclear war, it reduces the likelihood that a conflict or crisis will escalate to nuclear war.” And it would demonstrate, they argued, that the United States was committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which obliges the nuclear-armed states to move toward reducing their arsenals.
Written By: Jesus Jiménez © 2021 The New York Times Company The New York Times | December 17, 2021
Nearly 700 scientists and engineers, including 21 Nobel laureates, asked President Joe Biden on Thursday to use his forthcoming declaration of a new national strategy for managing nuclear weapons as a chance to cut the US arsenal by a third and to declare, for the first time, that the United States would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.
The letter to Biden also urged him to change, for the first time since President Harry S. Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, the American practice that gives the commander in chief sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. The issue gained prominence during the Trump administration, and the authors of the letter urged Biden to make the change as “an important safeguard against a possible future president who is unstable or who orders a reckless attack.”
Today I had the honor of delivering a letter on nuclear weapons issues to @POTUS signed by 697 scientists & engineers, including 21 Nobel laureates & 69 members of the National Academies. It recommends four steps to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war: https://t.co/o9ktgLlOxd pic.twitter.com/stjn9BJCCu
— Stephen Young (@StephenUCS) December 16, 2021
Some senators say Biden’s social and climate bill costs too much, but comparing it to the military spending plan they just passed suggests otherwise.
This week, the families of 61 million children received their final payments under the expanded Child Tax Credit. This credit has kept 10 million children above the poverty line, but it is expiring as the Senate delays a vote to renew it through the Build Back Better Act.
Instead, on the same day these last payments went out, the Senate voted to approve a $778 billion military spending budget — four times as much as the annual cost of the entire Build Back Better plan. Yet we’ve heard endlessly about how it’s Build Back Better that needs to be gutted so we can skimp and save.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a “new momentum” to nuclear disarmament as she met with her Swedish counterpart with an eye toward a review of a non-proliferation treaty.
Germany and Sweden have paired up to find ways to get the world’s nuclear powers to move toward committing to disarmament. The foreign ministers met in Stockholm to plot the way forward ahead of next month’s review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Baerbock has been in talks with her Swedish counterpart Ann Linde and met with the Stockholm Initiative, a group of 16 countries seeking to get rid of nuclear weapons.
“Our joint goal is clear: a world free of atomic weapons,” Baerbock said during a press conference with Linde.
“Our message to the review conference will be clear: Nuclear weapons countries have to push ahead with nuclear disarmament,” read a statement from the initiative, calling for an irreversible, transparent end to nuclear weapons subject to oversight.
“By taking the lead of the toxic alliance between fossil gas and nuclear (energy) at a European level, Emmanuel Macron clearly sides with the polluters’ camp. Nuclear is not a green energy: it produces radioactive waste that piles up across the country”
By Reuters | December 14, 2021
PARIS (Reuters) – Demonstrators unfurled a banner declaring “Gas & nuclear are not green” outside France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday in protest at a government drive to label nuclear energy and fossil gas as sectors for climate-friendly investment.
One of the about 20 protesters, wearing a mask of President Emmanuel Macron, chained himself to a gas bottle and a nuclear barrel outside the ministry’s headquarters in Paris. Another held a banner that read “Macron shame on you.”
The European Union is preparing a rulebook on climate friendly investments, which from next year will define which activities can be labelled as green in sectors including transport and buildings.
The EU’s aim is to restrict the green investment label to climate-friendly activities, steer cash into low-carbon projects and stop companies or investors making unsubstantiated environmental claims.
“The public deserves an explanation,” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “Given the persistent criticality safety problems at Y-12, it is astonishing that the National Nuclear Security Administration has turned the management over to Fluor and Amentum, two companies that have racked up millions of dollars in fines in the last two decades for nuclear safety violations.”
immediate release: December 13, 2021
more information: Ralph Hutchison 865 776 5050 / email@example.com
According to the web site goodjobsfirst.com, which tracks violations in government contracting, AECOM, parent company of Amentum, has been penalized more than $167 million for 114 violations since 2000. Fifty-one of those violations were safety related, for a total of $4.5 million in penalties and fines; of that total, $3,866,250 was assessed for nuclear safety violations.
“From the beginning of October to mid-November, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board documented nine nuclear safety incidents at Y-12, an average of more than one a week,” Hutchison said. “Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly—Y-12 is consistently plagued by nuclear safety issues, many of them from legacy activities or the ongoing degradation of the buildings used to manufacture nuclear weapons components.
“And the equally sad truth is that contractors at Y-12 have a history of failing to aggressively address issues as they arise. An outside assessment delivered in October noted that Consolidated Nuclear Services declared some cases ‘closed’ even though the actual problem had not been corrected and the cases were, in fact, still open.
By CBSBoston.com Staff December 7, 2021
PLYMOUTH (CBS) – The company managing the shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant now says it will not release contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay in 2022 as planned.
Holtec International planned to discharge the water sometime early next year.
But in a statement on Monday, they promised to store the water on site through 2022 and search for other options to get rid of it.
“We appreciate and understand the public’s questions and concerns and remain committed to an open, transparent process on the decommissioning of Pilgrim Station focused on the health and safety of the public, the environment, and on-site personnel,” Holtec said in a statement.
Pilgrim went offline in 2019.
“I support having by far the strongest military in the world and the good-paying defense jobs in my district that protect our troops,” said Representative Andy Levin, Democrat of Michigan. “But I cannot support ever-increasing military spending in the face of so much human need across our country.”
By: The New York Times | December 7, 2021
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $768 billion defense policy bill after lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would have required women to register for the draft, repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline, in a late-year drive to salvage a bipartisan priority.
The legislation, unveiled hours before the vote, put the Democratic-led Congress on track to increase the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion above what President Biden had requested, angering antiwar progressives who had hoped that their party’s control of the White House and both houses of Congress would lead to cuts to military programs after decades of growth.
Instead, the measure provides significant increases for initiatives intended to counter China and bolster Ukraine, as well as the procurement of new aircraft and ships, underscoring the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for continuing to spend huge amounts of federal money on defense initiatives, even as Republicans lash Democrats for spending freely on social programs.
“Essentially blessing what DOE was going to have to do anyway in order to expand nuclear weapons activities and waste disposal,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And once again demonstrated the subservience of our state government to the nuclear weapons industry here in New Mexico.”
The N.M. 4 and East Jemez Road intersection in the far northwestern corner of Santa Fe County will be improved as part of a $15.5 million upgrade of routes on which Los Alamos National Laboratory transports nuclear waste to an underground disposal site in Southern New Mexico.
The U.S. Energy Department will spend $3.5 million to improve the intersection, which lies just outside Los Alamos County, and another $12 million to upgrade routes it owns and uses mostly to ship transuranic waste — contaminated gloves, clothing, equipment, soil and other items — to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.
Human beings are not necessarily destined to annihilate ourselves.
“…the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.”
FOR YEARS, the Dutch organization PAX has been issuing reports detailing the Armageddon that’s hiding in plain sight. The business of nuclear weapons — and it is in fact a business — does not for the most part take place in secret underground lairs. It is all around us, conducted by corporations and banks that might otherwise make cellphones or cornflakes or autonomous vacuum cleaners.
PAX’s newest paper, “Perilous Profiteering,” should be front-page news around the world. Why it is not is an interesting question.
Nuclear war is still a threat to humanity. It’s true that it’s generally vanished from popular culture and our imagination since the end of the Cold War 30 years ago. What almost no one knows, however, is that many serious observers believe that the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invented its Doomsday Clock in 1947 to express how close the world was to self-destruction. It was initially set at seven minutes to midnight. Since then it has varied, being set both closer to and further away from midnight. But today, in 2021, it is the closest it’s ever been: 100 seconds to midnight. The publication’s reasoning can be read here.
“Germany is to shut down its last nuclear reactors next year. However, the country still has no place to store the 27,000 cubic metres of highly radioactive material it has already produced, with the amount set to grow as power stations are decommissioned and dismantled. German authorities have set a deadline of 2031 to find a permanent storage location – but for now, the waste is being stored in temporary locations, much to the anger of local residents.”
A fault in the plant’s fire prevention system caused the gas leak, which was not linked to any radioactive material, the regional fire service posted on Twitter.
MADRID, Nov 24 (Reuters) – One person has died and three have been taken to hospital after a carbon dioxide leak at the Asco nuclear power plant in the Spanish region of Catalonia, local emergency services said on Wednesday.
Shortly afterwards, the fire service said it was preparing to leave the site after checking over the extractor fans with the plant’s staff and ensuring the systems were working properly.
The three people taken to hospital suffered light injuries from carbon dioxide inhalation, emergency services said.
Russia’s envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Twitter they “started quite successfully.” Asked he if was optimistic, Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, told reporters: “Yes, I am.”
Vienna, Austria EU, Iranian and Russian diplomats sounded upbeat as Iran and world powers held their first talks in five months on Monday to try to save their 2015 nuclear deal, despite Tehran taking a tough stance in public that Western powers said would not work.
