Current Nuclear News Archives

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Nuclear News Archives – 2021

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Nuclear News Archives – 2020

Trump’s Environmental Rollbacks Find Opposition Within: Staff Scientists

“Federal scientists and lawyers, told to undo regulations that some have worked on for decades, have embedded data into technical documents that environmental lawyers are using to challenge the rollbacks.”

ARTICLE BY: CORAL DAVENPORT | nytimes.com

“WASHINGTON — President Trump has made rolling back environmental regulations a centerpiece of his administration, moving to erase Obama-era efforts ranging from landmark fuel efficiency standards and coal industry controls to more routine rules on paint solvents and industrial soot.

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Most Hanford workers to stay home over coronavirus concerns. No word on for how long

The site in Eastern Washington was used during World War II and the Cold War to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program. It was left massively contaminated with radioactive and hazardous chemical waste, which is being cleaned up now at a cost of about $2.5 billion a year.

BY ANNETTE CARY | tricityherald.com

Most Hanford nuclear reservation workers will stay home temporarily as planning is done to increase safety related to COVID-19 coronavirus. Essential employees will report to the site. COURTESY DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Thousands of Hanford workers will stay home for a second day Tuesday after the Department of Energy announced Sunday evening that the site was going into a temporary planning status to ensure the safety of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only workers essential to the nuclear reservation’s safety and security should report to work, unless they receive a call from their supervisor saying they are needed for planning work, DOE said.

Hanford employs about 9,300 workers, plus some additional subcontractor employees.

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The Coronavirus and the Urgent Need to Redefine National Security

“In order to address serious domestic concerns [such as coronavirus], the United States must seek significant savings by reducing the Pentagon budget, ending endless wars, and returning to the arms control and disarmament arena.”

ARTICLE BY: MELVIN GOODMAN | counterpunch.org

The Coronavirus and the Urgent Need to Redefine National Security
Photograph Source: CDC/Dr. Fred Murphy – Public Domain

For far too long, the United States has been wastefully spending its precious budgetary resources on a nineteenth-century military strategy and a strategic arms policy that has brought no advantages to the American people.  For the past three decades, our national security policies have been ineffectual and irrelevant to the genuine threats we face today.  These threats do not emanate from Russia or China. Rather, they stem from an underfunded and highly vulnerable public health system, a cyber world that is out of control, and a crumbling infrastructure.  In 2017, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave a grade of D-plus to the nation’s infrastructure, with the lowest grades going to roads, bridges, mass transit, and water management systems.

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Coronavirus pandemic could delay licensing of nuclear waste facility near Carlsbad

New Mexico’s congresspeople called on the federal government to extend a public comment period for an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposal by Holtec International to build a nuclear waste repository in southeast New Mexico.

ADRIAN HEDDEN | currentargus.com

Gov. Chris Christie, Camden Mayor Dana Redd and other officials spoke about the international firm’s role in reviving the city during a Sept. 7 ribbon-cutting.

The letter signed by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and U.S. Reps. Xochitl Torres Small, Ben Ray Lujan Deb Haaland (D-NM), urged the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to extend the 60-day public comment period until public hearings could be held in New Mexico.

The request followed a State ban on gatherings of more than 10 people amid a global outbreak of coronavirus that left thousands dead across the world.

The comment period began Friday as the draft environmental impact statement was published in the Federal Register.

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LANL set to release radioactive vapors

Los Alamos National Laboratory will release radioactive vapors into the atmosphere to ventilate several barrels of tritium-tainted waste generated during the Cold War. Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in the 1990s he won a lawsuit against the Energy Department for falsely claiming a building’s “shielding factor” kept radioactive emissions within federal limits.

“The undocumented assertion in the application that half of the tritium could remain behind in equipment should be viewed with suspicion,” Coghlan said.

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The lab informed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month that it would ventilate four waste containers, beginning April 17, to relieve the built-up, radioactive hydrogen in the barrels’ headspace to prevent them from rupturing while they’re being handled. The EPA approved the application for the radioactive release last year.

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Groups Request DOE Publish “Notice” of Release of Plutonium Bomb Document in Federal Register

“Request to Publish Notice of Draft Supplement Analysis in the Federal Register, DOE/EIS-0380-SA-06: Draft Supplement Analysis”

Public interest groups working for US DOE to fully comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in its unjustified plans to produce more plutonium “pits” for new and refurbished nuclear weapons have written to DOE concerning plans for expanded pit production at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. The lawyer for SRS Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico (Santa Fee, NM) and Tri-Valley CARES (Livermore, CA) wrote to DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) on March 20, 2020, requesting that NNSA  publish in the Federal Register a notice that a document on pit production was released on March 10, 2020 and, further, that it be opened for a 45-day comment period from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The group letter is posted here:  Request for Publication of Notice of Draft SA in Federal Register March 20 2020

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More time sought for public input on nuclear fuel proposal

ARTICLE BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | washingtontimes.com

FILE – In this April 29, 2015, file photo, an illustration depicts a planned interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico as officials announce plans to pursue the project during a news conference at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, N.M. Federal regulators are recommending licensing a proposed multibillion-dollar complex in southern New Mexico that would temporarily store spent fuel from commercial nuclear reactors around the United States. But the preliminary recommendation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is making waves with critics who say the agency did not look closely enough at potential conflicts with locating the facility in the heart of one of the nation’s busiest oil and gas basins. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are requesting that federal regulators extend the public comment period for an environmental review related to a multibillion-dollar complex that would store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the United States.

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Navy asks Lockheed Martin to build additional Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles

The Trident II D5 is the primary U.S. sea-based nuclear ballistic missile, and is deployed aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

BY JOHN KELLER | tricityherald.com

Navy asks Lockheed Martin to build additional Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missilesWASHINGTON – Strategic weapons experts at Lockheed Martin Corp. will build additional UGM-133A Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic nuclear missiles and support deployed D5 nuclear weapons under terms of a half-billion-dollar order announced Thursday.

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Undisclosed delays plague atomic programs, cost billions to fix

“The Trump administration wants $3.1 billion more this year than last for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons budget, but internal government documents show the raise is devoted substantially to covering previously undisclosed cost overruns and avoiding years of new delays in the majority of U.S. atomic weapons programs.”

ARTICLE BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

UNITED STATES – MARCH 28: Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, under secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA administrator, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, testify during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing titled “Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Defense Programs,” in Dirksen Building on Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The new NNSA budget request is the latest example of the agency’s long-running problems

The Trump administration wants $3.1 billion more this year than last for the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons budget, but internal government documents show the raise is devoted substantially to covering previously undisclosed cost overruns and avoiding years of new delays in the majority of U.S. atomic weapons programs.

The administration has sold the 25 percent budget boost for the National Nuclear Security Administration only in broad terms as necessary to maintain America’s nuclear deterrent. However, the additional funds are needed not so much to advance capabilities as merely to keep troubled programs from falling further behind, according to the “official use only” correspondence obtained by CQ Roll Call.

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U.S. Department of Energy to continue cleaning up New Mexico nuke sites

During the Cold War and Manhattan Project, Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico was used to develop and test nuclear weapons, leaving behind a legacy of nuclear waste and environmental contamination.

