2023 News Articles – All Posts
“The sum of this data shows a familiar, albeit distinctly important, pattern: As nuclear weapon technologies surged forward, the world entered uniquely dangerous periods in which crises erupted despite a plethora of different nuclear capabilities. Crisis after crisis, steps to control an unchecked arms race were found to be both stabilizing and mutually beneficial—only to be discarded or violated, tempting disaster.”
The way countries view nuclear weapons is shifting. As past arms control measures have ended or decayed, the United States, Russia, and China are investing heavily (again) in their nuclear arsenals, pursuing new capabilities and discarding constraints once seen as fundamentally stabilizing.
For those of us seeking to cultivate nuclear policies geared toward enhancing strategic stability, the current trend reflects a worrying loss of perspective—a forgetting of the hard-earned lessons of the Cold War. To help put today’s trends in their historical context, at team of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) developed a new visualization tool and information system that maps every type of nuclear weapon fielded by the five nuclear weapons states (P5) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—from their inception to present day.
Launched last week, the Nuclear Weapons Systems Project seeks a “qualitative rethink” by providing a curated data source for all major nuclear delivery systems ever deployed. By seeing more easily what has changed and when, users can better identify the benefits of states’ long trajectory of narrowing the types of nuclear capabilities in the world, understand the risks of a new expansion of nuclear capabilities, and develop ways to de-risk the current situation and prevent future security crises.
“A joint statement endorsed by 26 nuclear affected community-led organisations, and supported by a further 45 allied organisations said ‘We have the right and responsibility to speak about what nuclear weapons really do… We call on States Parties to the TPNW to push relentlessly for its universalisation.’”
N94 countries participated in the meeting as states parties or observers including some that currently endorse the use of nuclear weapons in their defence doctrines. These countries engaged in a robust and interactive debate during the week, adopting a political declaration and package of decisions.
Nuclear deterrence is a cause of global instability and insecurity
One of the adopted decisions included, for the first time ever, an agreement to work together to challenge the false narratives of nuclear deterrence. States parties mandated states, the International Committee of the Red Cross and ICAN and other stakeholders and experts, “To challenge the security paradigm based on nuclear deterrence by highlighting and promoting new scientific evidence about the humanitarian consequences and risks of nuclear weapons and juxtaposing this with the risks and assumptions that are inherent in nuclear deterrence.”
There remains an information gap between what would actually happen as a result of nuclear war and the policies of the nuclear-armed states and their allies, and efforts to bridge this gap are the primary responsibility of those whose policies include the use of nuclear weapons.
New evidence on the impacts of nuclear weapons demand action from the global community
New research was presented during the meeting as well, including that there is much greater understanding of the cascading effects on food supplies, the financial system and energy supplies that help us better predict the likely effects of nuclear detonations.
“For some reason, we have a lot of the establishment that say it’s just a fact that we have to live with it,” McGovern said…“If we can’t reach our goal quickly, maybe we can engage in curtailing nuclear weapons.”
“Anything can happen if there’s the political will,”
NORTHAMPTON — A treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons and ban anything associated with their development and manufacture has been ratified by 69 countries, with an additional 28 countries in the process of ratification, since the international agreement was signed in 2017.
The United States, though, along with many of its allies and another eight nations that possess nuclear weapons, remain holdouts to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, otherwise known as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.
For the first time on Monday, though, as the weeklong Second Meeting of State Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons got underway at the United Nations in New York, a member of the U.S. Congress was present for the discussions.
“The cross-country transport, consolidation, and interim storage of America’s entire inventory of spent nuclear fuel should only be considered once a permanent repository is underway and should never occur absent consent from affected communities,” – Nov 1. Letter from the Permian Basin Coalition (Occidental Petroleum, Concho Resources, Diamondback Energy and Fasken Oil and Ranch)
Some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the Permian Basin came out against a proposed nuclear waste facility in southeast New Mexico.
The basin spans southeast New Mexico and West Texas and is regarded as one of the most active fossil fuel regions in the world. It was forecast to produce about 5.9 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) in November, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is about half of the more than 12 million bopd of total U.S. output.
All that oil production is driven by some of the world’s largest energy companies establishing heavy operations in the region.
“…It’s imperative for the state to gain more autonomy, even if the price seems steep, because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a final rule that cemented the high court’s decision into official policy, leaving about 95% of New Mexico’s waters unprotected, the regulators said.”
State regulators have estimated the time and money required to develop full authority to protect New Mexico’s rivers, streams and lakes in the aftermath of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that sharply narrowed the federal government’s power to regulate wetlands and waterways.
It will cost the state $7 million to $9 million a year to run a program that regulates all types of polluted discharges into state and federal waters and will take seven to 10 years to establish, state officials told the Buckman Direct Diversion Board on Thursday.
Creating a permitting program to cover discharges going into designated waters of the state could be achieved within five years, even though those waters make up a much larger array than the ones that fall under federal jurisdiction, Environment Department officials said.
The state program would be an important step, but only a step, of the river diversion, a joint city of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County project that draws water from the Rio Grande, they told the board.
“…Anti-nuclear activists contend the increasing number of glove box mishaps are part of a trend that will continue as the lab processes more plutonium, partly in pursuit of making the bowling ball-sized cores, or pits, that detonate warheads.
“It’s reasonable to assume it will accelerate with expanded [pit] production,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.”
A Los Alamos National Laboratory worker recently punctured a glove used to handle radioactive material in a sealed compartment, and wind blew airborne tritium into the liquid waste treatment facility a few weeks earlier, a federal watchdog reported.
The worker punctured the glove while handling a sharp measuring caliper instead of an electronic device that’s normally used for the task but was disabled, according to an October report by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
The breach contaminated a protective glove the worker was wearing but not the skin, and it didn’t cause an airborne radioactive release, the report said.
This is the second glove box breach in as many months and among a half-dozen the safety board has reported this year.
“Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s operations director, agreed getting a third set of eyes on the project would be helpful, especially if this expert can suggest an alternative to the pump-and-treat method.”
Federal officials said Wednesday they were pursuing an independent expert to help resolve their dispute with the state on how to clean up a decades-old toxic chromium plume under Los Alamos National Laboratory that has worsened since pumping was shut down seven months ago.
State regulators in March ordered the U.S. Energy Department to stop extracting tainted water, treating it and injecting it back into the 1.5-mile-long plume to dilute the pollution, contending this approach pushed the contaminants toward San Ildefonso Pueblo and deeper into the aquifer.
At a Wednesday meeting, a federal cleanup manager reiterated the Energy Department’s position the pump-and-treat method was reducing the hexavalent chromium and keeping it from spreading to the pueblo — and with the work halted, the contamination is rebounding.
“We’ve erased a lot of the gains we’ve made over the last few years of operating [by shutting down],” said Michael Mikolanis, head of the Energy Department’s environmental management in Los Alamos.
The worsening situation increases the urgency to bring in a third party that can provide fresh analysis and a different perspective to help move the state and federal agencies past their impasse, Mikolanis said.
President Joe Biden visited New Mexico a few weeks ago promoting “Bidenomics,” but for a group of New Mexicans from the Tularosa Basin, it was his brief exchange with Tina Cordova that was monumental.
Cordova is a descendant of the people who called a sparsely populated area of south-central New Mexico home — a group that would find not only their lives changed, but also the lives of their future children and grandchildren as a result of what happened the morning of July 16, 1945. So why did Biden stop to talk to Tina Cordova?
Cordova is a fourth-generation cancer survivor from the radiation of the Trinity Test and has been on a decadeslong crusade for the unwitting victims of the world’s first atomic bomb…
An anti-nuclear watchdog group contends the pits’ main purpose is to be fitted into the new warheads — not to upgrade existing weapons — and expanding the arsenal requires more pits than the lab can make.
“The commission ill-advisedly wants a replacement for LANL’s plutonium pit production facility to help fuel the new nuclear arms race with new-design nuclear weapons,” Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, wrote in an email. “This is so tragic and unnecessary when no future pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing, extensively tested stockpile.”
A congressional commission foresees eventually replacing Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility — despite the billions of dollars being spent to refurbish it — as part of its recommended strategy to bolster the U.S. nuclear arsenal to keep pace with Russia and China.
The Congressional Strategic Posture Commission has released a 160-page report that pushes for the U.S. to boost its nuclear capabilities and conventional military to deter what it describes as increasingly aggressive and well-equipped adversaries, namely Russia and China.
One section calls for improving and expanding infrastructure to research, develop and make better weaponry at a higher volume — and buried in a footnote is a statement of how the upgrades would include replacing the lab’s plutonium facility, known as PF-4, for production and science.
No timeline is given for when PF-4 might be phased out, but the document confirms anti-nuclear critics’ longtime contention the federal government is spending billions of dollars on a facility with a finite life.
At the moment, this is the only facility in the country that can produce the bowling-ball-sized plutonium cores, or “pits,” to detonate warheads. Nuclear security officials want the lab to make 30 pits a year by 2030, saying they’re needed to modernize the arsenal and equip two new warheads being developed.
An indictment was unsealed today in Kansas City, Kansas, charging two businessmen for an alleged scheme to fraudulently steer and award subcontracts by a major engineering firm for work on nuclear weapons manufacturing projects for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC).
According to court documents, from at least 2011 through approximately January 2021, Michael Clinesmith, 67, of Kansas, allegedly solicited and received kickbacks and bribes from Richard Mueller, 63, of Missouri, in exchange for steering subcontracts from Clinesmith’s employer to Mueller’s company (Subcontractor 1). Clinesmith, a long-tenured employee of a major engineering firm (Company 1) working at the KCNSC, was responsible for designing and procuring gages that were specially designed and manufactured to measure the components of nuclear weapon products. Clinesmith allegedly used his position and authority at Company 1 to steer gage subcontracts to Subcontractor 1 in exchange for Mueller paying him over $1 million for surreptitiously performing some or all of the work. Clinesmith is alleged to have told Mueller how much to bid on gage subcontracts that Company 1 awarded. Then, Clinesmith told his employer, Company 1, that those bids were fair and reasonable without disclosing that, in exchange for the subcontracts, Mueller would secretly funnel to Clinesmith the money awarded to Subcontractor 1. The indictment also alleges that Mueller lied to federal agents regarding the number of impacted subcontracts and his involvement in the scheme.
“A [US] State Department spokesman said the Russian move “needlessly endangers the global norm against nuclear explosive testing,” and that the United States remains committed to observing a moratorium.”
By Daryl Kimball, Tony Fleming, and Kathy Crandall Robinson, ARMS CONTROL NOW | October 17, 2023 armscontrol.org
As with other critical arms control agreements, the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is under threat due to inattention, diplomatic sclerosis, and worsening relations between nuclear-armed adversaries.
Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has given members of the Russian Duma the green light to “un-ratify” the CTBT, ostensibly to “mirror” the posture of the United States toward the treaty and somehow pressure the United States to ratify the pact. Such a move would be a “self-defeating own goal,” that would set back efforts to bring the CTBT into force and raise questions about Russia’s intentions.
“As the world marks the International Day against Nuclear Tests, we should all join the fight for global disarmament.”
In the quiet and peaceful steppe of Kazakhstan, a dark and ominous legacy lingers beneath the surface. Over four decades between 1949 and 1989, 456 nuclear bombs were detonated by the Soviet Union at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in northern Kazakhstan.
While the echoes of nuclear explosions have long faded, the scars of nuclear testing run deep. More than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan were exposed to the toxic fallout from those tests. Countless lives were irreversibly altered, and the environment was forever scarred. I am a living testament to the horrors of nuclear testing, as I was born without arms due to the effects of nuclear radiation.
“Famous Kazakh painter Kuyukov, who was born without hands after being exposed to radiation in his mother’s womb, is one of the victims of the many health problems caused at the genetic level by exposure to radiation in the vast area surrounding the nuclear test site.”
Thirty-two years ago (Aug. 29, 1991), the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site was permanently closed by a presidential decree in Kazakhstan, then a part of the Soviet Union, contrary to the position of the central government in Moscow. Kazakhstan subsequently gained independence from the Soviet Union and became the first country in the world to voluntarily turn itself to a non-nuclear weapons state from a nuclear weapons state by abolishing all of its nuclear arsenal, the fourth largest in the world at the time, and removing them to Russia.
Eighteen years later, in 2009, at the initiative of Kazakhstan, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating August 29, the day the test site was closed, as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. With the threat of nuclear weapons being used again becoming a reality, is it really possible to achieve a nuclear-free world? What should we know about the threat posed by the use and testing of nuclear weapons?
A permit to renew the operating permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is the subject of this hybrid public meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department.
More information on WIPP and the permit renewal process: https://nukewatch.org/issues/wipp/
Posted by Nuclear Watch New Mexico on Friday, September 22, 2023
A permit to renew the operating permit for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is the subject of this hybrid public meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department.
“…Human beings make the threats, evaluate the threats, and decide how to respond. If human beings are prone to folly—and we are—and if human beings run the deterrence process, then nuclear deterrence is inherently flawed. It will fail. Over the long run it cannot be safe. Eventually, human failure will lead to a catastrophic nuclear war.”
Almost everyone who works actively against nuclear weapons is, at some level, appalled by the immorality of nuclear weapons. This makes sense because the indiscriminate killing of children, grandparents, people with disabilities, and a host of other ordinary folks is appalling.
As a result, the first argument that almost all activists reach for is moral. They bring forward hibakusha to put a human face on the immorality. They talk about the indigenous people who suffered during the mining and production of nuclear weapons. They show graphic pictures of the destruction, the burns, the radiation sickness, and other catastrophic damage done by the bombings. They say, in effect, “Look at the immorality!” They sometimes point to it with a hint of outrage in their voices. How can people not be moved by these horrible, immoral acts?
And yet here we are, 78 years later, in the midst of a second nuclear weapons arms race. Every nation that possesses nuclear weapons is either expanding or upgrading its nuclear arsenal. How can this be?
The film Oppenheimer, about the physicist who spearheaded the Manhattan Project, landed in theaters at an apt moment. After two decades during which many people thought the nuclear weapons genie had been tamed, the risks seem graver than ever and the public, at least for the time being, is engaged. Russian President Vladimir Putin, having launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, also has threatened to actually use nuclear weapons against states that might intervene in the conflict. Putin and the film have provoked a new debate with endless permutations. Click the link below for the collection of essays, where Stephen J. Cimbala explores the ambiguities of nuclear weapons, Chantell L. Murphy remembers the human beings erased by the film and Lisbeth Gronlund recalls the physicists who worked to limit the catastrophic weapons that their colleagues unleashed. This is a teachable moment if people can be made to understand the enduring danger of the nuclear weapons that J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team created and the need to restrain, and ultimately, eliminate them.—CAROL GIACOMO
The U.S. Department of Energy has funded a project to assist “the design of the ePIC detector at the future Electron-Ion Collider — a $2 billion state-of-the-art machine which will begin operations early in the next decade…and is expected to push the frontier of physics, develop new technologies and knowledge and accelerate advances in areas such as…national security.”
If there were no strong nuclear force binding atomic particles together, matter as we know it would not exist. However, there are still several unresolved questions in the study of this fundamental interaction.
“In justification of what could be $2.5 billion in spending for new test equipment and construction, NNSA said in the fiscal 2024 budget justification material, “Current diagnostics mostly confine [test] studies to early-implosion dynamic behavior [of plutonium], while the “new test beds will enable integral tests on late-stage implosion [of plutonium].”
“To meet the current information gap in subcritical experimenting, NNSA has turned to measurement devices known as Scorpius and Zeus to determine what happens when the tiny bit of plutonium reaches high pressure and density, during the late stages of implosion.”
Former military aide Buzz Patterson, who handled the football during the Clinton Administration, “recalled grappling over how he would refuse the president’s command to launch nuclear weapons if he believed they were not of sound mind and body.”
“‘And I told myself internally many times ‘If I think he’s coming across as nuts, I don’t think I can participate in this, and so that’s how I rationalized it to myself, and I think a lot of the other aides thought the same kind of thing.””
Moscow says it would respond with ‘countermeasures’, after US air force budget item hinted at possible move
The Russian foreign ministry has said Moscow will view any move to return US nuclear weapons to the UK as an escalation and will respond with “countermeasures” for its own security.
The foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was responding to a report last week about an item in the 2024 US air force budget for building a dormitory at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk for personnel on a “potential surety mission” – military jargon for nuclear safety and security. It raised the prospect of the return of US nuclear weapons to British soil for the first time in more than 15 years.
“If this step is ever made, we will view it as escalation, as a step toward escalation that would take things to a direction that is quite opposite to addressing the pressing issue of pulling all nuclear weapons out of European countries,” Zakharova said.
Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
The UN nuclear watchdog said that Iran‘s estimated stockpile of enriched uranium was down compared to May but it was still more than 18 times the limit set in the 2015 accord. According to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was estimated at 3,795.5 kilograms (8,367.7 pounds) as of August 19, down by 949 kilograms from May, news agency AFP reported. The limit in the 2015 deal was set at 202.8 kilograms. Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
“I’ve learned it’s very important to educate colleagues that don’t have the honor of representing downwind communities, or uranium mine workers themselves, so that they can see from the families themselves that are leading this fight, that will be able to benefit from this package…which would offer justice where injustice has lived for almost eight decades.” — Ben Ray Luján
Arlene Juanico grew up in Paguate Village on the Pueblo of Laguna, about a mile from a uranium mine where she worked as a truck driver from 1975 to 1982.
Over the years, Juanico lost her grandmother, father and brother to cancer. She and her husband, Lawrence, who also worked in the mine, have been diagnosed with lung disease.
She said to this day, cancer rates in the small village are high, and many people need oxygen tanks to get around because of diseases that are likely linked to the village’s long history with uranium mining.
“The ALPS treated water will meet both Japanese regulatory standards based on relevant international standards. In other words, tritium levels in the treated water and diluted water will be below those considered safe for drinking.”
Aug 22 (Reuters) – Japan said late on Monday it had responded to inquiries from China and Russia about the ocean discharge of wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power station, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) (9501.T).
The Japanese government has shared its responses to the two neighbouring countries in a document dated Aug. 18 and posted on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s website.
Tepco has been filtering the contaminated water, using machines called Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), to remove isotopes, leaving only tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is hard to separate from water. Tepco will dilute the water until tritium levels fall below regulatory limits before pumping it into the ocean from the coastal site.
“The agency spending more on pit production than originally envisioned isn’t technically a cost overrun because no funding baseline was ever established…This means there’s no benchmark anyone can point to and say the agency has spent too much, she said, which in turn leaves funding for pits open-ended.”
Federal officials estimate Los Alamos National Laboratory won’t produce 30 nuclear bomb cores until 2030 — four years after the legally required deadline.
The additional time needed to produce 30 bowling-ball-sized warhead triggers, known as pits, will cost the lab significantly more than originally estimated, a government watchdog said in a newly released report.
The agency in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal estimates in the Government Accountability Office report it will take until 2030 for the Los Alamos lab’s plutonium facility to be capable of making 30 pits.
The new documentary “In Search of Resolution,” which examines the current state of international nuclear arms control and is the third film of The Nuclear World Project, airs on @PBS stations throughout August.
Filmed in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this timely documentary examines the continuing dangers posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. The program includes in-depth interviews with scholars, ambassadors, and leaders in the field to provide historical context, while international experts reflect on arms control measures, nuclear disarmament, and possible ways forward.
The film provides, among other things, an interesting inside look at the TPNW MSP1, the 2022 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, and the 2022 NPT Review Conference.
