Nuclear News Archives – 2019

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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Vladimir Putin on nuclear war: U.S. is pushing world ‘closer to a very dangerous line

The U.S. is threatening to suspend a Cold War treaty limiting medium-range missiles because it says one of Russia’s weapons violates the agreement.

By Yuliya Talmazan and Alexander Smith

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that the world is underestimating the threat of nuclear war and blamed the U.S. for risking a collapse in global arms controls.

nbcnews.com | Dec. 20, 2018 / 1:16 AM PST / Updated Dec. 20, 2018 / 7:04 AM PST

The U.S. is threatening to suspend a Cold War treaty limiting medium-range missiles because it says one of Russia’s weapons violates the agreement.

During his annual marathon news conference Thursday, Putin insisted that Washington was to blame. Most experts agree Russia has been violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

However, many of those same analysts have criticized President Donald Trump for walking away from the INF Treaty. They argue that quitting it won’t bring Russia into line, and instead could trigger an arms race with ground-based nuclear missiles returning to Europe for the first time in decades.Continue reading

Don’t Tear Up This Treaty

Arms control isn’t perfect. But abandoning treaties without a plan for the future is dangerous.

ryan garcia

The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

nytimes.com | Dec. 15, 2018

Every American president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama has successfully negotiated an agreement with the Soviet Union, or the Russian federation, to reduce the threat from both countries’ vast nuclear arsenals. More than a dozen treaties limiting nuclear testing, nuclear weapons, activities in outer space and missile defense have been part of this mix.

The need for such restraint is irrefutable: No weapons are more lethal and potentially more destabilizing to the world than those that have earned the moniker “city killers.”Continue reading

Letter from 26 Senators Responding to Trump’s Nuclear Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, December 13, 2018

FOLLOWING PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ALARMING DECISION TO DEVELOP NEW NUCLEAR WEAPONS WHILE ALSO MOVING TO UNILATERALLY ABANDON THE BIPARTISAN NUCLEAR TREATIES THAT HAVE HELPED KEEP THE WORLD SAFE FROM NUCLEAR WAR FOR DECADES, SENATORS GILLIBRAND, MERKLEY, WARREN, MARKEY, FEINSTEIN, KLOBUCHAR LEAD GROUP OF 26 SENATORS IN CALLING ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO WORK TO PRESERVE THESE VITALLY IMPORTANT TREATIES, AVOID DRAGGING OUR COUNTRY INTO A DANGEROUS NEW NUCLEAR ARMS RACE WITH RUSSIA

Senators: “Your Administration’s Efforts to Double Down on New, Unnecessary Nuclear Weapons While Scrapping Mutually Beneficial Treaties Risks the United States Sliding Into Another Arms Race with Russia and Erodes U.S. Nonproliferation Efforts Around the World”

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Russia Just Sent Two Nuclear-Capable Bombers to Venezuela

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV / AP time.com

(MOSCOW) — Two Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers arrived in Venezuela on Monday, a deployment that comes amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said a pair Tu-160 bombers landed at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas on Monday following a 10,000-kilometer (6,200-mile) flight. It didn’t say if the bombers were carrying any weapons and didn’t say how long they will stay in Venezuela.

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ANA Press Release

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

immediate release: Tuesday, November 27, 2018 

Watchdog groups call for Congress to protect nuclear weapons communities—stop DOE limitations on Safety Board

Watchdog groups from across the country are insisting the Department of Energy withdraw DOE Order 140.1, a controversial order that would compromise safety at dozens of facilities in the US nuclear weapons complex, and are asking key Congressional committees to annul the revised order and preserve the critically important prerogatives of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).

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DOE MUST RESTORE DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD ACCESS TO INFORMATION, NUCLEAR SECURITY FACILITIES, AND PERSONNEL

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What’s Happened

On May 14, 2018, the Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary approved DOE Order 140.1 Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, which limits release of information, limits the DNFSB’s access to nuclear security sites, and personnel. The impacts are already being felt by Congress, the Board, DOE contractors and workers, and in communities located near some of the most dangerous nuclear facilities across the nation.

