Nuclear News Archives

2023 News Articles – All Posts

How Annie Jacobsen mapped out ‘Nuclear War: A Scenario’

“There are new players, new nuclear armed nations that are far more unpredictable than those who have had nuclear weapons in the past.”

, TASK & PURPOSE

It starts with a sudden attack. North Korea, out of paranoia and fear, launches a nuclear strike on the United States, hitting its targets. The United States retaliates with a salvo of its own nuclear missiles. However, in order to hit North Korea, the missiles must pass over Russia. Attempts to communicate with the Russian president fail and Russia’s nuclear warning system makes him think it’s an attack on his country. So he launches his nuclear bombs, this time at the United States.

It’s a global nuclear war. And it happens in minutes.

That’s the setup at the heart of “Nuclear War: A Scenario,” a new book by investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen. The book, released at the end of March, outlines how one attack from an isolated state can set off a chain reaction of nuclear policy, with poor communication and split-second decisions triggering widespread nuclear war. It’s a fictional scena

America’s Nuclear War Plan in the 1960s Was Utter Madness. It Still Is.

We rarely consider the dangers these days, but our existence depends on it.

“‘Humanity is one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,’ cautions UN Secretary-General António Guterres. ‘We must reverse course.'”

BY , MOTHER JONES

Nuclear war is madness. Were a nuclear weapon to be launched at the United States, including from a rogue nuclear-armed nation like North Korea, American policy dictates a nuclear counterattack. This response would almost certainly set off a series of events that would quickly spiral out of control. “The world could end in the next couple of hours,” Gen. Robert Kehler, the former commander of US Strategic Command, told me in an interview.

We sit on the razor’s edge. Vladimir Putin has said he is “not bluffing” about the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction should NATO overstep on Ukraine, and North Korea accuses the US of having “a sinister intention to provoke a nuclear war.” For generations, the American public has viewed a nuclear World War III as a remote prospect, but the threat is ever-present. “Humanity is one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” cautions UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “We must reverse course.”

So far, we haven’t. The Pentagon’s plans for nuclear war remain firmly in place.

The US government has spent trillions of dollars over the decades preparing to fight a nuclear war, while refining protocols meant to keep the government functioning after hundreds of millions of Americans become casualties of a nuclear holocaust, and the annual budgets continue to grow. The nation’s integrated nuclear war plan in the 1960s was utter madness. It almost certainly remains so today.

ARCHBISHOP JOHN C. WESTER’S STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF TRINITY TEST DOWNWINDERS AND URGES PASSAGE OF THE RADIATION EXPOSURE COMPENSATION ACT

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Monday, March 18, 2024– IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The following is a message from Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and Anne Avellone, Director, Office of Social Justice and Respect Life and Archdiocese of Santa Fe Justice, Peace, and Life Commission:

“Oppenheimer,” a movie released in 2023, many parts of which were filmed in New Mexico, is an expansive biopic of the life of Robert Oppenheimer and his work developing the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, NM and detonating it in the Tularosa Basin at the Trinity site. On March 10, 2024, the movie received seven Academy Awards, including for Best Picture. We are grateful the movie raises awareness of the life and work of Robert Oppenheimer and, in doing so, brings to new audiences an awareness of the development of the atomic bomb and its perils.

However, we recognize the very real and lasting impact of the development and testing of the atomic bomb has had serious and often deadly health impacts on the people of New Mexico and throughout the country. People like uranium miners and the Downwinders of New Mexico are unwitting victims who had no choice in being exposed to radiation. It is unfortunate that such a remarkable and timely film does not acknowledge these realities.

The very same week “Oppenheimer” received so many accolades in the motion picture world, the U.S. Senate passed by a vote of 69 to 30 a bipartisan reauthorization of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which compensates people who have had health issues due to radiation exposure from the atomic testing and uranium mining.
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Tribes Meeting With Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Describe Harms Uranium Mining Has Had on Them, and the Threats New Mines Pose

As spiking uranium prices drive a surge of proposals for new mines, the Navajo Nation joined the Ute Mountain Ute, Havasupai, Northern Arapaho and Oglala Sioux tribes in a commission hearing with federal officials to push back against mining on and near their lands.

By Noel Lyn Smith, Inside Climate News

Entrances to a uranium mine are locked shut outside Ticaboo, Utah. Credit: Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
Entrances to a uranium mine are locked shut outside Ticaboo, Utah. Credit: Photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Members of five tribes told the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that Indigenous communities in the United States continue to suffer from the legacy of uranium mining and will face a persisting threat if new proposals for uranium extraction in the West are authorized during a hearing on Feb. 28 about mining to support the nation’s nuclear industry.

“The U.S. has rarely, if ever, secured tribal consent for uranium production on and near tribal lands,” Eric Jantz, legal director of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, said. “The cost of the government’s lopsided policies have disproportionately fallen on Native communities.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an organ of the Organization of American States. Its mission is to promote and protect human rights in member states, including the U.S.

Members of the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Havasupai Tribe, Northern Arapaho Tribe and Oglala Sioux Tribe requested the hearing to tell commissioners about the ramifications of uranium mining on their communities and the inadequate communication and response by the U.S. government, Jantz explained.

“Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War” Explores Impact of US–Soviet Conflict

The nine-part doc examines how two global superpowers have irrevocably altered the course of history.

By Roxanne Fequiere, Netflix

While the the Cold War ended in 1991, even a casual appraisal of current headlines reveals that relations between the United States and Russia — the one-time center of the Soviet Union — remain tense, to say the least. The global repercussions of the Cold War continue to ripple through the current geopolitical landscape to this day, but it can be difficult to understand just how a mid-20th century struggle for ideological dominance continues to ensnare countless nations in ongoing unrest.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War, a nine-part documentary series from director Brian Knappenberger, provides a comprehensive appraisal of the events that led to the Cold War and traces the conflict around the world and through the decades.

“Lessons that we thought were learned were not learned,” author Lesley Blume says in the doc, describing the state of the world today as “an ongoing tide” of the history that came before it. 

In order to tell this story, the series draws on more than 100 interviews with subjects ranging from past and present world leaders (Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas) to historians as well as everyday people whose lives were drastically altered by the events of the Cold War. As the history unfolds, each episode considers the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine as an example of how the history being examined is directly tied to the events of today. “Nearly every part of the war in Ukraine is an echo of the Cold War,” Knappenberger explains.

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War premieres on March 12.

NEW YORK TIMES OPINION SERIES ON THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN AN UNSTABLE WORLD

An Introduction: It’s Time to Protest Nuclear War Again

By Kathleen Kingsbury, Opinion Editor, New York Times

The threat of nuclear war has dangled over humankind for much too long. We have survived so far through luck and brinkmanship. But the old, limited safeguards that kept the Cold War cold are long gone. Nuclear powers are getting more numerous and less cautious. We’ve condemned another generation to live on a planet that is one grave act of hubris or human error away from destruction without demanding any action from our leaders. That must change.

The reawakening of America’s nuclear dinosaurs

Are America’s plutonium pits too old to perform in the new Cold War? Or are new ones necessary?

“To look at short-term change [in plutonium pits], scientists have created experiments sensitive enough to detect what happens in real time. There are caveats, though. “There seems to be a corrective mechanism that heals some of that change on longer time scales,” according to Dylan Spaulding, who studies the issue of pit aging for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Raymond Jeanloz agrees: “Something happens over longer time periods that makes [the metal] almost as good as new or maybe as good as new over time periods of 10 or 20 years or more.”

By

Sprinkled across five western states, in silos buried deep underground and protected by reinforced concrete, sit 400 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Each of those missiles is equipped with a single nuclear warhead. And each of those warheads is itself equipped with one hollow, grapefruit-sized plutonium pit, designed to trigger a string of deadly reactions.

All of those missiles are on “hair-trigger alert,” poised for hundreds of targets in Russia — any one of which could raze all of downtown Moscow and cause hundreds of thousands of casualties.

Except — what if it doesn’t? What if, in a nuclear exchange, the pit fizzles because it’s just too old? In that case, would the weapon be a total dud or simply yield but a fraction of its latent power?

Outwardly, at least, that’s the question driving a whole new era of plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility in South Carolina.

“The issue of plutonium pit aging is a Trojan horse for the nuclear weaponeers enriching themselves through a dangerous new arms race,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, an anti-nuclear group based in Santa Fe. “Future pit production is not about maintaining the existing, extensively tested stockpile. Instead, it’s for deploying multiple new warheads on new intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, successfully lobbied former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in 2006 for an amendment to require a plutonium pit aging study by the group of scientists called JASON. Nadav Soroker/Searchlight New Mexico Nadav Soroker

 

Keeping Outer Space Nuclear Weapons Free

In the coming weeks, Washington, Beijing, and other capitals need to pressure Putin to abandon any ideas about putting nuclear weapons in orbit. As President Joe Biden noted on Feb. 16, that deployment “hasn’t happened yet, and my hope is it will not.”

By Daryl G. Kimball, Arms Control Association

Fifty-seven years ago, through the Outer Space Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to codify a fundamental nuclear taboo: nuclear weapons shall not be stationed in orbit or elsewhere in outer space. But there is growing concern that Russia is working on an orbiting anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons system involving a nuclear explosive device that would, if deployed, violate the treaty, undermine space security, and worsen the technological and nuclear arms race.

The flash created by the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test on July 9,1962 as seen from Honolulu, 900 miles away. (Wikimedia Commons)
The flash created by the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test on July 9,1962 as seen from Honolulu, 900 miles away. (Wikimedia Commons)

The White House confirmed on Feb. 15 that U.S. intelligence uncovered evidence that Russia is developing an ASAT weapon that “would be a violation of the Outer Space Treaty, to which more than 130 countries have signed up to, including Russia.” Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a nondenial denial, claiming on Feb. 20 that Russia remains “categorically against…the placement of nuclear weapons in space.”