“I feel extremely positive about what I have seen today,” Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks, said after the meeting — the seventh round of talks aimed at reviving a deal under which Iran limited its disputed uranium enrichment program in return for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions.
“They have accepted that the work done over the first six rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead,” he said. “We will be of course incorporating the new political sensibilities of the new Iranian administration.”
“I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind about promoting nuclear energy. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are wind and solar.”
I cannot disagree more with the assertion by Sen. Dick Durbin in a recent Sun-Times op-ed that nuclear power is a necessary and viable way to combat climate change.
Electricity production by nuclear power is not, and can never be made, safe and economical.
When nuclear power plants were first touted in the 1950s as a new and safe method for producing electricity, it was said the electricity would be “too cheap to meter.” This is pure nonsense! If it was so safe, why weren’t any power plants built and put on line until passage of the Price-Anderson Act? The law has been amended a number of times and greatly limits the liability of operators of nuclear power plants.
Anything paid out beyond the limits set in Price-Anderson would take years of lawsuits.
Sen. Durbin wrote “It is past time for Congress to step up and develop a comprehensive, consent-based plan to store nuclear waste.” That’s an understatement. Nuclear waste is stored within a half-mile of Lake Michigan at the now-closed Zion nuclear power plant. Why is it close to the source of our drinking water? Because there is nowhere to ship it! Plans to ship such waste to a depository in Yucca Mountain in the southwest fell through when some improperly stored barrels burst into flames, releasing large amounts of high-level radioactive material.
Who does the senator think will agree to a “consent-based plan” when there is no known method of safely storing these dangerous materials for thousands of years, the time it takes for radioactive decay to make it safe for the environment?
Sen. Durbin argued that “we must ensure the nuclear fleet remains safe and economical,” but nuclear power has never been economical. As far as I know, the last time a permit was approved for a new nuclear plant was during the Obama administration. That plant in Georgia is only about half complete, although it was to be finished by now and the cost is already double the initial estimate.
The current “fleet,” as Sen. Durbin called them, of nuclear power plants were designed and engineered to last about 30 to 40 years. Most of our country’s plants are near that age. Their internal systems are constantly bombarded by radioactive particles, making the metal in the systems more brittle and prone to failure every year. Subsidizing them is a waste of taxpayer money and a dangerous gamble with our lives.
I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are renewables: wind and solar.
George Milkowski, West Ridge
To the editor: Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz are both professors who served as U.S. Energy secretary. They have more science credentials than most mortals. I am none of those things.
Yet, I was concerned when I read in their piece advocating for the continued use of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant past the planned 2025 decommissioning that they referred to the electricity it produces as “clean.”
I recognize that they did so in order to differentiate nuclear from energy sources that emit carbon dioxide. However, the lack of carbon emissions notwithstanding, can nuclear energy truly be called clean?
There is the not-so-small matter of spent nuclear fuel. Where does it go? Where will it go? It’s currently in a cooling pool on-site. Owner Pacific Gas and Electric has requested permission to develop a dry cask storage system on-site; it did not estimate how long the spent fuel would be stored there.
Spent fuel is radioactive for a very long time. Whichever way you store it, if anything compromises the containment, the danger is released.
Carbon emissions or none, it is misleading to refer to nuclear energy as clean, especially when it comes to its impact on the environment.
Elise Power, Garden Grove
To the editor: I was energized by the piece on the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. It reminded me of the sad situation at our local San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.Continue reading
“Diane Turco, of Harwich, the director of Cape Downwinders, a citizen group that was at the forefront of the effort to close Pilgrim, called any option that included sending radioactive water into the bay “outrageous” and “criminal.” Turco said she has no confidence in the decommissioning process.
“The process has been to allow radioactivity into the environment,” she said. “The answer should be no you can’t do that.””
PLYMOUTH — One of the options being considered by the company that is decommissioning the closed Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is to release around one million gallons of potentially radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.
The option had been discussed briefly with state regulatory officials as one possible way to get rid of water from the spent fuel pool, the reactor vessel and other components of the facility, Holtec International spokesman Patrick O’Brien said in an interview Wednesday. It was highlighted in a report by state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Regional Director Seth Pickering at Monday’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel in Plymouth.
“We had broached that with the state, but we’ve made no decision on that,” O’Brien said.
As of mid-December, Holtec will complete the process of moving all the spent fuel rods into casks that are being stored on a concrete pad on the Pilgrim plant site in Plymouth. After that, O’Brien told the panel, the removal and disposal of other components in those areas of the facility will take place and be completed sometime in February.
“New round of talks unlikely to produce breakthrough but will shed light on posture of new Iranian government, analysts say.”
“We’re going to find out how different these [Iranian] hardliners are from previous hardliners; we’re going to find out if they’re going to be a little softer,” said Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American journalist and analyst.
“And we’re also going to find out if the Americans have really realised that they missed an opportunity, and that they should change their position to some extent.”
Proponents of the deal, including Mortazavi, have criticised US President Joe Biden for not moving with urgency to restore the agreement in the first months of his administration, when a more moderate Iranian government headed by former President Hassan Rouhani was in charge.
Six rounds of talks in Vienna between April and June failed to forge a path back into the agreement.
“That golden window of opportunity was short, and the Biden team completely missed it,” Mortazavi told Al Jazeera.
The Kirtland Air Force Lab is dedicated to militarizing space, not improving the lives of New Mexico citizens.
“The United States should recognize that a pattern of continued militarization of space is insufficient to provide the stability on which its economy and its armed forces depend, so the tools of diplomacy and international law should be marshalled too.”
Air Force Research Laboratory spending on space and “directed energy” technology like lasers and microwaves boosted the local economy by nearly $2 billion over the past three years, according to a new economic impact report.
“The occurrence of smaller earthquakes began to increase in 2017, when oil and gas boomed in the region, up to about three per day recently. In 2021, records show the region was on track for more than 1,200 earthquakes with magnitudes of 1 to 4.”
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Multiple earthquakes were felt earlier this fall in West Texas, leading regulators in that state to designate a seismic response area and call for less wastewater from oil and gas development to be injected in disposal wells.
As more seismic activity was reported closer to the state line, officials in New Mexico have been watching closely and gathering data. Some officials are concerned that as Texas limits the injection of produced water as a means to curb the seismic activity, that could affect producers in New Mexico.
In October, Texas regulators created a second seismic response area just along the border with southeastern New Mexico. Officials pointed to more than a dozen quakes along the state line since Jan. 1, 2020, with six of those reported this fall.
That meant almost half of the heightened seismic activity in the area since last year occurred in the last month, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported. Texas officials referred to the activity as “unprecedented.”
Michael Hightower, director of the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium at New Mexico State University, said it was clear Texas’ earthquake problem was spreading toward New Mexico.
“We know there’s a lot of water coming over from Texas,” he said. “If you inject all that, you’re going to have seismicity problems.”
He said most of the seismicity being observed is due to saltwater disposal wells and possible over-pressurization.
The consortium worked with Texas regulators, Hightower said, aiming to devise technology that could treat produced water and recycle it for uses like agriculture or even drinking water.
Many oil and gas companies already recycle produced water for subsequent fracking operations, but Hightower said expanding the potential for its reuse presents an economic opportunity and a way to address environmental and water scarcity concerns tied to fossil fuels.
“The big issue is how do you reduce the volume of produced water you’re disposing of. That is the exact mission of the consortium,” he said.
New Mexico was targeting a goal of a 30-60% reduction in produced water disposal, Hightower said.
Jason Jennaro is CEO at Breakwater Midstream, a company that transports produced water and treats it. He said the recent seismic activity made finding alternatives to disposal injection more urgent.
With a second commercial-scale water recycling facility, the company estimates it could treat and distribute more than half a million barrels of produced water a day for the Midland Basin.
“Operators are looking for environmentally sustainable alternatives to disposal within these SRAs and seismic clusters, which is why system interconnectivity and commercial recycling is central to sensible stewardship of the water,” Jennaro said.
Regulatory action from the Texas commission, he said, will severely impact operations and force the industry to seek alternatives.
“Against this backdrop, Russo-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilising factor in world affairs,” said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
MOSCOW/WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Russia’s defence minister on Tuesday accused U.S. bombers of rehearsing a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come within 20 km (12.4 miles) of the Russian border.
But the Pentagon said its drills were announced publicly at the time and adhered to international protocols.
Moscow’s accusation comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, with U.S. officials voicing concerns about a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbour – a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false.
Moscow has in turn accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative and irresponsible behaviour, pointing to U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine’s use of Turkish strike drones against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, and NATO military exercises close to its borders.
“Germany can, of course, decide whether there will be nuclear weapons in (its) country, but the alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in other countries in Europe, also to the east of Germany,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
PAX and ICAN have released the latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report “Perilous Profiteering: The companies building nuclear arsenals and their financial backers“, which names the 338 investors backing 25 nuclear weapon producing companies and the size of their investments. This report is also the first time we were able to find information on Russian and Chinese investments.
