Nuclear News Archives

Nuclear repository site near Carlsbad readies for waste from Washington after pause

As of May 6, 2024, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico is preparing to receive nuclear waste from Washington after a two-month pause for maintenance.

currentargus.com

Nuclear waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository near Carlsbad were suspended for about two months as workers completed numerous maintenance projects at the underground facility.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico calls for comprehensive plutonium cleanup at LANL

A group of anti-nuclear activists used data from Los Alamos National Laboratory to map places where plutonium contamination has been found in areas near the lab. Nuclear Watch New Mexico says that the data indicates plutonium contamination has migrated through the subsurface and into important water sources. The group called for comprehensive cleanup at LANL. […]

“Nuclear Watch New Mexico believes comprehensive cleanup is imperative, especially in light of expanding nuclear weapons programs.”

nmpoliticalreport.com

A group of anti-nuclear activists used data from Los Alamos National Laboratory to map places where plutonium contamination has been found in areas near the lab.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico says that the data indicates plutonium contamination has migrated through the subsurface and into important water sources. The group called for comprehensive cleanup at LANL.

The data is publicly available and there are more than 100,000 samples for plutonium dating from 1970 to 2023. However, Sophia Stroud, a digital content manager for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, explained that they did not want to include samples on their map that could be linked to fallout from nuclear weapons testing rather than activities at the lab.

They narrowed down the samples to remove plutonium samples that could have come from nuclear weapon testing. That left about 58,100 samples that were taken from below ground between 1992 and 2023.

Of those samples, about 70 percent of them were below detectable levels of plutonium.

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The long path of plutonium: A new map charts contamination at thousands of sites, miles from Los Alamos National Laboratory

Plutonium hotspots appear along tribal lands, hiking trails, city streets and the Rio Grande River, a watchdog group finds

“Nuclear Watch’s driving question, according to Scott Kovac, its operations and research director, concerned a specific pattern of contamination: Had plutonium migrated from LANL dump sites into regional groundwater? The answer, Kovac believes, is yes.”

searchlightnm.org

For years, the public had no clear picture of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium footprint. Had the ubiquitous plutonium at LANL infiltrated the soil? The water? Had it migrated outside the boundary of the laboratory itself?

A series of maps published by Nuclear Watch New Mexico are beginning to answer these questions and chart the troubling extent of plutonium on the hill. One map is included below, while an interactive version appears on Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s website. The raw data for both comes from Intellus New Mexico, a publicly accessible clearinghouse of some 16 million environmental monitoring records offered in recent decades by LANL, the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy.

Approximately 58,100 red dots populate each map at 12,730 locations, marking a constellation of points where plutonium — a radioactive element used in nuclear weapons — was found in the groundwater, surface water or soil. What’s alarming is just how far that contamination extends, from Bandelier National Monument to the east and the Santa Fe National Forest to the north, to San Ildefonso tribal lands in the west and the Rio Grande River and Santa Fe County, to the south.

The points, altogether, tell a story about the porous boundary between LANL and its surrounds. So pervasive is the lab’s footprint that plutonium can be found in both trace and notable amounts along hiking trails, near a nursing home, in parks, along major thoroughfares and in the Rio Grande.

Gauging whether or not the levels of plutonium are a health risk is challenging: Many physicians and advocates say no dose of radiation is safe. But when questions about risk arise, one of the few points of reference is the standard used at Rocky Flats in Colorado, where the maximum allowable amount of plutonium in remediated soil was 50 picocuries per gram. Many sites on the Nuclear Watch map have readings below this amount. Colorado’s construction standard, by contrast, is 0.9 picocuries per gram.

Watchdog group says LANL data shows widespread plutonium migration

“[NukeWatch] argued [their] plutonium migration map provides “compelling evidence of the need for a comprehensive cleanup” at the lab. The Department of Energy instead has proposed a plan to “cap and cover” 190,000 cubic yards of waste in unlined pits and trenches, at an estimated cost of $12 million.

Many local organizations and community leaders, including the Santa Fe County Commission, have opposed the plan, and the New Mexico Environment Department issued a draft order in September calling for a full cleanup — at a cost of about $800 million.”

santafenewmexican.com

LOS ALAMOS NATIONAL LABORATORY
Plutonium migration
Nuclear Watch New Mexico says it has created an interactive map showing plutonium migration from Los Alamos National Laboratory based on the lab’s database of environmental sampling. The map of 58,100 sampling sites, including 17,483 where the element was detected, shows trace amounts of the radioactive element as far away as Cochiti Lake, the group says.