Find out more and watch online here: https://video.kpbs.org/show/in-search-of-resolution/
🠟 LISTEN • 28:59
University Showcase 8/18 8a: This month marks the 78th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the first atomic blast, which took place on July 16th, 1945 in New Mexico. The new film “Oppenheimer” focuses on the physicist who led the Manhattan Project here in Los Alamos.
“My book chronicles the birth of the nuclear age. Since the first nuclear testing and bombing in 1945, the man-made nuclear danger has continually increased. Now, today’s 13,000 atomic weapons are unthinkably destructive, indiscriminate, climate-altering devices that can be unleashed by design, by sabotage, or by accident. Therefore, I strongly endorse Congresswoman Norton’s Nuclear Abolition and Conversion Act, H.R. 2775…”
New York (August 16, 2023) – Kai Bird, co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book on which Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie is based, issued the following statement endorsing a bill by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the Nuclear Abolition and Conversion Act, H.R. 2775
Learn about the role of the U.S. Department of Energy – and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina particular – in production of plutonium “pits” for new nuclear weapons as a key part of the new nuclear arms race from this August 16, 2023 event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK9YOFoT6r0
“Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the Senate recently passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act making Trinity Downwinders, and communities in three other western states, eligible for recognition and compensation by the federal government. It is now up to congressional leaders to meet in conference and negotiate a final version of the bill.”
Of all the chores I had to do during summer visits to my grandmother Savina’s home in southern New Mexico, hauling water out of the cistern was my least favorite.
As a city kid, I was always puzzled by the fact that she still insisted on using rainwater for cooking and cleaning, even after my family had upgraded her house with indoor plumbing. But I knew better than to question the wisdom of a woman who had managed to lift her family out of rural poverty in the span of a single generation and conceded that maybe the tortillas she cooked on her wood-burning stove did taste better with fresh rainwater. It certainly never occurred to her that the rainwater in that cistern, along with most of the locally harvested food she used to sustain her large family, was likely contaminated as a result of the detonation of the world’s first nuclear weapon, which occurred 72 miles west of Savina’s home on July 16, 1945.
An informal gathering was held from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Ashley Pond Park to recognize the harm of the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan 78 years ago. Participants included representatives of Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Veterans for Peace and Nonviolent Santa Fe, who carried posters and banners and meditated in a shelter at the south side of the park.
On the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we, the bishops of four Catholic arch/dioceses in areas impacted by nuclear weapons, declare that we will begin working together to achieve a “world without nuclear weapons.” We urge that there be concrete progress made by August 2025, the 80th anniversary of the atomic bombings.
In the spirit and teaching of Pope Francis, we recognize that even the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.
The Madonna of Nagasaki – Burnt 78 Years Ago by the Plutonium Bomb.
New Mexicans are integral to the history of atomic development and testing, but they’re nowhere to be seen on screen.
“We’ve been slept-walked into a new nuclear arms race, arguably far more dangerous than the first,” said John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe. “I grew up in the duck-and-cover generation. Perhaps some of you remember that. I felt chills many decades later when I read that Robert McNamara, defense secretary during the Cuban Missile Crisis, said that we survived that crisis only by luck. Luck is not a sustainable strategy for the survival of the human family.”
Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, emphasized the danger from renewed plutonium pit production at Los Alamos, which he sees as both unnecessary for nuclear deterrence, and as risking development of new nuclear weapons.
In Christopher Nolan’s three-hour biopic “Oppenheimer,” released last week, the Manhattan Project comes to New Mexico largely because J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) wishes it so. The film was shot in the Land of Enchantment with a hastily assembled Ghost Ranch set serving as the film’s freshly constructed Los Alamos. “Oppenheimer” features New Mexico as setting, backdrop, and refuge for the transplant scientists and military men who spent World War II developing the atom bomb. The film does not show the people already living in New Mexico, neither before the first shovel hits the dirt nor after Trinity’s radioactive fallout creates the first downwinders.
2022 Select Highlighted Press Items
Putin’s Nuclear Threats Are a Wake-Up Call for the World | March 15, 2022
China and the United States: It’s a Cold War, but don’t panic | March 10, 2022
Flying Under The Radar: A Missile Accident in South Asia | April 4, 2022
2022 News Articles
“Next year in spring, [Japan] plans to begin releasing the water into the Pacific after treatment for most radioactive particles…”
A Department of Energy proposal to dilute and dispose of plutonium waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad is ready for public comment — the draft environmental impact statement, all 412 pages of it, has been released.
“Stay alert for notices of meetings and time for public comment. There’s no guarantee informed opposition will change plans by agencies intent on certain action, but speaking up beats staying quiet. Oh, and think about this: before rushing full speed ahead to produce even more plutonium pits, it’s time to at least try to find a way to dispose of the waste we’ve already created.”
[NukeWatch will provide sample comments and make it as easy as possible to participate in the public comment process for the WIPP Permit and Plutonium Waste Disposal plans]
The public can weigh in, whether in writing or by showing up for public hearings that will take place early next year.
Buckle up. This is going to be a contentious discussion.
The U.S. wants to be rid of 34 metric tons of plutonium bomb cores, or pits, stored at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo. The pits are Cold War legacies; because WIPP is restricted in the type of waste it can take, before disposing of it, the material must be diluted. Thus, the term, dilute and dispose. The Department of Energy’s decision about the waste was announced two years ago, but with no details.
At one point the Energy Department wanted to turn Cold War plutonium into a mixed oxide fuel for use in commercial nuclear plants. That would have happened at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, but billions in cost overruns and delays hamstrung the effort, and the Trump administration killed the project in 2018.
It chose the dilute-and-disposal plan.
The draft statement fleshes out just what would happen to prepare the pits for disposal — in a facility, we might point out, that currently is seeking a renewal of its hazardous waste permit from the state of New Mexico. WIPP is open, but state Environment Department Secretary James Kenney and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham want more oversight of waste disposal at the plant.
That back and forth is separate from the Energy Department dilute-and-disposal proposal, but the permit discussion provides context for the coming fierce debate.Continue reading
A new book investigates the toxic legacy of Hanford, the Washington state facility that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons.
“Bechtel is a privately owned corporation and we’re spending billions of dollars paying this company to not get the job done. It’s a big mess.”
The most polluted place in the United States — perhaps the world — is one most people don’t even know. Hanford Nuclear Site sits in the flat lands of eastern Washington. The facility — one of three sites that made up the government’s covert Manhattan Project — produced plutonium for Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki during World War II. And it continued producing plutonium for weapons for decades after the war, helping to fuel the Cold War nuclear arms race.
Today Hanford — home to 56 million gallons of nuclear waste, leaking storage tanks, and contaminated soil — is an environmental disaster and a catastrophe-in-waiting.
It’s “the costliest environmental remediation project the world has ever seen and, arguably, the most contaminated place on the entire planet,” writes journalist Joshua Frank in the new book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America.
It’s also shrouded in secrecy.
Frank has worked to change that, beginning with a series of blockbuster investigations published in Seattle Weekly a decade ago. Atomic Days offers an even fuller picture of the ecological threats posed by Hanford and its failed remediation.
The Revelator spoke with him about the environmental consequences, the botched cleanup operation, and what comes next.
Why is the most polluted place in the country so little known?
State wants full waste inventory, limits to disposal
WIPP, open since 1999, mining new panels
New Mexico will be “unwavering” in sticking to proposed new conditions on a federal underground nuclear waste repository, a state official said, including one that revokes the facility’s permit should Congress expand its disposal limit.
The state is demanding the Energy Department and its site contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, furnish an accurate inventory of all remaining wastes awaiting clean-up and emplacement at the site and an annual report detailing the agency’s progress toward siting another repository in another state.
“On December 13, the Department of Energy (DOE) and Livermore Lab held a press conference and, with maximum hoopla, announced that an experiment at the National Ignition Facility earlier that month had achieved fusion “ignition”.
Physicist MV Ramana, who is currently with the University of British Columbia and was previously at Princeton’s Nuclear Futures Laboratory and its Program on Science and Global Security, wrote this article for a science and tech magazine. For more information on what did and did not happen at NIF, we highly recommend it:”
- On December 13, the US Department of Energy announced that the National Ignition Facility had reached a “milestone”: the achievement of “ignition” in nuclear fusion earlier in the month.
- While the step has been described as a milestone in clean energy, generating electricity commercially or at an industrial scale through fusion is likely unattainable in any realistic sense – at least within the lifetimes of most readers of this article.
- The main utility that the facility offers nuclear weapons designers and planners is by providing a greater understanding of the underlying science and modernizing these weapons.
The Guardian [Letters]: Nuclear fusion ‘holy grail’ is not the answer to our energy prayers
Dr Mark Diesendorf questions the claim that nuclear fusion is safe and clean, while Dr Chris Cragg suspects true fusion power is a long way off. Plus letters from Dick Willis and Martin O’Donovan
“It is great news that scientists have succeeded in getting more energy out of fusion than they put in. It brings to mind a quote from a past director of the Central Electricity Generating Board: ‘One day you may get more energy out of nuclear fusion than you put in, but you will never get more money out than you put in.’” – Martin O’Donovan (Ashtead, Surrey)
You report on the alleged “breakthrough” on nuclear fusion, in which US researchers claim that break-even has been achieved (Breakthrough in nuclear fusion could mean ‘near-limitless energy’, 12 December). To go from break-even, where energy output is greater than total energy input, to a commercial nuclear fusion reactor could take at least 25 years. By then, the whole world could be powered by safe and clean renewable energy, primarily solar and wind.
The claim by the researchers that nuclear fusion is safe and clean is incorrect. Laser fusion, particularly as a component of a fission-fusion hybrid reactor, can produce neutrons that can be used to produce the nuclear explosives plutonium-239, uranium-235 and uranium-233. It could also produce tritium, a form of heavy hydrogen, which is used to boost the explosive power of a fission explosion, making fission bombs smaller and hence more suitable for use in missile warheads. This information is available in open research literature.
The US National Ignition Facility, which did the research, is part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which has a history of involvement with nuclear weaponry.
Dr Mark Diesendorf
University of New South Wales
“Because of how the Energy Department presented the breakthrough in a news conference headlined by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, news coverage has largely glossed over its implications for monitoring the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Instead, even many serious news outlets focused on the possibility of carbon-free, fusion-powered electricity generation—even though the NIF achievement has, at best, a distant and tangential connection to power production.”
This week’s headlines have been full of reports about a “major breakthrough” in nuclear fusion technology that, many of those reports misleadingly suggested, augurs a future of abundant clean energy produced by fusion nuclear power plants. To be sure, many of those reports lightly hedged their enthusiasm by noting that (as The Guardian put it) “major hurdles” to a fusion-powered world remain.
Indeed, they do.
The fusion achievement that the US Energy Department announced this week is scientifically significant, but the significance does not relate primarily to electricity generation. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility, or NIF, focused the facility’s 192 lasers on a target containing a small capsule of deuterium–tritium fuel, compressing it and inducing what is known as ignition.
The report “Risky Returns” provides an overview of investments in 24 companies heavily involved in the production of nuclear weapons for the arsenals of China, France, India, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States in 2022. Overall, the report finds that 306 financial institutions made over $746 billion available to these companies, in loans, underwriting, shares or bonds. US-based Vanguard remains the largest single investor, with $68,180 million invested in the nuclear weapon industry.
While the total value of investments in the 24 nuclear weapon producers was higher than previous years, this is also attributed to share price variances through a turbulent year in the defence sector. Some nuclear weapon producers also produce conventional weapons and saw their stock values rise, likely resulting from the announcements by NATO states that they would significantly increase defence spending. Yet the report found no increase in the number of investors in the nuclear weapon producers.
A new book is out about Hanford, by Joshua Frank, co-editor of Counterpunch, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America.
Once home to the United States’s largest plutonium production site, the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is laced with 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. The threat of an explosive accident at Hanford is all too real—an event that could be more catastrophic than Chernobyl.
Of the three waves of colonization New Mexico has undergone — Spanish, American and nuclear — the latter is the least explored. And for author Myrriah Gómez, there were personal reasons to reveal the truth about how “nuclear colonization” has altered the state’s past and continues to shape its future.
Gómez, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico, is the author of “Nuclear Nuevo México,” a book that explores the history of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the fundamental tension of living in its shadow. Its publication this month by the University of Arizona Press couldn’t be timelier: Los Alamos is currently preparing to build plutonium “pits” that act as triggers in nuclear weapons, putting the lab front and center in an ongoing national debate about nuclear impacts.
“If Spanish colonialism brought Spanish colonizers and U.S. colonialism brought American colonizers,” as Gómez writes in her book, “then nuclear colonialism brought nuclear colonizers, scientists, military personnel, atomic bomb testing, and nuclear waste among them.”
“Why did they say it was safe to go outdoors? Why did they build it so close to Kyiv?…Why was it all such a secret?” – Yuriy Samoilenko, chief environmental inspector at Kyiv’s city hall at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown.
CHERNOBYL, Ukraine — Sophia Arkadiyivna remembers when the Soviet Union built the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1977, just 20 miles from the village where she served as mayor.
After years of atomic energy powering big Russian cities like Moscow, Leningrad and Voronezh, the USSR was finally ready to expand the technology to other Soviet republics like Ukraine. Soviet propaganda promised easier jobs and cleaner air.
“We didn’t have a reason to distrust the government. They showed us how good things could be,” she says.
Or so she thought at the time. It didn’t take long for Arkadiyivna to turn skeptical.
NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said the State wanted a permit with stronger regulations moving forward, to better protect people and the environment from the impacts of nuclear waste disposal.
“It will be more stringent, full stop,” Kenney said. “The conditions were adding to it are designed to add more accountability to the whole complex that are sending waste to WIPP.”
Tougher rules for a nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad could be on the way as New Mexico officials sought “more stringent” regulations as the federal government sought to renew its permit with the state for the facility.
The State sought new requirements to prioritize nuclear waste from within New Mexico for disposal, called for an accounting of all of the waste planned for disposal in the next decade and regular updates on federal efforts to find the location for a new repository as conditions of the permit.
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy which holds a permit with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) that must be updated every 10 years.
The facility sees transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste from DOE facilities around the country disposed of via burial in an underground salt formation about 2,000 feet beneath the surface.
The lost nuke has never been found—only the pilot’s helmet was recovered, and the government kept it secret for years.
In the early days of the Cold War, the United States wanted to make sure it could launch a retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union as quickly as possible if it launched a nuclear strike. The goal was 15 minutes. This was before the advent of submarines that launch ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missile silos. From 1960 until 1968, America maintained that 15-minute ability to pepper the globe with nukes by putting pilots on 24-hour alert. For more than a decade, hundreds of U.S. pilots criss-crossed the planet in planes loaded with nuclear bombs. To keep up with brutal hours, many of the pilots and crew took amphetamine.
As noted in Task & Purpose, the U.S. military had 32 nuclear accidents during the Cold War, and six of the weapons are still unaccounted for. Every story of a Broken Arrow—the military term for a missing nuke—is harrowing, but what happened off the coast of Japan in 1965 was especially frightening.
On December 5, 1965, U.S. Navy Lt. Douglas Webster was supposed take an A-4E Skyhawk loaded with a nuclear bomb into the sky. On the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier, stationed in the Philippine Sea about 70 miles from Okinawa, Japan, the crew loaded the weapon onto the vehicle and Webster got into the cockpit. The crew then pushed the plane to an elevator that would bring it up to the flight deck.
Watch a brief YouTube Clip about this event:
If nuclear weapons are ever eliminated, it will be the result of actions big and small at every communal level, from international leaders to civil society.
The Reverend John C. Wester occupies a unique role in this continuum as the Roman Catholic archbishop of Santa Fe, whose archdiocese is home to the Los Alamos and Sandia national nuclear laboratories and site of the first Manhattan Project nuclear tests. In January, Wester issued a pastoral letter, “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament,” which called for the abolition of nuclear weapons and declared that the archdiocese “must be part of a strong peace initiative.” He had a compelling basis for action: In 2021, Pope Francis shifted the church’s position from accepting deterrence as a legitimate rationale for nuclear weapons to decrying the possession of nuclear weapons as “immoral.” Even with the pope’s admonition, however, Wester is finding his peace initiative slow going. He discussed his efforts with Carol Giacomo, editor of Arms Control Today. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
ARMS CONTROL TODAY: You often tell the story of visiting Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2017. It almost seems like an epiphany. How did that trip and other forces, including serving as the top Roman Catholic Church official in Santa Fe, home to Los Alamos and Sandia, propel you to take on the mission of eliminating nuclear weapons?
Archbishop John C. Wester: Until I came here to Santa Fe, I was pretty much like I believe most people are, lulled into a false sense of complacency.
Many of these shelters, which are marked by a characteristic yellow sign, were not specifically designed for such purposes and may not have provided sufficient levels of protection against radiation.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February, concerns over the potential use of nuclear weapons have grown. Specially designed bunkers may provide some degree of protection to people in the event of a nuclear attack.
But where are all the nuclear bunkers in the United States and who are they for?
During the Cold War, the U.S. government constructed a number of bunkers around Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that were designed to provide a safe haven for high-ranking members and staff during a nuclear attack on the country.
“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said there’s a long list of Environment Department officials who went to work for the lab or the agencies that manage it.
He noted Chris Catechis, acting director of the state Resources Protection Division, is going to work for the lab just weeks after Stringer took a job with the nuclear security agency.”
Many of these shelters, which are marked by a characteristic yellow sign, were not specifically designed for such purposes and may not have provided sufficient levels of protection against radiation
MENTONE, Texas (AP) — A strong earthquake shook a sparsely populated patch of desert in West Texas on Thursday, causing tremors felt as far away as the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez. The magnitude 5.3 earthquake struck around 3:30 p.m., according to Jim DeBerry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the West Texas city Midland. He said the strength of the quake means it likely caused damage in the remote oil patch and scrubland, but none had been reported so far.
DeBerry said the epicenter was about 23 miles (37 kilometers) south of Mentone, a tiny community south of the New Mexico state line and 95 miles (153 kilometers) west of Midland.
State Rep. Eddie Morales, Jr., whose district includes Mentone, said he spoke with local authorities and there were no reported injuries. He said via Twitter that state officials will be “inspecting roads, bridges and other infrastructure as a precaution.”
DeBerry said there were reports of people feeling vibrations from the quake 200 miles (515 kilometers) west in the border city of Ciudad Juárez and as far south as Terlingua, a small community near the Rio Grande and Big Bend National Park.
Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6.
Nuclear disarmament talks between Russia and the United States set to take place this week have been postponed, according to Moscow’s foreign ministry and the US Embassy.
Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6 to discuss resuming inspections under the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty, which had been suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
EDF says the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals.”
A facility described as “France’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project” is fully operational, multinational utility EDF said this week.
The news represents a significant step forward for the country’s offshore wind sector, with more projects set to come online in the years ahead.
In a statement Wednesday, EDF said the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals, which include targets to generate 32% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.” EDF’s majority shareholder is the French state.
Nuclear waste storage in southeast New Mexico drew the ire of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who called on President Joe Biden via a Wednesday letter to block such a project near Carlsbad and Hobbs for perceived threats to nearby residents and implications of environmental racism.
“New Mexico has grave concerns for the risk this proposed storage site would pose to our citizens and communities, our first responders, our environment, and to New Mexico’s agriculture and natural resource industries,” Lujan Grisham wrote.