The report also found three clear signs that financial institutions are starting to see nuclear weapons as risky business, and are leaving them behind:
• From 2019 to 2021, the total amount made available for nuclear weapons producing companies dropped by an impressive $63 billion, and the total number of financial institutions willing to invest in nuclear weapons producing companies went down too.
• Nuclear weapons producing companies, despite billion dollar contracts, have debt. But investors are moving away. So instead, they’re borrowing from wherever they can to raise cash. In other words: producing weapons of mass destruction has become extremely unattractive.
• 127 financial institutions stopped investing in companies producing nuclear weapons this year!
Of course, we still have a lot of work to do to hold these profiteers accountable. Banks, insurers, asset managers and pension funds still made $685 billion available for the companies producing nuclear weapons (like Northrop Grumman, which has $24 billion in outstanding contracts).
Our banks, insurers, and pension funds have no business investing in companies that choose to be involved in illegal weapons of mass destruction, and we need to tell them. Read the key findings of the report HERE.
A federal inspection of the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth that began in July and stretched through September found “no violations of more than minor significance,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
The inspection included “an evaluation of the safety screening, safety review, onsite management review, engineering change processes, the fire protection program, maintenance program, and the available results for site radiological and non-radiological characterization,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. The agency also conducted “a review and observation of the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) dry cask activities.”
Inspectors visited Pilgrim at least five times during the announced quarterly inspection to observe Holtec Decommissioning International’s activities “as they relate to safety and compliance with the commission’s rules and regulations” and the conditions of the company’s license.
“Based on the results of this inspection, no violations of more than minor significance were identified,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote in the inspection report.
The Plymouth nuclear plant, which employed about 600 people and had been generating about 680 megawatts of electricity per year since coming online in 1972, permanently ceased operations May 31, 2019.
Holtec has estimated that it can complete decommissioning work by the end of 2027.
“We know it’s part of expanding WIPP. We know what DOE is doing but DOE doesn’t want to publicly admit it and the Environment Department doesn’t want to deal with it…The reason the laws have always put limits on WIPP is that the DOE was supposed to be finding locations for other repositories. There is no other repository and that’s why they don’t want to have a limit on what goes into WIPP.” — Don Hancock, nuclear waste program director at Southwest Research and Information Center.
A New Mexico appellate judge upheld a change in how the volume of nuclear waste disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is counted, shifting the repository from being halfway to capacity to only a third full.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy requested to modify its WIPP operating permit with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to change how it counts the amount of waste toward the facility’s statutory limit of 6.2 million cubic feet of transuranic (TRU) waste consisting of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities.
The change was intended to count the inner volume of the waste as opposed to the volume of the outer containers that hold the waste, seeking to avoid counting air between the waste itself and waste drums.
NMED approved the permit modification request (PMR) in 2019, but Albuquerque-based watchdog groups Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico immediately appealed the decision.
The plan has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea.
TOKYO (AP) — A team from the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Japan on Monday to assess preparations for the release into the ocean of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The six experts on the team from the International Atomic Energy Agency are to meet with Japanese officials and visit the Fukushima Daiichi plant to discuss technical details of the planned release, Japanese officials said.
The government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced plans in April to start gradually releasing the treated radioactive water in the spring of 2023 to allow for the removal of hundreds of storage tanks to make room for facilities needed for the destroyed plant’s decommissioning.
“The rules for transferring a nuclear-powered vessel to a foreign power are uncharted waters…”
U.S., UK aid to Australia’s acquisition of nuclear submarines “sheer act of nuclear proliferation”: Chinese envoy
“This literally turns existing precedence and practice on their heads in order to extend traditionally northern hemisphere cooperation to Australia and bolster its role in countering an increasingly assertive China.” https://thebulletin.org
The recently signed Australia–United Kingdom–United States defense agreement, or AUKUS, calls for the United States and Britain to share nuclear-submarine technology with Australia. Although the agreement was light on details of what, when, and how, plans apparently are for Australia to eventually build at least eight nuclear-powered attack submarines. In the interim, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now advocating for Australia to obtain used nuclear submarines to get the sharing started so as to spin up the Royal Australian Navy’s submarine capabilities and nuclear know-how. Australia has never had a nuclear power plant of any kind.
Speaking last Friday at a Wilson Center event in Washington, D.C., Abbott suggested that, in the short term, Australia should consider leasing or purchasing one or more existing U.S. submarines to develop Australia’s capability to operate nuclear-powered submarines.
Abbott has posed the question, “Might it be possible for Australia to acquire a retiring [Los Angeles] class boat or two and to put it under an Australian flag and to run it, if you like, as an operational training boat?” Abbott added that he’d make a similar proposal for British nuclear-powered submarines “were I in London.”
“There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country, analysis shared with the BBC shows.”
Campaigners led by Global Witness assessed the participant list published by the UN at the start of this meeting.
They found that 503 people with links to fossil fuel interests had been accredited for the climate summit.
These delegates are said to lobby for oil and gas industries, and campaigners say they should be banned.
“The fossil fuel industry has spent decades denying and delaying real action on the climate crisis, which is why this is such a huge problem,” says Murray Worthy from Global Witness.
“Their influence is one of the biggest reasons why 25 years of UN climate talks have not led to real cuts in global emissions.”
About 40,000 people are attending the COP. Brazil has the biggest official team of negotiators according to UN data, with 479 delegates.
The UK, which is hosting the talk in Glasgow, has 230 registered delegates.
“These advanced nuclear reactors, and the existing fleet, are safe,” Granholm says. “We have the gold standard of regulation in the United States.”
Actually…According to a UCS report, if federal regulators require the necessary safety demonstrations, it could take at least 20 years—and billions of dollars in additional costs—to commercialize such reactors, their associated fuel-cycle facilities, and other related infrastructure.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may have to adapt some regulations when licensing reactor technologies that differ significantly in design from the current fleet. Lyman says that should not mean weakening public health and safety standards, finding no justification for the claim that “advanced” reactors will be so much safer and more secure that the NRC can exempt them from fundamental safeguards. On the contrary, because there are so many open questions about these reactors, he says they may need to meet even more stringent requirements.
GLASGOW, Scotland — In an interview at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told Yahoo News on Friday that the Biden administration is “very bullish” on building new nuclear reactors in the United States.
“We are very bullish on these advanced nuclear reactors,” she said. “We have, in fact, invested a lot of money in the research and development of those. We are very supportive of that.”
Nuclear energy is controversial among environmental activists and experts because while it does not create the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, it has the potential to trigger dangerous nuclear meltdowns and creates radioactive nuclear waste [not a small issue].
While 32 countries generate atomic energy, nine have nuclear weapons and seven countries have both.
Nuclear warheads per country
Nine countries possessed roughly 13,150 warheads as of August 2021, according to the Federation of American Scientists. More than 90 percent are owned by Russia and the US.
At the peak in 1986, the two rivals had nearly 65,000 nuclear warheads between them, making the nuclear arms race one of the most threatening events of the Cold War. While Russia and the US have dismantled thousands of warheads, several countries are thought to be increasing their stockpiles, most notably China.
According to the Pentagon’s 2021 annual report (pdf), China’s nuclear warhead stockpile is expected to more than triple and reach at least 1,000 by 2030.
The only country to voluntarily relinquish nuclear weapons is South Africa. In 1989, the government halted its nuclear weapons programme and in 1990 began dismantling its six nuclear weapons. Two years later, South Africa joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear country.
With the 26th UN Climate Change Conference over, nations are making plans to move to green energy in a bid to tackle global warming.
But nuclear energy is a particular sticking point. While it is the largest source of low-carbon electricity in OECD countries, some nations have spoken out against the categorisation of nuclear energy as climate-friendly.
Across the globe, 34 countries harness the power of splitting atoms for generating electricity or for nuclear weapons. (Al Jazeera)
Global nuclear energy
Nuclear energy provides roughly 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Of the 32 countries with nuclear power reactors, more than half (18) are in Europe. France has the world’s highest proportion of its electricity – at 71 percent – coming from atomic power.
Up until 2011, Japan was generating some 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors; however, following the Fukushima disaster, all nuclear power plants were suspended for safety inspections. As of 2020, just 5 percent of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Nuclear power constitutes some 20 percent of the United States’ electricity. About 60 percent of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and petroleum, with the remaining 20 percent coming from renewable sources – wind, hydro and solar.
The federal government allowed a stockpile of spent fuel on a Minnesota reservation to balloon even as a dam project whittled down the amount of livable land.
Interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times show how the state of Minnesota and the federal government ignored warnings about potential dangers posed to the tribe as they kept allowing the amount of waste stored on the reservation to expand and did little to address annual flooding that harms the tribe’s economy.
“I mean, this is a classic environmental justice fact pattern,” said Heather Sibbison, chair of Dentons Native American law and policy practice at Dentons Law Firm. “We have a minority community, a disadvantaged community, bearing the brunt of two huge infrastructure projects that serve other people.”