An ASAT system involving a nuclear explosive device could produce a massive surge of radiation and a powerful electromagnetic pulse that, depending on the altitude of the explosion and the size of the warhead, could indiscriminately destroy, blind, or disable many of the 9,500 commercial and military space satellites now in orbit.

More indictments for Ohio nuclear crimes

Former executives face a judge — in their ankle monitors

By Linda Pentz Gunter,

It was called “likely the largest bribery money-laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio.” And the shoes are still dropping. Or should that be ankle monitors? Because these latter belong to the three latest criminals indicted for their roles in a scheme that saw FirstEnergy hand over $61 million in bribes to Ohio politicians and their co-conspirators to secure favorable legislation.

That bill, known as HB6, guaranteed a $1.3 billion bailout to FirstEnergy in order to keep open its two failing Ohio nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry, as well as struggling coal plants. The nuclear portion of the bill has since been rescinded, but Ohio consumers are still paying to prop up two aging coal plants, to the tune of half a million dollars a day, amounting to an extra $1.50 a month on every ratepayer’s electric bill.

The $61 million bribery plot was the mastermind of then speaker of the Ohio House, Larry Householder, who is now a household name in Ohio for all the wrong reasons. He was sentenced last June to 20 years in prison for his part in the conspiracy. GOP Chairman Matt Borges, was also found guilty of racketeering conspiracy and sentenced to five years in federal prison. Both men say they will appeal.

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Hawley vows to attach radiation exposure extension to all bills

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) will attach an amendment reauthorizing and expanding a law compensating Americans exposed to radiation by the federal government to all items moving on the Senate floor, his office confirmed Monday.

BY ZACK BUDRYKRACHEL FRAZIN,

© Allison Robbert

In a letter to Republican Senate colleagues, Hawley urged the caucus to back an amendment reauthorizing the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and expanding its coverage to New Mexico, Missouri, Idaho, Montana, Guam, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alaska.

“Our reauthorization bill passed the Senate last summer with a strong bipartisan vote, and I am grateful for much support from our Conference,” Hawley wrote. “Now we must finish the job. There are RECA claimants in every state, including each of yours. They will benefit if this bill is passed. Simply put, this is the right thing to do.”

Hawley’s announcement comes as the government is set to shut down at the end of this week without a funding agreement —

and his insistence on including radiation compensation, which a number of Republicans have opposed, could further complicate efforts to avoid a shutdown.

The law, enacted in 1990, compensates Americans who were downwind of nuclear testing or exposed to radiation through uranium ore mining. The states covered under the current law include residents of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona and their survivors. However, it does not cover those in New Mexico near the site of the 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test, nor does it cover residents of Missouri exposed to radiation through uranium processing at Mallinckrodt Chemical Works.

President Biden has already reauthorized the law, which was set to sunset in 2022, a further two years, but it is set to expire this year without further action.

Nuclear Waste Storage in the UK: Council pulls the plug on the nuclear waste facility in Yorkshire

“…As the events in South Holderness have proved, the explicit government policy requiring community consent for a [Geological Disposal Facility] seems self-defeating. Like turkeys voting for Christmas, is there ever likely to be a majority anywhere in favour of one?”

By Angus Young, Yorkshire Bylines,

Local opinion is divided – not necessarily evenly – following a decision by councillors on East Riding Council to dramatically pull the plug on proposals for a possible underground nuclear waste facility in South Holderness, just weeks after a process that could have taken years had formally started.

The vote to withdraw the council from a working group it had previously agreed to join to oversee the initial phase of consultation was taken at a full meeting of the authority in Beverley. After a 14-minute debate, all but one councillor voted in support of a motion to immediately walk away from the working group. Under the terms of consultation set by the government, it effectively ended the process before it had really begun.

Campaigners celebrate decision to drop nuclear waste disposal plans

For campaigners who had mobilised quickly to protest against it, the vote was a victory. Lynn Massey-Davis, chairperson for the South Holderness Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) Action Group, said the fact that just over 1,300 people had joined the group in just over four weeks reflected wider opposition in communities across the area. She said:

“The first time I went into the village centre after it was announced, someone came up to me with tears in their eyes. I hugged her and I knew we had to work hard to end this uncertainty for everyone.

“I am really proud that we started this group and website and that other people joined in and worked so very hard over such a short period of time to turn the tide of opinion towards considering removing this threat to us all.

“This is an unprecedented level of community action in such a small place and shows why we are unique and special.”

Nuclear Waste Services (NWS) – part of the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority – said it “fully respected” the council’s decision and would now start winding down the working group having staged a series of informal village hall drop-in events over the last month.

Aging infrastructure could pose risks at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant nuclear waste site

Don Hancock at the Southwest Research and Information Center argued the infrastructure issues at WIPP were due to the facility aging beyond its originally intended lifetime, since the facility was built in the 1980s and began accepting waste in 1999…“The facilities are at the end of that lifetime,” Hancock said. “The idea that it could operate for decades longer, just is not true.”

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus 

An elevator used to move mined salt out of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant drew concerns from federal oversight officials as gradually collapsing salt put excess stress on the hoist.

The salt “creep” is what gradually buries the waste disposed of at WIPP, placed in the facility after being trucked from nuclear facilities around the U.S. and emplaced in the 2,000-foot-deep salt deposit about 30 miles east of Carlsbad.

DNFSB sealBut the salt’s natural collapse also stressed the salt handling shaft to a point that left it in danger of collapse, according to the latest report from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board published Feb. 2.

That report also contended WIPP’s operations contractor Salado Isolation Mining Contractors (SIMCO) had not conducted a “formal” analysis of the safety and operational impacts of taking the shaft out of service.

On Jan. 4, a preventative maintenance inspection rated the shaft as “unsatisfactory,” the report read, due to its “overstressed” condition.

“The Board’s staff remains concerned regarding the lack of formal analysis covering the nuclear safety and operational impacts if Salado Isolation Mining Contractors, LLC (SIMCO) must take the Salt Handling Shaft out of service,” read the report.

 

It’s been a decade since the radiological release at WIPP. Here’s what has happened since then.

Watchdog groups point to lower shipments after incident. Officials tout tighter safety protocols

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus 

A drum of nuclear waste ruptured 10 years ago in the underground of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository near Carlsbad, triggering a series of events that saw the facility close for three years while officials worked to assess the incident and prevent future incidents.

The incident resulted in a release of radioactive materials in the underground on Feb. 14, 2014, and WIPP ceased receiving and disposing of shipments of nuclear waste until 2017.

The drum came from Los Alamos National Laboratory and was packaged with the wrong material which caused materials to heat up and rupture the drum.

This led to widespread air contamination in the underground, where drums to nuclear waste from facilities across the country are buried in a salt deposit about 2,000 feet beneath the surface.

The US Military Almost Deployed Nuclear Missile Trains on American Railroads During the Cold War

In particular, 1983 served as a dangerous flashpoint, with the distrust and paranoia between the East and West amped up after the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 and nearly misinterpreted a NATO exercise simulating a nuclear attack for the real thing…“In 1983, the two nuclear superpowers were like blindfolded boxers careening toward a death match.”

| February 20, 2024 military.com

A Peacekeeper Rail Garrison car is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.
A Peacekeeper Rail Garrison car is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Cuban Missile Crisis was two decades in the rearview, but in the early 1980s, Cold War tensions between the United States and Soviet Union remained feverishly high.

In particular, 1983 served as a dangerous flashpoint, with the distrust and paranoia between the East and West amped up after the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 and nearly misinterpreted a NATO exercise simulating a nuclear attack for the real thing. That year also saw the Air Force successfully flight-test the Peacekeeper intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time as the Defense Department sought to develop a mobile ICBM system. U.S. military leaders were playing a game of catch-up, though, because the Soviets already had deployed one. As a 2022 Air & Space Forces Magazine article put it: “In 1983, the two nuclear superpowers were like blindfolded boxers careening toward a death match.”

The Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, which largely oversaw the bombing capability of America’s nuclear weapons from 1946 until 1992, had been trying to implement a mobile ICBM system since 1971, but struggled to reach a consensus on what that would look like. Finally, President Ronald Reagan, who had labeled the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire” during a March 1983 speech, issued a national security directive on Dec. 19, 1986, to develop the Peacekeeper Rail Garrison program.

 

State Sues Holtec for Mishandling Asbestos at Pilgrim Reactor Site

Attorney general says demolition put workers and residents at risk

| February 15, 2024 provincetownindependent.org

BOSTON — Mass. Attorney General Andrea Campbell has filed a civil complaint against Holtec Decommissioning International, owner of the shuttered Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, for a long list of violations related to improperly handling, storing, shipping, and disposal of asbestos-laced debris during the plant’s demolition.

The complaint cites work done between January 2021 and September 2023. The improper handling put the health of workers and residents near the plant in jeopardy, according to the complaint, which seeks penalties of $25,000 per day for each violation.

The attorney general’s office filed the 28-page suit on Feb. 14 in Suffolk Superior Court. Assistant Attorney General John Craig, from the office’s environmental division, states that Holtec didn’t hire the required asbestos inspector before demolishing a 32-foot-high water tower in 2021. Asbestos-laced paint on the exterior of the tower was not removed and properly disposed of, the complaint charges, and it wound up in flakes on the work site and mixed in with metal scraps from the tower.