Holtec International proposed the project, which would store up to 100,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods on the surface in a remote area near the Eddy-Lea county line, after being recruited by a consortium of local leaders in the area known as the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance.
The Alliance provided the land, about 1,000 acres amid the oilfields of the Permian Basin, and worked with Holtec to promote the project and seek public support.
But Lujan Grisham, her administration and elected officials both at the state government and in Congress became opposed to the project, frequently voicing their disapproval in the years since.
The Defense secretary painted a bleak picture for the world, alluding to a scenario in which autocrats will race to acquire the bomb if Russia isn’t repelled.
“Austin further warned that “Putin may resort again to profoundly irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling” as the war drags on and if Ukrainian forces continue their gains against Russian troops.”
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could entice autocrats around the world to race to develop nuclear weapons, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Saturday, potentially sparking a dangerous era of nuclear proliferation.
Moscow has threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine several times over the past nine months, leading to a flurry of phone calls this month between U.S., European and Russian officials trying to tamp down tensions.
A day before he leaves for a multi-day swing through the Indo-Pacific, Austin painted a bleak picture for the world, alluding to a scenario in which autocrats will race to acquire the bomb if Putin isn’t successfully repelled.
[NukeWatch would amend this headline to add “‘lightly’ grills” – The DNFSB was asking tough questions, but DOE and the LANL contractors were not forthcoming with those answers.]
“Much of the discussion involved complex, technical subjects. But board Chairwoman Joyce Connery said a basic complaint is the lack of response the board has gotten at times when raising concerns in letters sent to the lab and nuclear security agency.”
A federal watchdog agency on Wednesday grilled top officials from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the agency that oversees nuclear weapons about ongoing safety concerns and how they aim to resolve them as the lab gears up to produce an unprecedented number of warhead triggers.
The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent organization within the executive branch, questioned lab Director Thom Mason and National Nuclear Security Administration head Jill Hruby about safety issues that could prove important as the lab moves toward making 30 bomb cores, known as pits, per year by 2026.
The board provides recommendations and advice to the president and the secretary of energy regarding public health and safety issues at Department of Energy defense nuclear facilities.
The daylong hearing was held at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. It is the first time in several years the safety board has held a public hearing in the Santa Fe area.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has provided evidence to CCNS and Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) that Stephanie Stringer, a New Mexico Environment Department Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Chair of the New Mexico Water Quality Commission, made adjudicatory decisions against the non-governmental organizations while she was applying for NNSA employment.
This is the second time NNSA has hired an adjudicatory decision-maker during an ongoing proceeding addressing the groundwater discharge permit, DP-1132, for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/190606-CCW-Petition-for-Mandamus-2019-06-06.pdf , see ¶¶ 14 – 24.
This time, Stephanie Stringer, after applying for the NNSA job, demonstrated her bias by not recusing herself from the matter. She voted against the NGOs in the requested permit review before the Water Quality Control Commission.
“PORTS is a massive complex that dominates the landscape in Pike County and, for people in the communities that surround it, so do cancer and death.”
ANOTHER SOMBER MOMENT IN THE CEMETERY
PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) – On a crisp, sun-drenched day, the shadow of sadness followed Larry Farmer as he made a now-routine somber walk at Mound Cemetery in Piketon, Ohio.
Larry comes there three-to-four times a month to visit his son.
“I come in here and talk to Zach,” Larry said, at a spot overlooking a tombstone with etched pictures of his son smiling in his baseball uniform.
AN ALL-AMERICAN STORY
Zach Farmer was an All-American baseball pitcher at Piketon High School and rising start at Ohio State, when his dreams of making it to the big leagues were cut down by acute myeloid leukemia.
He died in 2015, just eight days after he turned 21.
“You’re never going to find peace,” Larry said as he recalled the pain of losing his son.
“While the U.S. has cut off most contacts with Russia over the invasion, some channels remain. In Moscow, officials have called for a resumption of broader strategic dialogue, including on a possible successor treaty to New START. The U.S. has said that’s not possible until the inspections resume.”
Russia said it will hold talks with the U.S. from late November to early December in Cairo about inspections of atomic weapons sites under the New START treaty, a first step toward reviving broader arms-control talks suspended since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The consultations in the Egyptian capital will last about a week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday, according to state news service RIA Novosti.
I do not share your enthusiasm for the “good news” that Sizewell C is believed to be safe from Jeremy Hunt’s budgetary cuts (“Britain can’t afford to waver over nuclear power – soon it will be too late”, Editorial). “On a freezing cold, windless, winter’s evening”, Britain’s grid will indeed need an alternative power source to wind or solar, but why is it assumed that only nuclear can provide an alternative base load? And at the cost of how many billions? And how many decades of lead time?
Geothermal could do the job faster, more safely and cheaply – for about a quarter of the cost. Geothermal power plants operate already in the United States, Italy and Iceland. And nothing is more certain and regular than the tide twice a day; sea turbines already operate in tidal flows off Orkney and Shetland and are another safe source of energy baseload. Let us not be blinkered by nuclear.
Sweden plans to declare nuclear weapons cannot be stationed on its territory when the country joins the NATO military alliance, following in the footsteps of its Nordic neighbors, the Swedish foreign minister told local news agency TT on Friday.
Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO earlier this year in a move triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far, the application has been ratified by 28 of NATO’s 30 countries.
Sweden’s supreme commander raised eyebrows this month when he recommended that the government should not insert any red lines in the final negotiations with NATO, such as bans against permanent alliance bases or nuclear weapons on Swedish soil.
However, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Sweden would join Denmark and Norway in unilaterally declaring that it would not allow nuclear weapons in Sweden.
“It is still the long-term Moderate Party position,” he told TT. “We have never intended to change the conditions for the application submitted by the previous government,” he said.
A Moderate Party-led alliance won the September general election, ending eight years of Social Democratic rule in Sweden.
“Australia must ‘make sure that we are able to be good nuclear stewards from cradle to grave’.” – Defence Minister of Australia Richard Marles
But New Zealand said it was “pleased to observe a positive shift” in Australia’s position in a United Nations vote and “would, of course, welcome any new ratifications as an important step to achieving a nuclear weapon-free world”.
“White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has held talks with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow in recent weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“After a series of setbacks in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, causing Biden to warn of a nuclear ‘Armageddon.’”
U.S. officials and allies told the news outlet that Sullivan has been in talks with Yuri Ushakov, a foreign-policy adviser to Putin, as well as Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s security council.
It’s unclear how many times Sullivan has spoken with the officials, but the conversations have been focused on preventing escalation of the war as fears of Russia using nuclear weapons have been rising, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“This “bait and switch” tactic, where WIPP is marketed with one mission in mind, then greatly expanded decades later, contradicts DOE’s professed dedication to a consent-based process that, in their own words, “focuses on the needs and concerns of people and communities.”
This expansion represents such a dramatic change in WIPP’s core mission that its managers must reassess safety issues and negotiate a new social contract with the public before moving forward.”
The U.S. Department of Energy proposes a dramatic expansion of the type and amount of radioactive waste for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In March, community groups rallied outside the state Capitol protesting this planned expansion, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent the Department of Energy a letter in April that cited “ongoing frustration among New Mexicans regarding the lack of meaningful and transparent public engagement from the DOE on waste clean-up, shipments, and long-term plans for the WIPP.”
While it may seem too late to protest a facility that has operated for decades, citizen activists are right to object, and the governor is right to demand the Department of Energy address the concerns of state citizens.
“Even a “limited” regional nuclear war could kill millions or even billions, disrupt global climate, and lead to mass starvation. Nuclear winter would not stop at the borders of nuclear perpetrator states—the entire global population would bear the costs of catastrophic deterrence failure or accidents.
Complicating the setting, it would most likely be future generations that would have to cope with the devastating consequences, which makes necessary action today appear to be a less pressing concern.
After all, why should today’s decision-makers—particularly in democracies, and nuclear-armed ones at that—care more about future voters than their current electorates?”
The global nuclear order—built on policies of nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation, and disarmament—is unjust. Russia’s war against Ukraine proves that the distribution of the costs and benefits of nuclear deterrence is particularly discriminatory. The current situation is a painful reminder that nuclear weapons are to global security what fossil fuels are to a green economy: a costly legacy of past generations thwarting justice and sustainability efforts in the long-term.
It is time for nuclear scholars, policy makers, and the general public to (re)politicize the ongoing and future negative effects of this Nuclear Injustice and push for fundamental change in the role of nuclear weapons in the world. They can do so by making Nuclear Injustice front and center at all relevant conferences and actively engaging in the debate about the nuclear lessons learned from the war in Ukraine.
“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said given the reported problems the lab and Savannah River are grappling with, the review might be trying to add “wiggle room” to production goals.
“It’s interesting how vague the Nuclear Posture Review is on both the rate and timing of pit production,” Coghlan said.”
“A lawsuit remains before a federal judge in South Carolina in which the plaintiffs – SRS Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM) and Tri-Valley CAREs (Livermore, CA) – have demanded that a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on pit production be prepared. The PEIS would analyze impacts of pit production at all DOE sites, including heretofore unanalyzed disposal of plutonium by-product waste (transuranic waste) from pit production in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.”
SRS Pit Plant would Fabricate Plutonium Pits (Cores) for New and Old Nuclear Weapons; Schedule Delays, Cost Increases Mounting, with Cost Nearing $12 Billion
Our prediction that the unneeded SRS plutonium pit plant would continue to face significant delays and substantial cost increases is sadly being proven true”
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, US – A facility proposed to make the key plutonium component for new U.S. nuclear warheads faces another substantial delay, according a U.S. Department of Energy official at a nuclear meeting this week in South Carolina. The delay of construction of the Plutonium Bomb Plant, proposed to make plutonium “pits” at the U.S. Department of Energy’s sprawling 310-square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, SC, could push the price tag to $11.5 billion or higher.
“Congress should have the courage to begin to help lead us toward a future world free of nuclear weapons…In particular, I call upon the New Mexican congressional delegation to end their support for unneeded, exorbitantly expensive plutonium pit production for nuclear weapons. ”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS) — The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
“It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.’”
He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.”
Investigators arrived in St. Louis on Aug. 15, 2022. The study was released in mid-October with the results of radioactive lead found at Jana Elementary School.
Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates
Thursday, October 6, 2022
Jeff Ruch, PEER, [email protected] (510) 213-7028
Melissa Bumstead, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab [email protected] (818) 233-0642
Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility, [email protected] (310) 339-9766
Lawrence Yee [email protected]
Oakland — The Newsom administration’s backroom deal with the Boeing Co. to dramatically weaken cleanup standards at the profoundly polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory violates the public involvement and transparency requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), charges a lawsuit filed today by community and public health groups. The suit would open the cleanup agreement to public scrutiny and force the state agencies and the Boeing Co. to justify a cleanup methodology that leaves 90% of the contamination onsite.
Filed today in Ventura County Superior Court by Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA Chapter), and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the suit would, if successful, vacate both the cleanup agreement and an accompanying promise to free Boeing from toxic stormwater discharge requirements.
“This suit does not prevent cleanup from beginning immediately but instead aims to ensure it continues until it is fully completed,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that under a prior Consent Order, the cleanup was supposed to have been completed back in 2017. “This lawsuit is about having this cleanup done right and well beyond the outrageous ‘rip and skip’ deal that Boeing wrangled behind closed doors.”
After repeatedly promising to enforce a 2007 legally binding cleanup agreement with Boeing, the Newsom administration secretly negotiated an 800-page agreement that “supersedes” the prior order by substantially relaxing key cleanup requirements, allowing hundreds of times higher levels of toxic chemicals than previously permitted, and leaving much of the contamination onsite.
Nuclear News Archives – 2021
“The Environment Department “should be equally considerate towards the judicial review process as it was in the administrative permit modification process, to ensure the courts have sufficient time to review objectively the facts and arguments associated with the appeal.” – Steve Zappe, a member of the Environment Department who worked on WIPP for 17 years.”
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety | December 23, 2021
Two appeals have been filed in the New Mexico Court of Appeals to challenge the decision by New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney to approve the new shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety filed the second appeal on November 29th. On November 9th, Southwest Research and Information Center and Cynthia Weehler had filed the first appeal. Visit: env.nm.gov/opf/docketed-matters/, scroll down to HWB 21-02 – APPEAL: Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Class 3 Permit Modification Request, “Excavation of a New Shaft and Associated Connecting Drifts.
SRIC and Weehler also asked Secretary Kenney for a stay, that is, a delay, of shaft construction until the Court of Appeals rules on their appeal. On the stay motion, Secretary Kenney can grant, or deny, or take no action. If he does not grant the stay, or if he takes no action by January 10th, a stay motion then could be filed with the Court of Appeals. Visit: env.nm.gov/opf/docketed-matters/ , scroll down to HWB 21-02 –Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Class 3 Permit Modification Request, “Excavation of a New Shaft and Associated Connecting Drifts.
Unfortunately, key documents are missing, including the SRIC/Weehler Motion for Stay Pending Appeal, the Hearing Officer’s Report and the Secretary’s Final Order.
The stay motion was supported by three affidavits. Cynthia Weehler stated that she purchased her home near U.S. Highway 285 knowing that the WIPP Permit anticipated that shipments to WIPP would end in 2024. Now, the WIPP expansion plan that requires the new shaft “would result in thousands of additional shipments coming near my house for many decades.” She is very concerned that accidents could result in health effects and “such shipments will reduce my property values.”
Kathleen Wan Povi Sanchez, an Elder from the Tewa Pueblo of San Ildefonso and among the founding mothers of Tewa Women United, stated in her affidavit that an increase in waste transportation near two schools located on New Mexico Highway 502 would endanger the health of Pueblo children in attendance. Further, “The WIPP expansion plan would result in thousands of new shipments using  Highway 502 for decades transporting plutonium from the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas to [Los Alamos National Laboratory], and from [Los Alamos] to the Savannah River Site, followed by shipments from that site to WIPP.”
An anti-nuclear group said this type of plutonium isn’t explosive but would be hazardous to breathe.
It’s possible the lab made this type of plutonium a lesser priority while ramping up pit production, and now it plans to take big shipments, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
“That’s a huge amount to accept,” Kovac said. “Now they’re asking NNSA to say that’s OK.”
The estimated cost of handling the degrading radioactive material is rising steadily — $512 billion at last count.
“DoE is now running up against a statutory limit for how much waste it can store in the space, so it recently changed its counting method to exclude space between storage drums as storage space. New Mexico regulators approved the change but the matter is being challenged in court.
“They knocked a third out of it with a slight of hand. That will allow them a lot more waste,” complains Scott Kovac, operations & research director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NWNM), a local anti-nuclear group.”
“Germany’s move [planning to to attend the meeting as an observer] has put Japan — which has stated it aspires to a world free of nuclear weapons as the only country to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings — in the spotlight. Both countries are key U.S. allies that rely on American nuclear forces for protection.”
© KYODO NEWS | December 20, 2021
The United States has urged Japan not to attend as an observer the first meeting of signatories to a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, according to U.S. government sources, reflecting Washington’s opposition to the pact.
The Japanese government has suggested it will come into line with the United States and take a cautious approach to the issue, the sources said. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told a parliamentary committee on Thursday that Tokyo has no “concrete plans” to attend the meeting as an observer.
The sources said the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden made the request to Japan through diplomatic channels after German political parties announced Nov. 24 that the deal for the new ruling coalition included taking part as an observer at the meeting scheduled for March in Vienna.
Maybe because of the request, Kishida also suggested last week that participation in the meeting would be premature “before building a relationship of trust with President Biden.”
At least 125 people were present for the service, many bearing roses in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe. Among them was Karen Weber, who said it’s “highly symbolic” for Wester to speak out on the “abolishment of nuclear weapons.”
Looking up at the sky as a young teen one day in Daly City, Calif., Archbishop John C. Wester had one thought as he saw military planes overheard.
Were they ours, or were they Russian planes?
The year was 1962, perhaps the first time nuclear war between the two superpowers seemed likely to erupt as the Cuban Missile Crisis played out and students were taught to prepare for an atomic attack by diving under their desks at schools.
“I don’t think going under our desks was very helpful,” Wester said Sunday in Santa Fe, moments before issuing a call for the world to rid itself its nuclear weapons.
Now, some 60 years later, he said he wants to do more to end the threat of an atomic war. Wester spoke and prayed during a 30-minute prayer service and ceremony at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe before he unveiled a sign bearing an image of Pope Francis and a quote uttered by the pope in Hiroshima in 2020: “The possession of nuclear arms is immoral.”
Wester said “our archdiocese needs to be facilitating, encouraging an ongoing conversation” about nuclear disarmament.
“While the labs work on relearning high-stakes industrial techniques for terrifying weapons, it is estimated that most of the existing warheads will remain fully functional for at least 100 years after first manufacture. Given an arsenal of hundreds of deployed warheads, the stakes of failure to modernize are that, in the event of the worst war humanity has ever known, some warheads might fail to detonate, letting millions live.”
Plutonium pits, the potent hearts of modern nuclear weapons, degrade over time. As these cores decay, so too does the certainty that they will work as designed when detonated. Los Alamos National Laboratory, the organization that grew out of the Manhattan Project to design and equip the nuclear arsenal of the Cold War, is advancing towards its goal of manufacturing 30 new plutonium pits to go inside nuclear bomb cores by 2026.
The project is both a specific manufacturing challenge, and an opening for the United States to newly consider how many warheads it needs on hand to achieve its stated strategic objectives.
Inside a nuclear warhead, a plutonium pit is crucial to setting off the sequence of reactions that make a thermonuclear explosion. Inside the pit is a gas, like deuterium/tritium, and around the pit is chemical explosive. When the chemical explosive detonates, it compacts the plutonium around the gas until the core is dense enough to trigger a fission reaction. What makes a warhead thermonuclear, as opposed to just atomic, is that this is combined in the same warhead with a uranium core, which creates a fusion explosion.
The letter argued that “by making clear that the United States will never start a nuclear war, it reduces the likelihood that a conflict or crisis will escalate to nuclear war.” And it would demonstrate, they argued, that the United States was committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which obliges the nuclear-armed states to move toward reducing their arsenals.
Written By: Jesus Jiménez © 2021 The New York Times Company The New York Times | December 17, 2021
Nearly 700 scientists and engineers, including 21 Nobel laureates, asked President Joe Biden on Thursday to use his forthcoming declaration of a new national strategy for managing nuclear weapons as a chance to cut the US arsenal by a third and to declare, for the first time, that the United States would never be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict.
The letter to Biden also urged him to change, for the first time since President Harry S. Truman ordered the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, the American practice that gives the commander in chief sole authority to order the use of nuclear weapons. The issue gained prominence during the Trump administration, and the authors of the letter urged Biden to make the change as “an important safeguard against a possible future president who is unstable or who orders a reckless attack.”
Today I had the honor of delivering a letter on nuclear weapons issues to @POTUS signed by 697 scientists & engineers, including 21 Nobel laureates & 69 members of the National Academies. It recommends four steps to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war: https://t.co/o9ktgLlOxd pic.twitter.com/stjn9BJCCu
— Stephen Young (@StephenUCS) December 16, 2021
Some senators say Biden’s social and climate bill costs too much, but comparing it to the military spending plan they just passed suggests otherwise.
This week, the families of 61 million children received their final payments under the expanded Child Tax Credit. This credit has kept 10 million children above the poverty line, but it is expiring as the Senate delays a vote to renew it through the Build Back Better Act.