For decades, chronic flooding and nuclear waste have encroached on the ancestral lands in southeastern Minnesota that the Prairie Island Indian Community calls home, whittling them to about a third of their original size.
Two years after the tribe received federal recognition in 1936, the Army Corps of Engineers installed a lock-and-dam system just to the south along the Mississippi River. It repeatedly flooded the tribe’s land, including burial mounds, leaving members with only 300 livable acres.
Decades later, a stockpile of nuclear waste from a power plant next to the reservation, which the federal government reneged on a promise to remove in the 1990s, has tripled in size. It comes within 600 yards of some residents’ homes.
With no room to develop more housing on the reservation, more than 150 tribal members who are eager to live in their ancestral home are on a waiting list.
Cody Whitebear, 33, who serves as the tribe’s federal government relations specialist, is among those waiting. He hopes he can inherit his grandmother’s house, which is on the road closest to the power plant.
“I never had the opportunity to live on the reservation, be part of the community,” said Mr. Whitebear, who began connecting with his heritage after the birth of his son, Cayden. “In my mid-20s I had the desire to learn about my people and who I am and who we are.”
“The agency has said little overall about its plans, despite the potential hazards, said Cindy Weehler, who co-chairs the watchdog group 285 ALL.”
A panel of state lawmakers expressed concerns Friday about plans to truck plutonium shipments through New Mexico, including Santa Fe’s southern edge, and will send letters to state and federal officials asking for more information on the transports.
Two opponents of the shipments — a Santa Fe County commissioner and a local activist — presented the Department of Energy’s basic plan to the Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, provoking a mixture of surprise and curiosity from members.
Several lawmakers agreed transporting plutonium is more hazardous because it is far more radioactive than the transuranic waste — contaminated gloves, equipment, clothing, soil and other materials — that Los Alamos National Laboratory now ships to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground disposal site near Carlsbad.
“We have to get everything done in the next 25 years…The idea that you’re going to scale up a technology you don’t even have yet, and it’s going to be commercially viable [in that time], just seems to me like la la land.” — Tom Burke, co-founder of climate think tank E3G.
In the midst of the COP26 climate talks yesterday, U.S. and Romanian officials stepped aside for a session in the conference’s Blue Zone, establishing an agreement for U.S. company NuScale to build a new kind of modular nuclear power plant in the southeastern European country. The company’s plants—designed to be quickly scaled up or down based on need—are intended to be quicker and cheaper to build than the traditional kind, with some considering them to be a promising alternative for countries seeking to wean themselves off fossil fuels.
NuScale CEO John Hopkins sees the agreement as part of a broader recognition that nuclear power has a big role to play as the world decarbonizes. “I’ve seen a significant shift here,” Hopkins said, speaking to TIME from Glasgow yesterday. “It used to be the only thing really discussed was renewables, but I think people are starting to be a little more pragmatic and understand that nuclear needs to be in the mix.”
But others at COP26 aren’t convinced that NuScale’s small reactors can help avoid climate catastrophe. Some point to the fact that NuScale has yet to build a single commercial plant as evidence that the company is already too late to the party.
Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.
Hanford watchdogs generally agree with this process, said Tom Carpenter, director of the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge.
“Nobody is raising any concerns about cocooning,” Carpenter said. “We’re all worried about the tank waste that needs immediate and urgent attention.” The bigger question is whether future generations will be willing to pay the massive costs of Hanford cleanup, he said.
By November 4, 2021 abcnews.go.com
SPOKANE, Wash. — Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.
But one project on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is progressing at a much lower price.
The federal government is moving forward with the “cocooning” of eight plutonium production reactors at Hanford that will place them in a state of long-term storage to allow radiation inside to dissipate over a period of decades, until they can be dismantled and buried.
“It’s relatively non-expensive,” Mark French, a manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, said of cocooning. “The cost of trying to dismantle the reactor and demolish the reactor core would be extremely expensive and put workers at risk.”
The federal government built nine nuclear reactors at Hanford to make plutonium for atomic bombs during World War II and the Cold War. The site along the Columbia River contains America’s largest quantity of radioactive waste.
“Whether we decide to go on with the nuclear energy or not…We will need to find a solution for the management of that nuclear waste” that humankind has already produced.” — Audrey Guillemenet, geologist and spokesperson for one of France’s underground waste repositories.
By November 4, 2021 apnews.com
SOULAINES-DHUYS, France (AP) — Deep in a French forest of oaks, birches and pines, a steady stream of trucks carries a silent reminder of nuclear energy’s often invisible cost: canisters of radioactive waste, heading into storage for the next 300 years.
As negotiators plot out how to fuel the world while also reducing carbon emissions at climate talks in Scotland, nuclear power is a central sticking point. Critics decry its mammoth price tag, the disproportionate damage caused by nuclear accidents, and radioactive leftovers that remain deadly for thousands of years.
But increasingly vocal and powerful proponents — some climate scientists and environmental experts among them — argue that nuclear power is the world’s best hope of keeping climate change under control, noting that it emits so few planet-damaging emissions and is safer on average than nearly any other energy source. Nuclear accidents are scary but exceedingly rare — while pollution from coal and other fossil fuels causes death and illness every day, scientists say.
The Biden administration has publicly released the total number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, a sharp reversal of the previous administration’s refusal to do so for the past three years.
“Today, as an act of good faith and a tangible, public demonstration of the U.S. commitment to transparency, we will present data which documents our own record of continued progress toward the achievement of the goals” of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), said Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on Oct. 5.
The U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads was at 3,750 as of September 2020, according to the administration document. This number captures active and inactive warheads, but not the roughly 2,000 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. The document lists stockpile numbers going back to 1962, including the warhead numbers from the years when the Trump administration refused to declassify the information.
Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling pipes of nuclear power plants around the world.
Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling intake pipes of a nuclear power plant in Scotland, which has previously prompted a temporary shutdowns of the plant.
The Torness nuclear power plant has reported concerns regarding jellyfish as far back as 2011, when it was forced to shut down for nearly a week—at an estimated cost of $1.5 million a day—because of the free-swimming marine animals.
In a short comment to Motherboard, EDF energy, which runs the Torness plant, said that “jellyfish blooms are an occasional issue for our power stations,” but also said that media reports claiming the plant had recently been taken offline because of jellyfish are “inaccurate.” “[There were] no emergency procedures this or last week related to jellyfish or otherwise,” a spokesperson said.
Like many other seaside power plants, the Torness plant uses seawater to prevent overheating. While there are measures in place to prevent aquatic life from entering the intake pipes, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, they are no match for the sheer number of jellyfish that come during so-called “jellyfish blooms.”
“The hibakusha narrative has expanded over time to include victims beyond the city limits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and as far away as the Navajo Nation, which still suffers the radiation effects of uranium mining; the Marshall Islands, where the United States conducted so many nuclear tests that, on average, the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-size bombs was detonated every day for 12 years; Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union tested its nuclear weapons for four decades; and other places around the world adversely affected by the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.”
Noguchi himself considered the term hibakusha to include the victims of nuclear weapons worldwide; he changed the name of his proposed “Memorial to the Dead of Hiroshima” to the more inclusive “Memorial to the Atomic Dead.”
As I eagerly await Spotify’s year-end report on my most-played songs of 2021, I wonder which ones will remind me of my summer in New York City—of off-pitch Karaoke Television with friends, or the distinct “popping” sound of a pigeon being run over by a taxi not more than two feet in front of me. Though I thrived amid the frenzied surprises of the city, I also found sudden moments of quiet solemnity while sketching inside the many art museums of the Big Apple. One of those museums was the Noguchi Museum, established in 1985 by its namesake Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American sculptor who is also well known for his landscape architecture and modern furniture designs such as the iconic Noguchi table.Continue reading
Nuclear power is so slow and expensive that it doesn’t even matter whether or not it is ‘low-carbon’ (let alone ‘zero-carbon’). As the scientist, Amory Lovins, says, “Being carbon-free does not establish climate-effectiveness.” If an energy source is too slow and too costly, it will “reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” no matter how ‘low-carbon’ it is.
So here we are again at another COP (Conference of the Parties). Well, some of us are in Glasgow, Scotland at the COP itself, and some of us, this writer included, are sitting at a distance, trying to feel hopeful.
But this is COP 26. That means there have already been 25 tries at dealing with the once impending and now upon us climate crisis. Twenty five rounds of “blah, blah, blah” as youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, so aptly put it.
So if some of us do not feel the blush of optimism on our cheeks, we can be forgiven. I mean, even the Queen of England has had enough of the all-talk-and-no-action of our world leaders, who have been, by and large, thoroughly useless. Even, this time, absent. Some of them have been worse than that.
Not doing anything radical on climate at this stage is fundamentally a crime against humanity. And everything else living on Earth. It should be grounds for an appearance at the International Criminal Court. In the dock.
Boost for advocates’ group is step further in decades-long fight against mining pollution
Rita Capitan has been worrying about her water since 1994. It was that autumn she read a local newspaper article about another uranium mine, the Crownpoint Uranium Project, getting under way near her home.