 

Public given more time to comment on LANL’s steps against toxic plume

Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s operations director, said the proposed actions seem broad, lacking important details on what actually would be done. Also, it would make more sense to have the Environment Department sign off on a plan of action — because the agency has final say — before going through the NEPA process.”They’re doing it backward,” Kovac said.”

| February 12, 2024 santafenewmexican.com

The public will have an additional month to weigh in on a federal report assessing the possible impacts of the latest proposed measures for cleaning up a toxic chromium plume beneath Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The U.S. Energy Department issued the 115-page environmental assessment in November, then offered a 60-day period for public comment that was set to end Monday but now will go to March 13.

 

Building a World Without Nuclear Weapons

Building a World Without Nuclear Weapons: Online Forum January 27, 2024

Building a world without nuclear weapons: An urgent imperative

Online forum held January 27, 2024 with musicians What the World Needs Now Interfaith Coalition Singers, host Peter Metz, Bishop John Stowe (Lexington KY), moderator Claire Schaeffer Duffy, and panelists Archbishop John Wester (Santa Fe NM), Dr. Ira Helfand, and Marie Dennis. With a special message from Rep. Jim McGovern (MA).


The fallout never ended

Decades of nuclear weapons tests and other radioactive experiments injured or killed scientists, soldiers, and innocent bystanders. Many of them, and their relatives, have never been compensated, but new efforts may change that. A former Senate staffer and expert on the US nuclear program looks back at its harmful effects, and how the government addressed them—or didn’t.

| February 1, 2024 thebulletin.org

‘Castle Bravo’ on March 1, 1954 on Bikini Atoll produced the largest yield and fallout of all US nuclear weapons tests (US Department of Energy).

Attorney general seeks to deny Holtec $260M state tax break

In appeal to state Supreme Court, AG lists major concerns about Camden nuclear tech firm

| February 2, 2024 njspotlightnews.org

New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin is appealing to the state Supreme Court to ban Holtec International, a Camden nuclear technology firm dogged by a history of ethical issues, from collecting a $260 million tax break awarded in 2014.

Platkin, in a petition to the court filed Thursday, wrote that Holtec must not be allowed to get away with lying on its application for the largest tax break in state history. Rewarding Holtec’s “material” misrepresentations, Platkin argued, would undermine state contract law and encourage other applicants to deceive the state.

“The question is whether a business that concealed prior misconduct when seeking millions in incentives can nevertheless walk away scot-free,’’ wrote Platkin, who is contending that the appellate court which decided in favor of Holtec made critical legal errors.

New York Times: Tax Break Scandal Leads to $5 Million Fine for N.J. Energy Company

A business tied to George Norcross III, a high-profile New Jersey Democrat, has agreed to pay a $5 million penalty after a criminal investigation into hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks that the energy company, Holtec International, was awarded.

| January 30, 2024 nytimes.com

The fine, announced early Tuesday by the state attorney general’s office, enables officials from Holtec, a company based in Camden, N.J., that dismantles nuclear power sites, to avoid criminal prosecution linked to a 2018 application for $1 million in tax credits.

Mr. Norcross, an insurance executive who sits on the board of Holtec, has for decades held an outsize grip on New Jersey politics and has used his clout in the national Democratic Party and in Camden County, as well as his fund-raising ability, to influence state legislation. Mr. Norcross has never held elected office, and his power has waned over the last several years after a series of embarrassing legislative losses in South Jersey.

Still, he has remained one of the state’s most feared unelected politicians.

“We are sending a clear message: No matter how big and powerful you are, if you lie to the state for financial gain, we will hold you accountable — period,” Matthew J. Platkin, New Jersey’s attorney general, said in a statement.

Holtec, in a statement, denied “any misconduct.”


Controversial Camden-based nuclear parts maker to pay $5M fine

 

New Mexico Archbishop Wester calls Catholics to work for nuclear abolition

“So, too, must we be prophets warning of the nuclear dangers,” Wester told participants. “So, too, must we be humble and faithful to God while bringing down the Goliath of nuclear weapons. We know that it’s not God’s purpose to end humanity in radioactive ashes. Instead, he wants to elevate the human race to light and salvation. But God’s purpose is worked through his instruments. So, let us get to work.” – Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico

BY DENNIS SADOWSKI, The National Catholic Reporter

This image taken with a slow shutter speed on Oct. 2, 2019, and provided by the U.S. Air Force shows an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile test launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force via AP/Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)
This image taken with a slow shutter speed on Oct. 2, 2019, and provided by the U.S. Air Force shows an unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile test launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force via AP/Staff Sgt. J.T. Armstrong)

In the estimation of longtime peace advocate Marie Dennis, a gradual shift is taking place in communities, churches and schools around the world to embrace nonviolence in solving conflict.

From religious leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo to neighborhoods in her hometown of Washington, D.C., people are coming together to seek new and creative paths to build peaceful communities, she said.

They may be small steps, but the glimmers in everyday life give her hope that conflict and even wars, including nuclear war, eventually can be overcome, Dennis told National Catholic Reporter following a Jan. 27 webinar hosted by Pax Christi USA and the Pax Christi Massachusetts chapter.

The webinar marked the third anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons coming into force on Jan. 22, 2021.

doomsday clock

The 2024 Doomsday Clock announcement from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

A moment of historic danger: It is still 90 seconds to midnight

2024 Doomsday Clock Announcement

Ominous trends continue to point the world toward global catastrophe. The war in Ukraine and the widespread and growing reliance on nuclear weapons increase the risk of nuclear escalation. China, Russia, and the United States are all spending huge sums to expand or modernize their nuclear arsenals, adding to the ever-present danger of nuclear war through mistake or miscalculation.

In 2023, Earth experienced its hottest year on record, and massive floods, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters affected millions of people around the world. Meanwhile, rapid and worrisome developments in the life sciences and other disruptive technologies accelerated, while governments made only feeble efforts to control them.

The members of the Science and Security Board have been deeply worried about the deteriorating state of the world. That is why we set the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight in 2019 and at 100 seconds to midnight in 2022. Last year, we expressed our heightened concern by moving the Clock to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been—in large part because of Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine.

Today, we once again set the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight because humanity continues to face an unprecedented level of danger. Our decision should not be taken as a sign that the international security situation has eased. Instead, leaders and citizens around the world should take this statement as a stark warning and respond urgently, as if today were the most dangerous moment in modern history. Because it may well be.

But the world can be made safer. The Clock can move away from midnight. As we wrote last year, “In this time of unprecedented global danger, concerted action is required, and every second counts.” That is just as true today.

Continue reading the full 2024 Doomsday Clock statement.

Watch the 2024 Doomsday Clock announcement above.

Nuclear deterrence is the existential threat, not the nuclear ban treaty

In the words of Melissa Parke, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), “Nuclear deterrence may well work until the day it doesn’t.” What happens when nuclear deterrence fails? The problem is that it is impossible to create a plan for that day.

| January 22, 2024 thebulletin.org

Antinuclear activist march to mark the second anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York, January 20, 2023. - The TPNW, the first legally binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons, entered into force on January 22, 2021. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)
Antinuclear activist march to mark the second anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York, January 20, 2023. – The TPNW, the first legally binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons, entered into force on January 22, 2021. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

In a deeply misguided article in this publication, Zachary Kallenborn contends that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is a threat to humanity. To build this narrative, Kallenborn does not simply present nuclear deterrence as a stable and useful framework for avoiding conventional wars. Rather, he goes beyond the common deterrence arguments to assert that nuclear weapons restrain world wars, which allows nations to work together on addressing existential threats. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nuclear deterrence is a myth. Nuclear deterrence involves a nation state maintaining a believable threat of retaliation to deter an adversary’s attack. This relies on demonstrations of the readiness and the capacity to use nuclear weapons—a highly dangerous form of bluff which, in turn, makes those targeted increase their hardware and rhetoric. We are currently witnessing this kind of escalation among several nuclear weapon possessor states, which could result in nuclear war.

Nuclear deterrence rests on decision makers always behaving rationally; even if different states and parties weigh values, threats, and possible consequences in the same way, individual leaders do not always behave rationally.

The Nuclear Ban Treaty Is Taking a Step Forward

Given the treaty is steadily becoming a part of international nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament architecture, it is imperative for the United States, nuclear-armed states and states under the U.S. nuclear extended deterrence “umbrella” to consider how they can also productively engage with the treaty and its states parties,

| January 17, 2024 armscontrol.org

On the afternoon of the first day of December 2023, the UN conference room in New York was filled with long and powerful applause, when the state parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), known informally as the “nuclear ban treaty,” concluded the second meeting on implementation since it entered into force in January 2021.

It has been just five years since the treaty was concluded in 2017, but the TPNW is already helping to bolster the international nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament architecture by reinforcing the norms against nuclear weapons use and providing a path for non-nuclear weapon states and communities and populations adversely affected by nuclear weapons to engage in efforts to advance disarmament and address the damage done by past nuclear weapons testing and use.

Since the TPNW opened for signature, the number of states parties has grown to 70. Significantly, the number of non-signatory observer states that have joined the TPNW meetings to learn more about the treaty has also grown. Their participation underscores that states inside and outside the TPNW can advance progress toward their shared goals: preventing nuclear war and moving closer to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

Victims of nuclear weapon development plan Hill barrage

Advocates seek expansion of Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

| January 11, 2024 rollcall.com

A lobbying blitz is expected this month from advocates for the untold thousands of Americans harmed by radiation from government nuclear projects dating back to World War II, starting with development and testing of the first atomic bomb.

Senators pushing to expand aid for radiation victims were infuriated in December when a provision to reauthorize a compensation fund that expires in June was stripped from the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act prior to Senate passage, largely because of concerns about the projected price tag: $147 billion over 10 years.