ADRIAN HEDDEN | currentargus.com

For the next decade, the U.S. Department of Energy planned to continue disposing of nuclear waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, while also improving infrastructure at the site and continuing clean-up efforts at nuclear facilities across New Mexico and the U.S.

In its 2020-2030 “Vision” released this month, the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) outlined plans for WIPP, and two other national laboratories it owns in New Mexico: Los Alamos (LANL) and Sandia (SNL) national laboratories.

WIPP is the nation’s only permanent repository for low-level transuranic (TRU) waste, which is permanently buried in an underground salt formation about 2,150 feet underground.

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More Information on Tritium’s Significant Hazards

Routine Radioactive Releases from U.S. Nuclear Power Plants.  An update to our comprehensive list and map of all operating U.S. reactors and where they release radioactivity into the air and water. Every nuclear power reactor dumps radioactive water, scatters radioactive particles, and disperses radioactive gases as part of its routine, everyday operation.  It doesn’t take an accident.  Federal regulations permit these radioactive releases.  Any exposure to radiation increases the risk of damage to tissues, cells, DNA, and other vital molecules, potentially causing genetic mutations, cancers, leukemias, birth defects, and reproductive, cardiovascular, endocribe, and immune system disorders.

The pamphlet lists all reactors operating at the October 2015 press time.  For an up to date track of reactors as they close, please visit our Reactors Are Closing page

[This pamphlet is broader than just tritium, but tritium plays a significant part. See especially the discussion of how hazardous even a couple of curies of hazardous radioactivity, badly handled, can be.]

March 2010
January 2009
I’ll include this report too, because most of the leaks described were tritium leaks (although, again, other radioactive substances are discussed too):

Reports

Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants

UPDATED!

Leak First, Fix Later: Uncontrolled and Unmonitored Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants. May 2015. Newly revised and updated from the original, Leak First is a Beyond Nuclear report on the persistent and ongoing leaking of radioactive effluent into ground and surface water from uninspected and unmaintained buried piping under every nuclear power plant.

UPDATED!

Executive Summary. May 2015.

Note: New leaks occur often and at multiple nuclear reactor sites. Watch this page for updates on new leaks and spills.

LANL waste is unearthed at housing site

A utility crew found hazardous waste buried on land the U.S. Energy Department had transferred to Los Alamos County, stalling work on an affordable housing project.

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The discovery of low-level radioactive waste 7 to 12 feet in the ground off DP Road last month prompted the state Environment Department to write a letter that ordered the agency to supply more information about the waste, how it got there and how the agency planned to avoid future incidents.

The state agency is “extremely concerned” about the contamination unearthed on a former Los Alamos National Laboratory site and “the potential threat to human health and the environment,” wrote Kevin Pierard, the department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau chief, in a Feb. 28 letter.

Pierard demanded Energy Department and lab officials submit data on the site and the sources of contamination, as well as tests and investigations that were conducted.

“We are currently investigating and characterizing the waste located at the site to determine the extent of the contamination,” Energy Department managers wrote in response.

The waste was placed in three drums and moved to another site for further analysis, the Energy Department said. Crews have fenced off the construction site, covered it with tarp and posted signs to keep people out, the letter said.

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Political Battle Brewing Over New Nuclear Program

“Congressional leadership has yet to receive the military requirement or justification for another new nuclear warhead,” a spokesperson for HASC Democrats said in an email.

“As recently as July 2019, the Department of Energy projected it would begin work on this warhead in 2023. Work on this new warhead will add billions of dollars to an already strained nuclear modernization plan.”

BY JON HARPER | nationaldefensemagazine.com

Political Battle Brewing Over New Nuclear Program

The Trump administration’s proposal to begin work on a new nuclear warhead program to modernize the nation’s aging stockpile is expected to be hotly contested.

For fiscal year 2021, President Donald Trump requested $28.9 billion for the Pentagon’s nuclear enterprise. He requested an additional $15.6 billion for efforts by the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the stockpile, including $53 million for NNSA work on a new warhead, dubbed the W93.

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What is real national security? Comprehensive public health or more nuclear weapons?

Public Health as a National Security Concern

“Different perspectives on what “security” means compete for attention, and the literature that brings public health and national security together forces those in public health to contemplate these different perspectives and how they relate to the public health mission of protecting population health.” — Fidler, David P., “Public Health and National Security in the Global Age: Infectious Diseases, Bioterrorism, and Realpolitik” 

Report: Nuclear waste cleanup efforts could be delayed

“It is shocking that DOE would propose to delay projects like the cesium-strontium capsules and the 324 Building contamination, which pose such great risks to the workers and public,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director for Hanford Challenge, a watchdog and worker advocacy group.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | sanluisobispo.com

The Department of Energy has announced priority plans for environmental cleanup nationwide and indicates a slower process for the decommissioned nuclear site in Washington state, a report said.

The focus at the Hanford Site will be to start treating waste at the $17 billion vitrification plant, but the report does not detail other work at the 580-square-mile (1,500-square-kilometer) site, the Tri-City Herald reported Tuesday.

The report does not mention moving radioactive capsules to safer storage and cleaning up a radioactive spill under one of the buildings a mile north of Richland.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

9th Anniversary of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster

Nine years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, causing the disastrous accident at the TEPCO Daiichi nuclear power plant. The impacts of this nuclear disaster continue to this day.

We join together with people around the world to stand with the victims and continue working towards a peaceful world without nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

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Public invited to comment on LANL impact statement

“NNSA [is] shutting the public out, while steamrolling exorbitantly expensive expanded pit production…There is a clear need for a nationwide programmatic environmental impact statement to justify or not expanded plutonium pit production, followed by a new site-wide environmental impact statement for Los Alamos,” — Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico

BY T.S. LAST | abqjournal.com Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday released its draft Supplement Analysis to the 2008 Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement for Los Alamos National Laboratory, concluding that it doesn’t have to complete an environmental impact statement.

The study examines whether environmental analysis for expanded plutonium pit production at LANL should be required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

“Based on analysis in this SA, NNSA preliminarily concludes that no further National Environmental Policy Act documentation for LANL at a site-specific level is required,” the document says. “However, NNSA will consider comments on this draft SA prior to publishing a final SA.”

Demand the Need for Nationwide Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement on Expanded Pit Production

“Proud to be an American?” What an American admiral forgets about nuclear war

“Today, all these years later, the Trump administration is much more focused on acquiring new nuclear weapons systems than constraining or eliminating them. And the White House seems all too eager to walk away from the treaties and tools that were built to reduce these weapons’ greatest risks.”

MONICA MONTGOMERY | thebulletin.org

Hiroshima, ICAN, Nuclear Modernization, trump administration, W93, Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speaking at the ICAN Paris Forum “How to ban bombs and influence people.” Photo credit: Orel Kichigai | ICAN
Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima survivor, speaking at the ICAN Paris Forum “How to ban bombs and influence people.” Photo credit: Orel Kichigai | ICAN

In late February, Adm. Charles Richard, head of US Strategic Command, told a House committee that the innovations going into a new nuclear warhead are what make him “proud to be an American.”