Capitan has spent her entire life in Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the eastern Navajo Nation, and is no stranger to the uranium mining that has persisted in the region for decades. But it was around the time the article was published that she began learning about the many risks associated with uranium mining.
“We as community members couldn’t just sit back and watch another company come in and just take what is very precious to us. And that is water – our water,” Capitan said.
To this effect, Capitan and her husband, Mitchell, founded Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (Endaum). The group’s fight against uranium mining on their homeland has continued for nearly three decades, despite the industry’s disastrous health and environmental impacts being public knowledge for years.
Capitan’s newest concerns are over the Canadian mining company Laramide Resources, which, through its US subsidiary NuFuels, holds a federal mining license for Crownpoint and nearby Church Rock. Due to the snail’s pace at which operations like this can move, Laramide hasn’t begun extraction in these areas, but is getting closer by the day.
Take a minute to visit the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website to read this brilliant photo essay on the Tsar Bomba by Associate Professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies program at the Stevens Institute of Technology Alex Wellerstein. His first book, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, was published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2021.
In the early hours of October 30, 1961, a bomber took off from an airstrip in northern Russia and began its flight through cloudy skies over the frigid Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. Slung below the plane’s belly was a nuclear bomb the size of a small school bus—the largest and most powerful bomb ever created.
At 11:32 a.m., the bombardier released the weapon. As the bomb fell, an enormous parachute unfurled to slow its descent, giving the pilot time to retreat to a safe distance. A minute or so later, the bomb detonated. A cameraman watching from the island recalled:
A fire-red ball of enormous size rose and grew. It grew larger and larger, and when it reached enormous size, it went up. Behind it, like a funnel, the whole earth seemed to be drawn in. The sight was fantastic, unreal, and the fireball looked like some other planet. It was an unearthly spectacle! 
The flash alone lasted more than a minute. The fireball expanded to nearly six miles in diameter—large enough to include the entire urban core of Washington or San Francisco, or all of midtown and downtown Manhattan. Over several minutes it rose and mushroomed into a massive cloud. Within ten minutes, it had reached a height of 42 miles and a diameter of some 60 miles. One civilian witness remarked that it was “as if the Earth was killed.” Decades later, the weapon would be given the name it is most commonly known by today: Tsar Bomba, meaning “emperor bomb.”
Designed to have a maximum explosive yield of 100 million tons (or 100 megatons) of TNT equivalent, the 60,000-pound monster bomb was detonated at only half its strength. Still, at 50 megatons, it was more than 3,300 times as powerful as the atomic bomb that killed at least 70,000 people in Hiroshima, and more than 40 times as powerful as the largest nuclear bomb in the US arsenal today. Its single test represents about one tenth of the total yield of all nuclear weapons ever tested by all nations.
At the time of its detonation, the Tsar Bomba held the world’s attention, largely as an object of infamy, recklessness, and terror. Within two years, though, the Soviet Union and the United States would sign and ratify the Limited Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, and the 50-megaton bomb would fall into relative obscurity.
“The federal government knew, from at least the early 1950s, of severely harmful health effects from uranium mining, but it kept that information from the Diné, as Navajo people call themselves.”
The wheels of justice can move exceedingly slowly, if at all, and it often depends on whether an aggrieved group has much political recognition or clout. Issues linked to mainstream religious freedom can speed their way to the Supreme Court’s shadow docket in record time, while religious and environmental justice issues for Native Americans can simmer on the system’s back burner for a lifetime.
The sprawling Navajo reservation, located in parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, is the largest and most populous Native American reservation, almost 28,000 square miles. Its Four Corners area (the three states plus Colorado) is rich in radioactive uranium ore. From 1944 to 1986, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from the reservation under leases with the Navajo Nation. Many Navajo worked the mines, often living and raising families close by.
The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.
Tokyo [Japan], October 24 (ANI/Sputnik): The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.
All the required measures to strengthen security are expected to be completed in September 2022, and the reactor might resume operations in mid-October of that year, the outlet said, citing the operator.
The reactor was restarted on June 23, 2021, after more than 40 years of work. The law limits the maximum lifespan of reactors to 40 years, but if additional requirements are met, a reactor can work more. Mihama’s third reactor was stopped for a decade after the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, which in 2011 claimed over 15,000 lives, displaced thousands of people and caused a meltdown at the power plant. (ANI/Sputnik)
Federal agencies continue to reject a full review of the public safety and environmental risks of producing nuclear bomb cores at multiple DOE sites.
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, “The government has yet to explain to American taxpayers why it will spend more than $50 billion to build new plutonium pit bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons when we already have thousands of existing pits proven to be reliable for a century or more. This has nothing to do with maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile and everything to do with building up a new nuclear arms race that will threaten the entire world.”
/ EIN PRESSWIRE October 26, 2021
AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA — Public interest groups shot back at the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s attempt to suppress a lawsuit seeking a comprehensive environmental review of the agencies’ plans to produce large quantities of nuclear bomb cores, or plutonium pits, at DOE sites in New Mexico and South Carolina.
The U.S. envoy for North Korea arrived in South Korea on Saturday amid stalled denuclearization talks and tension over Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.
Special Representative Sung Kim’s visit came days after North Korea fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which prompted criticism from Washington and calls for a return to talks aimed at denuclearizing the North in return for U.S. sanctions relief.
Kim, after talks in Washington with South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday, urged North Korea “to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue.”
Pyongyang so far has rejected U.S. overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of talking diplomacy while ratcheting up tensions with their own military activities.
On Thursday, the North said the United States was overreacting to its self-defensive SLBM test and questioned the sincerity of Washington’s offers of talks, warning of consequences.
Arriving in South Korea, Kim said he looks forward to having “productive follow up discussions” with his counterpart, without elaborating.
Nuclear News Archives – 2020
Some people believe smaller nuclear weapons can be used to fight battles. But nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons, and contemplating their use on the battlefield opens the door for full-scale nuclear war.
Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect
President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will reduce “excessive” expenditures on nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the Pentagon’s plans for updating and sustaining the nuclear triad of air, sea and land-borne weapons would cost $1.2 trillion, and some lawmakers say the eventual cost might exceed $1.5 trillion. Here are some of the weapons that might be reviewed.
“Given that no clear mission need has been established for the VTR and with an estimated price tag of $3 billion to $6 billion, with completion ranging from 2026 to 2030, it is doubtful if the project will go forward..Just as for other costly, complex DOE projects, the price tag is certain to grow and the schedule certain to slip if the project is pursued.” — Savannah River Site Watch
The U.S. Department of Energy has released the draft environmental impact statement for a test reactor it would like to build at Idaho National Laboratory.
The statement on the Versatile Test Reactor was released Monday and is available online through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s website, energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy. Public comment will conclude 45 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency publishes notice in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Dec. 31. DOE will then hold two virtual public hearings, dates to be announced.
Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) awarded the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Management and Operating (M&O) contract to Battelle Savannah River Alliance, LLC (BSRA) of Columbus, OH.
The Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract will include a 5-year base period (inclusive of 120 day transition period) and potential award terms of up to 5 more years, for a total period of up to 10 years. The anticipated contract value is approximately $3.8 billion over the potential 10-year period of performance.
The procurement was competed as a full-and-open competition, and EM received three proposals. The Department determined the BSRA proposal provided the best value to the Government considering Laboratory Vision, Key Personnel, Management and Operations, Past Performance, Transition Plan, and Cost and Fee.
As a result of this investigation, [Minna-no Data Site] determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.
Uninhabitable: Booklet by Citizen Scientists Uncovers True Extent of Radioactive Contamination in Japan’s Soil and Food
“As a result of this investigation, we determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.
Now, eight years after the accident, not only has the government yet to establish a criterion for radioactive concentration in the soil, but the authorities are continuing to enforce the policy of compelling people to return to their homes if the air dose rate goes below 20 mSv/year.”
From Minna-no Data Site, a citizen’s collaborative radioactivity monitoring project
Minna-no Data Site (Everyone’s Data Site) is a network of 30 citizens’ radioactivity measurement laboratories from all over Japan.
After the 2011 Fukushima accident, many independent citizen-operated radioactivity measurement laboratories sprang up across Japan.
In September 2013, a website called “Minna-no Data Site” was established in an effort to integrate all of the radioactivity measurement data into a common platform and disseminate accurate information in an easy-to-understand format.
B61-12 full-weapon system demonstration at Tonopah Test Range
“Some commenters said the NRC should have launched a more thorough process for making new rules instead of simply trying to reinterpret existing rules, while others said the plan should have included a process where the public could help decide whether nuclear waste would be allowed at a particular disposal site.”
(CN) — Federal regulators are withdrawing a nuclear waste proposal that had prompted an unusually widespread chorus of opposition, including from those who worried the plan could have led to radioactive waste being shipped to local landfills across the U.S.
The proposal centered on what’s commonly referred to as “very low-level” waste, which includes things like contaminated construction debris or soil from shuttered nuclear power plants.