ANA’s Message

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability has reviewed DOE Order 140.1 and believes it imposes a level of constraint on DNFSB that jeopardizes the important mission of the Safety Board. In fact, it may well violate the legislation that established the Board. ANA groups and the public at major DOE sites have come to rely on the Safety Board’s expertise to identify and hold accountable the DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration for worker and public safety related issues.

 

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ANA Letter to Congress

November 27, 2018

RE: DOE Order 140.1 should be annulled by Congress

Dear House/Senate Armed Services Committee Members:

We are writing to ask that you annul the May 2018 DOE Order 140.1, Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and reinstate the previous DOE Order 140.1.

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (“DNFSB” or “Safety Board”) was established by Congress in September 1988 (Public Law 100-456) in response to growing concerns about health and safety protection that the Department of Energy (“DOE”) was providing the public and workers at defense nuclear facilities. In so doing, Congress sought to provide the general public with an independent source of critical oversight to add assurance that DOE’s defense nuclear facilities are safely designed, constructed, operated, and decommissioned. Over the past 30 years, the Safety Board’s authority and funding has been supported by Congress on a bi-partisan basis.

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Self-reported violations at LANL increase three-fold in a year

LANL Drums and tags
Nuclear waste drums stored at Area G at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2003. Cindy Mueller/ SF New Mexican file photo.

By Sarah Halasz Graham

An 85-gallon drum of radioactive waste leaked into its secondary container. Nearly two dozen waste containers were either mislabeled or not labeled at all. Officials failed to conduct mandated hazardous waste inspections.

During Los Alamos National Laboratory’s most recent fiscal year, officials logged 69 instances of noncompliance with the federal permit that allows the facility to store, manage and treat hazardous waste, according to a newly released annual report that details the violations.

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European diplomats mount last-ditch effort to stop US scrapping INF treaty

BY JULIAN BORGER in Washington |
theguardian.com
Sun 18 Nov 2018 03.00 EST Last modified on Sun 18 Nov 2018 10.52 EST

– 1987 treaty has kept nuclear weapons out of Europe
– Trump announced withdrawal from deal with Russia in October

European officials are seeking to act as intermediaries between Russia and the US in the hope of salvaging a cold war-era arms control treaty that Donald Trump has threatened to scrap.

However, the diplomats involved are not confident of success in the effort to save the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Although they have the support of senior officials in the US defence and state departments, they face opposition from the White House, particularly from the national security adviser, John Bolton.

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Incoming HASC Chair: Scale Back Plans for New Nukes

trump
The ballistic-missile submarine USS Nevada (SSBN 733) transits the Puget Sound on its way to its homeport, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Poulsbo, Wash. Jan. 14, 2015. U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Ahron Arendes

BY MARCUS WEISGERBER  defenseone.com
NOVEMBER 14, 2018

Rep. Adam Smith laid out new terms for a debate over the Pentagon’s plans to expand the military’s nuclear arsenal.

The incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee is taking aim at the Trump administration’s plans to expand America’s nuclear arsenal.

While Democrats will only control one chamber of Congress for the next two years, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., called for lawmakers to “totally redo the Nuclear Posture Review,” the administration’s blueprint for replacing Cold War-era nuclear weapons with newer ones envisioned to be aroundContinue reading

Trump’s Defense Spending Is Out of Control, and Poised to Get Worse

trump
U.S. President Donald Trump puts on a military jacket as he meets the US troops at the U.S. Yokota Air Base, on the outskirts of Tokyo, Nov. 5, 2017. AP/Shutterstock

BY MATT TAIBBI  rollingstone.com
Using a time-honored trick, a bipartisan congressional panel argues we should boost the president’s record defense bill even more

A bipartisan commission has determined that President Trump’s recent record defense bill is insufficiently massive to keep America safe, and we should spend more, while cutting “entitlements.”

The National Defense Strategy Commission concluded the Department of Defense was too focused on “efficiency” and needed to accept “greater cost and risk” to search for “leap-ahead technologies” to help the U.S. maintain superiority.

