Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

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Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

New & Updated

Urgent: Move US Nuclear Weapons Out Of Turkey

BLOG BY HANS M. KRISTENSENfas.org

A US Navy aircraft flies over Incirlik airbase in Turkey.

Should the U.S. Air Force withdraw the roughly 50 B61 nuclear bombs it stores at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey? The question has come to a head after Turkey’s invasion of Syria, Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian leadership and deepening discord with NATO, Trump’s inability to manage U.S. security interests in Europe and the Middle East, and war-torn Syria only a few hundred miles from the largest U.S. nuclear weapons storage site in Europe.

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Turkey Troubles

October 15 Heather Hurlburt, director of the New Models of Policy Change project at New America’s Political Reform program, joins Michelle Dover for a discussion on US national security and foreign policy under President Donald Trump. She is the co-author of The Consensual Straitjacket: Four Decades of Women in Nuclear Security.

News analysis with Michelle Dover, John Carl Baker and Geoff Wilson of Council for a Livable World focuses on the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw US troops from the Turkey-Syria border. Joe Cirincione answers a question from Johnny from Massachusetts.

Listen, Subscribe and Share on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · YouTube · Google Play · Sticher
Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

What if We Nuke a City?

“The world has changed in the past few years with world leaders again explicitly and publicly threatening each other with nuclear weapons. Many experts think the danger of a nuclear strike is higher than it has been in decades.

Governments tell their citizens that it’s good that we have nuclear weapons, but bad when others have them; that it’s somehow necessary to threaten others with mass destruction to keep us safe. But does this make you feel you feel safe? It only takes a small group of people in power to go crazy or rouge, a small misstep or simple misunderstanding to release a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.”

Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell

Video Description: “Until we did the research. It turned out we were a bit oblivious off the real impact of nuclear weapons in the real world, on a real city. And especially, how helpless even the most developed nations on earth would be if an attack occurred today. So hopefully this video demonstrates how extremely non fun a real world nuclear attack would be, without being too gruesome.”

SOURCES

DOE Order 140.1: DNFSB Response, Oct. 11

Chair Hamilton responds, “Pursuant to our enabling legislation, we have directed our staff to attend all phases of the NES study process. Should you wish to prohibit our access to a particular study, we respectfully request written communication to the Board.”
[NES = the nuclear explosive safety (NES) elements of DOE O 452.1E, Nuclear Explosive and Weapon Surety Program]

Oct. 11, 2019DOE Order 140.1 DNFSB Responds Oct. 11
The Honorable James Richard Perry Secretary of Energy

U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20585-1000

Dear Secretary Perry:

We have received NNSA’s response dated August 9, 2019, concerning Board access to all phases of the nuclear explosive safety study process. We respectfully disagree with the justification offered for continued exclusion of our staff from NES study deliberations. NNSA’s response notes deliberations as collaborative efforts where participants consider all sides of identified issues, requiring free and open communication. Our staff’s observation of this interaction provides them with an understanding of the bases of the safety decisions being taken.

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Today is Indigenous People’s Day, a holiday to honor and celebrate Native American and Indigenous peoples.

Among the many injustices suffered by native communities in the centuries that have passed since Europeans arrived on North America’s shores and claimed it for their own is the dangerous and deadly exposure to the radioactive materials used to create nuclear weapons. The United States’ nuclear arsenal has taken an especially hard toll on the Navajo, who continue to live with the repercussions of nuclear mining even today.

BACKGROUND

EXCERPT FROM POST BY CASSANDRA VARAKA, POLICY DIRECTOR OF WAND |
The process of building nuclear weapons starts with mining. One of the main elements of a nuclear bomb is enriched uranium. Some of the world’s richest uranium deposits span across Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah — heavily overlapping with the Navajo Nation. These mines provided the uranium used in the Manhattan Project; the United States’ top-secret endeavor to build the first nuclear bombs. Between 1944 and 1986 mining companies blasted 4 million tons of uranium out of Navajo land. Until 1971, uranium from these mines was sold exclusively to the United States government. Many Navajo were employed in the uranium mines and exposed to unsafe conditions by the companies in employing them. The mining companies knew that mine workers were at heightened risk for developing lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases in 15 or 20 years. Additionally, the mines operated in a way that contaminated the surrounding lands and water by leaving large piles of radioactive materials exposed.

Many Navajo continue to live in close proximity to contaminated uranium mines. Of the 523 abandoned mines, the Environmental Protection Agency has only successfully cleaned up nine. The legacy of these mines and the contamination they leached into the environment on the Navajo Nation has been devastating: the cancer rate on the reservation doubled from the early 1970’s to the late 1990’s, even as the cancer rate declined nationwide. Each and every day, minority populations like the Navajo continue to be unduly affected by the militaristic pursuits of our government. For the Navajo, that means generations of health problems in the name of our nuclear weapons. We owe it to them, and to all the marginalized communities harmed by our pursuit and maintenance of nuclear weapons, to highlight the price they have been forced to pay for our nuclear arsenal.

