Current Nuclear News Archives
“Independent federal investigators last month raised concerns about whether cost overruns and missed construction deadlines will continue at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant…State regulators are weighing a permit change that some critics have said could lead to expanded repository operations. A decision is expected later this year.”
BY apnews.com| April 11, 2022 AP NEWS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An area at the U.S. government’s nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico was evacuated over the weekend after workers handling a shipping container discovered a small amount of radioactive liquid inside it.
There was no indication of airborne contamination and testing of workers’ hands and feet turned up no contamination after the discovery was made late Saturday in a bay where containers are processed before being taken underground for disposal, officials said in a statement.
“The event at the site has been secured. There is no risk of radiological release and there is no risk to the public or the environment,” plant officials said their most recent statement, issued late Saturday.
“What we see [in Chernobyl] is a vivid example of outrage at a nuclear facility. It is the responsibility not only of Ukraine, but of the whole world, to keep the stations safe. The whole world watched live as tanks fired at nuclear power units [in Zaporizhzhia]. This history must never repeat itself.” – Ukrainian Interior Minister Monastyrskyy
BY cnn.com| April 9, 2022
Chernobyl, Ukraine (CNN) The sudden ear-piercing beep of a radiation meter fills the room as a Ukrainian soldier walks in. This is where Russian soldiers were living at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and radiation levels are now higher than normal.
“They went to the Red Forest and brought radioactive material back with them on their shoes,” soldier Ihor Ugolkov explains. “Other places are fine, but radiation increased here, because they were living here.”
— DOE WIPP (@WIPPNEWS) April 10, 2022
— DOE WIPP (@WIPPNEWS) April 10, 2022
Officials at the facility say there was no risk of radioactive contamination.
Carlsbad led to the evacuation of workers Saturday night from an area of the facility where waste is prepared for disposal.
The incident was reported at about 8:20 p.m. in the waste handling building, where shipments of nuclear waste are prepared for disposal in the underground repository.
Officials said there was no risk of a radiological release after the event was investigated.
As a drum of waste was being processed, liquid was found at the bottom of the container which tested positive for radioactive contamination, per a news release from WIPP officials.
All personnel in the area were evacuated and tested for contamination, and operations were temporarily paused.
Complex weapon systems are inherently prone to accidents, and this latest launch is one of a long history of military accidents in India
“The mistake that is of greatest concern is a false alarm of an incoming nuclear attack, possibly directed against nuclear forces. Indian or Pakistani—or Russian or NATO—policy makers may find themselves under immense pressure to launch a preemptive attack, thereby compounding the crisis…Nuclear war, even of a limited nature, between India and Pakistan could lead to millions of deaths in the short term and even graver consequences in the longer term for the region and beyond.”
Last month, while most of the world focused on the war in Ukraine and worried that a beleaguered Russian leadership might resort to nuclear weapons, thus escalating the conflict into a direct war with the U.S.-led NATO nuclear-armed alliance, a nearly tragic accident involving India and Pakistan pointed to another path to nuclear war. The accident highlighted how complex technological systems, including those involving nuclear weapons, can generate unexpected routes to potential disaster—especially when managed by overconfident organizations.
“…International treaties and consortiums discourage nuclear testing,” the firm said in a report summary. “This hampers the market growth.”
US President Joe Biden last week requested a record peacetime national defence budget, which would prioritise modernizing its nuclear “triad” of ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles.
The report predicted that demand for small nuclear warheads, which can be easily deployed through aircraft and land-based missiles, would fuel faster growth in these segments, although submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) accounted for a quarter of the market in 2020.
While North America dominated more than half the global market in 2020, the report predicted the fastest growth would come from the Asia-Pacific region on initiatives by India, Pakistan and China to bolster their nuclear arsenals.
“However, international treaties and consortiums discourage nuclear testing,” the firm said in a report summary. “This hampers the market growth.”
It predicted that the rising influence of non-nuclear proliferation treaties and national efforts should increase the number of warheads in storage or awaiting dismantlement.
Active weapons, however, accounted for the “lion’s share” – more than two-thirds – of the market in 2020, it said, due to investment in nuclear arsenals and new warhead purchases.
Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States at the start of the year issued a joint statement saying there could be no winners in a nuclear war and it must be avoided.