He was referring to the W93, a new nuclear warhead that will be used on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and that the Trump administration wants $53 million to start work on this year. While the design and timeline remain unclear, the administration forecasts that the price tag for developing and building this new weapon will reach over $1 billion per year in the next four years. The W93 would join or replace at least three other submarine-launched nuclear warheads that already exist and for which billions already have been and are still being spent to modernize.

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Non-Proliferation Treaty turns 50 as US funds new nukes

“You can’t preach temperance from a bar stool, you can’t tell others not to have nuclear weapons when you’re busy ‘modernizing’ your own.”

ARTICLE BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO | abqjournal.com

Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, whose central bargain was that non-nuclear weapons states forswore acquiring them in exchange for which nuclear weapons states promised to enter into serious negotiations leading to their elimination. Those negotiations have never happened.

The Trump Administration has marked the occasion by finally releasing the detailed fiscal year 2021 Congressional Budget Request for the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA’s program for new and upgraded nuclear weapons gets a $3 billion-plus mark-up to $15.6 billion, slated to jump to $17 billion annually by 2025.

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Sandia Labs may get $300 million budget increase

Meanwhile, “[Los Alamos] laboratory’s funding for the cleanup of radioactive waste it produced during the Manhattan Project and Cold War would decrease by $100 million.”

SCOTT TURNER | abqjournal.com Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Sandia National Laboratories would receive a $300 million increase in federal funding under President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget.

Most of the increase involves the labs’ nuclear weapons program, Sandia officials told the Journal.

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Progressive lawmakers waging new NDAA fight

“This administration has no regard for Congress, and unless we put in very strict parameters around our funding support and our authorization, they’re just going to continue to roll all over us.” – Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

CONNOR O’BRIEN | politico.com

Progressive House Democrats are eyeing a new push to roll their top agenda items into the National Defense Authorization Act this spring, Connor O’Brien reports, as they seek to seize on support for their legislation but also anxiety over Trump’s expansive war powers and his diversion of military funding for the border wall.

The left wing of the Democratic caucus is still smarting after feeling they got rolled on attempts to block a military confrontation with Iran, head off a shift in Pentagon funds toward the border wall, limit nuclear weapons spending, reverse restrictions on transgender troops and withdraw U.S. military support in Yemen’s civil war.

“They note that not long after last year’s bill failed to require Congress to sign off on war with Iran, repeal the 2002 Iraq war authorization and limit Trump’s ability to move money, Trump ordered the killing of a top Iranian commander and moved to sap billions more from the Pentagon’s coffers for the wall,” O’Brien reports.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

The White House gave this nuclear agency a giant funding increase. Can it spend it all?

“The proposed $3.1 billion increase for weapons is simply sprinting toward failure, and Congress should right-size NNSA’s workload to match what the complex can realistically do,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress used a hearing Tuesday to question whether the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous arm of the Department of Energy that handles development of nuclear warheads, can spend an almost 20 percent funding increase requested by the Trump administration.

Joint Declaration between the Anishinabek Nation and the Iroquois Caucus on the Transport and Abandonment of Radioactive Waste

Preamble

The Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus have renewed their relationship and commitment of unity by smoking the sacred pipe. The two nations have met to discuss radioactive waste matters that are within their traditional and treaty territories

Central to the discussions were ceremony, and spirituality, as reflected in our inherent responsibilities and intimate relationship to the land, waters, and all our relations.

We the Anishinabek Nation and Iroquois Caucus have jurisdiction over the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River basins as a result of Aboriginal titles, and the treaties that have been entered into by First Nations and the Crown. We have our own territories and exercise our jurisdiction on a Nation-to-Nation basis.

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Heinrich grills energy secretary on proposed $100M budget cut for LANL cleanup

“I can’t understand why this administration does not value cleanup and would risk breaking the legal commitments [the Department of Energy] has made to the state of New Mexico with budget numbers like that,” Heinrich said. “Why is the cleanup number so abysmal in this budget?”

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com March 3, 2020

Sen. Martin Heinrich speaks to a group gathered at the Celebrating Culture: Workshops Supporting New Mexico Arts and Culture at the Santa Fe Convention Center on Monday afternoon. Gabriela Campos/ The New Mexican

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich fired tough questions and caustic comments at Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on Tuesday over the proposed $100 million cut in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s cleanup program for radioactive waste it produced during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Nuclear Tests Marked Life on Earth With a Radioactive Spike

Even as it disappears, the “bomb spike” is revealing the ways humans have reshaped the planet.

STORY BY: CARL ZIMMER | theatlantic.com

On the morning of March 1, 1954, a hydrogen bomb went off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. John Clark was only 20 miles away when he issued the order, huddled with his crew inside a windowless concrete blockhouse on Bikini Atoll. But seconds went by, and all was silent. He wondered if the bomb had failed. Eventually, he radioed a Navy ship monitoring the test explosion.

“It’s a good one,” they told him.

Then the blockhouse began to lurch. At least one crew member got seasick—“landsick” might be the better descriptor. A minute later, when the bomb blast reached them, the walls creaked and water shot out of the bathroom pipes. And then, once more, nothing. Clark waited for another impact—perhaps a tidal wave—but after 15 minutes he decided it was safe for the crew to venture outside.

The mushroom cloud towered into the sky. The explosion, dubbed “Castle Bravo,” was the largest nuclear-weapons test up to that point. It was intended to try out the first hydrogen bomb ready to be dropped from a plane.

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Senators ask government watchdog to assess NNSA’s nuclear weapons spending

Read the letter here

BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

The James Forrestal Building, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. / Staff photo by Colin Demarest

Two prominent Democratic senators have asked a congressional watchdog to examine the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons spending and related workload.

The request comes a little more than two weeks after President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal year 2021 budget request, which included $19.8 billion for the semiautonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency, $15.6 billion of which is flagged for nuclear weapons work.

That’s 25.2% above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level.

“Questions about affordability are critical given the significant expansion in NNSA’s budget and activities,” U.S Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts wrote in their Feb. 27 letter to the Government Accountability Office.

“The GAO raised concerns in a 2017 report about the affordability of NNSA modernization efforts,” the letter also reads, “and NNSA’s budget and activities have expanded significantly since that time.”

The independent accountability office investigates and issues reports often, touching everything from agriculture and food to national defense and tax policy.

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GOP lawmaker accuses administration of ‘playing politics’ with Yucca Mountain reversal

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

ARTICLE BY: RACHEL FRAZIN | thehill.com

© Cameron Lancaster

Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) accused the Trump administration of “playing politics” on Thursday with its reversal on funding for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. 

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to see this administration playing politics with something as important as completing the permanent solution to our nation’s high-level nuclear waste,” Newhouse said during a hearing on the administration’s proposed Department of Energy (DOE) budget.

“This budget is … a total waste of resources and a distraction from solving this very important issue,” he added.

President Trump announced this month that he no longer supports funding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, reversing his position on a controversial matter in a key state in November’s elections. The change was reflected in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. 

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said during the hearing that the administration would not proceed with either licensing for Yucca Mountain or an interim storage facility.

“My understanding [is] under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act we are prohibited from starting construction on an interim facility, a federal facility,” Brouillette said.

Democrats also criticized the administration over cuts included in the budget proposal.