Under the plan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have reinterpreted rules on that kind of waste so that disposal facilities without specific licenses to handle the waste could have taken it in anyways through an exception.
The proposal sparked a wave of pushback from an unlikely alliance of state regulators, environmental groups and even a prominent company in the business of nuclear waste management.
“N3B is going after the low-hanging fruit, cleaning up less than 2,000 cubic yards of contaminated dirt,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “Let’s hear their plan for cleaning up 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes at Area G that are already migrating towards our irreplaceable groundwater.”
Coghlan said N3B touting this small part of the cleanup smacks of “propaganda to promote the toothless 2016 consent order.”
Los Alamos National Laboratory’s contractor in charge of cleaning up radioactive waste produced during the Cold War and Manhattan Project has completed its first goal under a 2016 agreement.
Newport News Nuclear BWXT, also known as N3B, finished removing almost 1,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris from four sites in Upper Mortandad, Upper Cañada del Buey and Threemile canyons.
Crews packed and shipped the material to a disposal site in Clive, Utah.
“Cleanup of these sites ultimately protects human health by eliminating the likelihood that contamination will reach the water system through stormwater runoff,” Brenda Bowlby, head of N3B’s soil remediation program, said in a statement.
Removing the toxic debris also protects the area’s wildlife, she added.
The cleanup project was one of 17 that N3B aims to do under the 2016 agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the state Environment Department.
Turkey’s power plant building spree has resulted in an enormous idle capacity but the construction of new plants continues at the expense of taxpayers despite the country’s bruising economic woes.
BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power for 18 years, is under increasing fire for poorly planned, prodigal investments whose long-term financial fallout is coming into sharper relief as the country grapples with severe economic woes. Standing out among the most dubious investments is a series of power plants, including a nuclear energy plant still under construction, that have created an idle capacity threatening to haunt public finances for years.
East coast nuclear power plants are getting ready to send their waste to southeast New Mexico as they are shut down.
Holtec International recently acquired licenses to decommission multiple plants as it proceeds through a licensing process to build and operate a facility to temporary store spent nuclear fuel rods near the Eddy County-Lea County line.
The ongoing license application for the first phase of the project before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Holtec to store 500 cannisters at the site –or about 8,000 metric tons – of spent fuel, but the company expects up to 20 more phases as capacity is needed.
The fuel would be transported via rail from generator sites from across the U.S. to be stored in New Mexico until a permanent repository is operational.
Smith’s doubts are neither new nor uncommon. And they cast a dark shadow over what many in Aiken County see as a jobs jackpot, among other things.
In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.
Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”
Covid-19 has provided cover for a pandemic of propaganda, says John Pilger.
BY: John Pilger |
Britain’s Armed Services Memorial is a silent, haunting place. Set in the rural beauty of Staffordshire, in an arboretum of some 30,000 trees and sweeping lawns, its Homeric figures celebrate determination and sacrifice.
The names of more than 16,000 British servicemen and women are listed. The literature says they “died in operational theatre or were targeted by terrorists”.
On the day I was there, a stonemason was adding new names to those who have died in some 50 operations across the world during what is known as “peacetime”. Malaya, Ireland, Kenya, Hong Kong, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and many more, including secret operations, such as Indochina.
(December 13, 2020) — On December 8, Congress voted on H.R. 6395, the House version of National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s NDAA — approaching three-quarters of $1 trillion — consumes more than half of the nation’s entire discretionary budget. The NDAA included a 3 percent increase in military pay. That is more than double the 1.3 percent Cost of Living Increase granted to retired civilians.
Typically, a vote on funding the Pentagon passes with near-unanimity. Not so this year. According to House Roll Call 238, 78 Representatives cast a “Nay” vote for passing the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget. The bill was supported by 140 Republicans and 195 Democrats. More Republicans (40) voted against the massive spending bill than Democrats (37)
Savannah River Site Watch https://srswatch.org/
Columbia, South Carolina USA For Immediate Release December 14, 2020
The powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representation Adam Smith, has raised great doubt about the U.S. Department of Energy’s ability to pull off the project at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to produce plutonium “pits,” or cores, for nuclear warheads.
In an online presentation on December 11 with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rep. Smith (D-WA) expressed deep concern in the ability of the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to pull off the project to convert the partially finished plutonium fuel (MOX) plant, halted in 2017, into the proposed Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at SRS. The event featured Rep. Smith talking about nuclear weapons matters coming before Congress in 2021. The transcript of the event was released late in the afternoon of December 11.
Kairos Power plans to site a test reactor it has dubbed Hermes at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The company has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Heritage Center, LLC, to acquire the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at ETTP, subject to ongoing due diligence evaluations. The announcement was made today, during the 2020 East Tennessee Economic Council Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.
“We are thrilled at the prospect of coming to East Tennessee,” said Michael Laufer, cofounder and chief executive officer of Kairos Power. “The infrastructure available at ETTP, combined with its proximity to key collaborators at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, makes this a great location to demonstrate our technology. The successful commissioning of Hermes builds on our current technology development programs and extensive engagement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ultimately, Hermes will prove that Kairos Power can deliver real systems at our cost targets to make advanced nuclear a competitive source of clean energy in the United States.”
Lou Martinez, vice president of strategy and innovation, added, “Today is an important day for Kairos Power. We are celebrating our 4th anniversary by showcasing an important milestone.”
Texas A&M is part of Triad National Security, LLC (Texas A&M, U. of California and Battelle), and is currently already managing the Los Alamos Lab.
The University of Tennessee System and the Texas A&M University System have announced plans to compete as a team for a bid that would allow them to manage and operate both the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant.
If the bid is accepted, the schools would join a team that would manage and operate both Department of Energy facilities, which manufacture, store and monitor the nation’s nuclear weapons.
Both universities currently partner with the plants in their state and provide “extensive workforces for the plants,” UT said in a news release.
Antonov termed the 11-year-old START treaty “the gold standard of arms control agreements.”
The Russian ambassador to the United States said there is still time to extend the Strategic Arms Control Treaty, due to expire in early February, even despite the upcoming presidential transition.
Anatoly Antonov, whose diplomatic career largely has been spent focused on major arms control issues, said the START treaty is a “key issue” for Russia. “We have time; we can get it done very quickly.” Speaking at a Brookings Institution online forum last week, he added, “we are in close contact with Marshall Billingslea,” the Trump administration’s top envoy on arms control.
Cheney touted the bill’s support for nuclear triad modernization and its inclusion of a new a new fund to deter China in the Pacific, adding that it “builds on the Trump administration’s successful efforts to counter the Chinese Communist Party.”
WASHINGTON ― The House adopted a compromise $740.5 billion defense policy bill by a veto-proof majority Tuesday, rebuking President Donald Trump, who threatened to send back the bill because it doesn’t repeal a prized liability shield for social media firms.
Republican and Democratic supporters hoped for a strong vote in hopes it would back Trump down, and they got it. The vote was 355-78 for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, a blueprint for next year’s spending on military and other national security programs.
While Democrats voted overwhelmingly for the bill, 40 Republicans disregarded Trump’s objections and joined Democratic lawmakers in passing the legislation. Another 37 Democrats voted against it.
“[Data] is needed to confirm and guide how the industry should manage storage canisters for longer than anticipated.
‘Salt can be present in the ambient air and environment anywhere, not just near the ocean. We need to be able to plan for extended long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future – it’s a national reality,’”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandia National Laboratories reports that it is equipping three 22.5-ton stainless steel storage containers with heaters and instrumentation in order to simulate nuclear waste so that researchers can study their durability. According to Sandia National Labs, the three, 16.5 feet long canisters arrived in mid-November and will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time.
Researchers will also study the potential for cracks that are caused by corrosion induced by salt and stress. Sandia reports that currently, there is not an operating geologic repository in the United States to permanently dispose of spent nuclear fuel.
As a result, spent fuel is being stored at commercial nuclear power plants in storage pools and dry storage canisters.
Kingston Reif, a nuclear analyst at the Arms Control Association, said that he would expect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to take “a critical look” at the W93 programme. It was controversial because of the weak development rationale and that “the weapon would be the first newly designed warhead to enter the US stockpile since the end of the cold war”.
Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.
Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.
British politicians and officials have, until now, had little to say about the long-running US row over the W93, crudely estimated to be twice as explosive as the ageing Trident warhead now used by the UK.
Peninsula Clean Energy board concerned over message more nuclear power sends to public
“I don’t like the idea of the nuclear on our label because it does kind of feel like a vote for it,” PCE Board Member Jeff Aalfs, said.
Peninsula Clean Energy has accepted hydropower allocation credits but rejected similar ones for nuclear power from PG&E after the board expressed concern about associating with the controversial energy source but, in doing so, it will lose out of potential savings up to $10 million through 2023.
Allocations are offsetting credits given out by Pacific Gas and Electric because of the environmental benefits of hydro and nuclear powers emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, will use the hydro allocation credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with system power in 2021, with plans to continue through 2023. PG&E holds the option to continue offering the credits in 2022 and 2023.