The White House’s new defense budget lavishes money on America’s nuclear weapons program in the name of competing with China and Russia. It’s totally unnecessary.
“Biden has scaled back his domestic ambitions even while pushing the defense budget upward and onward.”
President Joe Biden’s defense budget for 2023 is gargantuan. It comes to $813.3 billion, nearly $60 billion higher than the budget he requested a year ago for 2022. Just a few weeks ago, Congress passed a bill adding $25 billion to that earlier budget. Biden’s new budget, which he submitted on Monday, accepts the congressional hike as a baseline and raises the pot by another $32 billion.
To put this in perspective, Biden’s $813 billion exceeds President Donald Trump’s final defense budget by $75 billion—which, for a sense of proportion, is about 2.5 times what the government spends on Pell grants for low-income college students. It tops the amount that the Trump administration figured it would spend in 2023 by $40 billion.
Why it’s time to expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
“Without congressional action, RECA will expire in July 2022. Because of the arbitrarily drawn lines of eligibility written into the original 1990 bill, many Downwinders and other impacted individuals, like many uranium workers, are not eligible for compensation — both in Utah, and in states across the West and territories in the Pacific.”
In recent weeks, the world has held its collective breath as Russia shelled, and then occupied, Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst-ever nuclear reactor disaster, and Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Not to mention Putin’s thinly veiled threats of nuclear war to those who support Ukraine. With these developments, the world consciousness has been reinvigorated with concern about nuclear radiation. But, the concern over radiation never waned for those in the American West, who continue to live with the disastrous health consequences from Cold War-era nuclear testing and production.
“The core debate: A multi-billion-dollar project to make plutonium cores at Los Alamos National Laboratory may be unsafe, unnecessary and ill-conceived. But proponents say the mission is a must.”
LOS ALAMOS — Los Alamos began as an “instant city,” springing from the Pajarito Plateau in 1943 at the dawn of the Atomic Age. More than 8,000 people flocked here to work for Los Alamos National Laboratory and related industries during the last years of World War II. Now the city may be on the brink of another boom as the federal government moves forward with what could be the most expensive warhead modernization program in U.S. history. Under the proposed plan, LANL will become home to an industrial-scale plant for manufacturing the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons — hollow spheres of plutonium that act as triggers for nuclear explosions. The ripple effects are already being felt.
Roads are planned to be widened to accommodate 2,500 extra workers. New housing developments are appearing, one of them about a mile from large white tents that house drums of radioactive waste. And these are just the signs visible to the public: Within the lab, workers are busy around the clock to get facilities ready to produce the first plutonium core next year.
The cores — known as pits — haven’t been mass-produced since the end of the Cold War. But in 2018, under pressure from the Trump administration, the federal government called for at least 80 new pits to be manufactured each year, conservatively expected to cost $9 billion — the lion’s share of a $14.8 billion weapons program upgrade. After much infighting over the massive contract, plans call for Los Alamos to manufacture 30 pits annually and for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to make the remaining 50.
The idea of implementing an immense nuclear program at Los Alamos has sparked outrage among citizens, nuclear watchdogs, scientists and arms control experts, who say the pit-production mission is neither safe nor necessary.
Jay Coghlan, Executive Director @ Nuclear Watch New Mexico, on tactical nukes in the Ukraine war with Russia, the deterrent factor, PIT manufacturing in Los Alamos and other related topics.
Federal officials would agree only to study the possibility of clearing out waste from the Area G pit and wouldn’t commit to following through, said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director.
“Ideally, the transuranic nuclear waste would go to WIPP, and the low-level radioactive materials would be buried in a landfill with liners and a leachate collection system. Capping and covering the on-site pit is problematic because it’s unlined and could allow toxins to leach into the groundwater,”
Los Alamos National Laboratory will do extensive waste cleanup and fix a long-broken monitoring system for polluted runoff to comply with a settlement of a watchdog’s lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Watch New Mexico agreed to a settlement in federal court last week to end six years of litigation for what the watchdog group characterized as neglect of longtime issues.
“It’s now a legal obligation on the part of DOE,” said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director. “I do expect DOE will be cooperative in this.”
President Biden has requested an additional $31 billion to increase the Pentagon budget from this year’s already excessive level of $782 billion. But this money should be spent on YOUR needs!