Nuclear fallout: $15.5 billion in compensation and counting

lanl
Gilbert Mondragon, 38, pulls the cap off a plastic water bottle that had been twisted open by his young daughters. He hasn’t the strength for those simple tasks anymore and blames his 20-year career at the Los Alamos National Lab. He quit this year because of his serious lung issues, which he suspects were caused by exposures at the nuclear facility. InvestigateTV/Andy Miller

BY JAMIE GREY & LEE ZURIK mysuncoast.com
November 12, 2018 at 1:00 PM EST – Updated November 12 at 10:54 AM

LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO (InvestigateTV) – Clear, plastic water bottles, with the caps all slightly twisted open, fill a small refrigerator under Gilbert Mondragon’s kitchen counter. The lids all loosened by his 4- and 6-year old daughters because, at just 38, Mondragon suffers from limited mobility and strength. He blames his conditions on years of exposure to chemicals and radiation at the facility that produced the world’s first atomic bomb: Los Alamos National Laboratory. Mondragon is hardly alone in his thinking…
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LANL Groundwater Discharge Permit Hearing Underway

BY  TRIS DEROMA   lamonitor.com |

In opening testimony at a groundwater discharge permit hearing Wednesday, attorneys for a Los Alamos National Laboratory contractor said spraying the ground with water with remediated levels of chromium and RDX is environmentally safe. Chromium and RDX are known carcinogens. The chemicals are from contamination plumes found on the grounds of the laboratory in the 2000s.
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Donald Trump Welcomes In the Age of “Usable” Nuclear Weapons

BY James CarrollTomDispatch  truthout.org |


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

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

DP-1793 Hearing Courtroom

BY MAIRE O’NEILL thelosalamosreporter.com

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

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

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Colorado Wildlife Refuge Opens at Former Nuclear Weapons Plant Amid Controversy

BY  PAM WRIGHT weather.com


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

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

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Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun

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

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

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

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

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

We have them to reduce the chances of catastrophe.

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

BY ALEXANDRA BELL  The Washington Post

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

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

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

Terminating the INF Treaty Could Be Disastrous

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

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

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

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

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George Shultz: We Must Preserve This Nuclear Treaty

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

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

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

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

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Fihn ICAN Talks of Ban Treaty Coming to Force in 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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George Shultz: We Must Preserve This Nuclear Treaty

BY GEORGE P. SHULTZ nytimes.com

Mr. Shultz was a secretary of state in the Reagan administration.

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

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

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

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

WIPP: Waste Calculation Change Discussed

BY ADRIAN C. HEDDEN, Carlsbad  currentargus.com

WIPP:
“Calculation change will not impact facility’s capacity”

[We at NukeWatch do believe that this proposed change WILL expand WIPP’s capacity and are working hard to stop it.]

Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant said a proposed modification to facility’s permit to dispose of nuclear waste will have little impact on WIPP operations or its maximum capacity for emplacement. The modification regards how the facility tracks the volume of transuranic (TRU) waste permanently stored in the underground repository.

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Hibakusha Against Withdrawal From INF

Atomic Bomb Survivors Urge Trump Not To ‘Turn Clock Back’

BY AI TANABE, Staff Writer The Asahi Shimbun

Hibakusha atomic bomb survivors admonished U.S. President Donald Trump for threatening to walk away from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in a protest letter sent to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Oct. 22. The note, addressed in Japanese to the commander-in-chief, was compiled by five hibakusha groups in Nagasaki expressing their concerns over the proposed withdrawal from the 1987 treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union.

The groups stated that if the United States pulls out of the treaty, “global momentum for nuclear disarmament will fade away while the likelihood of a nuclear war crisis will rise.”

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TA-16 Gadget Building

Feds Test Aquifer for Contamination of RDX

THE LOS ALAMOS MONITOR ONLINE
Feds Test Regional Aquifer for More LANL Contamination of High Explosives
Monday, October 22, 2018

Chemicals used to make high explosives have reached the regional water supply, the Los Alamos federal environmental manager discovered two years ago.

The contractor for the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management field office is drilling a second well to find out just how much contamination has occurred.

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WIPP Bulging Barrel

Critics: WIPP proposal would allow more nuclear waste storage

Critics: WIPP proposal would allow more nuclear waste storage
By Rebecca Moss | sfnewmexican.com
Sep 19, 2018 Updated Sep 19, 2018

As the public comment period closes Thursday on modifications to a state permit allowing the federal government to store nuclear waste at a southeastern New Mexico repository, critics are decrying the changes as an effort to increase storage capacity at the site and are accusing the state Environment Department of rushing the approval process.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, a private contractor that manages the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, submitted a request early this year to change the way radioactive waste at the site is measured.