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, in her opening statement.  

“Your budget proposes deep and arbitrary cuts that threaten progress one one of our most pressing challenges and that is climate change. We can be a leader in exporting clean energy technologies, but not under your budget request,” Kaptur added later in the hearing.

In response, Brouillette said, “Renewable technologies are becoming somewhat mature in the marketplace, so for us to focus again on these technologies that are now commercially widely available seems to us to be inappropriate.”

Trump’s budget request would reduce spending significantly at several energy and environment-related agencies, including the energy department. Trump has consistently proposed cutting funding such agencies, and Congress has routinely ignored those proposals and instead increased funding.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

NNSA should focus on cleanup

Before we break out the champagne, we should ask serious questions because budgets are more than just numbers on a page. They also tell us about priorities.

BY: RALPH HUTCHINSON | oakridger.com


U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), from left, and U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, (R-Tenn.) are pictured with Ashton Davies of the senator’s press office during a well-attended ceremony held in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on Nov. 20, 2017, to break ground on the construction of a new Mercury Treatment Facility to deal with runoff from the Y-12 site – Ben Pounds/The Oak Ridger

In an op-ed on Feb. 7, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the head of National Nuclear Security Administration, made her argument for the new Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year2021 budget request (“Modernizing our nuclear enterprise infrastructure to keep Americans safe”). In it she reminds us of the billions of dollars being spent here on nuclear weapons projects and celebrates the whopping 20% proposed increase for the NNSA system, including in Oak Ridge.

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BOOM Goes the Budget as DOE Plans for Nuclear War: $4.6 Billion Target for Unjustified Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at $R$

DOE Plans for $4.6 Billion Cost to Convert the Ill-Constructed MOX Plant into a Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at Savannah River Site by 2026-2030; Money to be Spent on Top of $8 Billion Wasted on MOX

BY: TOM CLEMENTS | srswatch.org

Plan to Seek $442 Million for PBP in Fiscal Year 2021 Confirmed in Feb. 26 Budget Document

Columbia, South Carolina – A budget document released by the U.S. Department of Energy late on Wednesday, February 26 reveals that the agency has assumed a stunning projected cost of $4.6 billion to convert the poorly constructed plutonium fuel (MOX) building at the Savannah River Site into a Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP). This amount of spending reveals that DOE and contractors aim to repurpose the failed MOX project into a perpetual money machine, according to the public interest group Savannah River Site Watch.

The budget document, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s funding request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2021, confirms that the agency is seeking $441 million for “repurposing” the MOX building into the unjustified Plutonium Bomb Plant.

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US wants new nuclear weapons to counter Russia but says there is no arms race

Defense Department has pushed back on the notion that the US is engaging in an arms race or growing its nuclear arsenal, saying its latest moves are merely a response to Russian efforts

BY: RYAN BROWNE | cnn.com

Washington (CNN) During a visit to US Strategic Command last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper oversaw a “table top” war game exercise where Russian military forces used a “tactical” nuclear weapon against NATO territory during a conflict in Europe, prompting the US to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike.

“The scenario included a European contingency where you are conducting a war with Russia and Russia decides to use a low yield limited nuclear weapon against a site on NATO territory and then you go through the conversation that you would have with the Secretary of Defense and the President ultimately, to decide how to respond,” a senior Department of Defense official told reporters Friday.

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Requested NNSA FY 2021 Funding for “Primary Capability Modernization”

(i.e. plutonium pits)

Bottom line: The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has requested $1.58 billion for expanded plutonium pit production in FY 2021 alone, when at least 15,000 pits are already stored at the Pantex Plant and independent experts have concluded that pits last at least a century (the average age now of pits in the active stockpile is less than 40 years). NNSA’s request is more than doubled from $712.4 million in FY 2020 for the comparable program “Plutonium Sustainment” that preceded Primary Capability Modernization.

No plutonium pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile. Instead, future pits will likely be heavily modified from tested designs for use in speculative new-design nuclear weapons. This could raise reliability issues and/or prompt the US to resume full-scale nuclear weapons testing.

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Inside America’s newly revealed nuclear ballistic missile warhead of the future

“NNSA already has too much work on its plate to sustain. Accelerating development of yet another excessively ambitious program will only make that problem worse,” – Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association

BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine Rhode Island off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 9, 2019. (John Kowalski/U.S. Navy)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. — When the Trump administration’s budget request rolled out Feb. 10, eyebrows shot up within the nuclear community at the mention of a previously unknown warhead, listed in documents as the W93.

Now the Pentagon is revealing details about the weapon, what it will replace and when it might be deployed.

The labeling of the warhead as the W93 is important. Since the introduction of the W88 in the 1980s, all upgrades to warheads have been described as variants — for instance, the collapsing of several versions of the B61 gravity bomb into the B61-12. According to a senior defense official, the reason for the new designation comes from the reality that the warhead is largely a new design.

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Feinstein, Colleagues to DOD: ‘Low-Yield’ Nuclear Weapons Not a Deterrent

PRESS RELEASE | feinstein.senate.gov

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today wrote to Defense Secretary Mark Esper questioning the decision to begin fielding W76-2 “low-yield” nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads.

            “We write to express our concern about the recent decision to begin fielding the W76-2 low-yield nuclear submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead, a decision we do not support,” wrote the senators.

            “It is inconsistent for the United States to begin fielding new nuclear weapons while we urge other countries not to do so. We should be focusing on diplomatic solutions, and we ask that you urge President Trump to extend New START before it expires next year in order to begin negotiating a successor treaty that addresses U.S. security needs.”

            Full text of the letter is available here and below.

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Senators Introduce Legislation to Counteract Trump Exit from Iran Deal

Iran Diplomacy Act calls for a diplomatic resolution to Iran’s nuclear program

PRESS RELEASE | markey.senate.gov

Washington (February 19, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have introduced S.3314, the Iran Diplomacy Act, which calls upon the United States and Iran to return to no less than their commitments under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. On January 14, 2020, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom triggered the JCPOA’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism in an attempt to address Iran’s breaches of the agreement, all of which followed the Trump administration’s unilateral exit from the deal on May 8, 2018.

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Holes found in protective liner at SC nuclear fuel factory

Inspectors at the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factory near Columbia recently found 13 small leaks in a protective liner that is supposed to keep pollution from dripping into soil and groundwater below the plant.

ARTICLE BY SAMMY FRETWELL | thestate.com

Bluff Road nuclear fuel factory near Columbia, S.C. It is operated by Westinghouse. PHOTO COURTESY HIGH FLYER

Now, the company plans to check a concrete floor beneath the liner, as well as soil below the plant, for signs of contamination that could have resulted from the tears, which were characterized in a federal inspection report as ‘’pinhole leaks.’’ The pinhole leaks, discovered by Westinghouse late in 2019, may have formed after company employees walked across the liner and weakened it, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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Proposed budget calls for $100 million cut in LANL cleanup

“To have a 46 percent cut in Los Alamos cleanup is stunning,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We’ve got nuclear weapons on steroids and cleanup is the poor stepchild subject to the whims of DOE.”

BY: swyland@sfnewmexican.comSanta Fe New Mexican

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s long-term environmental cleanup program would be cut by $100 million under the U.S. Energy Department’s proposed budget for 2021.