The Ukraine war has been used as an excuse for this outrageous Pentagon budget — which is 12 times more than Russia’s military spending. The Pentagon, which spends more than the next 11 countries combined, can easily afford to arm Ukraine and send more troops to Europe (though we oppose these steps) without additional funding.
The rapid increases in the Pentagon budget are making us less safe, even as war rages in Ukraine. They will only raise tensions with Russia and China, prepare for a superpower conflict, and put innocent people at risk.
Close to half of Americans say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned about that, according to the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Russian President Vladimir Putin placed his country’s nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion.
Americans fear being drawn in
Russia’s war on Ukraine has most Americans at least somewhat worried that the U.S. will be drawn directly into the conflict. Now a new poll says there is also anxiety among Americans that they could be targeted with nuclear weapons.
Nearly 50% ‘very concerned’
Close to half of Americans in the poll say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned about that.
This week Nuclear Watch New Mexico announced the successful settlement of its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) about its slow cleanup of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). After a six-year court battle, the settlement requires DOE to re-establish a monitoring station on the Rio Grande in order to protect the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, which provides about 40 percent of the drinking water for Santa Fe residents. The monitoring station was destroyed in 2013 during a major flood event. https://bddproject.org/
The settlement also includes the cleanup of 158 corrugated metal culverts containing cemented radioactive liquid waste buried at the Area G dump; a feasibility study for the excavation of a waste pit, also at Area G; and the investigation, characterization and, if necessary, clean up of 290 specific dumps scattered across the LANL site.
To read the press release with a link to the Settlement Agreement:
“Special alert is the Russian military’s highest level of alert. So Putin’s statement is serious. But it should also be noted that Russia, France, the United Kingdom and of course, the United States maintain almost 2,000 nuclear warheads on various states of high alert.”
On January 3rd of this year, the world’s five largest nuclear powers, including Russia, issued the following joint statement:
But, one month later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
It’s a move that alarmed the world, and seems to fly in the face of that statement, which also says:
“Nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.”
On Point: Russia, and the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal. Where are the weapons, how are they controlled and what could trigger a launch?
The national security establishment and its corporate allies dominate Congress’s new nuclear weapons commission.
“While the world draws closer to nuclear war than it has in decades, perhaps ever, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has given lawmakers a unique opportunity to scrutinize the massive nuclear modernization effort currently underway in the U.S. — the largest since the Cold War. But last week, when Congress announced most of its appointees to a new commission designed to do just that, it was business as usual. A former senator-turned-defense contractor lobbyist and a senior executive for BP were among the picks.”
SPEAKING TO CNN on Tuesday, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterated a well-known tenet of Russian military doctrine: The country could resort to the use of nuclear weapons if it perceives an “existential threat.” Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy made a similar comment to Sky News, saying that nuclear war could be a possible outcome if the country is “provoked” or “attacked” by NATO. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called Peskov’s comments to CNN “dangerous,” saying: “It’s not the way a responsible nuclear power should act” — begging the question of whether there is such a thing as a “responsible” nuclear power.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri-Valley CAREs and Savannah River Site Watch are in the process of suing for a programmatic environmental impact statement to be completed on plutonium “pit” (warhead trigger) production.
In a confirmation hearing Tuesday morning, the Biden administration’s nominee to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) weapons programs from headquarters in Washington pledged his support for the agency’s program of record and agreed to review the agency’s plan to produce new plutonium pits if confirmed.
The nominee, Marvin Adams, a professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University, testified alongside three other witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Adams appeared before the committee about 10 weeks after the Biden administration sent his nomination to the Senate. The White House announced its intent to nominate Adams in mid-December.
“Mr. Putin might fire a [nuclear] weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops…It feels horrible to talk about these things, but we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.” — Ulrich Kühn, a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“Putin is using nuclear deterrence to have his way in Ukraine. His nuclear weapons keep the West from intervening.” — Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University who recently profiled the less powerful armaments (so-called tactical nuclear weapons that can be launched on mobile short-range ballistic missile systems).
In destructive power, the behemoths of the Cold War dwarfed the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Washington’s biggest test blast was 1,000 times as large. Moscow’s was 3,000 times. On both sides, the idea was to deter strikes with threats of vast retaliation — with mutual assured destruction, or MAD. The psychological bar was so high that nuclear strikes came to be seen as unthinkable.