“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.
Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.
“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.
Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
November 30, 2020
Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico echoes the words from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in “applauding lawmakers for deciding not to authorize funds to prepare for the first U.S. nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades, an outcome UCS experts worked diligently to ensure because any move to resume explosive, underground nuclear weapons testing would undermine U.S. security.”
Today, Congress released the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version had contained $10 million to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons test if the White House chose to move forward with one. The House took the opposite course, voting to prohibit funding for a nuclear test explosion in fiscal year 2021. The conference report includes neither provision.
“By refusing to give the test a green light, lawmakers are wisely avoiding the risk of an explosive nuclear test setting off a new round in the nuclear arms race,” said Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program.
A dozen premier American scientists with expertise on nuclear weapons issues sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing the resumption of explosive testing of U.S. nuclear weapons, saying it was unnecessary for technical or military reasons and that doing so would have negative security consequences for the United States.
“During my time serving in the Reagan administration, I came to realize that the only nuclear strategy we had was massive retaliation, which would have made the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost trivial.”
About three years ago, in November 2017, I was honored to be one of about a 100 people invited by the Vatican to an international symposium, “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” It was the first global gathering conducted after 120 nations at the United Nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
This treaty, which is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, was adopted by the U.N. on July 7, 2017, and needed 50 countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force. The purpose for the treaty was to get world leaders and citizens to consider nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal as chemical and biological weapons, whose use the U.N had previously prohibited.
Pope Francis himself was very invested in the issue. He gave the keynote address in which he condemned not only the threat of their use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons and warned that nuclear deterrence policies offered a false sense of security. He also personally thanked each of the attendees individually.
Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.
A new investigative report released exclusively to The Seattle Times by the nonprofit watchdog group Hanford Challenge documents the fires as well as other mishaps and compliance problems that the authors say “calls into question” the safety of sending Hanford’s wastes to Perma-Fix.
RICHLAND, Benton County — In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.
The workers let it cool — but not long enough — before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.
A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”
“South Carolina could be left holding the plutonium bag…It’s clear that the plutonium bomb plant at SRS is being driven by contractors and boosters who stand to profit by making South Carolina ground zero for an unacceptable new nuclear arms race that endangers national security and that places our state at environmental risk.” — Tom Clements, Savannah River Site Watch
Earlier this month, efforts to build a jobs-rich nuclear weapons component factory in South Carolina reached a milestone that boosters hoped would keep construction plans on track over the next decade.
The National Nuclear Security Administration finalized a study that said the factory would not have a major effect on the environment at the Savannah River Site, the 310-square mile weapons complex near Aiken that would house the plant.
But the Nov. 5 announcement occurred at virtually the same time Joe Biden was in the process of winning the presidency — and as Biden prepares to take office in January, questions are surfacing about the factory’s future.
President Donald Trump’s plans for the pit factory almost certainly will be reviewed by Biden to see if it’s worth continuing the effort as envisioned, say national defense experts and others who track issues at SRS.
“Given the current high incidence rate at the WIPP facility, including a reported death of an employee, the circumstances of which are currently unknown, it is clear that the Permittees are unable to successfully mitigate COVID-19 risk to protect human health while conducting the activities under the scope of this Request,” the letter said.
Construction of a $100 million utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could be halted after the New Mexico Environment Department denied a request to extend state authorization to build the shaft, citing missed deadlines in the planning of the project and the continued spread in COVID-19 cases at the facility.
The shaft, part of an almost $300 million rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, along with a series of fans and filter buildings known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), was intended to improve airflow in the WIPP underground and allow for waste emplacement and mining to occur simultaneously along with future expansions of the nuclear waste repository.
BY: | washingtonpost.com
MARIETTA, Ga. — There were dozens of Jon Ossoff signs at the rally outside the Cobb County Civic Center, but the touring campaign bus, the bulk of the applause and the final words belonged to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who used them to boost two Democratic Senate campaigns.
“Georgia is positioned to do a marvelous thing,” Warnock told the crowd. “Send a young Jewish man, the son of immigrants, who sat at the feet of Congressman John Lewis, and a kid who grew up in the public-housing projects of Savannah, Georgia, the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, to the United States Senate at the same time.”
Two weeks into the extraordinary runoff races that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, Warnock and Ossoff have combined their efforts to try to win Georgia’s pair of Senate seats. Their names are stacked together on yard signs; they’ve called each other “brother” at joint campaign appearances. But it is Warnock who is animating the Democratic base — and the Republican opposition.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mock B61-12’s strike in the dusty Nevada desert successfully completed the first in a series of flight tests with the U.S. Air Force’s newest fighter jet, demonstrating the bomb’s first release from an internal bomb bay at greater than the speed of sound.
The flight test of the B61-12 with the F-35A Lightning II this summer was the first ever at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range featuring the fighter jet. It was also the first of a testing series that will conclude with full-weapon systems demonstrations designed to increase confidence the bomb will always work when needed and never under any other circumstances.
“We’re showing the B61-12’s larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country’s nuclear deterrent, and we’re doing it in the world of COVID-19,” said Steven Samuels, a manager with Sandia’s B61-12 Systems Team. “We’re not slowing down. We’re still moving forward with the B61-12 compatibility activities on different platforms.”
In partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force, Sandia completed a B61-12 full-weapon system demonstration with the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet in March, and another in July with the Air Force’s B-2 Spirit bomber.
Industry-induced earthquakes have been an increasing concern in the central and eastern United States for more than a decade.
BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation
The way companies drill for oil and gas and dispose of wastewater can trigger earthquakes, at times in unexpected places.
California was thought to be an exception, a place where oil field operations and tectonic faults apparently coexisted without much problem. Now, new research shows that the state’s natural earthquake activity may be hiding industry-induced quakes.
As a seismologist, I have been investigating induced earthquakes in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Our latest study, released on Nov. 10, shows how California oil field operations are putting stress on tectonic faults in an area just a few miles from the San Andreas Fault.
“Trio of resignations follow defense secretary’s firing.”
The firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper kicked off a rapid-fire series of high-level departures at the Pentagon on Tuesday, setting off alarms on Capitol Hill that the White House was installing loyalists to carry out President Donald Trump’s wishes during an already tense transition.
In quick succession, top officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the defense secretary’s staff all had resigned by the end of the day Tuesday, replaced by political operatives who are fiercely loyal to Trump and have trafficked in “deep state” conspiracy theories.
Fears continue to swirl over what these newly installed leaders will do as Trump fights the results of last week’s election, and after he has shown he is willing to use troops to solve political problems.
Tuesday’s exodus led one top Democrat to accuse the administration of gutting the Pentagon in a way that could be “devastating” for national security.
“It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition,” said House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith. “If this is the beginning of a trend — the President either firing or forcing out national security professionals in order to replace them with people perceived as more loyal to him — then the next 70 days will be precarious at best and downright dangerous at worst.”
“After Brouillette and Gordon-Hagerty feuded last winter over the size of the NNSA’s budget — a contest that broke in Gordon-Hagerty’s favor when President Donald Trump requested roughly $20 billion as she recommended, instead of the $17.5 billion Brouillette preferred — Trump’s second secretary of energy tightened his grip over the NNSA in ways that his predecessor, Rick Perry had not.”
Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette kept close tabs on then-National Nuclear Security Administration boss Lisa Gordon-Hagerty for months, sending chaperones to her meetings with Congress and monitoring her personal calendar before abruptly demanding her resignation last week, a source told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.
It was a dramatic end to a year of strife between the two, who clashed over the size of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) budget and provided the Washington nuclear policy establishment with the latest experimental data about exactly how much autonomy the NNSA and its nuclear weapons programs have from the broader DOE’s nuclear-cleanup and energy programs.
“The proposed ISP facility imperils America’s energy security because it would be a prime target for attacks by terrorists, saboteurs, and other enemies,” read [Gov. Abbott’s] letter. “Spent nuclear fuel is currently scattered across the country at various reactor sites and storage installations.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continued to voice his disapproval against nuclear waste storage in the Permian Basin region in a letter last week to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing such a project in Andrews, Texas.
Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, was formed in 2018 to request the NRC resume evaluation of an application submitted originally in 2016 to build a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) that would hold spent nuclear fuel rods temporarily at the surface while a permanent repository is developed.
Abbott has been a frequent critic of the concept of a CISF and of siting such a facility in the Permian Basin, writing a letter to President Donald Trump in September to oppose CISFs in both Texas and New Mexico.
Was DOE uranium enrichment plant responsible for star athlete’s cancer death?
PIKETON, Ohio (WKRC) – For the first time, Larry Farmer, the father of a local, All-American baseball pitcher, sat down for an exclusive interview with Local 12’s Chief Investigative Reporter Duane Pohlman to talk about the life and death of his famous son, Zach Farmer, who passed away from leukemia five years ago, blaming his death on radioactive elements he believes drifted to his former family home from the now-closed Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
A LEGEND THAT LIVED TO BE ON THE MOUND
Larry says Zach — the legendary southpaw from Piketon — was a natural from the beginning.