Now groups ranging from a coalition of mothers in the St. Louis area to the Navajo Nation are planning visits to Capitol Hill to demand expansion and a longer renewal of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, a 1990 law that provided aid to uranium workers and those exposed to any of nearly 200 nuclear tests in Nevada between 1945 and 1962. The law did not cover those exposed to the first nuclear detonation in White Sands, N.M., in 1945.

Colorado Environmental Groups File Federal Lawsuit to Halt Rocky Flats Trail

Lawsuit claims federal agencies did not consider alternatives to “plutonium-contaminated” portion of refuge

Katie Langford| January 8, 2024 denverpost.com

FILE — In this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, a sign marks a trailhead at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Broomfield, Colo. In the wake of the Marshall wildifre, local elected officials and managers of the refuge are seeking ways to protect the refuge from future blazes. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE — In this Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, a sign marks a trailhead at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Broomfield, Colo. In the wake of the Marshall wildifre, local elected officials and managers of the refuge are seeking ways to protect the refuge from future blazes. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Physicians for Social Responsibility and five Colorado advocacy groups are suing Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and four federal agencies to halt work on a trail through Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the District of Columbia on Monday, claims that the U.S. departments of Transportation and the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Highway Administration violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not considering alternatives to constructing an 8-mile greenway “through the most heavily plutonium-contaminated portion” of the refuge.

Environmental Assessment (EA) For Chromium Plume At LANL Now Out For Review

| December 19, 2023 ladailypost.com

Summary

Groundwater sampling data from monitoring wells at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) indicate the presence of chromium contamination in the regional aquifer resulting from historical use of potassium dichromate, a corrosion inhibitor, in cooling tower water that was discharged to an outfall as part of operational maintenance activities.

DOE is preparing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate alternatives for remedial action as part of the Chromium Interim Measures and Characterization Campaign identified in Appendix A of 2016 Compliance Order on Consent between DOE and the New Mexico Environmental Department.

Public Comment Opportunities

DOE is accepting public comments on the draft EA through Feb. 12, 2024. Please submit public comments using one of the following methods:

Email:

[email protected]. Please use the subject line: Chromium Draft EA Comment

U.S. Mail:

  • EM-LA NEPA Document Manager, U.S. DOE Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office, 1200 Trinity Drive, Suite 400, Los Alamos, NM 87544

Draft EA:

  • DOE has prepared a draft EA (DOE/EA-2216) to evaluate alternatives for remedial action as part of the Chromium Interim Measures and Characterization Campaign identified in Appendix A of 2016 Compliance Order on Consent between DOE and the New Mexico Environmental Department.

For further information:

North Korea’s Kim says military should ‘thoroughly annihilate’ US and South Korea if provoked

“In his New Year’s Day address Monday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said he will strengthen his military’s preemptive strike, missile defense and retaliatory capabilities in response to the North Korean nuclear threat.”

| January 1, 2024 apnews.com

 SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his military should “thoroughly annihilate” the United States and South Korea if provoked, state media reported Monday, after he vowed to boost national defense to cope with what he called an unprecedented U.S.-led confrontation.

North Korea has increased its warlike rhetoric in recent months in response to an expansion of U.S.-South Korean military drills. Experts expect Kim will continue to escalate his rhetoric and weapons tests because he likely believes he can use heightened tensions to wrest U.S. concessions if former President Donald Trump wins the U.S. presidential election in November.

Glove box fire closed part of LANL plutonium facility in November

The federal agency and the lab also have resisted conducting public reviews of pit production, though mishaps and safety infractions are likely to grow more frequent, said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

“LANL knows that chronic nuclear safety incidences will increase with expanded plutonium pit production for the new nuclear arms race, which in turn would cause greater public resistance,” Coghlan said.

| December 21, 2023 santafenewmexican.com

Radiological Control Technicians
Radiological control technicians simulate work processes in a glove box training facility in 2021. A sealed compartment with safety gloves attached caught fire at Los Alamos National Laboratory in November, resulting in officials shutting down a portion of the site’s plutonium facility for 10 days, according to the lab’s and government watchdogs’ reports.  Courtesy Carlos Trujillo/Los Alamos National Laboratory

A sealed compartment with safety gloves attached caught fire at Los Alamos National Laboratory in November, resulting in officials shutting down a portion of the site’s plutonium facility for 10 days, according to the lab’s and government watchdogs’ reports.

Employees were pulverizing 40-year-old legacy materials that were removed from the facility to create more storage and work space when they saw a flash and then a fire inside one of the glove boxes they were using for the task, according to a Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board report.

They deactivated the equipment, sounded alarms and promptly left the room. They and other facility workers evacuated the building.

Buried secrets, poisoned bodies

Why did a Truchas woman die with extraordinary amounts of plutonium in her body — and why was she illegally autopsied? For this reporter, the answers hit close to home.

| December 20, 2023 searchlightnm.com

The first reference to her comes, of all places, on an airplane. It’s the end of April and sitting next to me is Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Both of us are on our way back to Santa Fe from Washington, D.C., after the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s weeklong annual gathering. Coghlan, galvanized by the last several days of activities, spends most of the flight ticking down his list of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s most recent sins. But suddenly he turns to the past.

“Did you know that the person with the highest levels of plutonium in her body after the atomic detonation at Trinity Site was a woman from Truchas?” he asks me. The remark, more hearsay than fact, piques my interest. As Coghlan knows, that’s my pueblito, the place in northern New Mexico where I grew up on land passed down through many generations of women. Tina Cordova — co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium — would know more, he adds. “Ask her.”

Truchas, short for Nuestra Señora del Rosario, San Fernando y Santiago del Río de las Truchas, sits on a ridge in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, 8,000 feet above sea level. With some 370 people in town, most everybody keeps up with the latest mitote, or gossip, at the local post office. A regional variation of Spanish is still spoken by elders. Bloodlines go back centuries. And neighbors might also be relatives. If she is from this tiny, but remarkable, speck on the map, I must at least know of her. My mom, a deft weaver of family trees, definitely would.

Congress should reinstate radiation exposure compensation

“Even though atmospheric nuclear weapons testing ended long ago in 1962, future cancer deaths will still far exceed past deaths due to long-lived fallout. Why is it that our government does not inform us of this future suffering while also failing to justly compensate past and present suffering?” – Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester in a statement supporting those damaged by the nation’s nuclear activities,

THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | December 13, 2023 santafenewmexican.com

Getting the U.S. Congress to do the right thing is never an easy task — and in the case of New Mexico residents and their descendants adversely affected by nuclear bomb testing or uranium mining, at times seems almost impossible.

New Mexico is the birthplace of the atomic bomb and site of the first test in 1945. But people here were not included in the original legislation designed to compensate individuals harmed by the nation’s nuclear efforts. Last week, a new injustice: An amendment to the 2024 defense spending bill to allow federal compensation for New Mexicans hurt by mining or testing was struck from the National Defense Authorization Act during House-Senate Armed Service Committee negotiations last week.

Compensation for radiation exposure had been included as part of the defense spending bill in an amendment sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján along with GOP Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Luján has sponsored radiation exposure compensation bills in every Congress since he first was elected to the House in 2008.

New information tool on nuclear weapons seeks to identify the next arms control strategies

“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.”

By Andrew Facini, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | December 4, 2023 thebulletin.org

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.

Second meeting of states parties agrees nuclear deterrence is the problem

“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.’”

ICAN | UPDATES | December 1, 2023 icanw.org

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.

McGovern is first member of Congress to address UN about Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

“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,”

By SCOTT MERZBACH, THE DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE | November 27, 2023 gazettenet.com

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.

Another large earthquake shows seismic activity continues to increase in West Texas, experts say

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake is tied for the fourth strongest in Texas history. It occurred in an area where oilfield companies have long been injecting wastewater from fracking underground.

By Erin Douglas, The Texas Tribune | November 9, 2023 texasstandard.com

Oil & Gas Industry Joins Fight Against Nuclear Waste Site Proposed in Southeast New Mexico

“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)

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus | November 7, 2023 currentargus.com

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.

2022 News Articles

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN – OUR VIEW – Getting rid of plutonium pits — so many questions

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]

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | December 24, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

WIPP

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

Exposed: The Most Polluted Place in the United States

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.”

By | December 21, 2022 ecowatch.com

polluted
A container of waste is excavated from an underground storage trench at the Hanford Site. Department of Energy / Public Domain

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?

We have to understand what it was born out of, which was the Manhattan Project. There were three locations picked — Los Alamos [N.M.], Oak Ridge [Tenn.] and Hanford — to build the nuclear program.

New Mexico Presses US to Develop Other Nuclear Waste Sites

State wants full waste inventory, limits to disposal
WIPP, open since 1999, mining new panels

 | December 20, 2022 news.bloomberglaw.com

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.

Clean Energy or Weapons? What the ‘Breakthrough’ in Nuclear Fusion Really Means

From Tri-Valley CAREs: On NIF, Nuclear Weapons and Fusion Hype

“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:”

Clean Energy or Weapons? What the ‘Breakthrough’ in Nuclear Fusion Really Means

| December 19, 2022 science.thewire.in

  • 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)

| December 19, 2022 theguardian.com

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

The Energy Department’s fusion breakthrough: It’s not really about generating electricity

“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.

By John Mecklin, THE BULLETIN OF ATOMIC SCIENTISTS | December 16, 2022 thebulletin.org

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.

New trend: long-term investments in the nuclear weapons industry are dropping

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.

By ICAN | December 15, 2022 icanw.org

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.

Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America

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. 
Continue reading

Fallout from a nuclear past: A new book explores the human toll of “nuclear colonization” in New Mexico

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.

By Alicia Inez Guzmán Searchlight New Mexico | December 2022 searchlightnm.org

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.”

Continue reading

Ukraine still fears another Chernobyl-size disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear plant

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.

By , NPR | December 11, 2022 npr.org

Firefighters were working to contain wildfires in the radiation-contaminated Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine.

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.

Nuclear waste permit ‘more stringent’ New Mexico says as feds look to renew for 10 years

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.”

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus | December 10, 2022 currentargus.com

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 Bizarre Mystery of the Only Armed Nuke America Ever Lost

The lost nuke has never been found—only the pilot’s helmet was recovered, and the government kept it secret for years.

By Matthew Gault, Vice News | 2022 vice.com

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:

Live Nuke Still Missing In American Swamp

Making the Case That Nuclear Weapons Are Immoral: An Interview With Archbishop John C. Wester

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.

Arms Control Association | December 2022 armscontrol.org

(Photo by Leslie M. Radigan)
(Photo by Leslie M. Radigan)

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.

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Where Are All the Nuclear Bunkers?

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.

BY , Newsweek | November 22, 2022 newsweek.com

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.

Nuclear watchdog accuses ex-environment official of conflicting interests after she accepts LANL job

“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.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | November 28, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

A nuclear watchdog group wants a state commission to nullify its decision on a permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s radioactive liquid waste treatment facility, arguing the panel’s former chairwoman backed a ruling favorable to the lab while she sought a job with the federal agency that oversees it.

Strong earthquake rattles remote West Texas desert

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

BY TEXAS | November 16, 2022 spectrumlocalnews.com

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.

Russia-US nuclear disarmament talks postponed

Officials from the two countries were due to meet in the Egyptian capital of Cairo from November 29 to December 6.

ALJAZEERA | November 28, 2022 aljazeera.com

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.

Is nuclear disarmament possible? | UpFront

After decades as a nuclear powerhouse, France makes its play in offshore wind

EDF says the 480-megawatt Saint-Nazaire Offshore Wind Farm would help to “support the French State’s energy transition goals.”

By Anmar Frangoul | November 25, 2022 cnbc.com

Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race
Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race

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.

Gov. Lujan Grisham demands President Biden block nuclear waste site in southeast New Mexico

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.

CALRSBAD CURRENT ARGUS | Carlsbad Current-Argus | November 18, 2022 currentargus.com

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.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could start a race for nukes, Austin says

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.

POLITICO | ALEXANDER WARD, November 19, 2022 politico.com

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.

Watchdog agency grills LANL, nuclear officials on lab safety

[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.”

THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | November 16, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

DNFSB Watchdog agency grills LANL, nuclear officials on lab safety

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.
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A Clear Case of Disqualification of NMED Deputy Cabinet Secretary Stephanie Stringer – Concerned Citizens For Nuclear Safety

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. 

CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR NUCLEAR SAFETY | November 17, 2022 nuclearactive.com

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.

New study reveals ‘shocking’ number of deaths in southern Ohio county

“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.

OHIO, LOCAL12 NEWS | | November 16, 2022 local12.com

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.

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Russia and US to hold first nuclear talks since Ukraine war

“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.” 

PONCA CITY NEWS | November 12, 2022 poncacitynews.com

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.

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The Guardian – Letters: nuclear power is not the only option (UK Opinions)

THE GUARDIAN | November 13, 2022 theguardian.com

The Guardian - Letters: nuclear power is not the only option (UK Opinions)

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.
Wendy Fowler
Carnac-Rouffiac, France

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Sweden to spurn nuclear weapons as NATO member, foreign minister says

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.

REUTERS | November 11, 2022 reuters.com

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.

US warns Australia against joining treaty banning nuclear weapons

“Australia must ‘make sure that we are able to be good nuclear stewards from cradle to grave’.” – Defence Minister of Australia Richard Marles

THE GUARDIAN | November 6, 2022 theguardian.com

US warns Australia against joining treaty banning nuclear weaponsThe US has warned Australia against joining a landmark treaty banning nuclear weapons, saying the agreement could hamper defence arrangements between the US and its allies.

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”.

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Sullivan has held talks with Putin aides amid nuclear fears: WSJ

“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.’”

THE HILL | BRAD DRESS  | November 6, 2022 thehill.com

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.

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Interactive Map: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Expanded WIPP mission? No shortcuts

“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.”

, By Dennis McQuillan and Rodney Ewing | October 29, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Expanded WIPP mission? No shortcutsThe 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.

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Nuclear injustice: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the staggering human cost of deterrence

“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 BULLETIN| Franziska StärkUlrich Kühn October 29, 2022 thebulletin.org

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.

LANL remains key part of U.S. nuclear weapons plan

“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.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | October 27, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory received only a brief mention in the Biden administration’s much-awaited update of the country’s nuclear strategy, but it’s clear the Pentagon views …

Department of Energy Official Reveals More Delays in Plans for New Plutonium Pit Facility at DOE’s Savannah River Site

“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.”

By Savannah River Site Watch | October 5, 2022 einpresswire.com

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”

— Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch

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.

Archbishop renews call for dialogue on ridding world of nuclear weapons

“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. ”

| October 23, 2022 osvnews.com

ARCHBISHOP JOHN C. WESTER
Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., offers a reflection on the urgent need for nuclear disarmament during a prayer service for United Nations diplomats at the Church of the Holy Family in New York City Sept. 12, 2022. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

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.”

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Boeing’s Weak Santa Susana Cleanup Triggers Lawsuit 

Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates


PRESS RELEASEInline image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, October 6, 2022
Contact
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.

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Nuclear News Archives – 2021

Will Construction be Delayed on the New Shaft at WIPP?

“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.”

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Some LANL plutonium stored in vulnerable containers

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.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | December 23, 2021 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to store high heat-emitting plutonium in uncertified containers that, if breached in a fire or an earthquake, could expose workers and the public to hazardous doses of radiation, according to a government watchdog’s report.

The lab’s primary contractor seeks a waiver to store large quantities of plutonium-238 in unapproved containers that, if breached, could expose the public to 83 to 378 rem, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said in a December report, referring to the unit that measures radiation absorbed in living tissue.

US Still Doesn’t Know How and Where It Will Store Its Growing Pile of Nuclear Waste

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.”

BY CHARLES PEKOW, EARTH ISLAND JOURNAL | December 23, 2021 earthisland.org

A nuclear watchdog group wants a state commission to nullify its decision on a permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory’s radioactive liquid waste treatment facility, arguing the panel’s former chairwoman backed a ruling favorable to the lab while she sought a job with the federal agency that oversees it.

U.S. Urges Japan Not to Join Nuclear Ban Treaty Meeting

“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.”

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Archbishop calls for nuclear disarming

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.”

SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN By Robert Nott [email protected]

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.

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Why Los Alamos lab is working on the tricky task of creating new plutonium cores

“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.

| POPULAR SCIENCE popsci.com December 18, 2021

This plutonium pellet is “illuminated by its own energy,” according to the Department of Energy. DOE

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.

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Hundreds of Scientists Ask Biden to Cut the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

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.”

Politico-Opinion | Congress Approved $778 Billion for the Pentagon. That Means We Can Afford Build Back Better.

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.

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Germany’s Baerbock pushes for nuclear disarmament

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.

aljazeera.com

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.

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Protesters Denounce French Push to Label Nuclear as Sustainable Energy

“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 | December 14, 2021 

Green activist attend a protest to denounce French push to include nuclear energy and fossil gas in the EU Green taxonomy, in front of the Quai d’Orsay in Paris, France, December 14, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit TessierREUTERS

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.

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NEW Y-12 CONTRACTORS HAVE HISTORY OF NUCLEAR SAFETY FAILURES, MILLIONS IN PENALTIES AND FINES FOR VIOLATIONS

“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.

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Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Will Not Release Contaminated Water In 2022

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.

House Passes $768 Billion Defense Policy Bill

“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.

Energy Department to spend $15.5M to upgrade route from Los Alamos lab to waste site [WIPP]

“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.”

By Scott Wyland [email protected] Santa Fe New Mexican December 6, 2021 santafenewmexican.com

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.

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REPORT: BIT BY BIT, THE NOOSE IS TIGHTENING AROUND THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS INDUSTRY

Human beings are not necessarily destined to annihilate ourselves.
“…the actual danger of nuclear conflict is now greater than at any point in history.

By THE INTERCEPT December 5, 2021 theintercept.com

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.

Or take it from such anti-peaceniks as former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and the late George Shultz. Together they warned for years of the tremendous danger of nuclear war and called for “a world free of nuclear weapons.”

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‘Not in my backyard’: The thorny issue of storing German nuclear waste

“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.”

© FRANCE 24 By: Anne MAILLIET | Nick SPICER france24.com December 4, 2021 / Originally published on:

'Not in my backyard': The thorny issue of storing German nuclear waste • FRANCE 24 English

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

One dead, three injured after gas leak at Spanish nuclear plant

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.

Reuters

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.

Iran nuclear talks resume with upbeat comments despite skepticism

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.”

 

EU and Iranian negotiators struck an optimistic tone on the first day of resumed nuclear talks Monday. (Reuters)

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.

Diplomats say time is running out to resurrect the pact, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018 in a move which infuriated Iran and dismayed the other powers involved — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
European Union, Iranian and Russian delegates to the talks offered optimistic assessments after the new round began with a session of the remaining parties to the deal, without the United States — whom Iran refuses to meet face-to-face.
“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.
Mora told reporters the new Iranian delegation had stuck to its demand that all sanctions be lifted. But he also suggested Tehran had not rejected outright the results of the previous six rounds of talks held between April and June.
“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.”