STATEMENT BY MOST REVEREND JOHN C. WESTER ON WAR IN UKRAINE: “Nuclear Weapons Must Be Eliminated, Not Reinforced”
ALBUQUERQUE – Saturday, March 19, 2022 – IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe has made the following statement on the War in Ukraine:
We watch in horror as a brutal land war erupts, threatening all of Europe, which seems inconceivable after the end of the Cold War some thirty years ago. We pray for the safety and well-being of both Ukrainians and Russians and hope that God’s light and our own sanctified work towards justice and redemption can lead us to a lasting peace. In particular, we pray for the multitude of refugees and children who are having their lives destroyed by needless and unjustified violence. No matter what language they speak or which ruler they pledge allegiance to, may the Lord protect all of our brothers and sisters through the grace of God! This has been our intention during the novena for Ukraine that we are currently praying in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
Considering that letter and given the renewed fear of nuclear war that the Ukraine invasion has prompted, I feel compelled to address the important issue of nuclear disarmament.
Joel and Xubi discuss the Ukrainian invasion in the context of nuclear weapons and strategic resource acquisition with Jay Coghan from NukeWatch.
“Nuclear watchdog groups have been critical of the Energy Department. They have raised concerns about the repository’s future, citing the increase in defense-related waste that will need to be disposed of when production of key components for the country’s nuclear arsenal ramps up at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.”
ALBUQUERQUE — There’s no way of knowing if cost increases and missed construction deadlines will continue at the only United States underground nuclear waste repository, according to a federal watchdog report made public Tuesday.
The Government Accountability Office outlined the concerns in its report, noting the U.S. Energy Department is not required to develop a corrective action plan for addressing the root causes of challenges at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico.
A multimillion-dollar project is underway at the underground facility to install a new ventilation system so full operations can resume after a radiation leak in 2014 forced the repository’s closure for nearly three years.
The new ventilation system at WIPP now estimated to take 4 more years and $200 million more dollars than original estimates.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the nation’s only facility for disposal of certain defense-related nuclear waste. The Department of Energy (DOE) identified two root causes for cost increases and schedule delays in its project to install a new ventilation system at WIPP (see figure). The facility is currently operating at a reduced capacity because of ventilation issues in the underground waste disposal areas. The root causes DOE identified were (1) its contractor’s inexperience managing construction projects and (2) an inability to incentivize staff to work in Carlsbad. DOE also identified more specific problems with this ventilation project, and has taken corrective actions to address them. While some of these corrective actions may also help to address the root causes, the extent to which these actions will do so is unclear because DOE is not required to develop a corrective action plan for addressing the root causes and does not have a process to determine whether root causes have been sufficiently addressed. Without such a plan and process, DOE cannot ensure that root causes it identifies for cost increases and schedule delays in the WIPP ventilation project or other projects will not persist or recur.
“In the end, it is situations like the war in Ukraine that demonstrate exactly why we need to find ways to reduce and ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons.” – Dr. Tara Drozdenko of the Union of Concerned Scientists
As someone who works on nuclear weapons policy for a living, I’ve been getting questions from family and friends about the war in Ukraine and the risk of nuclear use. My colleagues are getting similar questions. Most of these questions boil down to, “Should we be worried?” or “How worried should I be?”
I think concern is a healthy response to this conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued veiled threats of nuclear use and neighboring Belarus has paved the way to host nuclear weapons on its territory. Things are tense. And if NATO countries were somehow pulled into the conflict—even by accident—there is some chance this war could turn nuclear. So far, the US and other NATO countries have been very careful that there not be any misunderstandings, including cancelling a planned test launch of a Minute Man III missile.
“The US, China, and Russia are locked in a high-tech race to perfect new nuclear capabilities, rendering some Cold War safeguards obsolete.”
The risks associated with nuclear weapons are rising once again, the heads of three U.S. intelligence agencies told lawmakers last week, as Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine intensified.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
At the end of the Cold War, President George H.W. Bush boasted that the United States could now reduce its nuclear forces. But today’s arsenals—and global politics—are much different than in 1991. U.S. leaders face threatening dictatorships in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and Pyongyang, all racing to create new nuclear bombs and ways to deliver them. Technology, it turns out, is making arms control harder, and that’s forcing a big rethink about nuclear deterrence.