They want to measure the waste by the volume inside each waste drum rather than by the total number of containers at the site. WIPP can store a maximum of 6.2 million cubic feet of transuranic waste — discarded tools, soil and equipment contaminated by plutonium and other radioactive materials — in its underground salt-bed caverns. But its capacity has been measured so far by the total volume of the waste drums, not the materials held inside them.

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Mini-nuke blast off - Bulletin

Mini-nukes: Still a horrible and dangerous idea

Mini-nukes: Still a horrible and dangerous idea
By John Mecklin, September 19, 2018

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Perhaps the most dangerous weapons program the US government has recently pursued involves a low-yield nuclear warhead for submarine-launched nuclear missiles. The arguments against development of such “small nukes” are legion and overwhelmingly compelling. In fact, almost exactly one year ago, I laid out some of those arguments in an article headlined, “Mini-nukes: The attempted resurrection of a terrible idea.” And, I said then, don’t just take my word for it; read the analysis of Jim Doyle, a former longtime technical staffer at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Simply put, the availability of “small” nuclear warheads increases the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used, and any use of nuclear weapons easily could (some experts might say “inevitably would”) lead to general nuclear war and the end of civilization.

In the last year, however, the Trump administration released a Nuclear Posture Review calling for development of a low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Congress subsequently passed a defense authorization act that includes money for the program, and another bill allocates millions in the Energy Department budget specifically for pursuit of the new warhead.

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NM Sens. Tom Udall, left, and Martin Heinrich

New Mexico Senators Speak Out Over Order They Say Would Hamper Nuclear Safety Board

New Mexico Senators Speak Out Over Order They Say Would Hamper Nuclear Safety Board
They want Congress to suspend a move that would limit access to information about facilities and could hinder the panel’s ability to oversee worker health and safety.

by Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican,

Aug. 31, 5 a.m. EDT

This article was produced in partnership with The Santa Fe New Mexican, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

New Mexico’s senators are asking Congress to block a Department of Energy order that would limit a federal board’s access to information about nuclear facilities and could hinder its ability to oversee worker health and safety.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the leaders of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall also asked their colleagues to block impending staff cuts and a broad reorganization at the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. New Mexico is home to three of the 14 nuclear facilities under the board’s jurisdiction: Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

“We feel strongly that these two matters facing the [safety board] and its future must be suspended while Congress and the public have time to review and offer constructive feedback” on how to maintain and improve the board, the senators wrote to Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman and ranking member of the energy and water development subcommittee.

Read the article here

SF Opera Dr Atomic Downwinders

The West’s atomic past, in opera halls

The West’s atomic past, in opera halls
On stage and in Congress, Trinity test downwinders fight for recognition.
Elena Saavedra Buckley, High Country News, Aug. 30, 2018

Outside the Santa Fe Opera, a 62-year-old venue nestled in juniper-covered hills, retirees reclined by cloth-covered tables in the parking lot. As the August heat reflected off the asphalt, they tailgated with flutes of champagne. Soon, they would file in to see Doctor Atomic, an opera about physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the 24 hours before the first atomic bomb, which he helped create, detonated over New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin in the Trinity test.

Doctor Atomic has been performed in New York and San Francisco, but never before in New Mexico, where Manhattan Project scientists from Los Alamos Laboratory created the bomb. John Adams composed the opera in 2005, and Peter Sellars’s libretto uses declassified Los Alamos documents, focusing on the scientists’ perspective. This was the first time that downwinders — people whose families lived in the Tularosa Basin, in the path of the bomb’s radiation — appeared on stage during a performance. This summer, 73 years after Trinity, New Mexico’s downwinders are finally receiving some attention — onstage and in Congress.

The Trinity test occurred at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1945, about 150 miles south of Santa Fe and the laboratory and only weeks before the bombings in Japan. It bathed the basin in light, creating a half-mile-wide crater. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders believe that blast’s radiation gave their families cancer, either from the air or through milk and produce, and that the diseases are being passed down genetically.