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Nuclear power is never safe or economical

“I hope Sen. Durbin changes his mind about promoting nuclear energy. The real carbon-free sources of electricity are wind and solar.”

Chicago Sun Times

Renewables Catching Nuclear Power In Global Energy Race
The only real sources of clean, renewable energy are wind and solar, not nuclear, a reader writes.

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

Letters to the Editor: Nuclear energy may not emit carbon, but it isn’t ‘clean’

Los Angeles Times

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County is scheduled for decommissioning in 2025.(Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo Tribune)

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

Pilgrim nuclear plant may release 1M gallons of radioactive water into bay. What we know

“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.””

Doug Fraser Cape Cod Times

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. 

Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which was permanently closed in 2019 and is undergoing decommissioning.
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth, which was permanently closed in 2019 and is undergoing decommissioning.

“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.

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What to expect as Iran nuclear talks resume next week

“New round of talks unlikely to produce breakthrough but will shed light on posture of new Iranian government, analysts say.

aljazeera.com

The first round of nuclear talks since conservative Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took office will start on November 29 [File: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters]
Washington, DC – Indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States to revive the nuclear deal are set to restart next week after a lengthy pause that put prospects of restoring the landmark accord in doubt.While a breakthrough is not expected, analysts have said that the talks set to begin in Vienna on November 29 will shed light on how Tehran will approach diplomacy under conservative President Ebrahim Raisi, whose government has upped Iranian demands before a return to the deal.

“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.

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A spin on Kirtland Air Force Base’s (which shares runways with the ABQ International Airport) true mission from the ABQ Journal: “Air Force lab injects $2B into NM’s economy”

 The Kirtland Air Force Lab is dedicated to militarizing space, not improving the lives of New Mexico citizens.

As stated by the Arms Control Association in an April 2021 article titled Apes on a Treadmill in Space:

“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.”


A spin on Kirtland Air Force Base's (which shares runways with the ABQ International Airport) true mission from the ABQ Journal: “Air Force lab injects $2B into NM's economy”

abqjournal.com

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.

Risk of quakes caused by oil, gas in New Mexico rising

“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.

apnews.com

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.

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Moscow says U.S. rehearsed nuclear strike against Russia this month

“Against this backdrop, Russo-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilising factor in world affairs,” said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

By Andrew Osborn and Phil Stewart (Reuters)

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu waits before a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Defence Ministry officials and representatives of the military-industrial complex enterprises at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia November 3, 2021. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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.

Explainer: Will Germany’s next government ditch U.S. nuclear bombs?

“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.

BERLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) archivemd.com

A stockpile of munitions stored in a secured facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 6, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine)
NATO allies will be scouring the policies of Germany’s next federal government for one crucial detail: Will Berlin remain part of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement?
Or will it drop out and ask the United States to remove its nuclear bombs from German soil?
While such a move might be popular among some Germans, it would reveal a rift within NATO at a time when the alliance’s relations with Russia are at their lowest since the end of the Cold War.
WHAT IS NATO’S NUCLEAR SHARING?
As part of NATO’s deterrence, the United States has deployed nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey – all NATO allies that do not have their own nuclear weapons. In the case of a conflict, the air forces of these countries are meant to carry the American nuclear bombs.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GERMANY’S ROLE?
Around 20 U.S. nuclear bombs are estimated to be stored at the German air base of Buechel, in a remote area of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The base is also home to a squadron of Tornado fighter jets belonging to the German air force, the only German jets fitted to carry the nuclear bombs.

Perilous Profiteering: The companies building nuclear arsenals and their financial backers

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.

Check out who is profiting

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.

Federal inspection of Pilgrim plant finds only ‘minor’ violations

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.

By Colin A. Young, State House News Service PATRIOT LEDGER NEWS patriotledger.com

alt="Dry casks holding spent fuel assemblies are shown outside the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station before its May 2019 shutdown. Owner Holtec International has reached an agreement with the state to ensure safe decommissioning of the plant and cleanup of the site."
Dry casks holding spent fuel assemblies are shown outside the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station before its May 2019 shutdown. Owner Holtec International has reached an agreement with the state to ensure safe decommissioning of the plant and cleanup of the site. Cape Cod Times File Photo

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.

WIPP: Judge upholds change in how nuke waste is counted. Could keep site open to 2050

“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.

Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus November 15, 2021 currentargus.com

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.

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UN experts review plans for release of Fukushima plant water

The plan has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea.

courthousenews.com

Cranes over the Fukushima Daiichi plant in February 2016. UN experts review plans for release of Fukushima plant water
The Pacific Ocean looks over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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Australia Could Push To Acquire Retired US Navy Los Angeles Class Nuclear Submarines

“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

todayuknews.com

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

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.”

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COP26: Fossil fuel industry has largest delegation at climate summit

There are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country, analysis shared with the BBC shows.

By BBC NEWS bbc.com

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.

U.S. ‘very bullish’ on new nuclear technology, Granholm says

“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.

By Yahoo News news.yahoo.com

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].

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Al Jazeera Infographic: The World Nuclear Club

While 32 countries generate atomic energy, nine have nuclear weapons and seven countries have both.

aljazeera.com

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.

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Flooding and Nuclear Waste Eat Away at a Tribe’s Ancestral Home

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.”

By Mark Walker nytimes.com

Xcel Energy runs the Prairie Island nuclear plant near the reservation and has stored 47 canisters of nuclear waste close to the homes of tribe members.Credit…Laylah Amatullah Barrayn for The New York Times

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.”

Proposed plutonium shipments concern New Mexico lawmakers

“The agency has said little overall about its plans, despite the potential hazards, said Cindy Weehler, who co-chairs the watchdog group 285 ALL.

santafenewmexican.com

Proposed plutonium shipments concern New Mexico lawmakers

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.

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Nuclear Power Is COP26’s Quiet Controversy

“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.

BY ALEJANDRO DE LA GARZA time.com

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.

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US Government Works to ‘Cocoon’ Old Nuclear Reactors

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

A sign informs visitors of prohibited items on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington in July 2014. from Ted S. Warren/AP
A sign informs visitors of prohibited items on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington in July 2014. from Ted S. Warren/AP

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.

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Is it green, or forever toxic? Nuclear rift at climate talks

“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

FILE – A group of activists clash with riot police officers early Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, in Lieusaint, Normandy, France, as they try to block the train tracks in an effort to stop a train loaded with nuclear waste and heading to Gorleben in Germany. Nuclear power is a central sticking point as negotiators plot out the world’s future energy strategy at the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. Critics decry its mammoth price tag, the disproportionate damage caused by nuclear accidents and radioactive waste. But a growing pro-nuclear camp argues that it’s safer on average than nearly any other energy source. (AP Photo/David Vincent, File)

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.

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U.S. Discloses Nuclear Stockpile Numbers

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.

By: Shannon Bugos ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION armscontrol.org

“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.

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Jellyfish Keep Attacking Nuclear Power Plants

Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling pipes of nuclear power plants around the world.

By Gabriel Geiger   vice.com

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.”

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Art and “un-forgetting”: How to honor the atomic dead

“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.”

By Molly Hurley | November 26, 2021 thebulletin.org

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

HIDDEN AGENDA: The unspoken argument for more nuclear power

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.

By Linda Pentz Gunter beyondnuclearinternational.org

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.

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‘Ignored for 70 years’: human rights group to investigate uranium contamination on Navajo Nation

Boost for advocates’ group is step further in decades-long fight against mining pollution

By: THE GUARDIAN theguardian.com

A protest sign saying ‘No Mining’ in Navajo is seen next to the entry to Northeast Church Rock abandoned uranium mine in Pinedale, New Mexico. Photograph: Pamela Peters/Reuters

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.

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An Unearthly Spectacle: The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Nuclear Bomb

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.

By Alex Wellerstein October 29, 2021 thebulletin.org

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! [1]

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.”

A still frame from a once-secret Soviet documentary of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, released by Rosatom in August 2020.
A still frame from a once-secret Soviet documentary of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, released by Rosatom in August 2020.

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.[2]

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.

“What’s Yours Is Mine”

“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.”

DAILY PNUT  dailypnut.com

Navajo land
(Mandel Ngan via Getty Images)

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.

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Reactor at Japan’s nuclear power plant suspended over counter-terrorism demands: Reports

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.

ANI Tokyo   devdiscourse.com

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.

10 Years Since Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster | © Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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)

Groups Fire Back at Feds’ Move to Dismiss Plutonium Pit Lawsuit

Groups Fire Back at Feds’ Move to Dismiss Plutonium Pit Lawsuit

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.”

SRS WATCH / 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.

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U.S. nuclear envoy visits S. Korea amid N. Korea missile tension, stalled talks

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.

cnbc.com

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

Bombs Away: Weapon Systems That Biden Administration Could Curtail or Retire

Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect

By: Michael R. Gordon | Wall Street Journal

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.
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DOE Publishes Reactor Impact Statement

“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

By: NATHAN BROWN [email protected]

Idaho National Laboratory photo

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.
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DOE Awards Savannah River National Laboratory Management and Operating Contract

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.

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Actual amount of radioactive contamination caused by the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, as revealed by Japanese citizen scientists

Minna-no Data Site, an independent nonprofit network of radioactivity-measuring laboratories, was established with the aim of reducing citizen exposure to radiation, through conducting extensive food measurements and releasing this information to the public.

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.”

By: beyondnuclearinternational

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.

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Facing Widespread Opposition, Feds Withdraw Nuke Waste Plan

“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.”