There is no guarantee that nuclear reactors will ever be designed, built and operated 100% correctly, forever. Mistakes do occur and the designers of reactors at Fukushima in Japan did not anticipate that on March 11, 2011 a tsunami generated by an earthquake would disable the backup systems that were supposed to stabilize the reactor after the earthquake. According to UBS AG, the Fukushima I nuclear accidents have cast doubt on whether even an advanced economy like Japan can master nuclear safety.
The current fighting in Ukraine does not help quell any fears of the massive risks of nuclear power, and in fact comparisons have been made between the situation there and Fukushima 11 years ago: “While I don’t think the plant would blow up, it would be close-in contamination to the local area like Fukushima was,” — Murray Jenne, professor of crisis response at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas and a former U.S. Navy nuclear power propulsion officer. USA TODAY
11 years on, Fukushima morass still poses danger
On March 11, 2011, the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan became the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster after the plant was hit by a tsunami following a strong earthquake.
The International Atomic Energy Agency classified it as a Level 7 nuclear accident, which means it had widespread health and environmental impacts. The world’s only other Level 7 accident was at Chernobyl in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, on April 26, 1986.
“It’s like we have finally come to the starting line. Before, we didn’t even know which way we were supposed to go.” – TEPCO Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono
OKUMA, Japan (AP) — Eleven years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was ravaged by a meltdown following a massive earthquake and tsunami, the plant now looks like a sprawling construction site. Most of the radioactive debris blasted by the hydrogen explosions has been cleared and the torn buildings have been fixed.
During a recent visit by journalists from The Associated Press to see firsthand the cleanup of one of the world’s worst nuclear meltdowns, helmeted men wore regular work clothes and surgical masks, instead of previously required hazmat coveralls and full-face masks, as they dug near a recently reinforced oceanside seawall.
Workers were preparing for the planned construction of an Olympic pool-sized shaft for use in a highly controversial plan set to begin in the spring of 2023 to gradually get rid of treated radioactive water — now exceeding 1.3 million tons stored in 1,000 tanks — so officials can make room for other facilities needed for the plant’s decommissioning.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the limits of nuclear deterrence
“Nuclear deterrence comes with tremendous risks and enormous costs. The arguments in favor of deterrence, although sometimes convincing, are not always true. We must acknowledge that nuclear deterrence could fail. That’s why, despite the trillions of dollars spent on nuclear arsenals, no one sleeps soundly under a nuclear umbrella—especially during a crisis such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin has given orders to increase the alert level of Russia’s nuclear forces and has made veiled nuclear threats. The blatant aggression against Ukraine has shocked Europe and the world. The war is a tragedy for Ukraine. It also exposes the limits of the West’s reliance on nuclear deterrence.
PDA CNM welcomed Archbishop John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, to speak at their March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester’s] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos National Lab, and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. He prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded plutonium pits last at least a century, refuting the NNSA’s assertion that we “need” new-design nuclear weapons and expanded plutonium pit production.”
Archbishop John C.Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe
Jay Coghlan, NukeWatch NM
PDACNM welcomed Archbishop John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe to their monthly gathering. His courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspired PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.
Why We Are in a New Nuclear Arms Race and What You Can Do to Stop It
Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos National Lab, and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. He prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded plutonium pits last at least a century, refuting the NNSA’s assertion that we “need” new-design nuclear weapons and expanded plutonium pit production.
Jay described how the new nuclear arms race is more dangerous than the first one. How it might lead to a nuclear hot war over Ukraine. And how devastating a nuclear war would be for everyone, including us.
A lab critic said he’s concerned about flaws in worker training, equipment and inspections contributing to glove box breaches as LANL gears up for producing plutonium pits for warhead triggers.
“As things ramp up, we’re bound to have more problems,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Los Alamos National Laboratory had two additional breaches of a sealed radioactive-material compartment known as a glove box in January, bringing the total to three in one month, according to a government watchdog.
One employee damaged a glove attached to a sealed compartment while manually moving material with a disabled trolley through the enclosed space, causing enough of a release to contaminate the person’s face.
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), which conducts oversight of DOE projects, has confirmed that plutonium from SRS was taken to the Pantex site in Texas, for storage. Sounds like it’s being stored in bunkers where plutonium pits (from nuclear weapons) are stored.SRS Watch | March 8, 2022 srswatch.org
It is unclear what the fate of this plutonium will be, which was removed from SRS due to legal requirements to do so. the amount that went to Pantex is likely 500 kilograms (0.5 metric tons). 3 kg is enough for a pit in a nuclear weapon.