Instead, on the same day these last payments went out, the Senate voted to approve a $778 billion military spending budget — four times as much as the annual cost of the entire Build Back Better plan. Yet we’ve heard endlessly about how it’s Build Back Better that needs to be gutted so we can skimp and save.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called for a “new momentum” to nuclear disarmament as she met with her Swedish counterpart with an eye toward a review of a non-proliferation treaty.
Germany and Sweden have paired up to find ways to get the world’s nuclear powers to move toward committing to disarmament. The foreign ministers met in Stockholm to plot the way forward ahead of next month’s review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Baerbock has been in talks with her Swedish counterpart Ann Linde and met with the Stockholm Initiative, a group of 16 countries seeking to get rid of nuclear weapons.
“Our joint goal is clear: a world free of atomic weapons,” Baerbock said during a press conference with Linde.
“Our message to the review conference will be clear: Nuclear weapons countries have to push ahead with nuclear disarmament,” read a statement from the initiative, calling for an irreversible, transparent end to nuclear weapons subject to oversight.
“By taking the lead of the toxic alliance between fossil gas and nuclear (energy) at a European level, Emmanuel Macron clearly sides with the polluters’ camp. Nuclear is not a green energy: it produces radioactive waste that piles up across the country”
By Reuters | December 14, 2021
PARIS (Reuters) – Demonstrators unfurled a banner declaring “Gas & nuclear are not green” outside France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday in protest at a government drive to label nuclear energy and fossil gas as sectors for climate-friendly investment.
One of the about 20 protesters, wearing a mask of President Emmanuel Macron, chained himself to a gas bottle and a nuclear barrel outside the ministry’s headquarters in Paris. Another held a banner that read “Macron shame on you.”
The European Union is preparing a rulebook on climate friendly investments, which from next year will define which activities can be labelled as green in sectors including transport and buildings.
The EU’s aim is to restrict the green investment label to climate-friendly activities, steer cash into low-carbon projects and stop companies or investors making unsubstantiated environmental claims.
“The public deserves an explanation,” said Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. “Given the persistent criticality safety problems at Y-12, it is astonishing that the National Nuclear Security Administration has turned the management over to Fluor and Amentum, two companies that have racked up millions of dollars in fines in the last two decades for nuclear safety violations.”
immediate release: December 13, 2021
more information: Ralph Hutchison 865 776 5050 / [email protected]
According to the web site goodjobsfirst.com, which tracks violations in government contracting, AECOM, parent company of Amentum, has been penalized more than $167 million for 114 violations since 2000. Fifty-one of those violations were safety related, for a total of $4.5 million in penalties and fines; of that total, $3,866,250 was assessed for nuclear safety violations.
“From the beginning of October to mid-November, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board documented nine nuclear safety incidents at Y-12, an average of more than one a week,” Hutchison said. “Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly—Y-12 is consistently plagued by nuclear safety issues, many of them from legacy activities or the ongoing degradation of the buildings used to manufacture nuclear weapons components.
“And the equally sad truth is that contractors at Y-12 have a history of failing to aggressively address issues as they arise. An outside assessment delivered in October noted that Consolidated Nuclear Services declared some cases ‘closed’ even though the actual problem had not been corrected and the cases were, in fact, still open.
By CBSBoston.com Staff December 7, 2021
PLYMOUTH (CBS) – The company managing the shutdown of the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant now says it will not release contaminated water into Cape Cod Bay in 2022 as planned.
Holtec International planned to discharge the water sometime early next year.
But in a statement on Monday, they promised to store the water on site through 2022 and search for other options to get rid of it.
“We appreciate and understand the public’s questions and concerns and remain committed to an open, transparent process on the decommissioning of Pilgrim Station focused on the health and safety of the public, the environment, and on-site personnel,” Holtec said in a statement.
Pilgrim went offline in 2019.
“I support having by far the strongest military in the world and the good-paying defense jobs in my district that protect our troops,” said Representative Andy Levin, Democrat of Michigan. “But I cannot support ever-increasing military spending in the face of so much human need across our country.”
By: The New York Times | December 7, 2021
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a $768 billion defense policy bill after lawmakers abruptly dropped proposals that would have required women to register for the draft, repealed the 2002 authorization of the Iraq war and imposed sanctions for a Russian gas pipeline, in a late-year drive to salvage a bipartisan priority.
The legislation, unveiled hours before the vote, put the Democratic-led Congress on track to increase the Pentagon’s budget by roughly $24 billion above what President Biden had requested, angering antiwar progressives who had hoped that their party’s control of the White House and both houses of Congress would lead to cuts to military programs after decades of growth.
Instead, the measure provides significant increases for initiatives intended to counter China and bolster Ukraine, as well as the procurement of new aircraft and ships, underscoring the bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill for continuing to spend huge amounts of federal money on defense initiatives, even as Republicans lash Democrats for spending freely on social programs.
“Essentially blessing what DOE was going to have to do anyway in order to expand nuclear weapons activities and waste disposal,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And once again demonstrated the subservience of our state government to the nuclear weapons industry here in New Mexico.”
The N.M. 4 and East Jemez Road intersection in the far northwestern corner of Santa Fe County will be improved as part of a $15.5 million upgrade of routes on which Los Alamos National Laboratory transports nuclear waste to an underground disposal site in Southern New Mexico.
The U.S. Energy Department will spend $3.5 million to improve the intersection, which lies just outside Los Alamos County, and another $12 million to upgrade routes it owns and uses mostly to ship transuranic waste — contaminated gloves, clothing, equipment, soil and other items — to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.
Human beings are not necessarily destined to annihilate ourselves.
“…the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.”
FOR YEARS, the Dutch organization PAX has been issuing reports detailing the Armageddon that’s hiding in plain sight. The business of nuclear weapons — and it is in fact a business — does not for the most part take place in secret underground lairs. It is all around us, conducted by corporations and banks that might otherwise make cellphones or cornflakes or autonomous vacuum cleaners.
PAX’s newest paper, “Perilous Profiteering,” should be front-page news around the world. Why it is not is an interesting question.
Nuclear war is still a threat to humanity. It’s true that it’s generally vanished from popular culture and our imagination since the end of the Cold War 30 years ago. What almost no one knows, however, is that many serious observers believe that the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists invented its Doomsday Clock in 1947 to express how close the world was to self-destruction. It was initially set at seven minutes to midnight. Since then it has varied, being set both closer to and further away from midnight. But today, in 2021, it is the closest it’s ever been: 100 seconds to midnight. The publication’s reasoning can be read here.
“Germany is to shut down its last nuclear reactors next year. However, the country still has no place to store the 27,000 cubic metres of highly radioactive material it has already produced, with the amount set to grow as power stations are decommissioned and dismantled. German authorities have set a deadline of 2031 to find a permanent storage location – but for now, the waste is being stored in temporary locations, much to the anger of local residents.”
A fault in the plant’s fire prevention system caused the gas leak, which was not linked to any radioactive material, the regional fire service posted on Twitter.
MADRID, Nov 24 (Reuters) – One person has died and three have been taken to hospital after a carbon dioxide leak at the Asco nuclear power plant in the Spanish region of Catalonia, local emergency services said on Wednesday.
Shortly afterwards, the fire service said it was preparing to leave the site after checking over the extractor fans with the plant’s staff and ensuring the systems were working properly.
The three people taken to hospital suffered light injuries from carbon dioxide inhalation, emergency services said.
Russia’s envoy to the talks, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Twitter they “started quite successfully.” Asked he if was optimistic, Iran’s top negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani, told reporters: “Yes, I am.”
Vienna, Austria EU, Iranian and Russian diplomats sounded upbeat as Iran and world powers held their first talks in five months on Monday to try to save their 2015 nuclear deal, despite Tehran taking a tough stance in public that Western powers said would not work.
“I feel extremely positive about what I have seen today,” Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks, said after the meeting — the seventh round of talks aimed at reviving a deal under which Iran limited its disputed uranium enrichment program in return for relief from US, EU and UN economic sanctions.
“They have accepted that the work done over the first six rounds is a good basis to build our work ahead,” he said. “We will be of course incorporating the new political sensibilities of the new Iranian administration.”
“I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind about promoting nuclear energy. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are wind and solar.”
I cannot disagree more with the assertion by Sen. Dick Durbin in a recent Sun-Times op-ed that nuclear power is a necessary and viable way to combat climate change.
Electricity production by nuclear power is not, and can never be made, safe and economical.
When nuclear power plants were first touted in the 1950s as a new and safe method for producing electricity, it was said the electricity would be “too cheap to meter.” This is pure nonsense! If it was so safe, why weren’t any power plants built and put on line until passage of the Price-Anderson Act? The law has been amended a number of times and greatly limits the liability of operators of nuclear power plants.
Anything paid out beyond the limits set in Price-Anderson would take years of lawsuits.
Sen. Durbin wrote “It is past time for Congress to step up and develop a comprehensive, consent-based plan to store nuclear waste.” That’s an understatement. Nuclear waste is stored within a half-mile of Lake Michigan at the now-closed Zion nuclear power plant. Why is it close to the source of our drinking water? Because there is nowhere to ship it! Plans to ship such waste to a depository in Yucca Mountain in the southwest fell through when some improperly stored barrels burst into flames, releasing large amounts of high-level radioactive material.
Who does the senator think will agree to a “consent-based plan” when there is no known method of safely storing these dangerous materials for thousands of years, the time it takes for radioactive decay to make it safe for the environment?
Sen. Durbin argued that “we must ensure the nuclear fleet remains safe and economical,” but nuclear power has never been economical. As far as I know, the last time a permit was approved for a new nuclear plant was during the Obama administration. That plant in Georgia is only about half complete, although it was to be finished by now and the cost is already double the initial estimate.
The current “fleet,” as Sen. Durbin called them, of nuclear power plants were designed and engineered to last about 30 to 40 years. Most of our country’s plants are near that age. Their internal systems are constantly bombarded by radioactive particles, making the metal in the systems more brittle and prone to failure every year. Subsidizing them is a waste of taxpayer money and a dangerous gamble with our lives.
I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are renewables: wind and solar.
George Milkowski, West Ridge
To the editor: Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz are both professors who served as U.S. Energy secretary. They have more science credentials than most mortals. I am none of those things.
Yet, I was concerned when I read in their piece advocating for the continued use of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant past the planned 2025 decommissioning that they referred to the electricity it produces as “clean.”
I recognize that they did so in order to differentiate nuclear from energy sources that emit carbon dioxide. However, the lack of carbon emissions notwithstanding, can nuclear energy truly be called clean?
There is the not-so-small matter of spent nuclear fuel. Where does it go? Where will it go? It’s currently in a cooling pool on-site. Owner Pacific Gas and Electric has requested permission to develop a dry cask storage system on-site; it did not estimate how long the spent fuel would be stored there.
Spent fuel is radioactive for a very long time. Whichever way you store it, if anything compromises the containment, the danger is released.
Carbon emissions or none, it is misleading to refer to nuclear energy as clean, especially when it comes to its impact on the environment.
Elise Power, Garden Grove
To the editor: I was energized by the piece on the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. It reminded me of the sad situation at our local San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.Continue reading
“Diane Turco, of Harwich, the director of Cape Downwinders, a citizen group that was at the forefront of the effort to close Pilgrim, called any option that included sending radioactive water into the bay “outrageous” and “criminal.” Turco said she has no confidence in the decommissioning process.
“The process has been to allow radioactivity into the environment,” she said. “The answer should be no you can’t do that.””
PLYMOUTH — One of the options being considered by the company that is decommissioning the closed Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is to release around one million gallons of potentially radioactive water into Cape Cod Bay.
The option had been discussed briefly with state regulatory officials as one possible way to get rid of water from the spent fuel pool, the reactor vessel and other components of the facility, Holtec International spokesman Patrick O’Brien said in an interview Wednesday. It was highlighted in a report by state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Regional Director Seth Pickering at Monday’s meeting of the Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel in Plymouth.
“We had broached that with the state, but we’ve made no decision on that,” O’Brien said.
As of mid-December, Holtec will complete the process of moving all the spent fuel rods into casks that are being stored on a concrete pad on the Pilgrim plant site in Plymouth. After that, O’Brien told the panel, the removal and disposal of other components in those areas of the facility will take place and be completed sometime in February.
“New round of talks unlikely to produce breakthrough but will shed light on posture of new Iranian government, analysts say.”
“We’re going to find out how different these [Iranian] hardliners are from previous hardliners; we’re going to find out if they’re going to be a little softer,” said Negar Mortazavi, an Iranian-American journalist and analyst.
“And we’re also going to find out if the Americans have really realised that they missed an opportunity, and that they should change their position to some extent.”
Proponents of the deal, including Mortazavi, have criticised US President Joe Biden for not moving with urgency to restore the agreement in the first months of his administration, when a more moderate Iranian government headed by former President Hassan Rouhani was in charge.
Six rounds of talks in Vienna between April and June failed to forge a path back into the agreement.
“That golden window of opportunity was short, and the Biden team completely missed it,” Mortazavi told Al Jazeera.
The Kirtland Air Force Lab is dedicated to militarizing space, not improving the lives of New Mexico citizens.
“The United States should recognize that a pattern of continued militarization of space is insufficient to provide the stability on which its economy and its armed forces depend, so the tools of diplomacy and international law should be marshalled too.”
Air Force Research Laboratory spending on space and “directed energy” technology like lasers and microwaves boosted the local economy by nearly $2 billion over the past three years, according to a new economic impact report.
“The occurrence of smaller earthquakes began to increase in 2017, when oil and gas boomed in the region, up to about three per day recently. In 2021, records show the region was on track for more than 1,200 earthquakes with magnitudes of 1 to 4.”
CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Multiple earthquakes were felt earlier this fall in West Texas, leading regulators in that state to designate a seismic response area and call for less wastewater from oil and gas development to be injected in disposal wells.
As more seismic activity was reported closer to the state line, officials in New Mexico have been watching closely and gathering data. Some officials are concerned that as Texas limits the injection of produced water as a means to curb the seismic activity, that could affect producers in New Mexico.
“Against this backdrop, Russo-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilising factor in world affairs,” said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.
MOSCOW/WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Russia’s defence minister on Tuesday accused U.S. bombers of rehearsing a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come within 20 km (12.4 miles) of the Russian border.
But the Pentagon said its drills were announced publicly at the time and adhered to international protocols.
Moscow’s accusation comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, with U.S. officials voicing concerns about a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbour – a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false.
Moscow has in turn accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative and irresponsible behaviour, pointing to U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine’s use of Turkish strike drones against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, and NATO military exercises close to its borders.
“Germany can, of course, decide whether there will be nuclear weapons in (its) country, but the alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in other countries in Europe, also to the east of Germany,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
PAX and ICAN have released the latest Don’t Bank on the Bomb report “Perilous Profiteering: The companies building nuclear arsenals and their financial backers“, which names the 338 investors backing 25 nuclear weapon producing companies and the size of their investments. This report is also the first time we were able to find information on Russian and Chinese investments.
The report also found three clear signs that financial institutions are starting to see nuclear weapons as risky business, and are leaving them behind:
• From 2019 to 2021, the total amount made available for nuclear weapons producing companies dropped by an impressive $63 billion, and the total number of financial institutions willing to invest in nuclear weapons producing companies went down too.
• Nuclear weapons producing companies, despite billion dollar contracts, have debt. But investors are moving away. So instead, they’re borrowing from wherever they can to raise cash. In other words: producing weapons of mass destruction has become extremely unattractive.
• 127 financial institutions stopped investing in companies producing nuclear weapons this year!
Of course, we still have a lot of work to do to hold these profiteers accountable. Banks, insurers, asset managers and pension funds still made $685 billion available for the companies producing nuclear weapons (like Northrop Grumman, which has $24 billion in outstanding contracts).
Our banks, insurers, and pension funds have no business investing in companies that choose to be involved in illegal weapons of mass destruction, and we need to tell them. Read the key findings of the report HERE.
A federal inspection of the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth that began in July and stretched through September found “no violations of more than minor significance,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.
The inspection included “an evaluation of the safety screening, safety review, onsite management review, engineering change processes, the fire protection program, maintenance program, and the available results for site radiological and non-radiological characterization,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. The agency also conducted “a review and observation of the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) dry cask activities.”
Inspectors visited Pilgrim at least five times during the announced quarterly inspection to observe Holtec Decommissioning International’s activities “as they relate to safety and compliance with the commission’s rules and regulations” and the conditions of the company’s license.
“Based on the results of this inspection, no violations of more than minor significance were identified,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote in the inspection report.
The Plymouth nuclear plant, which employed about 600 people and had been generating about 680 megawatts of electricity per year since coming online in 1972, permanently ceased operations May 31, 2019.
Holtec has estimated that it can complete decommissioning work by the end of 2027.
“We know it’s part of expanding WIPP. We know what DOE is doing but DOE doesn’t want to publicly admit it and the Environment Department doesn’t want to deal with it…The reason the laws have always put limits on WIPP is that the DOE was supposed to be finding locations for other repositories. There is no other repository and that’s why they don’t want to have a limit on what goes into WIPP.” — Don Hancock, nuclear waste program director at Southwest Research and Information Center.
A New Mexico appellate judge upheld a change in how the volume of nuclear waste disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is counted, shifting the repository from being halfway to capacity to only a third full.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy requested to modify its WIPP operating permit with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) to change how it counts the amount of waste toward the facility’s statutory limit of 6.2 million cubic feet of transuranic (TRU) waste consisting of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities.
The change was intended to count the inner volume of the waste as opposed to the volume of the outer containers that hold the waste, seeking to avoid counting air between the waste itself and waste drums.
NMED approved the permit modification request (PMR) in 2019, but Albuquerque-based watchdog groups Southwest Research and Information Center and Nuclear Watch New Mexico immediately appealed the decision.
The plan has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea.
TOKYO (AP) — A team from the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Japan on Monday to assess preparations for the release into the ocean of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The six experts on the team from the International Atomic Energy Agency are to meet with Japanese officials and visit the Fukushima Daiichi plant to discuss technical details of the planned release, Japanese officials said.
The government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced plans in April to start gradually releasing the treated radioactive water in the spring of 2023 to allow for the removal of hundreds of storage tanks to make room for facilities needed for the destroyed plant’s decommissioning.
“The rules for transferring a nuclear-powered vessel to a foreign power are uncharted waters…”
U.S., UK aid to Australia’s acquisition of nuclear submarines “sheer act of nuclear proliferation”: Chinese envoy
“This literally turns existing precedence and practice on their heads in order to extend traditionally northern hemisphere cooperation to Australia and bolster its role in countering an increasingly assertive China.” https://thebulletin.org
The recently signed Australia–United Kingdom–United States defense agreement, or AUKUS, calls for the United States and Britain to share nuclear-submarine technology with Australia. Although the agreement was light on details of what, when, and how, plans apparently are for Australia to eventually build at least eight nuclear-powered attack submarines. In the interim, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now advocating for Australia to obtain used nuclear submarines to get the sharing started so as to spin up the Royal Australian Navy’s submarine capabilities and nuclear know-how. Australia has never had a nuclear power plant of any kind.
Speaking last Friday at a Wilson Center event in Washington, D.C., Abbott suggested that, in the short term, Australia should consider leasing or purchasing one or more existing U.S. submarines to develop Australia’s capability to operate nuclear-powered submarines.