BY:  | courthousenews.com Dec 17, 2020

(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.

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LANL contractor hits first goal in toxic waste cleanup projects

“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.”

BY: [email protected]| Santa Fe New Mexican Dec 16, 2020

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.

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Critics say Turkey’s unfinished nuclear plant already redundant

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 

A view of the construction site of Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, Akkuyu, is pictured during the opening ceremony in the Mediterranean Mersin region on April 3, 2018. Photo by IBRAHIM MESE/AFP via Getty Images.

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.

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East Coast nuke plants prepare to send waste to New Mexico via Holtec project

East coast nuclear power plants are getting ready to send their waste to southeast New Mexico as they are shut down.

BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus

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.

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‘Highly skeptical’: House Armed Services chairman concerned about SRS pit production

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.

BY: Colin Demarest [email protected] | postandcourier.com

An aerial view of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site. The site is about 30 minutes south of Aiken.
Photo courtesy of High Flyer

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.”

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John Pilger: The Most Lethal Virus is Not Covid-19. It is War.

Covid-19 has provided cover for a pandemic of propaganda, says John Pilger.

BY:  John Pilger

Armed Services Memorial. (Geograph/David Dixon)

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.

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Rising Resistance to Supporting the US War Budget: The House and Senate Leaders Who Voted Against War

December 14th, 2020 – by Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

(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)

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Chairman of House Armed Services Committee Reveals Great Skepticism in NNSA’s Ability to Covert SRS MOX Facility to Plutonium Pit Production, Refers to $6 Billion Project as Potential “Rat Hole”

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.
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Kairos Power test reactor comes to repurposed Oak Ridge site

Kairos Power plans to site a test reactor it has dubbed Hermes at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

BY: ANS Nuclear News Staff | ans.org

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.”

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UT, Texas A&M Systems hope to manage Y-12 National Security Complex and the Pantex Plant

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.

By: Monica KastKnoxville News Sentinel

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. 

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Russian Ambassador to U.S. Sees Hope for Nuclear Arms Treaty Extension

Antonov termed the 11-year-old START treaty “the gold standard of arms control agreements.”

BY:  | news.usni.org

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches during an operational test at 1:13 a.m. Pacific Time on Oct. 2, 2019. US Air Force Photo

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.

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Defying Trump, House Approves Defense Bill with Veto-Proof Majority

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.”

BY:  | defensenews.com

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.

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Sandia National Labs to Test Nuclear Waste Storage Containers

“[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,’”

BY:  | krqe.com

Sandia National Labs is testing nuclear waste storage canisters. (courtesy Randy Montoya Sandia National Labs)

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.

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US nuclear warhead standoff ‘has significant implications for UK’

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”.

BY: | theguardian.com/uk

HMS Vigilant, one of the four Trident nuclear submarines. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

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.

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Peninsula Clean Energy board rejects PG&E nuclear credits

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.

BY: | smdailyjournal.com

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.
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Rouhani: ‘No negotiations’ needed to restore Iran nuclear deal

“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”

BY: Maziar Motamedi | aljazeera.com

US president-elect Joe Biden and Europe have signalled that while they wish to restore the nuclear deal, they believe it needs to be renegotiated and extended

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.

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New Aerial Photos Released of the Trio of Failed Nuclear Projects in South Carolina & Georgia: Plutonium Fuel/MOX (Proposed to be Converted into a Plutonium Bomb Plant) and the Vogtle & V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Sites

Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
https://srswatch.org/
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.

SRS MOX
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
SRS Vogtle Nov 20 2020 RMI00206-sm
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
SRS Nov 20 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
SRS Nov 20 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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SRS MOX
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Lawmakers Decide Against Nuclear Weapons Test Funding in Annual Defense Bill

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.”

BY: Union of Concerned Scientists | ucsusa.org

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.

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How I Came to Support the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons

“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.”

BY:  | justsecurity.org

A copy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo credit: ICAN

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.

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Nuclear fiasco: SCANA ex-CEO to plead guilty to fraud, get prison, pay $5 million

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.

Cooperation agreement between South Carolina federal attorney, SC attorney general & Dominion: https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cooperation-agreement-SCGA-US-fed-attny-Dominion-filed-Nov-24-2020.pdf
Marsh, 65, who now lives in North Carolina, helped lead a two-year cover-up, from 2016 to 2018, of the serious financial trouble that was jeopardizing the success of not only the ongoing Fairfield County nuclear project but also the troubled financial health of SCANA, according to records and evidence in the case.
At the time, the now-defunct SCANA was a respected gas and electric publicly-traded utility and the only Fortune 500 company in South Carolina. It had 700,000 electric customers and 350,000 natural gas customers.
Marsh, SCANA CEO from 2011 to 2017, will need to have his guilty plea formally accepted by a U.S. District Court judge before it becomes official. Under the plea agreement, Marsh will likely face a prison term of between 18 and 36 months.Continue reading

New investigative report documents fires, violations at company treating Hanford wastes

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.

BY: & Seattle Times staff reporters | seattletimes.com

1 of 11 | The Perma-Fix complex in Richland handles radioactive waste, including waste from Hanford, on a 35-acre site. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

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.”

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Biden expected to re-examine SC factory

“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

BY: SAMMY FRETWELL| thestate.com

This aerial photograph shows the abandoned mixed oxide fuel factory at SRS. The photo was taken in 2019. SC HIGH FLYER

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.

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WIPP: New Mexico regulators halt utility shaft project, cite COVID-19, planning problems

“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.

BY: Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.| currentargus.com

Underground waste shaft station at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

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.

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In Georgia Senate runoffs, the focus — and the fire — is on Raphael Warnock

BY: Cleve R. Wootson Jr. | 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.

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Flight tests to show B61-12 will work on Air Force’s newest fighter jet

Sandia Labs News Releases | sandia.gov

An F-35A Lightning II opens its bomb bay doors and drops a mock B61-12 at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range. Media can download test flight footage here. (Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories) Click the thumbnail for a larger image.

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.

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Fracking Likely Triggered Earthquakes in California a Few Miles From the San Andreas Fault

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 

Activity in the San Ardo oil field near Salinas, California, has been linked to earthquakes. Eugene Zelenko / Wikimedia / CC BY 4.0

The way companies drill for oil and gas and dispose of wastewater can trigger earthquakes, at times in unexpected places.

In West Texas, earthquake rates are now 30 times higher than they were in 2013. Studies have also linked earthquakes to oil field operations in OklahomaKansasColorado and Ohio.

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.

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‘Devastating’: Top Pentagon leadership gutted as fears rise over national security

“Trio of resignations follow defense secretary’s firing.

BY: LARA SELIGMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN | politico.com

The Pentagon | Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

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.”

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NNSA Administrator Fired While on Leave; Energy Secretary Tracked Her for Months

“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.”

BY: EXCHANGEMONITOR

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.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott objects to nuclear waste facility proposed in Permian Basin

“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.”

BY: Adrian Hedden | Carlsbad Current-Argus

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.

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Possible Link between Star Athlete’s Cancer Connected to Radioactive Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Next Door

Was DOE uranium enrichment plant responsible for star athlete’s cancer death?

BY:  

Was a star athlete's cancer connected to a facility next door? (Larry Farmer/WKRC)
Was a star athlete’s cancer connected to a facility next door? (Larry Farmer/WKRC)

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.

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Michèle Flournoy could become the first woman to run the Pentagon. Here’s what would change.

“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:  

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.”

The Clinton administration never materialized, following the election of President Donald Trump. But four years later, president-elect Biden is widely expected to fulfill his promise and tap Flournoy to lead the U.S. military.

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Safety Board Notes “Hard Shutdown” of the Key Cesium-Removal Step during Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) Startup; For Second Time, DOE Failed to Publicly Reveal Operational Problems with SWPF, Shaking Trust in DOE’s Reporting about Status of Key High-Level Waste Management Facility

“Given the importance of SWPF and this initial phase of its operation, updates must be frequent and honest by DOE, not delayed and incomplete,” – Tom Clements, director of SRS Watch

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.

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Experts: Nuclear waste storage a concern in New Mexico, Southwest

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.

BY: Michael Gerstein [email protected] 

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.

The issue is of critical concern for New Mexico because Florida-based Holtec International has proposed creating a temporary storage facility about halfway between Carlsbad and Hobbs, where nuclear waste would be stored until the federal government forms a permanent facility.

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Washington State Picks New Hanford Cleanup Watchdog

BY: TRI-CITY HERALD STAFF 

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.”

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LANL Tritium Venting, Middle DP Road And Consent Order Dominate NMED Community Engagement Meeting

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.

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USAF Plans To Expand Nuclear Bomber Bases

“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 

Posted on Nov.17, 2020 in Arms Control, B-2, B-21, B-52, bombers, Nuclear Weapons, Russia, United States by Hans M. 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.

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New Mexico’s oil fields have a sinkhole problem

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.”

By: Elizabeth Miller | hcn.org

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.

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Carlsbad Company Sues WIPP for $32 Million After Air System Subcontract Terminated

“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.”

By: Adrian Hedden | Carlsbad Current-Argus

WIPP

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.

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U.S. Nuclear Bomb Overseer Quits After Clash With Energy Chief

“Her resignation came after a budget dispute between the NNSA and Brouillette and other officials spilled into the open earlier this year.”

BY: and  

Lisa E Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and undersecretary of Energy for nuclear security. (CREDIT: Reuters)

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.

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Donald Trump fires defense secretary Mark Esper

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.

By: Amanda Macias | cnbc.com

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.