The agency’s preliminary “budget in brief” shows a proposed 46 percent reduction in funding for the lab’s environmental management, which handles cleanup of legacy waste generated before 1999, including during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.

A mile-long, highly toxic chromium plume under the Sandia and Mortandad canyons and the massive radioactive waste buried in Area G are the results of shoddy disposal that occurred around the lab before environmental regulations were enacted in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the Energy Department wants to increase spending by 25 percent on nuclear weapons to help meet the Trump administration’s goal of having LANL and Savannah River Site in South Carolina produce a combined 80 plutonium pits a year by 2030.

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Nuclear waste site near Carlsbad opposed by New Mexico House committee vote

“These wastes are going to last for millions and millions of years. They are extremely toxic. The idea is to dispose of these in an area where there are gas and mineral resources. This is really not what New Mexico needs.” – Dave McCoy with Citizen Action New Mexico

ARTICLE BY: ADRIAN HEDDEN | currentargus.com

Legislation to oppose the transportation and storage of high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico cleared a State House committee as Holtec International continues to develop a plan to store such waste at a proposed facility near the Eddy-Lea county line.

House Memorial 21 was introduced by New Mexico Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-50) intended to prevent the controversial proposal that could see up to 100,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods stored on a temporary basis at the site in southeast New Mexico for at least 40 years.

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The Trump Administration’s FY 2021 Request for the National Nuclear Security Administration

The Trump Administration is proposing a massive funding increase for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). At $19.8 billion, the request increases current NNSA funding by $3.1 billion, or 18.4 percent.

Article originally from taxpayer.net

NNSA funds all the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons-related activities, including weapons design, production, safeguarding the nation’s nuclear stockpile and clean-up of the government’s nuclear weapons sites. The NNSA budget does not fund the aircraft, submarines and missiles that make up the military’s nuclear “triad,” which are funded within the Pentagon’s annual budget.

In the FY 2021 request, the Department of Energy states that the additional NNSA funding is necessary to support the modernization efforts of U.S. nuclear forces called for in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

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Trump Proposes 25 Percent Bump in Nuke Spending

“Taxpayers in 2020 should not be forced to pay for a ticket back to nuclear weapons policies of the 1980s,” John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said in a statement. Pit production funding wasn’t included in the overview. Energy Department officials said a full budget proposal would become available in the coming weeks.

“Globally, Trump’s nuclear weapons budget is fueling a new nuclear arms weapons race, particularly with a new plan for a new nuclear warhead,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of New Mexico Nuclear Watch. “It solidifies Los Alamos lab’s future as a nuclear bomb plant, especially while nonproliferation, renewable energy and cleanup programs are held flat or cut.”

BY: SCOTT WYLAND |santafenewmexican.com

President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. / Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump is proposing a 25 percent increase in nuclear weapons spending that will include developing a new warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to a preliminary 2021 budget overview released Monday.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous branch of the U.S. Energy Department, would see its budget increase by 18.4 percent to $19.8 billion next fiscal year, partly to ramp up production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

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President’s Budget Calls for More Spending on Nuclear Production

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, says that the budget request would allocate more taxpayer dollars to the country’s nuclear weapons programs since the Cold War ended 30 years ago.

“Globally Trump’s nuclear weapons budget is fueling a new nuclear arms race,” he said in a statement. “It solidifies Los Alamos Lab’s future as a nuclear bomb plant, while nonproliferation, renewable energy and cleanup programs are held flat or cut.”

BY: T.S. LAST |abqjournal.com

President Trump’s budget request aims to increase pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Source: Los Alamos Laboratory)
President Trump’s budget request aims to increase pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Source: Los Alamos Laboratory)

SANTA FE, N.M. — The National Nuclear Security Administration would get $19.8 billion under President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 — a 20% increase from this year’s budget — about half of which would go toward supporting the U.S.’s nuclear weapons programs.

According to a Department of Energy fact sheet distributed on Monday, $9.5 billion of NNSA’s budget would be put toward efforts to “sustain and modernize the U.S. nuclear stockpile.” Of that, $4.3 billion is earmarked for stockpile management and $2.5 billion is for production modernization to support production capabilities for nuclear weapons. That includes funds for equipment, facilities and personnel “to reestablish the Nation’s ability to produce (plutonium) pits.”

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Trump Budget Calls for New Nuclear Warheads and 2 Types of Missiles

The president’s spending proposal requests money for a new arms race with Russia and China, and restores nuclear weapons as central to military policy.

DAVID E. SANGER |nytimes.com

ARABIAN SEA (Nov. 13, 2007) The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755) steams through the Arabian Sea along with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6), and the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kiona M. Mckissack
ARABIAN SEA (Nov. 13, 2007) The nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Miami (SSN 755) steams through the Arabian Sea along with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6), and the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kiona M. Mckissack

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has begun to put a price tag on its growing arms race with Russia and China, and the early numbers indicate that restoring nuclear weapons to a central role in American military strategy will cost tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.

In the 2021 budget released on Monday, the administration revealed for the first time that it intended to create a new submarine-launched nuclear warhead, named the W93. Its development is part of a proposed 19 percent increase this year, to $19.8 billion, for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department agency that maintains the nuclear stockpile and develops new nuclear warheads. More tellingly, that is a jump of more than 50 percent since 2017, President Trump’s first year in office.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Report: Triad had serious deficiencies in first year running Los Alamos lab

This article from the Santa Fe New Mexican is based on NNSA’s annual Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs) on contractor performance at its 8 nuclear weapons sites. NukeWatch New Mexico successfully sued in 2012 to get these reports publicly released. However, NNSA is now releasing only 3-page summaries, citing security concerns to at least one reporter. This is a baseless excuse given there has never been anything classified in the PERs.

“The federal evaluation points to Triad’s repeated breakdowns in oversight and safety issues while declaring that the contractor’s so-called accomplishments only slightly outweighed these chronic issues,” Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in a statement. “A rating of ‘good’ is simply not good enough as the lab aggressively expands the production of radioactive plutonium bomb cores for the new nuclear arms race,”

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The consortium of nonprofits that operates Los Alamos National Laboratory struggled with safety, security and waste-management problems during the first year of its contract, including the accidental release of highly flammable cesium that required a multimillion-dollar cleanup, said an annual federal report card.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Putin wants to extend arms control. What’s Trump waiting for?

“Arms control takes political willpower. Binding and verifiable treaties are worth the effort. The weapons themselves are as cataclysmic in their power as ever. Have we lost the willpower to keep them in check?”

EDITORIAL BOARD | washingtonpost.com

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit
Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump meet at the 2017 G-20 Hamburg Summit

The clock is ticking toward expiration of the last major nuclear arms control treaty, New Start, which will end a year from now if not extended by the United States and Russia. Should it lapse, the path will be open to another dangerous arms race, hardly what the world needs. Right now, all signs are pointing in the wrong direction.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

WIPP Notes Need for Infrastructure Upgrades

DOE hopes to ramp up shipments of nuclear waste to NM repository

BY: ADRIAN HEDDEN | abqjournal.com

CARLSBAD CURRENT-ARGUS

Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy are hoping to ramp up shipments of nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad to about 17 per week by 2023. The facility is currently accepting about 10 per week. To meet the goal of increasing shipments, Acting Manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office Greg Sosson said numerous ongoing infrastructure upgrades at the facility were needed.