Abbott has posed the question, “Might it be possible for Australia to acquire a retiring [Los Angeles] class boat or two and to put it under an Australian flag and to run it, if you like, as an operational training boat?” Abbott added that he’d make a similar proposal for British nuclear-powered submarines “were I in London.”
“There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country, analysis shared with the BBC shows.”
Campaigners led by Global Witness assessed the participant list published by the UN at the start of this meeting.
They found that 503 people with links to fossil fuel interests had been accredited for the climate summit.
These delegates are said to lobby for oil and gas industries, and campaigners say they should be banned.
“The fossil fuel industry has spent decades denying and delaying real action on the climate crisis, which is why this is such a huge problem,” says Murray Worthy from Global Witness.
“Their influence is one of the biggest reasons why 25 years of UN climate talks have not led to real cuts in global emissions.”
About 40,000 people are attending the COP. Brazil has the biggest official team of negotiators according to UN data, with 479 delegates.
The UK, which is hosting the talk in Glasgow, has 230 registered delegates.
“These advanced nuclear reactors, and the existing fleet, are safe,” Granholm says. “We have the gold standard of regulation in the United States.”
Actually…According to a UCS report, if federal regulators require the necessary safety demonstrations, it could take at least 20 years—and billions of dollars in additional costs—to commercialize such reactors, their associated fuel-cycle facilities, and other related infrastructure.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may have to adapt some regulations when licensing reactor technologies that differ significantly in design from the current fleet. Lyman says that should not mean weakening public health and safety standards, finding no justification for the claim that “advanced” reactors will be so much safer and more secure that the NRC can exempt them from fundamental safeguards. On the contrary, because there are so many open questions about these reactors, he says they may need to meet even more stringent requirements.
GLASGOW, Scotland — In an interview at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm told Yahoo News on Friday that the Biden administration is “very bullish” on building new nuclear reactors in the United States.
“We are very bullish on these advanced nuclear reactors,” she said. “We have, in fact, invested a lot of money in the research and development of those. We are very supportive of that.”
Nuclear energy is controversial among environmental activists and experts because while it does not create the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, it has the potential to trigger dangerous nuclear meltdowns and creates radioactive nuclear waste [not a small issue].
While 32 countries generate atomic energy, nine have nuclear weapons and seven countries have both.
Nuclear warheads per country
Nine countries possessed roughly 13,150 warheads as of August 2021, according to the Federation of American Scientists. More than 90 percent are owned by Russia and the US.
At the peak in 1986, the two rivals had nearly 65,000 nuclear warheads between them, making the nuclear arms race one of the most threatening events of the Cold War. While Russia and the US have dismantled thousands of warheads, several countries are thought to be increasing their stockpiles, most notably China.
According to the Pentagon’s 2021 annual report (pdf), China’s nuclear warhead stockpile is expected to more than triple and reach at least 1,000 by 2030.
The only country to voluntarily relinquish nuclear weapons is South Africa. In 1989, the government halted its nuclear weapons programme and in 1990 began dismantling its six nuclear weapons. Two years later, South Africa joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear country.
With the 26th UN Climate Change Conference over, nations are making plans to move to green energy in a bid to tackle global warming.
But nuclear energy is a particular sticking point. While it is the largest source of low-carbon electricity in OECD countries, some nations have spoken out against the categorisation of nuclear energy as climate-friendly.
Across the globe, 34 countries harness the power of splitting atoms for generating electricity or for nuclear weapons. (Al Jazeera)
Global nuclear energy
Nuclear energy provides roughly 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Of the 32 countries with nuclear power reactors, more than half (18) are in Europe. France has the world’s highest proportion of its electricity – at 71 percent – coming from atomic power.
Up until 2011, Japan was generating some 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors; however, following the Fukushima disaster, all nuclear power plants were suspended for safety inspections. As of 2020, just 5 percent of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear power, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Nuclear power constitutes some 20 percent of the United States’ electricity. About 60 percent of the country’s energy comes from fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and petroleum, with the remaining 20 percent coming from renewable sources – wind, hydro and solar.
The federal government allowed a stockpile of spent fuel on a Minnesota reservation to balloon even as a dam project whittled down the amount of livable land.
Interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times show how the state of Minnesota and the federal government ignored warnings about potential dangers posed to the tribe as they kept allowing the amount of waste stored on the reservation to expand and did little to address annual flooding that harms the tribe’s economy.
“I mean, this is a classic environmental justice fact pattern,” said Heather Sibbison, chair of Dentons Native American law and policy practice at Dentons Law Firm. “We have a minority community, a disadvantaged community, bearing the brunt of two huge infrastructure projects that serve other people.”
For decades, chronic flooding and nuclear waste have encroached on the ancestral lands in southeastern Minnesota that the Prairie Island Indian Community calls home, whittling them to about a third of their original size.
Two years after the tribe received federal recognition in 1936, the Army Corps of Engineers installed a lock-and-dam system just to the south along the Mississippi River. It repeatedly flooded the tribe’s land, including burial mounds, leaving members with only 300 livable acres.
Decades later, a stockpile of nuclear waste from a power plant next to the reservation, which the federal government reneged on a promise to remove in the 1990s, has tripled in size. It comes within 600 yards of some residents’ homes.
With no room to develop more housing on the reservation, more than 150 tribal members who are eager to live in their ancestral home are on a waiting list.
Cody Whitebear, 33, who serves as the tribe’s federal government relations specialist, is among those waiting. He hopes he can inherit his grandmother’s house, which is on the road closest to the power plant.
“I never had the opportunity to live on the reservation, be part of the community,” said Mr. Whitebear, who began connecting with his heritage after the birth of his son, Cayden. “In my mid-20s I had the desire to learn about my people and who I am and who we are.”
“The agency has said little overall about its plans, despite the potential hazards, said Cindy Weehler, who co-chairs the watchdog group 285 ALL.”
A panel of state lawmakers expressed concerns Friday about plans to truck plutonium shipments through New Mexico, including Santa Fe’s southern edge, and will send letters to state and federal officials asking for more information on the transports.
Two opponents of the shipments — a Santa Fe County commissioner and a local activist — presented the Department of Energy’s basic plan to the Legislature’s Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, provoking a mixture of surprise and curiosity from members.
Several lawmakers agreed transporting plutonium is more hazardous because it is far more radioactive than the transuranic waste — contaminated gloves, equipment, clothing, soil and other materials — that Los Alamos National Laboratory now ships to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground disposal site near Carlsbad.
“We have to get everything done in the next 25 years…The idea that you’re going to scale up a technology you don’t even have yet, and it’s going to be commercially viable [in that time], just seems to me like la la land.” — Tom Burke, co-founder of climate think tank E3G.
In the midst of the COP26 climate talks yesterday, U.S. and Romanian officials stepped aside for a session in the conference’s Blue Zone, establishing an agreement for U.S. company NuScale to build a new kind of modular nuclear power plant in the southeastern European country. The company’s plants—designed to be quickly scaled up or down based on need—are intended to be quicker and cheaper to build than the traditional kind, with some considering them to be a promising alternative for countries seeking to wean themselves off fossil fuels.
NuScale CEO John Hopkins sees the agreement as part of a broader recognition that nuclear power has a big role to play as the world decarbonizes. “I’ve seen a significant shift here,” Hopkins said, speaking to TIME from Glasgow yesterday. “It used to be the only thing really discussed was renewables, but I think people are starting to be a little more pragmatic and understand that nuclear needs to be in the mix.”
But others at COP26 aren’t convinced that NuScale’s small reactors can help avoid climate catastrophe. Some point to the fact that NuScale has yet to build a single commercial plant as evidence that the company is already too late to the party.
Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.
Hanford watchdogs generally agree with this process, said Tom Carpenter, director of the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge.
“Nobody is raising any concerns about cocooning,” Carpenter said. “We’re all worried about the tank waste that needs immediate and urgent attention.” The bigger question is whether future generations will be willing to pay the massive costs of Hanford cleanup, he said.
By November 4, 2021 abcnews.go.com
SPOKANE, Wash. — Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.
But one project on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is progressing at a much lower price.
The federal government is moving forward with the “cocooning” of eight plutonium production reactors at Hanford that will place them in a state of long-term storage to allow radiation inside to dissipate over a period of decades, until they can be dismantled and buried.
“It’s relatively non-expensive,” Mark French, a manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, said of cocooning. “The cost of trying to dismantle the reactor and demolish the reactor core would be extremely expensive and put workers at risk.”
The federal government built nine nuclear reactors at Hanford to make plutonium for atomic bombs during World War II and the Cold War. The site along the Columbia River contains America’s largest quantity of radioactive waste.
“Whether we decide to go on with the nuclear energy or not…We will need to find a solution for the management of that nuclear waste” that humankind has already produced.” — Audrey Guillemenet, geologist and spokesperson for one of France’s underground waste repositories.
By November 4, 2021 apnews.com
SOULAINES-DHUYS, France (AP) — Deep in a French forest of oaks, birches and pines, a steady stream of trucks carries a silent reminder of nuclear energy’s often invisible cost: canisters of radioactive waste, heading into storage for the next 300 years.
As negotiators plot out how to fuel the world while also reducing carbon emissions at climate talks in Scotland, nuclear power is a central sticking point. Critics decry its mammoth price tag, the disproportionate damage caused by nuclear accidents, and radioactive leftovers that remain deadly for thousands of years.
But increasingly vocal and powerful proponents — some climate scientists and environmental experts among them — argue that nuclear power is the world’s best hope of keeping climate change under control, noting that it emits so few planet-damaging emissions and is safer on average than nearly any other energy source. Nuclear accidents are scary but exceedingly rare — while pollution from coal and other fossil fuels causes death and illness every day, scientists say.
The Biden administration has publicly released the total number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, a sharp reversal of the previous administration’s refusal to do so for the past three years.
“Today, as an act of good faith and a tangible, public demonstration of the U.S. commitment to transparency, we will present data which documents our own record of continued progress toward the achievement of the goals” of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), said Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on Oct. 5.
The U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads was at 3,750 as of September 2020, according to the administration document. This number captures active and inactive warheads, but not the roughly 2,000 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. The document lists stockpile numbers going back to 1962, including the warhead numbers from the years when the Trump administration refused to declassify the information.
Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling pipes of nuclear power plants around the world.
Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling intake pipes of a nuclear power plant in Scotland, which has previously prompted a temporary shutdowns of the plant.
The Torness nuclear power plant has reported concerns regarding jellyfish as far back as 2011, when it was forced to shut down for nearly a week—at an estimated cost of $1.5 million a day—because of the free-swimming marine animals.
In a short comment to Motherboard, EDF energy, which runs the Torness plant, said that “jellyfish blooms are an occasional issue for our power stations,” but also said that media reports claiming the plant had recently been taken offline because of jellyfish are “inaccurate.” “[There were] no emergency procedures this or last week related to jellyfish or otherwise,” a spokesperson said.
Like many other seaside power plants, the Torness plant uses seawater to prevent overheating. While there are measures in place to prevent aquatic life from entering the intake pipes, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, they are no match for the sheer number of jellyfish that come during so-called “jellyfish blooms.”
“The hibakusha narrative has expanded over time to include victims beyond the city limits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and as far away as the Navajo Nation, which still suffers the radiation effects of uranium mining; the Marshall Islands, where the United States conducted so many nuclear tests that, on average, the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-size bombs was detonated every day for 12 years; Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union tested its nuclear weapons for four decades; and other places around the world adversely affected by the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.”
Noguchi himself considered the term hibakusha to include the victims of nuclear weapons worldwide; he changed the name of his proposed “Memorial to the Dead of Hiroshima” to the more inclusive “Memorial to the Atomic Dead.”
As I eagerly await Spotify’s year-end report on my most-played songs of 2021, I wonder which ones will remind me of my summer in New York City—of off-pitch Karaoke Television with friends, or the distinct “popping” sound of a pigeon being run over by a taxi not more than two feet in front of me. Though I thrived amid the frenzied surprises of the city, I also found sudden moments of quiet solemnity while sketching inside the many art museums of the Big Apple. One of those museums was the Noguchi Museum, established in 1985 by its namesake Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American sculptor who is also well known for his landscape architecture and modern furniture designs such as the iconic Noguchi table.Continue reading
Nuclear power is so slow and expensive that it doesn’t even matter whether or not it is ‘low-carbon’ (let alone ‘zero-carbon’). As the scientist, Amory Lovins, says, “Being carbon-free does not establish climate-effectiveness.” If an energy source is too slow and too costly, it will “reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” no matter how ‘low-carbon’ it is.
So here we are again at another COP (Conference of the Parties). Well, some of us are in Glasgow, Scotland at the COP itself, and some of us, this writer included, are sitting at a distance, trying to feel hopeful.
But this is COP 26. That means there have already been 25 tries at dealing with the once impending and now upon us climate crisis. Twenty five rounds of “blah, blah, blah” as youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, so aptly put it.
So if some of us do not feel the blush of optimism on our cheeks, we can be forgiven. I mean, even the Queen of England has had enough of the all-talk-and-no-action of our world leaders, who have been, by and large, thoroughly useless. Even, this time, absent. Some of them have been worse than that.
Not doing anything radical on climate at this stage is fundamentally a crime against humanity. And everything else living on Earth. It should be grounds for an appearance at the International Criminal Court. In the dock.
Boost for advocates’ group is step further in decades-long fight against mining pollution
Rita Capitan has been worrying about her water since 1994. It was that autumn she read a local newspaper article about another uranium mine, the Crownpoint Uranium Project, getting under way near her home.
Capitan has spent her entire life in Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the eastern Navajo Nation, and is no stranger to the uranium mining that has persisted in the region for decades. But it was around the time the article was published that she began learning about the many risks associated with uranium mining.
“We as community members couldn’t just sit back and watch another company come in and just take what is very precious to us. And that is water – our water,” Capitan said.
To this effect, Capitan and her husband, Mitchell, founded Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (Endaum). The group’s fight against uranium mining on their homeland has continued for nearly three decades, despite the industry’s disastrous health and environmental impacts being public knowledge for years.
Capitan’s newest concerns are over the Canadian mining company Laramide Resources, which, through its US subsidiary NuFuels, holds a federal mining license for Crownpoint and nearby Church Rock. Due to the snail’s pace at which operations like this can move, Laramide hasn’t begun extraction in these areas, but is getting closer by the day.
Take a minute to visit the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website to read this brilliant photo essay on the Tsar Bomba by Associate Professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies program at the Stevens Institute of Technology Alex Wellerstein. His first book, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, was published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2021.
In the early hours of October 30, 1961, a bomber took off from an airstrip in northern Russia and began its flight through cloudy skies over the frigid Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. Slung below the plane’s belly was a nuclear bomb the size of a small school bus—the largest and most powerful bomb ever created.
At 11:32 a.m., the bombardier released the weapon. As the bomb fell, an enormous parachute unfurled to slow its descent, giving the pilot time to retreat to a safe distance. A minute or so later, the bomb detonated. A cameraman watching from the island recalled:
A fire-red ball of enormous size rose and grew. It grew larger and larger, and when it reached enormous size, it went up. Behind it, like a funnel, the whole earth seemed to be drawn in. The sight was fantastic, unreal, and the fireball looked like some other planet. It was an unearthly spectacle! 
The flash alone lasted more than a minute. The fireball expanded to nearly six miles in diameter—large enough to include the entire urban core of Washington or San Francisco, or all of midtown and downtown Manhattan. Over several minutes it rose and mushroomed into a massive cloud. Within ten minutes, it had reached a height of 42 miles and a diameter of some 60 miles. One civilian witness remarked that it was “as if the Earth was killed.” Decades later, the weapon would be given the name it is most commonly known by today: Tsar Bomba, meaning “emperor bomb.”
Designed to have a maximum explosive yield of 100 million tons (or 100 megatons) of TNT equivalent, the 60,000-pound monster bomb was detonated at only half its strength. Still, at 50 megatons, it was more than 3,300 times as powerful as the atomic bomb that killed at least 70,000 people in Hiroshima, and more than 40 times as powerful as the largest nuclear bomb in the US arsenal today. Its single test represents about one tenth of the total yield of all nuclear weapons ever tested by all nations.
At the time of its detonation, the Tsar Bomba held the world’s attention, largely as an object of infamy, recklessness, and terror. Within two years, though, the Soviet Union and the United States would sign and ratify the Limited Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, and the 50-megaton bomb would fall into relative obscurity.
“The federal government knew, from at least the early 1950s, of severely harmful health effects from uranium mining, but it kept that information from the Diné, as Navajo people call themselves.”
The wheels of justice can move exceedingly slowly, if at all, and it often depends on whether an aggrieved group has much political recognition or clout. Issues linked to mainstream religious freedom can speed their way to the Supreme Court’s shadow docket in record time, while religious and environmental justice issues for Native Americans can simmer on the system’s back burner for a lifetime.
The sprawling Navajo reservation, located in parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, is the largest and most populous Native American reservation, almost 28,000 square miles. Its Four Corners area (the three states plus Colorado) is rich in radioactive uranium ore. From 1944 to 1986, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from the reservation under leases with the Navajo Nation. Many Navajo worked the mines, often living and raising families close by.
The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.
Tokyo [Japan], October 24 (ANI/Sputnik): The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.
All the required measures to strengthen security are expected to be completed in September 2022, and the reactor might resume operations in mid-October of that year, the outlet said, citing the operator.
The reactor was restarted on June 23, 2021, after more than 40 years of work. The law limits the maximum lifespan of reactors to 40 years, but if additional requirements are met, a reactor can work more. Mihama’s third reactor was stopped for a decade after the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, which in 2011 claimed over 15,000 lives, displaced thousands of people and caused a meltdown at the power plant. (ANI/Sputnik)
Federal agencies continue to reject a full review of the public safety and environmental risks of producing nuclear bomb cores at multiple DOE sites.
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, “The government has yet to explain to American taxpayers why it will spend more than $50 billion to build new plutonium pit bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons when we already have thousands of existing pits proven to be reliable for a century or more. This has nothing to do with maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile and everything to do with building up a new nuclear arms race that will threaten the entire world.”
/ EIN PRESSWIRE October 26, 2021
AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA — Public interest groups shot back at the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s attempt to suppress a lawsuit seeking a comprehensive environmental review of the agencies’ plans to produce large quantities of nuclear bomb cores, or plutonium pits, at DOE sites in New Mexico and South Carolina.
The U.S. envoy for North Korea arrived in South Korea on Saturday amid stalled denuclearization talks and tension over Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.
Special Representative Sung Kim’s visit came days after North Korea fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which prompted criticism from Washington and calls for a return to talks aimed at denuclearizing the North in return for U.S. sanctions relief.
Kim, after talks in Washington with South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday, urged North Korea “to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue.”
Pyongyang so far has rejected U.S. overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of talking diplomacy while ratcheting up tensions with their own military activities.
On Thursday, the North said the United States was overreacting to its self-defensive SLBM test and questioned the sincerity of Washington’s offers of talks, warning of consequences.
Arriving in South Korea, Kim said he looks forward to having “productive follow up discussions” with his counterpart, without elaborating.
Nuclear News Archives – 2020
Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect
President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will reduce “excessive” expenditures on nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the Pentagon’s plans for updating and sustaining the nuclear triad of air, sea and land-borne weapons would cost $1.2 trillion, and some lawmakers say the eventual cost might exceed $1.5 trillion. Here are some of the weapons that might be reviewed.