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‘Our industry knows Joe Biden really well’: Defense contractors unconcerned as Biden clinches victory

“I think the industry will have, when it comes to national security, a very positive view” of a Biden presidency, Punaro said.

By: Aaron Gregg | washingtonpost.com

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.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

THE CARCINOGENIC, MUTAGENIC, TERATOGENIC AND TRANSMUTATIONAL EFFECTS OF TRITIUM

“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, Texas Lawmakers Oppose Interim Storage Partners Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Plans

NM administration’s (Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham) latest opposition to the TEXAS dump:

New Mexico Environment Department comments to NRC, opposing ISP CISF 0.37 miles from NM state line, in TX

Latest statement of opposition from the Texas governor, as posted Nov. 3rd on the Beyond Nuclear website, and updated Nov. 5th:

Texas Governor Abbott expresses strong opposition to ISP/WCS CISF, in written DEIS comments to NRC

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:

For Immediate Distribution  |  November 5, 2020  |  (512) 463-1826

Governor Abbott Sends Letter Opposing Storage Of Spent Nuclear Fuel In Andrews County

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott has sent a letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing construction of a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The facility, proposed by Interim Storage Partners (ISP), would take spent nuclear fuel from around the country and store it on the surface of the Permian Basin. The Governor urges the NRC to deny ISP’s license application, highlighting the unique environmental risk of a terrorist attack that could shut down the world’s largest producing oilfield through a major radioactive release.

 

“The proposed ISP facility imperils America’s energy security because it would be a prime target for attacks by terrorists, saboteurs, and other enemies,” reads the letter. “This location could not be worse for storing ultra-hazardous radioactive waste. Having consulted with numerous state agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Department of Transportation, I urge the NRC to deny ISP’s license application.”

 

View the Governor’s Letter

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Nuclear News Archives – 2019

NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

A U.S. Forest Service employee assesses sagebrush ecosystems of the Curlew National Grassland in Idaho. With NEPA’s passage, federal agencies were required to bring in specialists to study proposed project areas in depth. Employee on the Curlew National Grassland, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Credit: US Forest Service.

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.

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Sanders Calls Out ‘Deficit Hawks’ in Both Parties Who Support $738 Billion Pentagon Budget But Claim US Can’t Afford Medicare for All

“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.”

ARTICLE BY JAKE JOHNSON | commondreams.org

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

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A Gateway to Nuclear Catastrophe: Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy

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.”

BY: TOM Z. COLLINA | defenseone.com

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.

AP / ALEX BRANDON – In this 2018 photo, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, stands as Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, second from left, speaks, accompanied by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

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.”

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Watch the Pentagon test a previously banned ballistic missile

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

For the first time since the end of the INF Treaty, the U.S. Air Force has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile.

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.

The test, which occurred Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST, was configured to represent a conventional warhead. The test was anticipated for months, with Defense Department officials previously indicating they hoped to have it happen before the end of the year.

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This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

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.”

ARTICLE BY: MATTHEW GAULT | vice.com

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?

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.

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Uranium contaminated property collapsing into Detroit River

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.

beyondnuclear.org

Michigan.gov

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.”

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Here’s how Trump can get a win with Russia — and actually help all Americans

Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: MICHAEL MCFAUL | washingtonpost.com

This image, provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch on Oct. 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The image was taken with a slow shutter speed. (J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)

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.

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Pentagon: Nuke official sexually harassed 3 women on his staff, resigns during probe

ARTICLE BY: TOM VANDEN BROOK | usatoday.com

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.


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The New START Treaty Keeps Nuclear Arsenals In Check And President Trump Must Act To Preserve It

Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: HANS KRISTENSEN & MATT KORDA | forbes.com

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…”

New START Treaty aggregate numbers of strategic forces

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.

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Win Without War + 37 Orgs: NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

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.

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Defense Authorization Act 2020 – Out Now

The 3488-page Conference Report is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/CRPT-116hrpt333.pdf
The 741-page Joint Explanatory Statement is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/116hrpt333-JointExplanatoryStatement.pdf
The 19-page bill summary is at:
https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/CRPT-116hrpt333-summary.pdf

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.”

Don’t Let START Stop

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

Photo by U.S. Air Force.

The Dartmouth Conference, initiated with the support of President Eisenhower and Chairman Khrushchev, has met 147 times since 1960.  Under its auspices, experienced and thoughtful American and Russian citizens from the fields of diplomacy, military affairs, medicine, religion and others have gathered regularly to develop joint recommendations on the entire range of issues in our relationship.Given the deep concerns we share about the security of our peoples, for the first time in our history we are compelled by the urgency of the situation to issue this public appeal to our governments, founded on our view that the clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has re-emerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture.For more than four decades, the strategic stability, safety and security of the United States, Russia and the world at large have been protected by this arms control regime.  Those agreements, and the continuing bilateral contacts they required and facilitated, also have helped to limit the risks of military clashes between the two countries.  We express our concern in this regard at the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev, and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.Continue reading

State report: LANL lost track of 250 barrels of nuke waste

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.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

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.”

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Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments

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.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

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.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

“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

nuclearactive.org

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:

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

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.

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Defense policy deal creates Space Force, sidesteps border wall controversy

ARTICLE BY JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)
A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

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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SSFL stalemate

An informational meeting on Nov. 20 turned confrontational

ARTICLE BY MELISSA SIMON | simivalleyacorn.com

ALTERNATE PERSPECTIVE— Denise Duffield of Santa Monica protests a NASA meeting on the cleanup of the Santa Susana Field Lab at the Best Western Posada Royale Hotel on Nov. 20 in Simi Valley. MICHAEL COONS/Acorn

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.

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Fireworks at NASA meeting for cleaning up nuke meltdown at Santa Susana Field Lab

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.

ARTICLE BY MIKE HARRIS | vcstar.com

Santa Susana Field Lab cleanup activist Dan Hirsch, second from left, being asked by Simi Valley police to leave a NASA public meeting Wednesday night for allegedly being disruptive. (Photo: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/JUDI BUMSTEAD)

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.

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Sandia Labs Appoints Director

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

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LANL Proposes Satellite “Campus” in Santa Fe

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.” ”

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POPE FRANCES CALLS FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS ABOLITION

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?”

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How to Change the Face of Nuclear Policy: Diversify

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.

ARTICLE BY: LAURA S. H. HOLGATE & MICHELLE DOVER| nationalinterest.org

Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo

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.

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DOE Secretary Rick Perry believes Trump is God’s Chosen One

Rick Perry says Trump (and Obama) were ‘ordained by God’ to be president

ARTICLE BY: DANIEL BURKE | cnn.com

Rick Perry avoids impeachment questions ahead of resignation(CNN) Like a lot of evangelical Christians, Energy Secretary Rick Perry believes in a God who gets involved in every aspect of our lives — including the election of Donald Trump as 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.

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LETHAL LEGACY: The US wants to bury SC’s plutonium stockpile forever. Its new home isn’t sure it wants it.

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.

BY: [email protected] postandcourier.com

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.

In Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Pope Francis calls for abolishing nuclear weapons

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

ARTICLE BY: JUSTIN MCCURRAY | theguardian.com

Pope Francis speaking at the Nagasaki hypocenter memorial. Photograph: Ciro Fusco/EPA

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.

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Deval Patrick: the latest presidential candidate to be uninformed on nuclear weapons

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

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.

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US to Europe: Fix Open Skies Treaty or we quit

ARTICLE BY JOE GOULD & AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

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.

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Screw Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas?! U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee approves dangerously bad nuke waste bill

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.
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.
Considering their targeting for the nuke waste dumps, this bill could be called the Screw Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas bill.
But when it comes to the high-risk transportation impacts, we all live in Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas!
See the self-congratulatory press release by the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman, Frank Pallone Jr. (Democrat-New Jersey), here 
What can you do? Contact your U.S. Representative, and urge opposition to this dangerously bad bill, H.R. 2699!

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DIA on Iran nuclear program

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.

ARTICLE BY BILL GERTZ | thewashintontimes.com

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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Plutonium Pit Production Workshop 11/19

https://www.facebook.com/NukeWatch.NM/videos/825812604488302/

[embeddoc url=”https://nukewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/MK-11-19-19-Pu-Pits-W87-1.pptx” download=”all” viewer=”google”]

FBI agent who raided Rocky Flats Plant to speak

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.

ARTICLE BY: MARK OSWALD | abqjournal.com

Jon Lipsky (Photo by Patti Lipsky)

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.

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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

Tune in here ↓

santafe.com/radio/ktrc/stream

12 years and counting: Effort to lock Hanford’s radioactive waste in glass faces more delays

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.

ARTICLE BY: JOHN STANG | crosscut.com

A sign at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation warns of possible hazards in the soil along the Columbia River near Richland in Benton County, Aug. 14, 2019. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

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.

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Nuclear watchers warn of pit production hazards, consequences during Aiken forum

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.

ARTICLE BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements holds a large photo of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, a never-completed nuclear fuel plant at the Savannah River Site. Staff photo by Colin Demarest

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.

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Here’s how a CR could hurt America’s nuclear weapons modernization

“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.”

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

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.”

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$1.5 MILLION IN NEW GRANTS TO STOP NUCLEAR THREATS

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.

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EU Labors to Keep Nuclear Deal Alive After New Iran Moves

“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.

ARTICLE BY: LORNE COOK | dailyinterlake.com

EU Labors to Keep Nuclear Deal Alive After New Iran Moves
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, left, talks to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, right, and Malta’s Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela during an European Foreign Aairs Ministers meeting at the Europa building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. European Union foreign ministers are discussing ways to keep the Iran nuclear deal intact after the Islamic Republic began enrichment work at its Fordo power plant. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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.

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