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Defense Nuclear Facilities Board at August 28, 2018 Pubic Hearing

Trump Administration Muzzles Nuclear Weapons Safety Watchdog

Trump Administration Muzzles Nuclear Weapons Safety Watchdog
The administration, working in open alliance with profit-making contractors, is scaling back the safety group’s authority and slashing its staff.

Center For Public Integrity
08.30.18 6:00 AM ET

By Patrick Malone, Center for Public Integrity

A small government safety organization tasked with protecting the workers who construct America’s nuclear arsenal and with preventing radioactive disasters in the communities where they live is under new siege in Washington.

The Trump administration, acting in an open partnership with the profit-making contractors that control the industrial sites where U.S. nuclear bombs are made and stored, has enacted new rules that limit the authority and reach of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, created by Congress in 1988 amid broad public concerns over civil and military nuclear safety lapses.

The administration’s new rules eliminate the board’s authority to oversee workplace protections for roughly 39,000 nuclear workers and also block its unfettered access to nearly three-quarters of the nuclear weapons-related sites that it can now inspect.

In a separate move, the board’s new acting Republican chairman has proposed to put more inspectors in the field but to cut its overall staff by nearly a third, including letting some of its supporting technical experts in Washington go. The board already has one of the smallest oversight staffs of any federal agency.

The twin assaults on the operations and authority of the safety board come just as the Energy Department, acting at President Trump’s direction, is embarking on the most aggressive era of nuclear weapons production since the Cold War. Trump has called for one new nuclear bomb to be produced immediately and for the production of another new bomb to be studied.

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SUMMER NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION

A Nuclear Energy Meltdown Scrambles Southern Politics

A Nuclear Energy Meltdown Scrambles Southern Politics
South Carolinians have some of the highest electricity bills in the country, thanks in part to nuclear energy

BY ANDREA COOPER | AUG 30 2018
REVEREND LEO WOODBERRY CLUTCHED the pulpit, his voice rumbling toward the people gathered in the basement theater at Little Rock AME Zion church. Around 75 men and women wearing everything from stylish dresses to blue jeans and T-shirts sat in rapt attention.

“Talk to your friends,” Woodberry implored, wearing a “Justice First” T-shirt and a baseball hat. “Your neighbors, your commissioners, your mayors. Tell them we are ready right now to move away from fossil fuels. We’re ready to make our cities 100 percent renewable!”

People clapped, whistled, and cheered “Yes!” and “Amen!”

Woodberry was on his Justice First Tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, 100 miles from his home in Florence, South Carolina. The environmental activist had come here to proclaim that the moment had arrived for the climate change, women’s rights, immigrants’ rights, criminal justice reform, and marriage equality movements to unite for a common cause: opposing an extractive economy “based on death and destruction and sickness.”

That same economy is responsible for an unprecedented energy and financial disaster in Woodberry’s home state: A $9 billion nuclear project—once heralded as part of a U.S. nuclear revival—has been abandoned after years of delays and mismanagement. One of the South Carolina utilities responsible for the colossal failure has billed its customers $37 million each month to recoup costs.

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whistleblowers salute

A Salute to Whistleblowers – Mark your calendar! Sept. 25 at 7pm at CCA

A Salute to Whistleblowers
Now Rescheduled
Bigger, Better, Later in the Month
Mark your calendar!
Sept. 25 at 7pm at CCA
Ever wonder what the news media are NOT telling you, and the impact this has on society when half-truths, omissions and distortions become the norm?
Here’s a chance to get the inside scoop.
Join Valerie Plame, and Los Alamos whistleblowers Chuck Montano and Jim Doyle for an evening exploring brave acts of whistleblowing that made a difference.
We will begin the event with a reception and book signing at 7pm. Finally, we will wrap up with a panel discussion.
Hear these courageous whistleblowers and support your local non-profit that helps them get their valuable stories out to the world.

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Kim Jong Un

The US Government Is Updating Its Nuclear Disaster Plans And They Are Truly Terrifying

The US Government Is Updating Its Nuclear Disaster Plans And They Are Truly Terrifying
“We are looking at 100 kiloton to 1,000 kiloton detonations,” a FEMA official said.