Trace amounts of plutonium from decades of weapons work at Los Alamos National Laboratory have contaminated the Rio Grande at least as far as Cochiti Lake and could be in the regional aquifer that serves a large population of New Mexicans, a nuclear watchdog says.

“That’s been long known,” Nuclear Watch New Mexico Director Jay Coghlan said in a virtual briefing Thursday morning, when the organization unveiled a map of plutonium migration it said was created with LANL’s own data.

“Nevertheless, it’s not generally known by the New Mexican public,” Coghlan said. “What is ‘new news’ is publicly calling that out.”

Nuclear Watch used what it called the lab’s publicly accessible but cumbersome environmental database, Intellus New Mexico, to map 58,100 spots where the lab collected samples between 1992 and 2023, including 17,483 labeled as plutonium “detects.” The interactive map shows the date each sample was collected and the level of plutonium detected, with two “detects” cited in Cochiti Lake, dozens in the Rio Grande east of Los Alamos and thousands around the lab.

Government watchdog says LANL could be doing more to prevent glove box contaminant releases

“In an email, an anti-nuclear watchdog argued the 10 incidents the board lists in the report were “potentially dangerous.”

“The discouraging overall trend is the accelerating frequency of these events as LANL ramps up expanded plutonium pit production,” wrote Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “The Lab feeds the public with empty assurances of safety. However, this trend deserves meaningful course correction before, and not after, LANL begins production.””

santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory is not doing all it can to detect radioactive leaks in glove boxes and prevent the release of airborne contaminants, a federal watchdog said in a review it conducted of the equipment and safety programs after a series of mishaps.

The equipment, made up of sealed compartments and attached protective gloves, aids workers in handling radioactive materials and is deemed essential in the lab ramping up production of plutonium cores, or pits, that trigger nuclear warheads.

Although the lab is addressing problems previously identified with glove box operations — worn gloves not changed soon enough, inadequate staffing and training, leaky ports not sealed — a team found several other deficiencies that should be fixed to reduce hazards, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board wrote in a 13-page report.

Los Alamos decontaminating nuclear waste. Could it save space at repository near Carlsbad?

A report from Nuclear Watch New Mexico posited pit production would generate 57,550 cubic meters of the waste over 50 years, more than half of WIPP’s projected future capacity. This assertion was backed up by a 2019 report from the National Academies of Sciences finding WIPP could lack sufficient space for disposal of surplus plutonium and other DOE planned waste streams in the coming decades.”

currentargus.com

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are hoping to decontaminate some of the nuclear waste from the lab that would otherwise be disposed of at a repository near Carlsbad, as the lab was planning to ramp its production of plutonium pits used to trigger warheads.

Transuranic (TRU) waste from the lab and other Department of Energy facilities is disposed of via burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in a 2,000-foot-deep salt deposit about 30 miles east of Carlsbad. TRU waste is made up of clothing, equipment and debris irradiated during nuclear research and other activities.

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.
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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.

2023 Highlighted Articles

Saudi Arabia Offers Its Price to Normalize Relations With Israel | March 11, 2023

House conservatives issue new list of demands that could upend debt ceiling talks | March 10, 2023

Saudi Arabia Seeks U.S. Security Pledges, Nuclear Help for Peace With Israel | March 9, 2023

US Must Sharpen Attention to Potential Global Crisis Posed by Russia and China | March 9, 2023

Pentagon Developed Contingency Plan for War With Iran | March 1, 2023

One year later, new dangers threaten Ukraine’s embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant | February 28, 2023

U.N. Agency Confirms Iran Produced Enriched Uranium Close to Weapons Grade | February 28, 2023

China’s Imports of Russian Uranium Spark Fear of New Arms Race | February 28, 2023

Is Russia Preparing for a Nuclear Weapons Test? | February 26, 2023

‘Our Support Will Not Waver,’ Biden Says After Putin Signals Sharper Break | February 21, 2023

Israel: 'all possible means on the table' to prevent Iran getting nuclear weapon | February 17, 2023

Artificial intelligence should not control nuclear weapons use, officials say | February 16, 2023

Russian-linked malware was close to putting U.S. electric, gas facilities ‘offline’ last year | February 14, 2023

Russian diplomat says ties with US in ‘unprecedented crisis’ | February 9, 2023

North Korea claims to show off ‘greatest’ nuclear attack capability | February 9, 2023