“Infrastructure ages. We understand we have a lot more waste stream we’re going to tackle,” Sosson said. “These are really good projects to make sure WIPP is sustainable in the future so we can perform our important mission.”

Sosson, at Monday’s annual WIPP Legislative Breakfast in Santa Fe, said officials plan on WIPP accepting up to 350 shipments of transuranic nuclear waste in the next year from numerous DOE facilities, including 80 from Los Alamos National Laboratory and 195 from Idaho National Laboratory.

But to continue to accept waste at an increasing pace, Sosson said the facility must solve its airflow problem.

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Trump takes Yucca Mountain off the table. What’s that mean for San Onofre nuclear waste?

“The proposed $3.1 billion increase for weapons is simply sprinting toward failure, and Congress should right-size NNSA’s workload to match what the complex can realistically do,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

ARTICLE BY: ROB NIKOLEWSKI | latimes.com

President Trump has made a U-turn on funding the long-delayed and long-debated Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada — but it’s unclear what his decision means for moving the 3.55 million pounds of spent nuclear fuel at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.

In a tweet Thursday, Trump wrote:

A White House official confirmed that the administration will not include any funding for Yucca Mountain when it turns in its proposed 2021 budget next week.

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alliance for nuclear accountability, ANA, nuclear watch new mexico, nwnm, nukewatch, nukewatchnm

Media Advisory: What to Look For in the U.S. Department of Energy’s FY2021 Nuclear Weapons and Cleanup Budget Request

According to media reports, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semiautonomous nuclear weapons agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), has persuaded President Trump to increase its weapons budget by more than 20% in one year. NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty has claimed that a failure to give her agency that huge increase would amount to “unilateral disarmament” despite the U.S. having thousands of nuclear warheads ready to launch on a moment’s notice.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a 33-year-old network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear weapons sites, strongly opposes this unnecessary and dangerous spending that promotes a new global nuclear arms race. In addition, Trump’s FY 2021 budget request is expected to cut or hold flat cleanup, nonproliferation, dismantlement and renewable energy programs that meet real national needs to pay for more unneeded nuclear weapons. To compound all this, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 27 consecutive years.

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Nuclear News Archives – 2019

Donald Trump’s Space Missile Plan Is Too Expensive and Will Not Work, Just Like His Border Wall, Experts Say

President Donald Trump’s new global missile defense plan would be too expensive and technologically taxing to effectively implement, leading experts have said.

The president unveiled his 2019 Missile Defense Review, the first of its kind since 2010, during an address Thursday at the Pentagon. He pledged to virtually eliminate any external threat to the United States, vowing to “to ensure that we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime.”

Commenting on this statement specifically, Ploughshares Fund think tank director Joseph Cirincione said during a press call that this “is simple to say, impossible to do.”

“If you liked the president’s border wall, wait until you see his space wall,” Cirincione, who also served as a professional staff member of House Armed Services Committee and Government Operations Committee responsible for congressional oversight of missile defense programs in the 1980s and early 1990s, added. “This is a complete fantasy.”

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Advocacy Groups Go to Court to Stop WIPP Waste Volume Accounting Change

“Rather than pursuing the permit modification, the Department of Energy should comply with the legal capacity limit and begin a public process to explain what additional waste it wants to bring to WIPP and how it intends to address the loss of disposal space that cannot be used because of the significant underground contamination,” said Scott Kovac, operations and research director of NukeWatch.

BY: WAYNE BARBER

Two advocacy groups in New Mexico filed a legal appeal Thursday seeking to undo a New Mexico Environment Department order that allows the Energy Department to change the way it records underground transuranic waste volume at its Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad.

The Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) and Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NWNM) filed their notice of appeal in the New Mexico Court of Appeals to block the modification to WIPP’s state hazardous waste permit.

While it technically takes effect this month, as a practical matter the new counting system won’t be instituted right away because DOE has not drafted its policy on implementation, said SRIC Administrator Don Hancock by email.

A Dec. 21 order from then-state Environment Department Secretary Butch Tongate authorized DOE to stop recording empty spaces between container drums as waste. The order adopted the findings of state Hearing Officer Max Shepherd, who recommended waste volume counted against the disposal cap set by the 1992 WIPP Land Withdrawal Act should cover only the actual waste inside containers.

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Appeal Targets Permit Change for US Nuclear Repository

By Associated Press | Thursday, January 17th, 2019 at 12:33pm

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Watchdog groups are appealing a recent permit change approval by New Mexico regulators that could ultimately allow for more waste to be placed at the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

The approval by the state Environment Department came in the final days of former Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration. The change was requested earlier by the U.S. Energy Department and the contractor that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

The permit modification changes the way the volume of waste is calculated. Specifically, it excludes the empty space inside waste packaging containers.

The Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico argue the modification is unlawful.

Critics also are concerned the change could be a first step in expanding the repository’s mission to hold other kinds of waste.

Smith Statement on Trump Missile Defense Review

Washington, DC – Today, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about the Trump administration’s Missile Defense Review:

“The missile defense policy of the United States must follow some key principles.”

“First, it is essential that we ensure we are spending money on programs that are reliable and rigorously tested before they are deployed. We need to know that we are putting scarce taxpayer dollars to good use, for example improving reliability of the current system, rather than rushing to buy and deploy unproven missile defense systems. It is common sense to insist on this principle when it comes to programs that protect the American people and our allies, particularly in the context of the growing North Korea threat.

“Second, we must avoid missile defense policies that will fuel a nuclear arms race. Strategic stability is an essential component of U.S. national security, and it does not serve our long-term interest to take steps that incentivize Russia and China to increase the number and capability of their nuclear weapons.

“While it is essential that we continue investing in proven missile defense efforts, I am concerned that this missile defense review could lead to greater investment in areas that do not follow these principles, such as a space-based interceptor layer that has been studied repeatedly and found to be technologically challenging and prohibitively expensive.

“Moreover, we must consider missile defense and effective arms control policy as part of our deterrence capabilities. I am gravely concerned about President Trump’s broader strategy to withdraw us from international arms control agreements, dismiss allies, and expand the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. defense policy, which could further siphon funding from much-needed budget priorities and exacerbate a new nuclear arms race.”

armscontrol.org | January 17th, 2019

The Trump administration’s long-awaited Missile Defense Review, which was released today, proposes a significant and costly expansion of the role and scope of U.S. missile defenses that is likely to exacerbate Russian and Chinese concerns about the threat to their strategic nuclear deterrents, undermine strategic stability, and further complicate the prospects for additional nuclear arms reductions.

Of particular concern was President Donald Trump’s statement during his remarks at the Pentagon that the goal of U.S. missile defenses is to “ensure we can detect and destroy any missile launched against the United States anywhere, anytime, anyplace.” This would be a costly, unachievable, and destabilizing departure from longstanding policy and contradicts the text of the review, which limits U.S. homeland missiles defense to their traditional role of defending against limited attacks from North Korea or Iran. Continue reading

US to Begin INF Treaty Pullout Next Month After Russia Missile Talks Fail

Officials reject Russian offer to inspect new missile; US says it will suspend observance of treaty on 2 February.