Dan Vergano BuzzFeed News Reporter
Reporting From Washington, DC

Posted on August 24, 2018, at 11:59 a.m. ET

Amid concerns over North Korea, federal emergency managers are updating disaster plans to account for large nuclear detonations over the 60 largest US cities, according to a US Federal Emergency Management Agency official.

The shift away from planning for small nuclear devices that could be deployed by terrorists toward thermonuclear blasts arranged by “state actors” was discussed on Thursday at a two-day National Academies of Sciences workshop for public health and emergency response officials held at its headquarters across the street from the US State Department.

“We are looking at 100 kiloton to 1,000 kiloton detonations,” chief of FEMA’s chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear branch Luis Garcia told BuzzFeed News. The agency’s current “nuclear detonation” guidance for emergency planners, first released in 2010, had looked at 1 to 10 kiloton blasts — smaller than the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs that killed more than 200,000 people at the end of World War II. Those smaller size detonations had seemed more reasonable after 9/11, with high concerns about an improvised terrorist bomb.

Read More Here

NAPF Cali No Nukes Plate

CALIFORNIA LEADS THE WAY IN SUPPORT OF NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

California State Legislature Passes Pro-Nuclear Disarmament Resolution

Sacramento–Assembly Joint Resolution 33 (AJR 33), introduced by Santa Barbara’s State Assembly member, Monique Limón, passed in the state Senate today by a vote of 22 to 8. This marks a huge step forward in California’s support of nuclear disarmament and puts the state at the forefront of this critical issue.

The resolution calls on federal leaders and our nation to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy, and spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. (More on the Treaty here.)

Rick Wayman, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit organization headquartered in Santa Barbara whose mission is to create a peaceful world, free of nuclear weapons, was asked by Limón to testify in support of the Resolution.

Read More Here

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The modern nuclear arsenal: A nuclear weapons expert describes a new kind of Cold War

The modern nuclear arsenal: A nuclear weapons expert describes a new kind of Cold War

Nuclear Knowledge: The modern nuclear arsenal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/nuclear-knowledge-the-modern-nuclear-arsenal/2018/08/20/9d370fec-a0b8-11e8-a3dd-2a1991f075d5_video.html
Secrecy, bombastic threats and doomsday talk abound when talking about nuclear weapons, so The Post sat down with expert Hans Kristensen to clear the air. (Jenny Starrs /The Washington Post)

By Jenny Starrs
August 24 at 7:00 AM

With the flurry of talks with North Korea and the fallout from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, nuclear weapons have become a major topic of discussion in recent months. But secrecy abounds: Who has what weapons? How many? How much damage could they do?

Hans Kristensen tries to answer those questions. As the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Kristensen and his colleagues delve into open source data, analyze satellite imagery and file requests under the Freedom of Information Act to get the most accurate picture of the world’s nuclear-armed countries. The initiative produces reports on nuclear weapons, arms control and other nuclear matters, and gives recommendations on how to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Kristensen sat down with The Washington Post to discuss how the United States’s nuclear capabilities stack up with the rest of the world, and potential problems down the road. The questions and answers have been edited for brevity.

Read the Article here

Los Alamos National Laboratory

New Los Alamos lab manager Triad will pay Gross Receipts Tax

New Los Alamos lab manager Triad will pay GRT, official says
By Andy Stiny | astiny@sfnewmexican.com
Aug 22, 2018 Updated 16 hrs ago

A representative of Triad National Security LLC, which takes over management of Los Alamos National Laboratory in November, said Wednesday the consortium will pay gross receipts taxes, easing concerns of local officials about losing millions of dollars in revenue.
Scott Sudduth, assistant vice chancellor with the Office of Federal Relations for the Texas A&M University system, told an audience of about 50 community members during a meeting in Los Alamos that the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department responded to a recent inquiry from Triad by saying that “it is their view that the gross receipts tax does apply to Triad.”
Los Alamos County officials had said previously that if Triad were deemed to have nonprofit status, the county estimated it could lose $21 million annually and the state $23 million in gross receipts tax revenues, according to published reports.

Read More in the SF New Mexican here.