Will the Pu be shipped for a nuclear weapons use or will it be processed into oxide (if DOE moves the ARIES plutonium oxide conversion process from Los Alamos National Lab to Pantex)? SRS Watch has a Freedom of Information Act request in to DOE concerning the legally required analysis of moving ARIES to Pantex. As usual, as the secretary of energy isn’t doing her job or paying attention to the public, that request languishes.
PRESS CONFERENCE MAR. 1, 2022 - NEW MEXICANS SUPPORT GOVERNOR ACTING TO STOP WIPP EXPANSION
“New Mexico agreed to host WIPP after carefully crafting agreements that limit what the federal government can do with it. It was afraid that this very thing would happen, and DOE didn’t disappoint,” she said Tuesday during a press conference in Santa Fe.
“WIPP’s mission can only be changed if the DOE breaks every legal agreement that it made with New Mexico in order to get it to host the WIPP site in the first place.”
Also concerning, Weehler said, was the transportation plan to ultimately bring the plutonium to WIPP.
Mostly originating at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the waste would first travel to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LAN) in northern New Mexico via truck for processing.
Cindy Weehler gave a powerful speech during the March 1, 2022 press conference at the New Mexico Capitol about why you should care about the expanding mission for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). People are opposing the Department of Energy (DOE) WIPP expansion plans that violate the law. We provide Weehler’s speech below.
Weehler is Co-Chair of 285 ALL, a neighborhood issues awareness group based south of Interstate 25. Before the press conference, she presented over 1,100 petition signatures to the Governor’s Office. The petition reads:
Petition to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
New Mexicans call on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to stand up for public health and the environment by stopping the expansion of the nuclear waste facility called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in southeastern New Mexico.
New Mexicans oppose the nuclear waste expansion at WIPP because:
- The federal government’ plans would transport more nuclear weapons waste to WIPP than is allowed.*
- The plutonium nuclear waste in the WIPP expansion is still dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years and endangers the health of our families and future generations.
- Unless New Mexico says ‘NO’ to WIPP expansion, other disposal locations will not be developed, and WIPP and NM will always be the only dump site, which is not fair. New Mexico never agreed to bear the burden of being the only nuclear waste dump site in the country.
- The federal government has not been transparent about its WIPP expansion plans, and has repeatedly refused to discuss the plans publicly, including in hearings on the WIPP Permit. Many New Mexicans are not even aware of those plans. We deserve a transparent and fair process that includes the voices of all impacted communities.
We strongly support, and urge our Governor to take all necessary actions, including denying permits for the piecemeal expansion.
Photo: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
“Nuclear weapons keep all of us imperiled, even when we aren’t technically at war.”
(CNN) First things first: Despite Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and despite Russian posturing about nuclear weapons, it seems wildly unlikely that the current conflict will descend into a nuclear crisis. But that reality doesn’t change the fact that this invasion, and Russian swagger about its nuclear capabilities, ratchets up tensions in an already-deadly situation — and brings a renewed (if still slim) threat of nuclear war to a generation that has never experienced this particular (apocalyptic) fear.
“I would now like to say something very important for those who may be tempted to interfere in these developments from the outside,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an address last week about his country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This citizen petition highlights the frustration of New Mexicans with DOE’s Environmental Management program. We fully expect the Department of Energy to meaningfully engage with stakeholders in New Mexico communities on this issue.” – Nora Meyers Sackett, governor spokeswoman.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A coalition of environmentalists and nuclear watchdogs on Tuesday delivered more than 1,000 petition signatures to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asking her to take all steps necessary to stop any expansion of the federal government’s nuclear repository in southeastern New Mexico.
Dozens of people gathered at the state Capitol because they are concerned about the potential for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to be a disposal site for diluted plutonium.
They said the dump was never intended for that type of radioactive waste.
“In a shocking move that unearthed long-buried fears from the Cold War era, Putin ordered Russian nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch on Sunday, ratcheting up tensions with Europe and the United States over the conflict.
The Russian president told his defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in “special regime of combat duty.”
He said that leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” toward Russia in addition to stiff economic sanctions and cutting leading Russian banks from the SWIFT banking system.”
Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner
Slavic Studies Panel Addresses “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?”
Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu).
The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.
“Currently no options have been able to demonstrate that waste will remain isolated from the environment over the tens to hundreds of thousands of years.” – Nuclear waste expert Andrew Blowers, author of “The Legacy of Nuclear Power” and former member of the UK’s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management.
(CNN) A major Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, to be released Monday, is expected to warn that humans are wrecking the planet so profoundly that we may run out of ways to survive the crisis. The report speaks of a “rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”
The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration claims that a little more than half of WIPP’s future capacity will be reserved for future plutonium pit bomb core production. Further, those new radioactive wastes would be given priority over existing legacy cleanup wastes.
“The combined TRU waste (1,151 m3) generated over 50 years would be 57,550 m3, which would account for 53 percent of the projected available capacity at WIPP. In addition, use of WIPP capacity for national security missions such as pit production would be given priority in the allocation process.”
DOE/EIS-0236-S4-SA-02, December 2019, Final Supplement Analysis of the Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, p. 65, https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2020/01/f70/final-supplement-analysis-eis-0236-s4-sa-02-complex-transformation-12-2019.pdf
NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO IS OPPOSED TO THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO BEING THE NATION’S LARGEST PLUTONIUM WASTE PRODUCER AS WELL AS THE NATION’S ONLY PLUTONIUM WASTE DUMP.
BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus | February 25, 2022
Nuclear waste will continue being buried at a facility near Carlsbad for the coming decades, as far into the future as 2050 or 2080.
In preparation for that continued mission of disposing of the nation’s transuranic (TRU) waste – mostly clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities – the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant saw myriad projects at the site aimed at increasing airflow and ensuring enough space is available for the waste.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s implied threat to turn the Ukraine crisis into a nuclear war presents President Joe Biden and U.S. allies with choices rarely contemplated in the atomic age. One choice is whether to raise the alert level of U.S. nuclear forces in response. Putin put Russian nuclear forces in what he called a “special regime of combat duty.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s implied threat to turn the Ukraine war into a broader nuclear conflict presents President Joe Biden with choices rarely contemplated in the atomic age, including whether to raise the alert level of U.S. nuclear forces.
This turn of events is all the more remarkable for the fact that less than a year ago, Putin and Biden issued a statement at their Geneva summit that seemed more in keeping with the idea that the threat of nuclear war was a Cold War relic. “Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” they agreed.
“By merely suggesting a nuclear response, Putin put into play the disturbing possibility that the current fighting in Ukraine might eventually veer into an atomic confrontation between Russia and the United States.”
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — It has been a long time since the threat of using nuclear weapons has been brandished so openly by a world leader, but Vladimir Putin has just done it, warning in a speech that he has the weapons available if anyone dares to use military means to try to stop Russia’s takeover of Ukraine.
The threat may have been empty, a mere baring of fangs by the Russian president, but it was noticed. It kindled visions of a nightmarish outcome in which Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine could lead to a nuclear war through accident or miscalculation.
“As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,” Putin said, in his pre-invasion address early Thursday.
AS THE WEEK BEGAN, nonproliferation advocates weren’t optimistic that President Joe Biden would stand by his early commitments to “reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.” He might reverse former President Donald Trump’s decisions to pursue a nuclear-armed, sea-launched cruise missile or to retain the B83 gravity bomb, the most destructive weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, they thought. He might roll back Trump’s policy allowing a nuclear response to “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks” or even consider a coveted “no first use” policy that Biden had shown interest in as vice president. But prospects that he would do the heavier lifting and halt Northrop Grumman’s contract to replace the intercontinental ballistic missile system — considered one of the most dangerous and unnecessary weapons in the nuclear arsenal — were practically nonexistent. Combined with multiple other weapons programs, the brand-new ICBM system puts the U.S. in its largest nuclear modernization effort since the Cold War.
“…If we have nuclear weapons, and if we, heaven forbid, got to the point where we use them on each other, it would be catastrophic. And so I want this to be a conversation, not really a historical one about should we have dropped the bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but I want to be a conversation on: Should we work toward nuclear disarmament?”