“Given that no clear mission need has been established for the VTR and with an estimated price tag of $3 billion to $6 billion, with completion ranging from 2026 to 2030, it is doubtful if the project will go forward..Just as for other costly, complex DOE projects, the price tag is certain to grow and the schedule certain to slip if the project is pursued.” — Savannah River Site Watch
The U.S. Department of Energy has released the draft environmental impact statement for a test reactor it would like to build at Idaho National Laboratory.
The statement on the Versatile Test Reactor was released Monday and is available online through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s website, energy.gov/ne/office-nuclear-energy. Public comment will conclude 45 days after the federal Environmental Protection Agency publishes notice in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Dec. 31. DOE will then hold two virtual public hearings, dates to be announced.
Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) awarded the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Management and Operating (M&O) contract to Battelle Savannah River Alliance, LLC (BSRA) of Columbus, OH.
The Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract will include a 5-year base period (inclusive of 120 day transition period) and potential award terms of up to 5 more years, for a total period of up to 10 years. The anticipated contract value is approximately $3.8 billion over the potential 10-year period of performance.
The procurement was competed as a full-and-open competition, and EM received three proposals. The Department determined the BSRA proposal provided the best value to the Government considering Laboratory Vision, Key Personnel, Management and Operations, Past Performance, Transition Plan, and Cost and Fee.
As a result of this investigation, [Minna-no Data Site] determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.
Uninhabitable: Booklet by Citizen Scientists Uncovers True Extent of Radioactive Contamination in Japan’s Soil and Food
“As a result of this investigation, we determined that the radioactive contamination was by no means limited to Fukushima Prefecture and that one hundred years from now there will still be several highly-contaminated areas where humans should not live.
Now, eight years after the accident, not only has the government yet to establish a criterion for radioactive concentration in the soil, but the authorities are continuing to enforce the policy of compelling people to return to their homes if the air dose rate goes below 20 mSv/year.”
From Minna-no Data Site, a citizen’s collaborative radioactivity monitoring project
Minna-no Data Site (Everyone’s Data Site) is a network of 30 citizens’ radioactivity measurement laboratories from all over Japan.
After the 2011 Fukushima accident, many independent citizen-operated radioactivity measurement laboratories sprang up across Japan.
In September 2013, a website called “Minna-no Data Site” was established in an effort to integrate all of the radioactivity measurement data into a common platform and disseminate accurate information in an easy-to-understand format.
B61-12 full-weapon system demonstration at Tonopah Test Range
“Some commenters said the NRC should have launched a more thorough process for making new rules instead of simply trying to reinterpret existing rules, while others said the plan should have included a process where the public could help decide whether nuclear waste would be allowed at a particular disposal site.”
(CN) — Federal regulators are withdrawing a nuclear waste proposal that had prompted an unusually widespread chorus of opposition, including from those who worried the plan could have led to radioactive waste being shipped to local landfills across the U.S.
The proposal centered on what’s commonly referred to as “very low-level” waste, which includes things like contaminated construction debris or soil from shuttered nuclear power plants.
Under the plan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have reinterpreted rules on that kind of waste so that disposal facilities without specific licenses to handle the waste could have taken it in anyways through an exception.
The proposal sparked a wave of pushback from an unlikely alliance of state regulators, environmental groups and even a prominent company in the business of nuclear waste management.
“N3B is going after the low-hanging fruit, cleaning up less than 2,000 cubic yards of contaminated dirt,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “Let’s hear their plan for cleaning up 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes at Area G that are already migrating towards our irreplaceable groundwater.”
Coghlan said N3B touting this small part of the cleanup smacks of “propaganda to promote the toothless 2016 consent order.”
Los Alamos National Laboratory’s contractor in charge of cleaning up radioactive waste produced during the Cold War and Manhattan Project has completed its first goal under a 2016 agreement.
Newport News Nuclear BWXT, also known as N3B, finished removing almost 1,800 cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris from four sites in Upper Mortandad, Upper Cañada del Buey and Threemile canyons.
Crews packed and shipped the material to a disposal site in Clive, Utah.
“Cleanup of these sites ultimately protects human health by eliminating the likelihood that contamination will reach the water system through stormwater runoff,” Brenda Bowlby, head of N3B’s soil remediation program, said in a statement.
Removing the toxic debris also protects the area’s wildlife, she added.
The cleanup project was one of 17 that N3B aims to do under the 2016 agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the state Environment Department.
Turkey’s power plant building spree has resulted in an enormous idle capacity but the construction of new plants continues at the expense of taxpayers despite the country’s bruising economic woes.
BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), in power for 18 years, is under increasing fire for poorly planned, prodigal investments whose long-term financial fallout is coming into sharper relief as the country grapples with severe economic woes. Standing out among the most dubious investments is a series of power plants, including a nuclear energy plant still under construction, that have created an idle capacity threatening to haunt public finances for years.
East coast nuclear power plants are getting ready to send their waste to southeast New Mexico as they are shut down.
Holtec International recently acquired licenses to decommission multiple plants as it proceeds through a licensing process to build and operate a facility to temporary store spent nuclear fuel rods near the Eddy County-Lea County line.
The ongoing license application for the first phase of the project before the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), would allow Holtec to store 500 cannisters at the site –or about 8,000 metric tons – of spent fuel, but the company expects up to 20 more phases as capacity is needed.
The fuel would be transported via rail from generator sites from across the U.S. to be stored in New Mexico until a permanent repository is operational.
Smith’s doubts are neither new nor uncommon. And they cast a dark shadow over what many in Aiken County see as a jobs jackpot, among other things.
In blunt, if not damning, remarks at a Friday event, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee expressed serious reservations about plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site and questioned the competency of the National Nuclear Security Administration, overall.
Likening the conversion of the failed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility to flipping a bowling alley into a restaurant, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said he was “highly skeptical that they’re going to be able to turn that building into an effective pit production facility. Highly skeptical.”
Covid-19 has provided cover for a pandemic of propaganda, says John Pilger.
BY: John Pilger |
Britain’s Armed Services Memorial is a silent, haunting place. Set in the rural beauty of Staffordshire, in an arboretum of some 30,000 trees and sweeping lawns, its Homeric figures celebrate determination and sacrifice.
The names of more than 16,000 British servicemen and women are listed. The literature says they “died in operational theatre or were targeted by terrorists”.
On the day I was there, a stonemason was adding new names to those who have died in some 50 operations across the world during what is known as “peacetime”. Malaya, Ireland, Kenya, Hong Kong, Libya, Iraq, Palestine and many more, including secret operations, such as Indochina.
(December 13, 2020) — On December 8, Congress voted on H.R. 6395, the House version of National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s NDAA — approaching three-quarters of $1 trillion — consumes more than half of the nation’s entire discretionary budget. The NDAA included a 3 percent increase in military pay. That is more than double the 1.3 percent Cost of Living Increase granted to retired civilians.
Typically, a vote on funding the Pentagon passes with near-unanimity. Not so this year. According to House Roll Call 238, 78 Representatives cast a “Nay” vote for passing the Pentagon’s $740 billion budget. The bill was supported by 140 Republicans and 195 Democrats. More Republicans (40) voted against the massive spending bill than Democrats (37)
Savannah River Site Watch https://srswatch.org/
Columbia, South Carolina USA For Immediate Release December 14, 2020
The powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representation Adam Smith, has raised great doubt about the U.S. Department of Energy’s ability to pull off the project at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina to produce plutonium “pits,” or cores, for nuclear warheads.
In an online presentation on December 11 with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Rep. Smith (D-WA) expressed deep concern in the ability of the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to pull off the project to convert the partially finished plutonium fuel (MOX) plant, halted in 2017, into the proposed Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at SRS. The event featured Rep. Smith talking about nuclear weapons matters coming before Congress in 2021. The transcript of the event was released late in the afternoon of December 11.
Kairos Power plans to site a test reactor it has dubbed Hermes at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
The company has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with Heritage Center, LLC, to acquire the former K-33 gaseous diffusion plant site at ETTP, subject to ongoing due diligence evaluations. The announcement was made today, during the 2020 East Tennessee Economic Council Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.
“We are thrilled at the prospect of coming to East Tennessee,” said Michael Laufer, cofounder and chief executive officer of Kairos Power. “The infrastructure available at ETTP, combined with its proximity to key collaborators at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, makes this a great location to demonstrate our technology. The successful commissioning of Hermes builds on our current technology development programs and extensive engagement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ultimately, Hermes will prove that Kairos Power can deliver real systems at our cost targets to make advanced nuclear a competitive source of clean energy in the United States.”
Lou Martinez, vice president of strategy and innovation, added, “Today is an important day for Kairos Power. We are celebrating our 4th anniversary by showcasing an important milestone.”
Texas A&M is part of Triad National Security, LLC (Texas A&M, U. of California and Battelle), and is currently already managing the Los Alamos Lab.
The University of Tennessee System and the Texas A&M University System have announced plans to compete as a team for a bid that would allow them to manage and operate both the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant.
If the bid is accepted, the schools would join a team that would manage and operate both Department of Energy facilities, which manufacture, store and monitor the nation’s nuclear weapons.
Both universities currently partner with the plants in their state and provide “extensive workforces for the plants,” UT said in a news release.
Antonov termed the 11-year-old START treaty “the gold standard of arms control agreements.”
The Russian ambassador to the United States said there is still time to extend the Strategic Arms Control Treaty, due to expire in early February, even despite the upcoming presidential transition.
Anatoly Antonov, whose diplomatic career largely has been spent focused on major arms control issues, said the START treaty is a “key issue” for Russia. “We have time; we can get it done very quickly.” Speaking at a Brookings Institution online forum last week, he added, “we are in close contact with Marshall Billingslea,” the Trump administration’s top envoy on arms control.
Cheney touted the bill’s support for nuclear triad modernization and its inclusion of a new a new fund to deter China in the Pacific, adding that it “builds on the Trump administration’s successful efforts to counter the Chinese Communist Party.”
WASHINGTON ― The House adopted a compromise $740.5 billion defense policy bill by a veto-proof majority Tuesday, rebuking President Donald Trump, who threatened to send back the bill because it doesn’t repeal a prized liability shield for social media firms.
Republican and Democratic supporters hoped for a strong vote in hopes it would back Trump down, and they got it. The vote was 355-78 for the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, a blueprint for next year’s spending on military and other national security programs.
While Democrats voted overwhelmingly for the bill, 40 Republicans disregarded Trump’s objections and joined Democratic lawmakers in passing the legislation. Another 37 Democrats voted against it.
“[Data] is needed to confirm and guide how the industry should manage storage canisters for longer than anticipated.
‘Salt can be present in the ambient air and environment anywhere, not just near the ocean. We need to be able to plan for extended long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future – it’s a national reality,’”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandia National Laboratories reports that it is equipping three 22.5-ton stainless steel storage containers with heaters and instrumentation in order to simulate nuclear waste so that researchers can study their durability. According to Sandia National Labs, the three, 16.5 feet long canisters arrived in mid-November and will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time.
Researchers will also study the potential for cracks that are caused by corrosion induced by salt and stress. Sandia reports that currently, there is not an operating geologic repository in the United States to permanently dispose of spent nuclear fuel.
As a result, spent fuel is being stored at commercial nuclear power plants in storage pools and dry storage canisters.
Kingston Reif, a nuclear analyst at the Arms Control Association, said that he would expect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to take “a critical look” at the W93 programme. It was controversial because of the weak development rationale and that “the weapon would be the first newly designed warhead to enter the US stockpile since the end of the cold war”.
Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.
Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.
British politicians and officials have, until now, had little to say about the long-running US row over the W93, crudely estimated to be twice as explosive as the ageing Trident warhead now used by the UK.
Peninsula Clean Energy board concerned over message more nuclear power sends to public
“I don’t like the idea of the nuclear on our label because it does kind of feel like a vote for it,” PCE Board Member Jeff Aalfs, said.
Peninsula Clean Energy has accepted hydropower allocation credits but rejected similar ones for nuclear power from PG&E after the board expressed concern about associating with the controversial energy source but, in doing so, it will lose out of potential savings up to $10 million through 2023.
Allocations are offsetting credits given out by Pacific Gas and Electric because of the environmental benefits of hydro and nuclear powers emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, will use the hydro allocation credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with system power in 2021, with plans to continue through 2023. PG&E holds the option to continue offering the credits in 2022 and 2023.
“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”
Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.
Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.
“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.
Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
November 30, 2020
Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.
Nuclear Watch New Mexico echoes the words from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in “applauding lawmakers for deciding not to authorize funds to prepare for the first U.S. nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades, an outcome UCS experts worked diligently to ensure because any move to resume explosive, underground nuclear weapons testing would undermine U.S. security.”
Today, Congress released the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version had contained $10 million to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons test if the White House chose to move forward with one. The House took the opposite course, voting to prohibit funding for a nuclear test explosion in fiscal year 2021. The conference report includes neither provision.
“By refusing to give the test a green light, lawmakers are wisely avoiding the risk of an explosive nuclear test setting off a new round in the nuclear arms race,” said Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program.
A dozen premier American scientists with expertise on nuclear weapons issues sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing the resumption of explosive testing of U.S. nuclear weapons, saying it was unnecessary for technical or military reasons and that doing so would have negative security consequences for the United States.
“During my time serving in the Reagan administration, I came to realize that the only nuclear strategy we had was massive retaliation, which would have made the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost trivial.”
About three years ago, in November 2017, I was honored to be one of about a 100 people invited by the Vatican to an international symposium, “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” It was the first global gathering conducted after 120 nations at the United Nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
This treaty, which is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, was adopted by the U.N. on July 7, 2017, and needed 50 countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force. The purpose for the treaty was to get world leaders and citizens to consider nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal as chemical and biological weapons, whose use the U.N had previously prohibited.
Pope Francis himself was very invested in the issue. He gave the keynote address in which he condemned not only the threat of their use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons and warned that nuclear deterrence policies offered a false sense of security. He also personally thanked each of the attendees individually.
Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.
A new investigative report released exclusively to The Seattle Times by the nonprofit watchdog group Hanford Challenge documents the fires as well as other mishaps and compliance problems that the authors say “calls into question” the safety of sending Hanford’s wastes to Perma-Fix.
RICHLAND, Benton County — In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.
The workers let it cool — but not long enough — before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.
A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”
“South Carolina could be left holding the plutonium bag…It’s clear that the plutonium bomb plant at SRS is being driven by contractors and boosters who stand to profit by making South Carolina ground zero for an unacceptable new nuclear arms race that endangers national security and that places our state at environmental risk.” — Tom Clements, Savannah River Site Watch
Earlier this month, efforts to build a jobs-rich nuclear weapons component factory in South Carolina reached a milestone that boosters hoped would keep construction plans on track over the next decade.
The National Nuclear Security Administration finalized a study that said the factory would not have a major effect on the environment at the Savannah River Site, the 310-square mile weapons complex near Aiken that would house the plant.
But the Nov. 5 announcement occurred at virtually the same time Joe Biden was in the process of winning the presidency — and as Biden prepares to take office in January, questions are surfacing about the factory’s future.
President Donald Trump’s plans for the pit factory almost certainly will be reviewed by Biden to see if it’s worth continuing the effort as envisioned, say national defense experts and others who track issues at SRS.
“Given the current high incidence rate at the WIPP facility, including a reported death of an employee, the circumstances of which are currently unknown, it is clear that the Permittees are unable to successfully mitigate COVID-19 risk to protect human health while conducting the activities under the scope of this Request,” the letter said.
Construction of a $100 million utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could be halted after the New Mexico Environment Department denied a request to extend state authorization to build the shaft, citing missed deadlines in the planning of the project and the continued spread in COVID-19 cases at the facility.
The shaft, part of an almost $300 million rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, along with a series of fans and filter buildings known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), was intended to improve airflow in the WIPP underground and allow for waste emplacement and mining to occur simultaneously along with future expansions of the nuclear waste repository.
BY: | washingtonpost.com
MARIETTA, Ga. — There were dozens of Jon Ossoff signs at the rally outside the Cobb County Civic Center, but the touring campaign bus, the bulk of the applause and the final words belonged to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who used them to boost two Democratic Senate campaigns.
“Georgia is positioned to do a marvelous thing,” Warnock told the crowd. “Send a young Jewish man, the son of immigrants, who sat at the feet of Congressman John Lewis, and a kid who grew up in the public-housing projects of Savannah, Georgia, the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, to the United States Senate at the same time.”
Two weeks into the extraordinary runoff races that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, Warnock and Ossoff have combined their efforts to try to win Georgia’s pair of Senate seats. Their names are stacked together on yard signs; they’ve called each other “brother” at joint campaign appearances. But it is Warnock who is animating the Democratic base — and the Republican opposition.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mock B61-12’s strike in the dusty Nevada desert successfully completed the first in a series of flight tests with the U.S. Air Force’s newest fighter jet, demonstrating the bomb’s first release from an internal bomb bay at greater than the speed of sound.
The flight test of the B61-12 with the F-35A Lightning II this summer was the first ever at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range featuring the fighter jet. It was also the first of a testing series that will conclude with full-weapon systems demonstrations designed to increase confidence the bomb will always work when needed and never under any other circumstances.
“We’re showing the B61-12’s larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country’s nuclear deterrent, and we’re doing it in the world of COVID-19,” said Steven Samuels, a manager with Sandia’s B61-12 Systems Team. “We’re not slowing down. We’re still moving forward with the B61-12 compatibility activities on different platforms.”
In partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force, Sandia completed a B61-12 full-weapon system demonstration with the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet in March, and another in July with the Air Force’s B-2 Spirit bomber.
Industry-induced earthquakes have been an increasing concern in the central and eastern United States for more than a decade.
BY: Thomas H. Goebel The Conversation
The way companies drill for oil and gas and dispose of wastewater can trigger earthquakes, at times in unexpected places.
California was thought to be an exception, a place where oil field operations and tectonic faults apparently coexisted without much problem. Now, new research shows that the state’s natural earthquake activity may be hiding industry-induced quakes.
As a seismologist, I have been investigating induced earthquakes in the U.S., Europe and Australia. Our latest study, released on Nov. 10, shows how California oil field operations are putting stress on tectonic faults in an area just a few miles from the San Andreas Fault.
“Trio of resignations follow defense secretary’s firing.”
The firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper kicked off a rapid-fire series of high-level departures at the Pentagon on Tuesday, setting off alarms on Capitol Hill that the White House was installing loyalists to carry out President Donald Trump’s wishes during an already tense transition.
In quick succession, top officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the defense secretary’s staff all had resigned by the end of the day Tuesday, replaced by political operatives who are fiercely loyal to Trump and have trafficked in “deep state” conspiracy theories.
Fears continue to swirl over what these newly installed leaders will do as Trump fights the results of last week’s election, and after he has shown he is willing to use troops to solve political problems.
Tuesday’s exodus led one top Democrat to accuse the administration of gutting the Pentagon in a way that could be “devastating” for national security.
“It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition,” said House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith. “If this is the beginning of a trend — the President either firing or forcing out national security professionals in order to replace them with people perceived as more loyal to him — then the next 70 days will be precarious at best and downright dangerous at worst.”
“After Brouillette and Gordon-Hagerty feuded last winter over the size of the NNSA’s budget — a contest that broke in Gordon-Hagerty’s favor when President Donald Trump requested roughly $20 billion as she recommended, instead of the $17.5 billion Brouillette preferred — Trump’s second secretary of energy tightened his grip over the NNSA in ways that his predecessor, Rick Perry had not.”
Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette kept close tabs on then-National Nuclear Security Administration boss Lisa Gordon-Hagerty for months, sending chaperones to her meetings with Congress and monitoring her personal calendar before abruptly demanding her resignation last week, a source told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.
It was a dramatic end to a year of strife between the two, who clashed over the size of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) budget and provided the Washington nuclear policy establishment with the latest experimental data about exactly how much autonomy the NNSA and its nuclear weapons programs have from the broader DOE’s nuclear-cleanup and energy programs.
“The proposed ISP facility imperils America’s energy security because it would be a prime target for attacks by terrorists, saboteurs, and other enemies,” read [Gov. Abbott’s] letter. “Spent nuclear fuel is currently scattered across the country at various reactor sites and storage installations.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continued to voice his disapproval against nuclear waste storage in the Permian Basin region in a letter last week to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing such a project in Andrews, Texas.
Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, was formed in 2018 to request the NRC resume evaluation of an application submitted originally in 2016 to build a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) that would hold spent nuclear fuel rods temporarily at the surface while a permanent repository is developed.
Abbott has been a frequent critic of the concept of a CISF and of siting such a facility in the Permian Basin, writing a letter to President Donald Trump in September to oppose CISFs in both Texas and New Mexico.
Was DOE uranium enrichment plant responsible for star athlete’s cancer death?
PIKETON, Ohio (WKRC) – For the first time, Larry Farmer, the father of a local, All-American baseball pitcher, sat down for an exclusive interview with Local 12’s Chief Investigative Reporter Duane Pohlman to talk about the life and death of his famous son, Zach Farmer, who passed away from leukemia five years ago, blaming his death on radioactive elements he believes drifted to his former family home from the now-closed Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
A LEGEND THAT LIVED TO BE ON THE MOUND
Larry says Zach — the legendary southpaw from Piketon — was a natural from the beginning.
“No one could hit off him,” Larry said with a grin, adding that his son would routinely have 15 to 19 strikeouts a game, often leading the Piketon Red Streaks to victory.
“He lived to be on the mound,” his dad said, looking away and pausing to recall his son’s brilliant playing days.
At Piketon High School, Zach achieved more than nearly every other baseball player in Ohio history, including 599 strikeouts (No. 2 in Ohio High School Athletic Association history) and an overall record of 38-7, (No. 3 on the OHSAA list). He was even incredible at the plate with a head-spinning .505 batting average.
“Nuclear modernization plans may change. Flournoy’s desire for a strong deterrent for China includes a nuclear deterrent. But given the costs of the ongoing nuclear modernization strategy, Flournoy wants to consider all options.“
BY: Aaron Mehta
WASHINGTON — On June 20, 2016, then-Vice President Joe Biden delivered keynote remarks at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security, the think tank founded and, at that point, led by Michèle Flournoy.
Flournoy introduced Biden, praising him as a national security thinker and noting the ties between his staff at the White House and CNAS. Biden, in turn, acknowledged the little-kept secret of the defense world: that Flournoy was in line to become the first woman to serve as defense secretary under President Hillary Clinton.
“Well, madam secretary,” Biden said with a laugh as the crowd applauded. “I’m writing a recommendation for her, you know.”
Columbia, South Carolina – An independent safety board that monitors activities of the U.S. Department of Energy reports a “hard shutdown” during the initial startup of cesium removal from high-level nuclear waste at the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) at DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS).
This is the second time that DOE has failed to mention a significant startup problem at SWPF, potentially undermining trust in its reporting to the public on the initial operations of this key facility to process liquid high-level nuclear waste, according to the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch (SRS Watch). SWPF began “hot commissioning” involving radioactive liquid on October 5, 2020.
Several nuclear waste experts are urging members of Congress and the public to oppose any proposals to transport highly radioactive nuclear waste from power plants to temporary or long-term storage sites.
Researchers with multiple groups dedicated to analyzing the potential consequences of nuclear waste storage said Friday they have major concerns with plans to transport spent fuel to other parts of the country — even for permanent storage at a place such as Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
Work on the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository has been stalled for nearly a decade.
Waste is gathered at about 80 sites across the nation as the federal government continues looking for a permanent solution for highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel, spurring environmental and health worries.
Washington state has picked an environmental manager from its Yakima Department of Ecology office to oversee state regulations at the Hanford nuclear reservation.
David Bowen will replace Alex Smith as Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program manager based in Richland starting Dec. 16. Smith took another state job at the end of October.
“I know Hanford is challenging and complex,” Bowen said, “But I’m excited for the opportunities it presents.”
More than 100 people tuned in to a virtual community engagement meeting hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Thursday evening where the proposed venting of four flanged tritium waste containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, contain at Middle DP Road and the 2016 Consent Order were the main topics addressed.
BY: MAIRE O’NEILL
Stephanie Stringer, NMED Resource Protection Division Director, discussed a temporary authorization request from LANL for the venting of four flanged tritium waste containers currently stored at LANL. She said the containers were packaged at LANL’s Weapon Engineering Tritium Facility in 1996 and 1997 and were moved to Technical Area 54 in 2007.
Stringer said radiolysis of tritiated water in the containers over time has potentially resulted in hazardous concentrations of flammable hydrogen and oxygen mixture in the headspace of the FTWCs. She said the containers where they’re stored right now do not meet the Department of Transportation requirements and cannot be moved without releasing that pressure or treating the waste containers, so they need to be vented prior to transport, treatment and final disposal.
“It is difficult to imagine a military justification for such an increase in the number of nuclear bombers – even without New START.”
BY: HANS KRISTENSEN
The US Air Force is working to expand the number of strategic bomber bases that can store nuclear weapons from two today to five by the 2030s.
The plan will also significantly expand the number of bomber bases that store nuclear cruise missiles from one base today to all five bombers bases by the 2030s.
The expansion is the result of a decision to replace the non-nuclear B-1B bombers at Ellsworth AFB and Dyess AFB with the nuclear B-21 over the next decade-and-a-half and to reinstate nuclear weapons storage capability at Barksdale AFB as well.
The expansion is not expected to increase the total number of nuclear weapons assigned to the bomber force, but to broaden the infrastructure to “accommodate mission growth,” Air Force Global Strike Command Commander General Timothy Ray told Congress last year.
The hunt for industrial brine has opened massive and unexpected sinkholes, which is taking delicate work, and more than $54 million, to fill.
“Carlsbad sits on the edge of the Permian Basin, an underground geological formation that stretches from southeastern New Mexico to West Texas and accounted for more than 35% of the U.S.’s domestic oil production in 2019. The surrounding desert is lined with rows of pumpjacks and the occasional white tower of a drilling rig.”
On a July morning in 2008, the ground below southeastern New Mexico began to shift and crack, shooting a huge plume of dust into the air. Within minutes, a massive sinkhole emerged, which eventually grew to roughly 120 feet deep and 400 feet in diameter.
“At the time, it was an unfortunate situation, but most people considered it to be a one-off,” says Jim Griswold, a special project manager with New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department. But a few months later, in November, dust once again streamed toward the sky as another similarly sized sinkhole opened, cracking a nearby roadway.
Both holes — and later, a third in Texas — emerged at the site of brine wells, industrial wells through which freshwater is pumped into a subterranean layer of salt. The freshwater mixes with the salt, creating brine, which is brought to the surface for industrial purposes; in this case, oil drilling. After the second sinkhole emerged, Griswold’s department head gave him a new task: Characterize the stability of the state’s 30 other brine wells and report back on where the next crisis might arise.
“The Program specifically states that ‘construction should not be allowed to proceed until the design is sufficiently mature to minimize change orders,’” the lawsuit read. “No one in NWP’s upper management in Carlsbad had ever borne responsibility for seeing a construction project of this magnitude to completion.”
A $32 million lawsuit brought by a subcontractor at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant alleged the company that runs the facility breached its contract to rebuild the nuclear waste repository’s air system.
Critical Applications Alliance (CAA), a Carlsbad-based joint venture between Texas-based Christensen Building Group and Kilgore Industries was hired by Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) in 2018 to construct the ventilation system at WIPP for $135 million, but its contract was terminated on August 31, about two years into the project.
Known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), the system was intended to increase airflow in WIPP’s underground waste disposal area to allow for waste emplacement and mining operations to occur simultaneously.
Available air at WIPP was reduced in 2014 due to an accidental radiological release that led to contamination in parts of the underground.
“Her resignation came after a budget dispute between the NNSA and Brouillette and other officials spilled into the open earlier this year.”
The U.S. official overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile resigned Friday after clashing with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and undersecretary of Energy for nuclear security, resigned after being told by Brouillette’s office that President Donald Trump had lost faith in her ability to do her job, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Some administration officials were disappointed that she’d been pushed out, saying that she was widely viewed by those in her field as capable, the people said.
In a pair of tweets Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he terminated his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Esper’s tenure as top Pentagon official followed the resignations of Trump’s first Secretary of Defense James Mattis and then-acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.
WASHINGTON — In a pair of tweets Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump said he terminated his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
“I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” Trump wrote.
“I think the industry will have, when it comes to national security, a very positive view” of a Biden presidency, Punaro said.
The defense industry is taking a largely positive view of its prospects under an administration led by Joe Biden, who clinched the presidency on Saturday.
Although defense manufacturers have benefited from increased spending, tax cuts and deregulation under President Trump, their executives have told investors that they expect the former vice president and longtime senator will largely maintain the status quo with respect to defense spending.
“The dangers of tritium come from inhalation, ingestion, and absorption… when the radionuclide unites with carbon in the human body, plants, or animals, it becomes organically bound (OBT) and can remain in the human body for 450 to 650 days. One study found traces of tritium in the body 10 years after exposure.”
New Mexico Environment Department comments to NRC, opposing ISP CISF 0.37 miles from NM state line, in TX
See the comments posted online, here. November 3, 2020
See the governor’s Nov. 3rd letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the form of written comments on the Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Accompanying press release:
Nuclear News Archives – 2019
A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.
In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.
President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”
Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.
“When it comes to giving the Pentagon $738 billion—even more money than it requested—there is a deafening silence within Congress and the ruling elites about what our nation can and cannot afford.”
In a scathing op-ed for the Washington Post Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders took aim at Republican and Democratic “deficit hawks” who claim the U.S. cannot afford to guarantee healthcare to all, make higher education tuition-free, or fund other crucial domestic priorities but have no issue with voting to hand the Pentagon $738 billion.
“When it comes to giving the Pentagon $738 billion—even more money than it requested—there is a deafening silence within Congress and the ruling elites about what our nation can and cannot afford.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders
The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”
Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?
Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.
The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”
WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.
Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”
Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?
Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.
Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.
The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”
Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.
President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.
Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.
That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.
But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.
WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.
Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.
Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?
Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while
President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”
The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.
WASHINGTON — 30 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report:
“Despite the fact that we do not all advocate on the same issues, we are compelled to state clearly in one voice: The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous. The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.
The results of negotiations for the final text of the #ndaa2020 are disastrous and far removed from our vision for a just, peaceful, and democratic foreign policy. Read our statement in partnership with 30 other organizations here: https://t.co/AiO3aMlA4X
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) December 10, 2019
The 3488-page Conference Report is at:
The 741-page Joint Explanatory Statement is at:
The 19-page bill summary is at:
On Plutonium Pit Production:
Nuclear Forces have been the cornerstone of our national defense and the conference agreement funds the President’s budget request for Nuclear National Security Administration programs, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation activities. In addition, the FY20 NDAA supports the U.S. Strategic Command requirement to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 and doesn’t prohibit the Department from deploying low-yield nuclear weapons. It also clarifies nuclear safety authorities.
1. Page 1907 of the report defines a requirement to submit the costs of complying with cleanup agreements:
SEC. 4409. ESTIMATION OF COSTS OF MEETING DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP MILESTONES REQUIRED BY CONSENT ORDERS.
”The Secretary of Energy shall include in the budget justification materials submitted to Congress in support of the Department of Energy budget for each fiscal year (as submitted with the budget of the President under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code) a report on the cost, for that fiscal year and the four fiscal years following that fiscal year, of meeting milestones required by a consent order at each defense nuclear facility at which defense environmental cleanup activities are occurring. The report shall include, for each such facility—”(1) a specification of the cost of meeting such milestones during that fiscal year; and ”(2) an estimate of the cost of meeting such milestones during the four fiscal years following that fiscal year.”.
2. On page 1914 of the report: Prohibiting the DOE high-level waste interpretation from being applied (only) to Hanford.
However, the Joint Explanatory Statement (p. 492 of PDF) states: “The conferees note that the inclusion of the provision does not prejudice how to process high-level waste nor does it discourage the use of the Department of Energy’s interpretation of high-level waste in future years or at other locations.”
3. On pages 1942-51 of the report: Changes to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).
Among those changes is trying to ensure DNFSB access to DOE sites. One example is that DNFSB has access to nuclear facilities “without regard to the hazard or risk category assigned to a facility by the Secretary.”
Drawing upon six decades of constructive contacts between American and Russian citizens, we the participants in the latest Dartmouth Conference have decided to issue this urgent appeal to our governments, warning of the dangers of a new nuclear arms race and strongly urging both governments to act immediately to extend the New START Treaty beyond its February 2021 expiration.
ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: James F. Collins, David Mathews, Vitaliy Naumkin & Yury Shafranik | russiamatters.org
The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.
Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.
Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.
“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”
Concerns that a calcium residue might be flammable prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory to curtail plutonium operations and suspend waste shipments in early November, according to a federal report.
The lab suspended most waste generation and certification at its plutonium facility and halted all waste shipments after officials questioned the accuracy of documentation, particularly on how much calcium-and-salt residue remained in transuranic waste after processing, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent oversight panel, said in a Nov. 15 report that was publicly released Friday.
Calcium is used to help reduce oxidation in plutonium. Traces of the substance typically linger after processing, and if they are too high, they can ignite when exposed to open air, the report says.
The report didn’t say how long the operations and waste shipments were suspended. A lab spokesman could not comment Monday.
Officials from multiple agencies met in Carlsbad on Nov. 5 and 6 to discuss the hazard, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, Triad National Security LLC — the consortium that operates the lab — and N3B, a cleanup contractor. They concluded there wasn’t enough evidence of a flammable calcium level to keep operations suspended, the report said.
However, they decided to withhold shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant until further testing could be conducted, the report said.
The underground storage facility near Carlsbad forbids waste that has volatile chemicals mixed in.
WIPP became more vigilant about testing for flammable mixtures after a waste container was packaged in 2014 with a volatile blend of wheat-based kitty litter and nitrate salts, which caused it to explode and leak radiation. WIPP shut down for almost three years while it underwent a $2 billion cleanup.
“If DOE and LANL continue to treat the public with disdain, it is going to be a long and difficult permitting process. All in all, this first meeting was disappointing and unproductive.” — Joni Arends, of CCNS
This week the renewal of the New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began in a very controlled public meeting at the Cities of Gold in Pojoaque. There was no presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) or its contractor, Triad National Security, LLC, about their plans to renew the application. If the public had questions, they were instructed to write them on a half-sheet comment and question card. There was no explanation about if and how those comments and questions would be answered.
Listen to the full story:
CCNS has prepared a pre-emptive sample public comment letter you can use to express what needs to be included in LANL’s permit application, including proposals to install confined burn and detonation facilities, and coming into compliance with the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations dealing with tank systems (that are used to treat liquid hazardous and radioactive waste) and seismic requirements. The last surface rupture on the Pajarito Plateau fault system was 1,400 years ago – thus requiring additional LANL submittals and NMED review. LANL_Permit_Renewal_App_public_comment_120519 The current ten-year LANL permit expires in late December 2020. Under the regulations, the permit application is due to the Environment Department 180 days before the permit expires, or in late June 2020. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/lanl-permit/ The hazardous waste permit renewal application for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is on the same timeline. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/ CCNS and others have made numerous requests to both LANL and WIPP management to submit their applications in the spring of 2020 to give additional opportunity for the public to review both. At the meeting, CCNS asked when LANL would submit its application. A LANL staff member said they could not disclose the date.
WASHINGTON ― Lawmakers involved in annual defense authorization negotiations finalized a sweeping deal late Monday that creates a new Space Force among other policies, but it dropped contentious border wall restrictions and several other provisions favored by progressives.
The 3,488-page compromise bill, which supports $738 billion in defense spending for 2020, left out limits on the border wall, low-yield nuclear weapons and the president’s authorization to wage war on Iran. However, Democratic leaders did win ― in exchange for the Space Force ― an agreement for 12 weeks of paid parental leave to millions of federal workers, which could give some House Democrats otherwise opposed to the large defense bill a reason to vote for it.
The agreement caps months of negotiations made unusually complex because Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate. The House is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday, as Congress has only a few days to pass the bill before the House’s Christmas recess begins Thursday afternoon. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.
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An informational meeting on Nov. 20 turned confrontational
A public meeting regarding the long-delayed cleanup at the Santa Susana Field Lab last week got heated when police were called in to remove one of the activists waiting to give feedback on a recently released environmental impact study.
Dan Hirsch, president of the nonprofit nuclear policy organization Committee to Bridge the Gap, had planned to present a slideshow while giving his three minutes of testimony during a Nov. 20 event held by NASA at Best Western Posada Royale Hotel in Simi Valley. The three-minute time was allotted to anyone who chose to share comments related to the field lab.
But the longtime site cleanup activist said he was met with opposition from NASA officials, who physically tried to block the setup of a projector that he brought with him and then later called police to have him removed from the venue.
The confrontation lasted about 15 minutes, he said. And while he was waiting quietly in line to give his comments, Hirsch said police showed up and asked him to leave voluntarily or he would be charged with trespassing.
The 2,850-acre field lab in unincorporated hills just southeast of Simi Valley experienced the partial nuclear meltdown in 1959 when it was the Rocketdyne/Atomics International rocket engine test and nuclear facility. The site also experienced other chemical and radioactive contamination over the years.
Fireworks erupted this week at a NASA public meeting on the much-delayed cleanup of a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory outside Simi Valley.
Longtime cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nonprofit nuclear policy organization, said he was asked by Simi Valley police to leave Wednesday night’s meeting at the Best Western Posada Royale after trying unsuccessfully to present a slide show.
The meeting was held to allow the public to comment on NASA’s recently released Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement regarding cleaning up its portion of the field lab site.
The next director of Sandia National Laboratories has ties to both national laboratories in New Mexico.
ARTICLE BY: SCOTT TURNER
abqjournal.com © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
James S. Peery will succeed Stephen Younger who is retiring at the end of the year. He will become the 16th laboratories director in Sandia’s 70-year history and will officially lead the labs beginning Jan. 1.
Peery, 57, worked at Sandia from 1990 to 2002 and then again from 2007 to 2015. He has served in multiple leadership capacities at Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories during his career. He currently serves as Associate Laboratory Director of National Security Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.
Peery’s appointment was announced Monday afternoon
Santa Fe, NM – Today, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported:
“Santa Fe city leaders asked for developers’ ideas on what to do with the city-owned midtown campus…The National Nuclear Security Administration [NNSA], which administers the Los Alamos National Laboratory management and operating contract, submitted a master developer proposal to build an open-campus environment with administrative offices, sustainable green spaces, engineering space, light manufacturing, training facilities and research and development…
[A NNSA spokesperson said] “LANL is undergoing unprecedented growth and expects to hire more than 1,000 new personnel annually for the next several years. Having a new campus — midway between New Mexico’s two national laboratories [LANL and Sandia]— to house professional staff, scientists, and engineers in partnership with the city of Santa Fe — would be very beneficial.” ”
Santa Fe, NM – Today, Pope Francis called for the global abolition of nuclear weapons while paying homage to the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those two cities were both destroyed by atomic weapons designed and produced by the Los Alamos National Laboratory, located in northern New Mexico’s Santa Fe Catholic Archdiocese.