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view

State could block proposed nuclear storage site near Carlsbad

State could block nuclear storage site near Carlsbad even if federally licensed

State lawmakers maintained they will have a say in a proposed facility to store high-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad and Hobbs, despite an opinion issued by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas suggesting New Mexico will have a limited role in licensing the project.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), who chairs the New Mexico Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee said Balderas’ opinion was informative but did not preclude lawmakers from preventing the facility from operating.

The committee convened in May to study the project proposed by New Jersey-based Holtec International, and held its third meeting on Wednesday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

Opposed to the project, Steinborn said state lawmakers owe their constituents a full review of the proposal.

“I think it’s kind of a troubling deficiency in the government if the state doesn’t have to give consent to have something like this foisted upon it,” he said. “The State of New Mexico owes it to the people to look at every aspect of it.”

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Trinity site cancer study expected to finish in 2019

  • Updated

ALBUQUERQUE — A long-anticipated study into the cancer risks of New Mexico residents living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test likely will be published in 2019, the National Cancer Institute announced.

Institute spokesman Michael Levin told the Associated Press that researchers are examining data on diet and radiation exposure on residents who lived near the World War II-era Trinity test site, and scientists expect to finish the study by early next year.

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St Louis Contaminated Area Map

Federal health officials agree radioactive waste in St. Louis area may be linked to cancer

The federal government confirms some people in the St. Louis area may have a higher risk of getting cancer. A recent health report found some residents who grew up in areas contaminated by radioactive waste decades ago may have increased risk for bone and lung cancers, among other types of the disease. The assessment was conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports, the situation is not unique to St. Louis because it’s connected to America’s development of its nuclear weapons program decades ago. Radioactive wastes persist in soils, and many believe that’s why they or a loved one developed cancer. Now for the first time, federal health officials agree, on the record, that’s a real possibility.

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Watch Report

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.

Hiroshima’s Children

With a gift of art supplies, children who survived the bombings drew visions of joy

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.

Thanks to Beyond Nuclear

2018

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Selected Press Items

Koreas agree to work toward peace and 'complete denuclearization'

Trump's strike on Syria is exactly why North Korea wants nuclear weapons

The Trump-Kim Summit and North Korean Denuclearization: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Pence's Anti-North Korea PR Campaign Bombs

US Vice-President Mike Pence rains on Olympic parade with Korea team snub

S. Korea, U.S. agree to work toward opening denuclearization talks with N. Korea

Could a false alarm like Hawaii trigger a war?

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

Hawaii's Nuclear Wakeup Call (and Why We Should Take MLK's Advice)

What the Hell Happened in Hawaii?

Hawaii Panics After Alert About Incoming Missile Is Sent in Error

University of Hawaii emailed students tips on how to prepare for a nuclear attack

The New Hwasong-15 ICBM: A Significant Improvement That May be Ready as Early as 2018

North Korea signals intent to 'complete' its nuclear force

How U.S. Intelligence Agencies Underestimated North Korea

Preemptive or preventative strikes: The Dangerous Misunderstanding at the Core of the North Korea Debate

North Korea: Hawaii residents told to prepare for nuclear attack as tensions reach new high

California's plans for North Korean nuclear attack revealed

The Memo: Fears escalate over North Korea

Trump at UN threatens to 'totally destroy' North Korea

North Korea's Threat Pushes Japan to Reassess Its Might and Rights

North Korea responds to latest U.N. sanctions with second missile over Japan

North Korea's nuclear plans are actually very clear. It's far less obvious what Donald Trump will do

Hwasong 14: Not an ICBM? Still an open question

Analysis: North Korea's "not quite" ICBM can't hit the lower 48 states

UCS: North Korean ICBM Appears Able to Reach Major US Cities, incl. New York

North Korea Finally Tests an ICBM

How to Deal With North Korea: There are no good options

Detailed report on Nth Korea missile and nuclear weapons programs

Thinking the Unthinkable With North Korea

A Quick Technical Analysis of the Hwasong-12

North Korea's Latest Missile Test: Advancing towards an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) While Avoiding US Military Action

North Korea Missile Test Appears to Tiptoe Over a U.S. Tripwire

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