But the Archbishop of Santa Fe wants the state, and the world, to forge a new way forward. Rev. John C. Wester issued a pastoral letter last month calling for total nuclear disarmament. Wester spoke to KUNM’s Megan Kamerick about how his perspective changed during a visit to cities in Japan where the United States dropped atomic bombs in World War II. This interview is an excerpt of a longer interview that will air on New Mexico in Focus Friday Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
JOHN C. WESTER: It was just so horrific, especially with the children. I mean, the whole thing was difficult. But I read that the children saw the bright light, and they ran to the window to see what the light was, you know, and I can only imagine what happened either then or shortly after with the exposure to the radiation.
By promising a response “never seen” in history if other countries interfere in Ukraine, the Russian leader upended decades of relative stability.
THE FIRST IMAGES out of Russia’s fresh invasion of Ukraine appeared to herald a fairly traditional land war: tanks battling, artillery firing, and planes swooping low over cities. But even as Western leaders moved to craft a strong response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked aggression, they did so warily, conscious that the dramatic escalation in Eastern Europe could spill over into two new domains with much larger implications for the world beyond: cyberspace and nuclear weaponry.
In his speech early Thursday morning, Moscow time, Putin announced what he called a “special military operation” and issued a stark warning against Western intervention.
“No matter who tries to stand in our way or all the more so create threats for our country and our people, they must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history,”
He said, in remarks officially translated by the Kremlin that seemed to leave little doubt as to the threat of nuclear retaliation.
Climate change is not the only man-made threat that could wipe out humanity; a nuclear war would also do that
Suddenly, the threat of nuclear war feels closer than it has in decades. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists updated their Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, and President Joe Biden has issued increasingly ominous statements reflecting how the looming conflict over the Ukraine that could ensnare both Russia and the west into conventional war.
And, some fear, war with nuclear weapons. It is a prospect that has haunted human beings since the dawn of the Cold War. Politicians who were perceived as too open to the idea of nuclear war would pay for their hawkishness at the polls. Motion pictures from “Dr. Strangelove” to “The Day After” have depicted an uninhabitable world, filled with lethal amounts of radiation and short on necessities like food and water.
“Some scholars, including Kenneth Waltz, have gone so far as arguing that we should allow nuclear weapons proliferation as a method of promoting peace. However, this deterrence-based approach does not take into account the possibility of accidental and unauthorized nuclear explosions, or of nuclear terrorism, two very real menaces.”
You cannot go around saying to people that there is a 100% chance that they’re gonna die. You know? It’s just nuts. —President Orlean, “Don’t Look Up,” 20:40
This line is from the new Netflix sensation, “Don’t Look Up,” a movie starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in the role of two astronomers trying to raise awareness about a comet on a collision course with Earth. “Don’t Look Up” has prompted the interest of many because of its not-so-hidden political commentary on the apathy surrounding climate change, however, few seem to realize the relevance of the movie’s message for another, even less recognized issue: nuclear disarmament.
Indeed, the extent to which nuclear weapons still threaten our lives today is little understood. Despite being one of the most socially engaged and politically minded generations across a range of topics, few Gen Zers really consider the nuclear issue with the urgency it demands.
The nuclear modernization effort, however, does face one potentially significant hurdle, particularly for missiles such as the GBSD and the Long Range Standoff Weapon: the production of plutonium “pits” that go in the center of nuclear warheads.
The National Nuclear Security Administration had set a goal of producing 30 pits per year by 2026 and 80 by 2030. But, “I think NNSA will readily admit they’re not going to make that requirement,” Wolfe said.
The B-21 Raider continues to be a “model” program for the Air Force, with six of the new bombers currently in production and some of its software already validated through digital testing, a top general at Air Force Global Strike Command said Feb. 9.
Speaking at the 2022 Nuclear Deterrence Summit, Maj. Gen. Jason R. Armagost said the new stealth bomber will likely fly in 2022, echoing previous predictions by other Air Force officials.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is releasing only cursory, three-page summaries of its FY 2021 Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs), which provide scant information and essentially whitewash contractor performance. For context, the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons and cleanup programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List for project and contractor mismanagement for 27 consecutive years. In 2012 Nuclear Watch New Mexico sued to obtain the full and complete Performance Evaluation Reports, after which NNSA caved in and immediately provided them. However, that unfortunately resulted in no legal settlement requiring annual releases of the full and complete PERs, and now the agency is back to suppressing information on contractor performance paid for by the American taxpayer.
Nuclear News Archives – 2021
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
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.