By JULIAN BORGER in Washington theguardian.com | Wed 16 Jan 2019 18.29 EST

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, accused the US of intransigence.
Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

The US has rejected Moscow’s offer to inspect a new Russian missile suspected of violating a key cold-war era treaty, and warned that it would suspend observance of the treaty on 2 February, giving six-month notice of a complete withdrawal.

The under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, confirmed the US intention to withdraw from the treaty after a meeting with a Russian delegation in Geneva, which both sides described as a failure.

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INF, AFP, nuclear arms

Nuclear arms treaty faces collapse after failed US-Russia talks

By BEN SIMON/ AP channelnewsasia.com
Geneva (AFP) – The survival of a key nuclear arms control treaty was cast further in doubt Tuesday after the US and Russia blamed each other for pushing the agreement to the brink of collapse.

Senior diplomats from both countries met in Geneva amid widespread concern over the fate of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which successfully put an end to a mini-arms race after it was signed in 1987.

US President Donald Trump said in October that his country would pull out of the deal unless Russia stops violating it. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to develop nuclear missiles banned under the treaty if it is scrapped.

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Permit Changes at WIPP Face Challenges

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico wants Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new administration to take a fresh look at a state decision to change how the volume of radioactive waste stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is measured. (Courtesy of Judiciary.Senate.Gov)

By Mark Oswald | Journal Staff Writer

abqjournal.com | Sunday, January 13th, 2019 at 12:01am

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is encouraging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new administration to reconsider a state government decision made just before she took office Jan. 1 that changes how radioactive waste volume is measured at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in effect allowing more waste to placed in the underground repository near Carlsbad.

Udall said last week that limits on how much waste WIPP can hold were critical to federal-state negotiations that led to WIPP’s creation “and were a major reason New Mexico agreed to this mission in the first place.”

“I am encouraging the new administration to take a hard look at this action, and hopeful that it will pause and reconsider this last-minute change that has major ramifications for our state,” the senator said in an email statement.

The controversial state permit modification for WIPP, approved by then-New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Butch Tongate on Dec. 21, changes the way waste volume is calculated to exclude empty space inside waste packaging. With the alteration, WIPP becomes only about a third full instead of 50 percent full.
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More Nuclear Waste Coming to New Mexico

An Inspector monitors radiations around containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2003 prior to shipping nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. New Mexican file photo

Albuquerque Journal
By Mark Oswald / Journal Staff Writer
Sunday, January 13th, 2019 at 12:01am

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is encouraging Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s new administration to reconsider a state government decision made just before she took office Jan. 1 that changes how radioactive waste volume is measured at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in effect allowing more waste to placed in the underground repository near Carlsbad.

Udall said last week that limits on how much waste WIPP can hold were critical to federal-state negotiations that led to WIPP’s creation “and were a major reason New Mexico agreed to this mission in the first place.”

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An inspector monitors radiations around containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2003 prior to shipping nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. New Mexican file photo; Drums of transuranic waste are stored inside a salt cavern at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in 2006. Los Angeles Times file photo

By Rebecca Moss rmoss@sfnewmexican.com

santafenewmexican.com | Jan 5, 2019 Updated Jan 6, 2019

In the final days of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration, the state Environment Department approved a controversial change to how federal officials measure the amount of nuclear waste buried some 2,000 feet underground in Southern New Mexico salt beds.

Proponents of the change say it merely clarifies that the storage site will measure the actual volume of transuranic waste deposited there rather than the volume of the massive exterior waste drums, called overpack containers — and the air inside. But critics say the result will be an increase in the quantity of material stored at the U.S. Department of Energy's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.

Several nuclear watchdog groups, which say they intend to appeal the decision, also fear the change in WIPP's hazardous waste permit from the state could open the door to allowing high-level nuclear waste to be brought into New Mexico.

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Jon Kyl Voted for New Nukes After Taking Payments From Nuclear Company

The senator-turned-lobbyist-turned-senator-turned-lobbyist had a paid board seat at one nuclear company and lobbied for two others. Then he joined the Senate.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 05: U.S. Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) awaits Vice President Mike Pence before a mock swear-in ceremony on September 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The former senator Kyl was tapped by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to replace the late Sen. John McCain. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

By

readsludge.com | JAN 10, 2019 4:10PM EST

After almost 30 years of a program to clean up dangerous defense waste at the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington, the Department of Energy now wants to change the rules to make the job easier and save money. If approved, the proposal poses new dangers to the health and safety of people and the environment — not just in southeastern Washington, but at nuclear sites around the country.

After Sen. John McCain’s death in August 2018, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey appointed former Republican Senator Jon Kyl to replace him—despite Kyl having spent years lobbying his former colleagues for an array of defense, utility, nuclear, tech, and social media companies that have business before the chamber. Government watchdogs warned of potential ethics issues, but Kyl was allowed to step aside from his K Street job and work on legislation without acknowledging conflicts of interest or recusing himself.

News broke on Monday that Kyl is rejoining his previous employer, lobbying firm Covington & Burling, after his four-month stint in the Senate.

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Renew Nuclear Arms Control, Don’t Destroy It

By Andrew Lichterman and John Burroughs

Andrew Lichterman is Senior Research Analyst for Western States Legal Foundation, based in Oakland, California. John Burroughs is Executive Director of Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, based in New York City.

A Soviet inspector examines a BGM-109G Tomahawk ground-launched cruise missile prior to its destruction pursuant to INF Treaty, October 18, 1988, at Davis-Monthan US Air Force Base in Arizona. Credit: US Department of Defense

ipsnews.net | NEW YORK, Jan 2 2019 (IPS)

A hard-earned lesson of the Cold War is that arms control reduces the risk of nuclear war by limiting dangerous deployments and, even more important, by creating channels of communication and understanding. But President Donald Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton appear to have forgotten, or never learned, that lesson.

In late October, Trump announced an intent to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently stated that the US will suspend implementation of the treaty in early February. While US signals have been mixed, initiation of withdrawal at that point or soon thereafter appears likely.

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Don’t let feds change the rules for cleaning up Hanford nuclear waste

The public can comment on the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposed changes to Hanford nuclear waste cleanup rules until Jan. 9.

A sign warns of high levels of radiation near a valve at the “C” tank farm of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren, 2014)

By Tom Carpenter

NukeWatch NM and Hanford Challenge are both members of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

seattletimes.com | Originally published January 2, 2019 at 3:11 pm

After almost 30 years of a program to clean up dangerous defense waste at the Hanford nuclear site in southeastern Washington, the Department of Energy now wants to change the rules to make the job easier and save money. If approved, the proposal poses new dangers to the health and safety of people and the environment — not just in southeastern Washington, but at nuclear sites around the country.

In 1943, the U.S. government built the massive complex at Hanford to manufacture plutonium for nuclear weapons. When defense production ceased in 1986, its nine reactors had produced enough material for 60,000 atomic bombs. What remains is North America’s most contaminated site — more than half a billion gallons of nuclear waste and toxic chemicals stored in leaking tanks and dumped into the ground.