“No one could hit off him,” Larry said with a grin, adding that his son would routinely have 15 to 19 strikeouts a game, often leading the Piketon Red Streaks to victory.
“He lived to be on the mound,” his dad said, looking away and pausing to recall his son’s brilliant playing days.
At Piketon High School, Zach achieved more than nearly every other baseball player in Ohio history, including 599 strikeouts (No. 2 in Ohio High School Athletic Association history) and an overall record of 38-7, (No. 3 on the OHSAA list). He was even incredible at the plate with a head-spinning .505 batting average.
“Nuclear modernization plans may change. Flournoy’s desire for a strong deterrent for China includes a nuclear deterrent. But given the costs of the ongoing nuclear modernization strategy, Flournoy wants to consider all options.“
BY: Aaron Mehta
WASHINGTON — On June 20, 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden delivered keynote remarks at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, the think tank founded and, at that point, led by Michèle Flournoy.
Flournoy introduced Biden, praising him as a national security thinker and noting the ties between his staff at the White House and CNAS. Biden, in turn, acknowledged the little-kept secret of the defense world: that Flournoy was in line to become the first woman to serve as defense secretary under President Hillary Clinton.
“Well, madam secretary,” Biden said with a laugh as the crowd applauded. “I’m writing a recommendation for her, you know.”
Columbia, South Carolina – An independent safety board that monitors activities of the U.S. Department of Energy reports a “hard shutdown” during the initial startup of cesium removal from high-level nuclear waste at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS).
This is the second time that DOE has failed to mention a significant startup problem at SWPF, potentially undermining trust in its reporting to the public on the initial operations of this key facility to process liquid high-level nuclear waste, according to the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch (SRS Watch). SWPF began “hot commissioning” involving radioactive liquid on October 5, 2020.
Several nuclear waste experts are urging members of Congress and the public to oppose any proposals to transport highly radioactive nuclear waste from power plants to temporary or long-term storage sites.
Researchers with multiple groups dedicated to analyzing the potential consequences of nuclear waste storage said Friday they have major concerns with plans to transport spent fuel to other parts of the country — even for permanent storage at a place such as Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Work on the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository has been stalled for nearly a decade.
Waste is gathered at about 80 sites across the nation as the federal government continues looking for a permanent solution for highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, spurring environmental and health worries.
Washington state has picked an environmental manager from its Yakima Department of Ecology office to oversee state regulations at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
David Bowen will replace Alex Smith as Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program manager based in Richland starting Dec. 16. Smith took another state job at the end of October.
“I know Hanford is challenging and complex,” Bowen said, “But I’m excited for the opportunities it presents.”
More than 100 people tuned in to a virtual community engagement meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Thursday evening where the proposed venting of four flanged tritium waste containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, contain at Middle DP Road and the 2016 Consent Order were the main topics addressed.
BY: MAIRE O’NEILL
Stephanie Stringer, NMED Resource Protection Division Director, discussed a temporary authorization request from LANL for the venting of four flanged tritium waste containers currently stored at LANL. She said the containers were packaged at LANL’s Weapon Engineering Tritium Facility in 1996 and 1997 and were moved to Technical Area 54 in 2007.
Stringer said radiolysis of tritiated water in the containers over time has potentially resulted in hazardous concentrations of flammable hydrogen and oxygen mixture in the headspace of the FTWCs. She said the containers where they’re stored right now do not meet the Department of Transportation requirements and cannot be moved without releasing that pressure or treating the waste containers, so they need to be vented prior to transport, treatment and final disposal.
“It is difficult to imagine a military justification for such an increase in the number of nuclear bombers – even without New START.”
BY: HANS KRISTENSEN
The US Air Force is working to expand the number of strategic bomber bases that can store nuclear weapons from two today to five by the 2030s.
The plan will also significantly expand the number of bomber bases that store nuclear cruise missiles from one base today to all five bombers bases by the 2030s.
The expansion is the result of a decision to replace the non-nuclear B-1B bombers at Ellsworth AFB and Dyess AFB with the nuclear B-21 over the next decade-and-a-half and to reinstate nuclear weapons storage capability at Barksdale AFB as well.
The expansion is not expected to increase the total number of nuclear weapons assigned to the bomber force, but to broaden the infrastructure to “accommodate mission growth,” Air Force Global Strike Command Commander General Timothy Ray told Congress last year.
The hunt for industrial brine has opened massive and unexpected sinkholes, which is taking delicate work, and more than $54 million, to fill.
“Carlsbad sits on the edge of the Permian Basin, an underground geological formation that stretches from southeastern New Mexico to West Texas and accounted for more than 35% of the U.S.’s domestic oil production in 2019. The surrounding desert is lined with rows of pumpjacks and the occasional white tower of a drilling rig.”
On a July morning in 2008, the ground below southeastern New Mexico began to shift and crack, shooting a huge plume of dust into the air. Within minutes, a massive sinkhole emerged, which eventually grew to roughly 120 feet deep and 400 feet in diameter.
“At the time, it was an unfortunate situation, but most people considered it to be a one-off,” says Jim Griswold, a special project manager with New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. But a few months later, in November, dust once again streamed toward the sky as another similarly sized sinkhole opened, cracking a nearby roadway.
Both holes — and later, a third in Texas — emerged at the site of brine wells, industrial wells through which freshwater is pumped into a subterranean layer of salt. The freshwater mixes with the salt, creating brine, which is brought to the surface for industrial purposes; in this case, oil drilling. After the second sinkhole emerged, Griswold’s department head gave him a new task: Characterize the stability of the state’s 30 other brine wells and report back on where the next crisis might arise.
“The Program specifically states that ‘construction should not be allowed to proceed until the design is sufficiently mature to minimize change orders,’” the lawsuit read. “No one in NWP’s upper management in Carlsbad had ever borne responsibility for seeing a construction project of this magnitude to completion.”
A $32 million lawsuit brought by a subcontractor at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant alleged the company that runs the facility breached its contract to rebuild the nuclear waste repository’s air system.
Critical Applications Alliance (CAA), a Carlsbad-based joint venture between Texas-based Christensen Building Group and Kilgore Industries was hired by Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) in 2018 to construct the ventilation system at WIPP for $135 million, but its contract was terminated on August 31, about two years into the project.
Known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), the system was intended to increase airflow in WIPP’s underground waste disposal area to allow for waste emplacement and mining operations to occur simultaneously.
Available air at WIPP was reduced in 2014 due to an accidental radiological release that led to contamination in parts of the underground.
“Her resignation came after a budget dispute between the NNSA and Brouillette and other officials spilled into the open earlier this year.”
The U.S. official overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile resigned Friday after clashing with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and undersecretary of Energy for nuclear security, resigned after being told by Brouillette’s office that President Donald Trump had lost faith in her ability to do her job, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Some administration officials were disappointed that she’d been pushed out, saying that she was widely viewed by those in her field as capable, the people said.
In a pair of tweets Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he terminated his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Esper’s tenure as top Pentagon official followed the resignations of Trump’s first Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.
WASHINGTON — In a pair of tweets Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he terminated his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
“I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” Trump wrote.
“I think the industry will have, when it comes to national security, a very positive view” of a Biden presidency, Punaro said.
The defense industry is taking a largely positive view of its prospects under an administration led by Joe Biden, who clinched the presidency on Saturday.
Although defense manufacturers have benefited from increased spending, tax cuts and deregulation under President Trump, their executives have told investors that they expect the former vice president and longtime senator will largely maintain the status quo with respect to defense spending.
“The dangers of tritium come from inhalation, ingestion, and absorption… when the radionuclide unites with carbon in the human body, plants, or animals, it becomes organically bound (OBT) and can remain in the human body for 450 to 650 days. One study found traces of tritium in the body 10 years after exposure.”
New Mexico Environment Department comments to NRC, opposing ISP CISF 0.37 miles from NM state line, in TX
See the comments posted online, here. November 3, 2020
See the governor’s Nov. 3rd letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the form of written comments on the Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Accompanying press release:
Nuclear News Archives – 2019
A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.
In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.
President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”
Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.
“When it comes to giving the Pentagon $738 billion—even more money than it requested—there is a deafening silence within Congress and the ruling elites about what our nation can and cannot afford.”
In a scathing op-ed for the Washington Post Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at Republican and Democratic “deficit hawks” who claim the U.S. cannot afford to guarantee healthcare to all, make higher education tuition-free, or fund other crucial domestic priorities but have no issue with voting to hand the Pentagon $738 billion.
“When it comes to giving the Pentagon $738 billion—even more money than it requested—there is a deafening silence within Congress and the ruling elites about what our nation can and cannot afford.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders
The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”
Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?
Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.
The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”
WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.
Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”
Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?
Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.
Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.
The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”
Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.
President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.
Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.
That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.
But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.
WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.
Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.
Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?
Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while
President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”
The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.
WASHINGTON — 30 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report:
“Despite the fact that we do not all advocate on the same issues, we are compelled to state clearly in one voice: The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous. The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.