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Udall pushes to expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act

When Talking About the Climate Crisis, We Can’t Forget About Nuclear Weapons

Both are existential threats, but only one is getting the attention it deserves.

BY: MATT KORDA | thenation.com

When Talking About the Climate Crisis, We Can’t Forget About Nuclear Weapons, The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)
The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)

“The current attention gap between the climate crisis and nuclear weapons is bizarre, given their common existential stakes and challenges. Climate change and nuclear weapons have a symbiotic relationship: Each threat exacerbates the other. Climate change is setting the stage for conflict between nuclear-armed states, and a recent study suggests that even a regional nuclear war would cool the planet by 2 to 5 degrees Celsius and cause mass starvation for over a decade. Not to mention the fact that even during peacetime, decades of uranium mining, nuclear testing, and nuclear waste dumping have contaminated some of our planet’s ecosystems beyond repair, displacing entire communities—often communities of color—in the process.

The flip side of this symbiosis, however, means that climate change and nuclear weapons also share a common solution. A progressive nuclear policy should be based upon four core principles of the Green New Deal—international cooperation, reductions, transparency, and justice. Only by challenging the nuclear-industrial complex in its entirety—in a way akin to how the Green New Deal challenges the carbon economy in its entirety—can a progressive nuclear policy pull us back from the brink of atomic and environmental catastrophe. Progressive climate change policies should include demilitarization and disarmament provisions, and progressive nuclear policies should address the climate and humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons. Similarly, nuclear activists and climate change activists are natural allies in the fight against existential risk, and both causes would benefit from a more robust partnership.

To that end, the significant attention imbalance between climate change and nuclear weapons must be urgently corrected; keeping them siloed reinforces an incomplete narrative about the nature of these existential threats.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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US, critics split on whether tech made nuke shipments safer

“There’s enough high-level nuclear waste awaiting disposal in the U.S. to fill a football field 65 feet (20 meters) deep. Few states want to house it within their borders.”

“The public defines ‘safe’ as zero risk…the technical community defines ‘safe’ as complying with regulatory standards.” – Robert Halstead, head of the Agency for Nuclear Projects, is currently fighting plutonium shipments to Nevada and spent nuclear fuel transfers to the proposed Yucca Mountain dump.

BY: SCOTT SONNER | phys.org

The era of significant rail transport of weapons, which occurred from roughly 1975 to 1992, was perhaps the most publicly visible period for OST. There were numerous anti-nuclear protests associated with rail transportation during that time. Credit: DOE

The plutonium core for the first atomic weapon detonated in 1945 was taken from Los Alamos National Laboratory to a test site in the New Mexico desert in the backseat of a U.S. Army sedan.

Officials put other bomb parts inside a metal container, packed it into a wooden crate and secured it in the steel bed of a truck under a tarp, the U.S. Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration says in a historical account.

Grainy black-and-white photos show special agents and armed military police accompanying the shipment nearly 75 years ago.

An Atomic Energy Commission courier in the late 1950s armed with an M3 submachine gun at the cab of a bobtail truck that carried high explosives. Behind the truck is a Ford ranch wagon used as an escort vehicle. Credit: DOE

“Nuclear materials transportation has evolved since then,” the department posted online last year.

Today, radioactive shipments are hauled in double-walled steel containers inside specialized trailers that undergo extensive testing and are tracked by GPS and real-time apps.

But whether shipping technology has evolved enough to be deemed safe depends on whom you ask.

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New research: regional nuclear war will cause catastrophic global consequences, Pakistan, india

New research: Regional nuclear war will cause catastrophic global consequences

Two scientific studies modelling the effects of nuclear war released in the past few weeks have revealed some terrifying figures:

  • 91.5 million deaths in a matter of hours, if nuclear conflict breaks out between the United States and Russia,
  • 125 million deaths in case of a week-long conflict between India and Pakistan using 100 kilotonne nuclear warheads,
  • A 30% reduction in surface sunlight due to the 36 teragrams of black carbon released into the atmosphere after the India-Pakistan conflict,
  • Two billion people at risk of famine.

The two studies, Princeton’s Science and Global Security programme “Plan A” [ 1] and Science Advances’ Rapidly expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe [ 2], show that there is no such thing as a contained nuclear conflict.

These are not farfetched scenarios. This new research comes out as tensions are increasing between India and Pakistan, and four of the nine nuclear-armed states have tested nuclear missiles in just the past two weeks. [3, 4] You can read more about this new research here.

The science is clear: we need to eliminate nuclear weapons, before they are used again.

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ACTION ALERTS

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Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9

Interfaith Panel Discussion on the 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

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New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

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Wake up call on nuclear waste! Meet the National Radioactive Waste Coalition!