China Has More ICBM Launchers Than U.S., American Military Reports | February 7, 2023

Putin ally warns NATO of nuclear war if Russia is defeated in Ukraine | January 19, 2023

Russia produces first set of Poseidon super torpedoes - TASS | January 16, 2023

Lockheed-Funded Granger Vows to Protect Defense Spending | January 13, 2023

Trump discussed using a nuclear weapon on North Korea in 2017 and blaming it on someone else, book says | January 12, 2023

In a First, South Korea Declares Nuclear Weapons a Policy Option | January 12, 2023

North Korea: What we can expect from Kim Jong-un in 2023 | January 3, 2023

N. Korea’s Kim vows ‘exponential’ increase in nuclear arsenal in new year | January 1, 2023

Nuclear News Archive – 2022

The Sandia National Laboratory campus.

Busted: Lockheed’s Sandia Corp Illegally Lobbied Key Congress Members With Federal Funds to Block Competition For Lucrative Contract

The complete DOE IG November 2014 investigation report has now been released to The Center for Public Integrity following their FOIA request.

CPI has come out with a hard-hitting article about illegal lobbying by the world’s biggest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, to extend its management contract of the Sandia Labs.
This report peels back part of the veil surrounding a defense corporation’s “capture strategy” for the Obama administration.

Last November Inspector General Gregory Friedman issued his report on the Special Inquiry into “Alleged Attempts by Sandia National Laboratories to Influence Congress and Federal Officials on a Contract Extension”. The full report was designated “For Official Use Only” and given exclusively to the contractor; but a summary was released which outlined the case against Lockheed and Sandia Corp, including the payments made from public funds to then just-retired Congresswoman Heather Wilson for ‘consulting services’.

Now, The Center for Public Integrity has obtained the full report through a FOIA request. In it, Inspector General Friedman writes:

“We recognize that Lockheed Martin Corporation, as a for-profit entity, has a corporate interest in the future of the Sandia Corporation contract. However, the use of Federal funds to advance that interest through actions designed to result in a noncompetitive contract extension was, in our view, prohibited by Sandia Corporation’s contract and Federal law and regulations.”
“Given the specific prohibitions against such activity, we could not comprehend the logic of using Federal funds for the development of a plan to influence members of Congress and federal officials to, in essence, prevent competition.”

And in a phrase that did not appear in the November public summary:

“Perhaps [Sandia National Laboratories] felt empowered because it had improperly directed Federal funds to similar activities in the past.”

See Center for Public Integrity

A flight test body of a B61-12 is a semi-operational copy of the nuclear weapon but without the "physics package" (nuclear bomb) or functional tail fins.

How to Disrupt the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog, July 5, 2015

“Ever since the Supreme Court’s shameful Citizens United decision, big corporations have been funneling large amounts of cash into American politics, often secretly. Bad enough. But when big government contractors do the funneling, American taxpayers foot the bill twice over: We pay their lobbying and campaign expenses. And when those efforts nab another contract, we pay for stuff we often don’t need.”

A case in point is America’s largest contractor- Lockheed Martin. More than 80 percent of Lockheed’s revenues come from the U.S. government, mostly from the Defense Department.

Follow the money behind the money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics,

  • Lockheed’s Political Action Committee spent over $4 million on the 2014 election cycle,
    and has already donated over $1 million to candidates for 2016.
  • The top congressional recipient of Lockheed’s largesse is Mac Thornberry (R-Texas),
    Chairman of the House Armed Services committee.
  • Second-highest is Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-New Jersey),
    Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
  • Third is Kay Granger, the Subcommittee’s Vice-Chair.
  • Lockheed also maintains a squadron of Washington lawyers and lobbyists dedicated to
    keeping and getting even more federal contracts. The firm spent over $14 million lobbying
    Congress last year.

Remarkably, 73 out of Lockheed’s 109 lobbyists are former Pentagon officials, congressional staffers, White House aides, and former members of Congress. You and I and other taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay Lockheed’s lobbying expenses, but these costs are built into the overhead Lockheed charges the government in its federal contracts.

And we shouldn’t foot the bill for Lockheed’s campaign contributions, but these are also covered in the overhead the firm charges- including the salaries of executives expected to donate to Lockheed’s Political Action Committee.

The ten largest federal contractors are all defense contractors, and we’re indirectly paying all of them to lobby Congress and buy off politicians. To state it another way, we’re paying them to hire former government officials to lobby current government officials, and we’re also paying them to bribe current politicians- all in order to keep or get fat government contracts that often turn out to be lousy deals for us.