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New LANL director: Community relations is a priority

N3B Mason
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director and N3B CEO Thomas Mason

Albuquerque Journal

BY MARK OSWALD / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Sunday, January 6th, 2019 at 12:02am

The new director of Los Alamos National Laboratory says that, along with the lab’s nuclear weapons missions, its science and engineering efforts, and upgrading operational functions, community relations will be a key piece of LANL’s agenda under new operator Triad National Security, LLC.

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2018

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(Un)Reliable Replacement Rationale

In this YouTube video Energy Secretary Chu and Tom D’Agostino celebrate the Kansas City Plant’s 60th anniversary with a plaque mounted with vacuum tubes for the B61 radar unit. STRATCOM chief Chilton has repeatedly used the presence of vacuum tubes in the nuclear weapon as a rationale for complete new-design nuclear weapons (the Reliable Replacement Warheads, or facsimiles thereof), instead of modernizing just the radar.

Meanwhile, the National Nuclear Security Administration and the General Services Administration are engaged in a complex scheme for private financing of a new Kansas City Plant for which the Kansas City municipal government will hold title because of municipal bonds issued to finance its road and utility infrastructure. This is enabled by Missouri state law, which gives tax abatement authority to municipal governments in order to fight urban blight. In this case, 185 acres primarily used for soybean agriculture was declared blighted in order to grease the deal. The result: a city government owning a federal nuclear weapons production plant in the name of fighting urban blight!

Historically, the Kansas City Plant has manufactured and/or procured 85% of all types of nuclear weapons components by volume. KCP was excluded from analysis in the Complex Transformation Supplemental programmatic environmental impact statement because NNSA falsely argued that its nonnuclear components production mission would not be affected by decisions made elsewhere in the nuclear weapons complex. Au contraire, the rationale for the new Kansas City Plant was originally predicated upon extensive production of new Reliable Replacement Warheads and Life Extension Programs involving existing nuclear weapons numbering in the 1,000’s.

Hopefully that rationale is now seriously outdated.

Los Alamos Director Anastasio’s Two Hats

Apparently the National Nuclear Security Administration reimburses Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS) $397,341 for LANL Director Anastasio’s salary. Then LANS LLC pays him another $400K to promote the NNSA agenda from which LANS LLC derives a profit. During all this time Anastasio also acts as President of the for profit LANS (for which he gets a combined total of $800K).

Which hat does Anastasio then wear when the country needs his best advice? Obama wants the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ratified as one beginning step toward a nuclear weapons-free world. The Labs want the Senate to attach “Safeguards” to the Treaty during the ratification process that will have the contrary effect of enshrining nuclear weapons design and production capabilities into perpetuity. LANS profits from those capabilities.  How do we know that Anastasio will give untainted advice on serious questions such as whether this country will genuinely lead toward enhanced global security through the verifiable multilateral elimination of nuclear weapons?

For more on what the nuclear weapons labs want through CTBT Safeguards see our September 2009 press release:

Labs Seek “Stockpile Modernization” Through Test Ban Ratification “Updating” of Treaty “Safeguards” to Protect Nuclear Weapons Budgets

Weapons Lab Director Paid Double the Salary of Nobel Peace Prize-Winning President Obama

Santa Fe, NM – On December 10 President Barack Obama will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway for his beginning efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. The President is paid $400,000 a year for running the country. Michael Anastasio, the Director of the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in northern New Mexico, is paid double that of the President, $800,348 a year. Unlike the President, Mr. Anastasio has been an unabashed supporter of new-design nuclear weapons and resumed industrial-scale nuclear weapons production. Over 60% of the Lab’s $2.1 billion annual budget is specifically dedicated to nuclear weapons research and production, while much of its remaining budget supports those core programs.

It is profoundly regrettable that so much taxpayers’ money is misdirected toward nuclear weapons of mass destruction, contrary to the spirit of the Peace Prize that President Obama is about to receive.

Nuclear Watch Press Release

Hikers, dogs found inside the fence

Summary Report of Occurrences Reviewed

From October 26 – 30, 2009
Near Miss –
NA – Los Alamos National Laboratory (Significance Category 3).
On October 22, a Water
Quality sampling crew discovered two hikers with three dogs at Technical Area 68 (TA-68)
during High Explosive (HE) Operations. The hikers were instructed to exit DOE property.
During interviews, the hikers stated they had hiked approximately one mile into TA-15.
During that time, TA-39-6 conducted two HE shots. A third shot scheduled for another shot
site was cancelled because of equipment issues. The hikers did not enter the TA-39-6 shot
Hazard Areas. Had the third shot been conducted, the hikers could have been within the
Hazard C Area with the potential for contamination or HE injury. A radiological control
technician surveyed the hikers and dogs for contamination. The contamination surveys
indicated no detectable activity and the hikers were released.

http://www.hss.energy.gov/csa/analysis/ll/occur/102609-103009.pdf

I’m glad everyone is OK, but I have some questions. The hikers clearly crossed a fence or a gate with one of those warning signs on it. There is no mention of security forces being called. The Lab has been busted for security issues many times in the past and can ill afford any more security problems. Is it possible that the Lab is trying to avoid having this incident count as a security violation? If they found me walking my dogs inside the fence, I’ll bet I would at get to explain my story to the guys in the black SUVs.


Los Alamos – Plutonium Center of Negligence

An October 27 press release from the Project on Government Oversight (POGO)
Defense Board Catches Los Alamos Trying to Dodge Plutonium Safety Vulnerability” revolves around a new Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) revelation of public safety vulnerability and seismic issues at TA-55 (The Lab’s plutonium Technical Area).

The DNFSB has been very patient on the safety issues at TA-55. In a September 23, 2005 weekly report, they stated that LANL needed to try to justify a passive confinement strategy, continue plans to reduce radioactive materials, and to seismically upgrade the glove-box supports that have not already been upgraded. These issues are still unaddressed as of the latest DNFSB report.

Seismic issues run deep at Los Alamos. NNSA currently has plans to construct and operate the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement–Nuclear Facility (CMRR–NF) to support plutonium operations as a replacement for portions of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) facility, a 1950’s structure that faces significant safety and seismic challenges. In 1999, a fault was discovered under the old CMR building, which has been neglected, contaminated, and has several abandoned wings. This fault was the major reason given to build a new facility 1.2 miles away at TA-55.

The Lab has big plans for plutonium. In December 2008, NNSA released a Record of Decision for its Complex Transformation Environmental Impact Statement that keeps manufacturing and research and development involving plutonium at Los Alamos and blesses the building of the CMRR-NF. This decision was a combination of two alternatives – a Distributed Centers of Excellence and a Capability-Based alternative. But to compensate for the nearby fault lines, the CMRR-NF is now being designed with 10-foot thick concrete floors and there are plans being designed to pump grout into a layer of fragile volcanic ash under the proposed facility. Current construction estimates for this facility are $2 billion.

The Lab has been negligent in taking care of its plutonium flagship, TA-55. It has not been a good steward of plutonium missions. Los Alamos is the wrong location, seismically. Congress must seriously consider ending this unnecessary plutonium work.

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