The Holy Father declared:
“With deep conviction I wish once more to declare that the use of atomic energy for purposes of war is today, more than ever, a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home. The use of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral, just as the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral, as I already said two years ago. We will be judged on this. Future generations will rise to condemn our failure if we spoke of peace but did not act to bring it about among the peoples of the earth. How can we speak of peace even as we build terrifying new weapons of war?”
Research has repeatedly shown that diverse teams generate the best outcomes and that the presence of women in policy discussions adds value and sustainability to policies and impact.
It has been one year since more than thirty leaders in nuclear policy stood up to advance gender equality through public pledges in support of institutional change. Since then, Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy, a leadership network in nuclear policy committed to breaking down gender barriers and making gender equality a working reality, has grown to include the leaders of over forty-two organizations worldwide. The latest, Thomas Mason, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, marks the first U.S. national laboratory director to join their ranks.
Collectively, the group has made 140 specific, time-bound commitments ranging from pledging to increase women’s participation in panels, events, and publishing, to establishing paid internship programs and bringing gender diversity to their Boards of Directors. Champions also pledge to use their own cachet as speakers to improve the gender balance of panel discussions.
Together, they are demonstrating that we can create change within our own institutions and networks to create better outcomes through diversity.
Rick Perry says Trump (and Obama) were ‘ordained by God’ to be president
“I’m a big believer that the God of our universe is still very active in the details of the day-to-day lives of government,” Perry told Fox News in remarks aired on Sunday.
“You know, Barack Obama doesn’t get to be the President of the United States without being ordained by God. Neither did Donald Trump.”
Perry went on to say that being God’s instrument on Earth doesn’t mean that Trump is a perfect person. Echoing the argument of other white evangelical Christians, the Texas Republican went on to cite several biblical figures, including King David, whose private lives didn’t always align with biblical standards.
WIPP was supposed to be a demonstration for the rest of the country, a test run to see if nuclear waste could be buried in salt elsewhere.
It wasn’t meant to become America’s only nuclear repository — “pilot plant” is in its name — yet today it is. Watchdogs say that by tabbing thousands of barrels of plutonium waste to go there, the Energy Department is reshaping the mine’s purpose.
“What it (implies) is quite dramatic expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or another WIPP-like facility somewhere,” said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, another watchdog group.
In the time it will take for South Carolina’s stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium to decay, you could repeat most of human history, starting back in the Stone Age.
By the time its byproducts lose the explosive potential to be used in nuclear weapons, some 7 billion years will have passed. The Earth itself will have doubled in age, and then some.
The U.S. government will officially decide in the next few years where the plutonium — the metal used to trigger nuclear weapons — will spend that eternity. And when it does, it will ask another part of the country to bear a profound burden: to house thousands of barrels filled with scraps of the Cold War and America’s nuclear arms race, a legacy that may well outlast our civilization.
That question will soon be posed to New Mexico, where the U.S. Department of Energy has excavated cavernous vaults deep below the ruddy soil in the state’s southeastern corner. The government hopes it will eventually hold tons of plutonium it has decided it no longer needs — enough to build a few thousand bombs the size of the one dropped over Nagasaki, Japan.
If New Mexico says yes, the Energy Department will bury some 20,000 steel drums deep underground there, in a ribbon of salt as thick as Charleston’s Ashley River is wide.
If it says yes, trucks will carry the plutonium load by load down Interstate 20 for the next three decades, and workers will lower it almost half a mile underground, where it will await its final fate: the mine’s slow collapse, and salt entombing it forever.
Pope Francis calls for a ‘world without nuclear weapons’ during visit
Pontiff urges disarmament as he tours Japan’s atomic bomb sites and meets survivors of the 1945 attacks
Pope Francis has condemned the “unspeakable horror” of nuclear weapons during a visit to Nagasaki, one of two Japanese cities destroyed by American atomic bombs towards the end of the second world war.
Speaking on the second day of the first papal visit to Japan for 38 years, Francis urged world leaders to end the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, saying it offered their nations a false sense of security.
“Convinced as I am that a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary, I ask political leaders not to forget that these weapons cannot protect us from current threats to national and international security,” he told hundreds of people at the city’s rain-drenched atomic bomb hypocenter park on Sunday.
Earlier, Francis had placed a wreath and prayed at the foot of a memorial to the 74,000 people who died instantly and in the months after the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, three days after it had carried out a nuclear attack on Hiroshima, in which 140,000 people died by the end of the year.
This is a disgraceful response from @JoSwinson. Not for the 1st time in this general election, she confirms she's ready to press the nuclear button. Not even a moment's hesitation about the prospect of killing millions of people. We need better than this#ITVDebate #VoteOutNukes pic.twitter.com/W84cuLTuoy
— CND (@CNDuk) November 19, 2019
A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.
Deval Patrick, the former governor of Massachusetts, became the latest latecomer to the 2020 presidential campaign when he entered the fray last week. At the time of this writing, he does not have very many clear policy positions, or even a campaign website. But anyone running for president—even someone who’s still on the honeymoon period of his announcement—should expect to be asked tough policy questions, especially on important issues like nuclear weapons. Was Patrick prepared? Well, not really.
In a video circulating on social media, Jeremy Love, who identifies himself as a board member of New Hampshire Peace Action, approaches Patrick and starts to ask him about a no-first-use policy in the United States.
WASHINGTON — NATO allies worried U.S. President Donald Trump will abandon the Open Skies Treaty have been told the administration views the arms control agreement as a danger to U.S. national security, and that unless those nations can assuage such concerns, the U.S. will likely pull out, Defense News has learned.
At a meeting in Brussels last week, Trump administration officials laid out for the first time a full suite of concerns with the treaty and made clear they were seriously considering an exit. The agreement, ratified in 2002, allows mutual reconnaissance flights over its 34 members, including the U.S. and Russia.
The U.S. outreach comes amid unusually strong and coordinated pressure from European allies inside and outside of NATO upon both the administration and Congress to remain in the treaty — and before a planned NATO leaders summit in London next month.
Allies generally argue the treaty is a valuable channel for transparency and dialogue between Russia and the United States, the world’s top two nuclear superpowers.
H.R. 2699 aims to open one or more dumps in the Southwest — so-called consolidated interim storage facilities (CISFs), targeted at New Mexico and/or Texas, as well as a permanent burial dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, on Western Shoshone Indian land. If any one of these dumps open, large-scale shipments of high-risk irradiated nuclear fuel, by road, rail, and/or waterway, would travel through most states, past the homes of millions of Americans.
H.R. 2699, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2019, was passed by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee on Wed., Nov. 20, by voice vote.
That is, there is no roll call record as to how each U.S. Representative voted.
Voice votes are usually applied only to non-controversial matters, such as naming a post office. This dangerously bad high-level radioactive waste legislation should be among the most controversial bills Congress addresses.
A Defense Intelligence Agency report made public this week concludes that Iran’s government remains prepared to pursue nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them.
“Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue nuclear energy and the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so,” says the report, “Iran Military Power.”
The report says Iran currently has no nuclear weapons and under the 2015 international nuclear deal agreed not to pursue nuclear arms. However, work by Tehran on space launcher vehicles indicates that Iran continues to develop long-range missiles that could be used for nuclear strikes.
While lacking intermediate-range and intercontinental-range missiles, “Tehran’s desire to have a strategic counter to the United States could drive it to develop and eventually field an ICBM,” the report said.
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1:30PM TODAY on KTRC Talk Radio 1260 AM: Marylia Kelly of Tri Valley CARES
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Lipsky, who continues to raise concerns about the dangers of radioactive waste, will be in Santa Fe this week for a workshop organized by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which opposes plans for pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The event takes place Wednesday evening at the Mud Gallery.
SANTA FE, N.M. — Jon Lipsky is a retired federal agent with a big notch in his gun – he shut down a plant that made plutonium parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons.In an episode unique in American history, in June 1989, Lipsky led the FBI’s raid on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, where the cores of nuclear weapons, or “pits,” were made.
Later, under a plea deal, the private contractor that ran the plant for the DOE – Rockwell International – admitted to four felonies and six misdemeanors for environmental crimes and paid the government $18.5 million. The plant formally closed forever in 1992 and the U.S. has made only a handful of pits since.
3:00PM TODAY on KTRC Talk Radio 1260 AM: Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats Nuclear Bomb Plant
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Scott Kovac of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats Nuclear Bomb Plant join Xubi to talk about Nuclear weapons, Nuclear clean up and Pit production plans at LANL.
Feds aim to push back the opening of ‘glassification’ plants, while state officials say the Department of Energy has been underfunding the cleanup of America’s most poisoned site.
Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay.
Since the 1990s, Washington state has been prodding the U.S. Department of Energy to build two “glassification” plants at Hanford that would permanently contain the waste stored in aging tanks on the site. Delays have added to the cost of the project, now estimated at $17 billion.
Glassification was supposed to begin in 2007. On the current schedule, lower-level radioactive waste wouldn’t be entombed in glass cylinders until 2023. And the high-level radioactive wastes? At present, glassification of that waste is set to begin in 2036, 29 years behind the original deadline.
The Energy Department wants to push that target back even further, and last month began negotiations with state leaders to do so. Those negotiations are also expected to address whether additional tanks must be built to hold the waste, a move the state supports, but which the DOE has been reluctant to adopt
“We want to try to come up with a schedule that doesn’t have to be revised every few years,” said Suzanne Dahl, section manager for tank waste management with the state Department of Ecology. Dahl noted that the longer the project takes, the more it will cost the federal government.
Located dead center in the 584-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most radiologically and chemically polluted spot in the Western Hemisphere. The site’s 177 underground tanks hold 56 million gallons of radioactive fluids, sludges and chunks, mixtures of roughly 100 different substances.
The environmental disaster at the nixed Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado should be a red flag to those in the CSRA, watchdogs cautioned Tuesday, as the nation’s energy and defense departments consider establishing a new nuclear weapons mission at the sprawling Savannah River Site.
SRS Watch Director Tom Clements and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Colorado on Tuesday warned roughly two-dozen forum attendees of health and environmental repercussions that could come with a local plutonium pit production mission, as has been suggested.
The Rocky Flats Plant was the last place the federal government produced pits, nuclear weapon cores, en masse.
It was raided by the FBI decades ago following a clandestine investigation, was subsequently shuttered and then shoddily cleaned up, according to Pat Mellen, a Colorado-based attorney who spoke Tuesday.
“It was an absolute disaster,” Clements said of the Rocky Flats facility, which is near Denver. “Plutonium fires, releases, worker exposure, downwind exposure. We have been where you’re at right now, and we did it wrong,” Mellen said, speaking after the SRS Watch director. “We did it wrong at Rocky Flats.”
The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Department of Energy, in May 2018 recommended producing pits at the Savannah River Site, about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
While many local officials and lawmakers have welcomed the enduring mission, others, like Clements, have expressed repeated concerns.
“I used to tell students, ‘If you want to be protected from Rocky Flats, don’t breathe,'” said LeRoy Moore, another speaker at the Tuesday night event. That comment received some laughs.
The proposed production hub at SRS, a never-completed and repurposed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, would be one prong in a two-pronged plan. Another 30 pits per year would be produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to the recommendation.
“There could also be high-dollar costs. Responding to a lawsuit by environmental groups trying to halt the construction of the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, NNSA said a six- to 12-month delay in construction at that location could result in almost $1 billion in extra costs for taxpayers and the agency may have to lay off 1,000 construction personnel. Those numbers, first reported by the Exchange Monitor, likely have resonance with other potential delays at construction sites caused by a CR — meaning construction delays at one or more sites could quickly become costly for an agency whose facilities and construction needs have traditionally been underfunded.”
WASHINGTON — A long-term continuing resolution will result in delays for modernizing America’s nuclear warheads, while putting at risk an already challenging plan to build plutonium pits needed for the next generation of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear officials are warning.
The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semiautonomous agency under the Department of Energy that handles the manufacturing and maintenance of America’s nuclear warheads. Like other government agencies, NNSA would be limited to fiscal 2019 funding limits under a continuing resolution, and it would be unable to start new contracts.
The current continuing resolution, or CR, is set to end Nov. 21, but there is little expectation that regular budgeting will then resume. Congress is debating the merits of pushing the CR through December, but analysts are concerned the CR could extend into next year.
“We are in a situation right now where we have single-point failures throughout our enterprise,” Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the NNSA administrator, said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast earlier this month. “It’s necessary for us, for the NNSA and for the nuclear security enterprise to receive consistent and robust funding to modernize our infrastructure as well as continue ongoing operations.”
“We’re looking at where we can move funding insofar as CRs will allow us to do so,” she added. “We’re working very closely with OMB and the administration to see what we can do to continue our important programs to modernize the infrastructure as well as the stockpile and our workforce initiatives and our endeavors.”
The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded grants to over 20 organizations
The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded $1.5 million in new grants to over 20 organizations working to end nuclear threats.
“These investments will develop new champions, provide vital research and empower American citizens to create a new vision for a saner nuclear policy,” said Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione. “We have a balanced portfolio,” Cirincione explained, “The board invests in the best expert research, the most effective advocates, the clearest media messengers and, increasingly, in the new mass movements energizing public involvement on policy issues.”
For example, a new grant to National Security Action will allow that organization of former and future government officials to craft a new nuclear posture plan for the United States. To promote diplomacy and reduce the risk of war, the board gave a grant to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to help launch this new institute and work on the threat of new wars in the Middle East and to promote diplomacy with North Korea. “We want to inject new ideas and proposals, providing political space to de-escalate current tensions and create viable diplomatic solutions,” said Director of Programs Michelle Dover.
“It’s a great agreement and we need to keep it alive,” Slovakia’s foreign minister, Miroslav Lajcak, told reporters.
However, the Europeans are hardly surprised by Iran’s actions. They believe the writing has been on the wall ever since Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year, claiming that it does not to stop Tehran from developing missiles or undermining stability in the Gulf region.
“Sadly, it’s a degradation that was to be expected,” Asselborn said.
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union foreign ministers on Monday affirmed their support for the nuclear deal with Iran, after the Islamic Republic began enrichment work at its Fordo site in a fresh act of defiance that seems likely to spell the end of the painstakingly crafted international agreement.
At talks in Brussels, the ministers mulled what action to take as they awaited a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency later Monday on whether Iran is still complying with its commitments.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the ministers underlined their “full commitment to the agreement that remains crucial for our security, even if it’s increasingly difficult to preserve it. We will continue our efforts to have a full implementation of the agreement.”
The EU powers that signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — Britain, France and Germany — were due to hold talks later Monday in Paris to discuss the next steps once the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog issues its latest findings.
A joint commission meeting of all the signatories is likely to be held in coming days.
Boeing, Dept. of Energy and NASA push plans to renege on agreements to fully clean up the Santa Susana Field Lab, point of origin for Woolsey Fire
“Time and again, Boeing has cut corners on safety, whether on its airplanes or at SSFL, putting profits above all else.”
“The failure to clean up the site added insult to injury for people impacted by the fire.”
One year after the devastating Woolsey Fire began at and burned most of the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL,) Boeing, the Department of Energy and NASA are pushing forward plans to abrogate cleanup agreements and leave most of the radioactive and chemical contamination on the site unremediated. SSFL is grossly polluted from decades of nuclear and rocket-engine testing activities including several accidents, spills, and intentional toxic releases.
On November 8, 2018, the Woolsey Fire ignited approximately 1,000 yards from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown of SSFL’s Sodium Reactor Experiment. The fire burned approximately 80% of the contaminated 2,850 acre facility before burning to Malibu, scorching nearly 97,000 acres, 1,643 structures, and prompting the evacuation of more than a quarter million people in one of Southern California’s worst wildfires to date. Three people lost their lives in the fire.
Ask the downwinders of nuclear weapons tests at the Marshal Islands and the Nevada Test Site whether the government should be trusted. Why should LANL be trusted, when it used to claim that groundwater contamination was impossible, but today we know it is contaminated with chromium, perchlorates, high explosives, etc.?
More recently, how can the public trust LANL when it sent an improperly prepared radioactive waste barrel that ruptured and closed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for three years, contaminating 21 workers with plutonium and costing the American taxpayer $3 billion to reopen?
November 5 This week features Princeton physicist Dr. Zia Mian, sitting down with Michelle Dover to discuss the India-Pakistan nuclear dyad and whether the global nuclear order is worth saving.
“Who decides how human society and human civilization conducts affairs,” Dr. Mian asked Dover. “Nine countries with nuclear weapons or everybody else?”
Before that, Esther Im from the National Committee on North Korea joins Michelle Dover and Akshai Vikram for the Early Warning news segment.
Gov. Mark Gordon says he is open to Wyoming pursuing a nuclear waste storage facility though he doesn’t personally believe it’s the best industry for the state.
CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon said last week he could still be convinced to pursue a nuclear waste storage program that will be considered Tuesday in a legislative committee meeting.
During a meeting Monday with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s editorial board, Gordon said he would wait to see what the Wyoming Legislature finds in its studies.
“I don’t think it’s the best industry for Wyoming,” Gordon said. “But I would say this emphatically: If there is a good reason to do it, and we have adequate safeguards, though personally I may not feel it’s the best industry for Wyoming, I’m not going to stand in its way.”
During the second day of its meeting next week in Casper, the Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee will consider a bill authorizing the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Energy to store spent nuclear fuel rods within the state.
Last Major Nuclear Arms Pact Could Expire With No Replacement, Russia Says
The treaty, disliked by President Trump, will run out in 14 months — and there is too little time to hammer out a new one, a Russian official said.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday there was no longer enough time left for Moscow and Washington to negotiate a full-fledged replacement for the New START nuclear arms control treaty before it expires in February 2021.
The New START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers and limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy.
The fate of the accord has been in the spotlight since Washington in August pulled out of another landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), citing violations by Russia that Moscow denies.
“It’s already obvious that with the time that is left… we will not be able to work out a full-fledged replacement document,” Vladimir Leontyev, a foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.
The treaty can be extended by mutual agreement, but the prospect of that happening is unclear as Washington is not moving quickly and Moscow would need at least half a year to implement any extension agreement, Leontyev said. There was no immediate reaction from Washington to his comments.
Experts believe Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile is steadily growing. In 1998, the stockpile was estimated at five to twenty-five devices, depending on how much enriched uranium each bomb required. Today Pakistan is estimated to have an arsenal of 110 to 130 nuclear bombs. In 2015 the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center estimated Pakistan’s bomb-making capability at twenty devices annually, which on top of the existing stockpile meant Pakistan could quickly become the third-largest nuclear power in the world.
Pakistan and India are clearly in the midst of a nuclear arms race that could, in relative terms, lead to absurdly high nuclear stockpiles reminiscent of the Cold War. It is clear that an arms-control agreement for the subcontinent is desperately needed.
Nuclear News Archives – 2018
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
Arms control isn’t perfect. But abandoning treaties without a plan for the future is dangerous.
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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
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”
(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.
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).
DOE MUST RESTORE DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD ACCESS TO INFORMATION, NUCLEAR SECURITY FACILITIES, AND PERSONNEL
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.
The Alliance for Nuclear