Now it’s a military-industrial-congressional complex

President Obama is said to be considering an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political spending. He should sign it immediately. But he should go further and ban all political spending by federal contractors that receive more than half their revenues from government. That includes Lockheed and every other big defense contractor.

Robert Reich: “How to Disrupt the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex”

“Pay-to-play is for real.”- POGO’s General Counsel Scott Amey, in a blog post on Monday.
A report released last year by the Sunlight Foundation detailed how 200 corporations spent a total of $5.8 billion on lobbying and campaign contributions from 2007 to 2012. During the same period, the same companies received $4.4 trillion in federal business and support, the report found. Amey: “In other words, for every $1 the companies spent on political influence and access, they got $760 from the federal government.”

References:

Related:

Regarding the Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter contract:

In 2001, Lockheed landed the biggest defense contract in history when it was named the main contractor for the Joint Strike Fighter (est. $400 billion). 14 years on, in April of 2015, the GAO reported that:

“The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program had to make unexpected changes to its development and test plans over the last year, largely in response to a structural failure on a durability test aircraft, an engine failure, and software challenges. At the same time, engine reliability is poor and has a long way to go to meet program goals. With nearly 2 years and 40 percent of developmental testing to go, more technical problems are likely. Addressing new problems and improving engine reliability may require additional design changes and retrofits.” 

From the GAO

“An army of lobbyists is great. But an army of insiders who know how to navigate the halls of power, can socialize with politicians on weekends and ultimately play the system like a violin is so much better.”

-From Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in “Obama Pledged to Reduce Nuclear Arsenal, Then Came This Weapon”.

Long Range Standoff Bomber

Long Range Standoff Bomber Update

Shrouded In Mystery, New Bomber Makes Waves

“The program is targeting a production line of 80-100 planes. It will replace the fleet of B-52 and B-1 bombers. It will be stealthy, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, and optional manning has been discussed. A down-selection will be made this spring or early summer, with initial operating capability planned for the mid-2020s. Nuclear certification will follow two years after that.

The target price, set by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is $550 million a copy. To keep the price down, the Air Force is looking to use mature technologies that are available now, rather than launching new developments… ”

From Defense News 

B-2 Stealth Bomber

Massive Upgrade For B-2 Stealth

Air Force officials have started planning a ten billion dollar modernization of the B-2 stealth bomber fleet to include a new receiver using VLF waveform technology that allows the bomber to receive messages in the event of a high altitude electromagnetic pulse, and outfitting the aircraft for next-generation digital nuclear weapons such as the B-61 Mod 12 with the new tail kit, and Long Range Stand-Off weapons- (air-launched nuclear cruise missiles).

From Military.com

U.S. Nuclear Weapon Plans to Cost $355 Billion Over a Decade

“The Obama administration’s plans for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, including modernization of bombs, delivery systems, and laboratories, will cost the country about $355 billion over the next decade, nearly $150 billion more than the administration’s $208.5 billion estimates in a report to Congress last year; since the modernization effort is just beginning, costs are expected to greatly increase after 2023.”

-From Reuters 

See also Are New Nuclear Weapons Affordable?

 

Government Accountability Office

GAO: Accounting Problems at DoD so Significant that a Federal Audit Cannot be Done.

WASHINGTON (January 17, 2013) – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) cannot render an opinion on the 2012 consolidated financial statements of the federal government because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

As was the case in 2011, the main obstacles to a GAO opinion on the accrual-based consolidated financial statements were:

• Serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense (DOD) that made its financial statements unauditable.

• The federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies.

• The federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

See More From the GAO

Cost Comparison Debunks LANL’s Outrageous Cleanup Estimate

Can it possibly cost $29 billion to clean up 51 acres? (That’s $568.6 million per acre!) The answer is yes if the estimate comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory.
NukeWatch has run cost comparisons between the estimate for Area G and two other excavation projects at the Lab. At six acres, excavation of Materials Disposal Area B is almost complete, so we have hard costs. (It is around $22.7 million per acre.) An evaluation of Materials Disposal Area Cwas released this September. The estimated costs for excavation of the 11.8-acre site came out to be $66.7 million per acre. View the cost comparison

Follow the Money

Follow the Money

A chart of Energy Department Weapons Activities Budgets compared to the average spent during the Cold War. Is this the direction we want spending to go for Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear News Archives – 2021

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