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.



“The U.S. is beginning an ambitious, controversial reinvention of its nuclear arsenal.
The project comes with incalculable costs and unfathomable risks.”

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”

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan 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

Downwind and dosed

Half the cast and crew involved with the John Wayne film, The Conqueror, shot in 1954 and released two years later, died of cancer.

Beyond Nuclear | January 19, 2023 beyondnuclear.org

Downwind

They were the most high-profile victims of the fallout from atomic testing at the Nevada Test Site, which contaminated land, water and people. Although the film location site, in St. George, Utah, was more than 100 miles away, the radiation levels there were so high that when Wayne tested them with a Geiger counter he thought the equipment was broken. As The Guardian described it in a 2015 article, “the United States turned swathes of the desert radioactive during the cold war and denied it.”

Now, a new documentary directed by Mark Shapiro and Douglas Brian Miller — Downwind — is premiering at the Slamdance film festival, telling the stories of St. George citizens and activists harmed by the radioactive fallout from the Nevada Test Site. Libbe HaLevy talks to Shapiro on this week’s Nuclear Hotseat.

Mary Dickson: Downwinders deserve more than a day of recognition

Congress must act to compensate victims of atomic testing.

Salt Lake Tribune | January 18, 2023 sltrib.com

(AP Photo, File) This July 16, 1945, file photo shows an aerial view after the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site in New Mexico.

Last month, as 2022 drew to a close, Congress approved $857 billion in defense spending under the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.

I can’t help but be struck by the amount we are putting toward a one-year military budget — $45 billion more than was requested and a full $80 billion more than last year — at the same Downwinders are pushing for an expansion of the exceedingly limited Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).

It’s been 32 years since RECA was enacted in 1990, and during that time only $2.5 billion has gone toward partial restitution for the harms caused to ordinary citizens by our own government as a result of atmospheric nuclear tests in Nevada. When it comes to defense, there always seems to be a surplus of funds, but not enough for the tens of thousands of unfortunate civilians who became casualties of the production and testing of lethal weapons of mass destruction.

January 27, designated as a National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders, marks the 72nd anniversary of the first nuclear blast at the Nevada Test Site in 1951. All these years later, Downwinders are still fighting for acknowledgement and compensation for the suffering and devastating losses that we’ve endured as a result of radioactive fallout spread across the country.

The ‘East Wind-41’ is the Longest-Range Missile in the World

When people think about how a city is destroyed in a nuclear war, they invariably question where the missile or bomb will have come from.

By Douglas A. McIntyre, 24 WALL ST NEWS | January 26, 2023 24wallst.com

One option, the oldest, is strategic bombers like the B-52. Another is from nuclear submarines. Recently, a Russian submarine that carried nuclear torpedoes was seen near the Arctic Circle. The third threat is intercontinental ballistic missiles that travel thousands of miles carrying multiple warheads. (This is what a nuclear war would do to the world.)

ICBMs are usually launched from inside the borders of the deploying countries. China’s DF-41 can travel 7,456 to 9,321 miles, the greatest distance of any long-range missile, according to Arms Control Association, an organization that promotes effective arms control policies. Russia and the U.S. also have extremely long-range missiles.

For comparison purposes, the longest commercial flight in the world is the Singapore Airlines route from New York City to Singapore, which covers 9,537 miles. People routinely have to fly 7,000 miles or more to reach several cities in Australia.

Mike Pompeo says world has ‘no idea’ how close India and Pakistan came to nuclear war

Former US secretary of state says in his book that Washington’s timely intervention prevented an escalation.

“It took us a few hours – and remarkably good work by our teams on the ground in New Delhi and Islamabad – to convince each side that the other was not preparing for nuclear war,”

Aljazeera | January 25, 2023 aljazeera.com

India Pakistan came close to a nuclear war in 2019: Pompeo
Mike Pompeo | Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

India and Pakistan came close to a nuclear war in 2019 and Washington’s intervention prevented an escalation, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says in his new memoir.

This happened in February 2019 after New Delhi broke precedent by launching air raids inside Pakistani territory after blaming an armed group there for a suicide bombing that killed 41 Indian paramilitary soldiers in the flashpoint Kashmir region. In response to the attack, Islamabad shot down an Indian warplane, capturing the pilot.

Simulated temperature changes 2 years after a hypothetical nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Misery of even a “limited” nuclear war between India and Pakistan would be global: 50-125 million immediate deaths, and then the weather changes. Source: science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.aay5478

A time of unprecedented danger: It is 90 seconds to midnight

This year, the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward, largely (though not exclusively) because of the mounting dangers of the war in Ukraine. The Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight — the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.

 | January 24, 2023 thebulletin.org

The war in Ukraine may enter a second horrifying year, with both sides convinced they can win. Ukraine’s sovereignty and broader European security arrangements that have largely held since the end of World War II are at stake. Also, Russia’s war on Ukraine has raised profound questions about how states interact, eroding norms of international conduct that underpin successful responses to a variety of global risks.

And worst of all, Russia’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict by accident, intention, or miscalculation is a terrible risk. The possibility that the conflict could spin out of anyone’s control remains high.

A time of unprecedented danger: It is 90 seconds to midnight

Continue reading the full 2023 Doomsday Clock statement.

Unusual blood cancer cases among US troops who manned nuclear missile silos at a base in Montana are raising new questions for the military

“If the cancers are related to their service, it will not be the first time. American service members have been exposed cancer-causing agents in the past, such as those who were sent to the Pacific to help clean up the fallout from extensive nuclear weapons testing.

By , Business Insider | January 23, 2023 businessinsider.com

In this June 24, 2014 file photo, a gate is closed at an ICBM launch control facility in the countryside outside Minot, N.D., on the Minot Air Force Base.
In this June 24, 2014 file photo, a gate is closed at an ICBM launch control facility in the countryside outside Minot, N.D., on the Minot Air Force Base. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File

The US military is looking into unusual blood cancer cases among officers who previously manned nuclear missile silos at a base in Montana, an Air Force official said following the release of a new report.

Nine military officers who worked at Malmstrom Air Force Base as missileers, troops tasked with standing by in underground bunkers to fire nuclear missiles, have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at ages noticeably younger than the median age for this disease, and the military is investigating if there is a connection between their respective services at the facility — some of which stretch back decades — and the disease, the Associated Press reported Monday.

The report cited a briefing presented by US Space Force Lt. Col. Daniel Sebeck earlier this month to his unit and obtained by the AP.

“There are indications of a possible association between cancer and missile combat crew service at Malmstrom AFB,” Sebeck said in his presentation, adding that there was concern over the “disproportionate number of missileers presenting with cancer, specifically lymphoma.”

Nuclear Ban Treaty: Updates & 2nd Anniversary Celebrations 🎉

January 22, 2023

International, signatures, TPNW: Djibouti signs TPNW

On January 9, 2023, the small island country of Djibouti became the 92nd country to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Djibouti voted in favor of the treaty at the treaty negotiations in 2017 and is the latest country to finally sign it. Another 30 countries voted for the treaty and have not yet signed it, while 27 countries have signed the treaty but are still going through the ratification process.

Djibouti is now committed to a swift ratification process, so it can join the 68 countries who have signed and fully ratified the TPNW, putting the treaty’s prohibitions into effect in those countries. Djibouti is also calling on all countries who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty. A UN General Assembly resolution passed in December 2022 called on all states to sign, ratify, or accede to the TPNW “at the earliest possible date”.

The post Djibouti signs TPNW appeared first on NuclearBan.US.

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Letter to Biden: Sign the TPNW

Draft letter to President Biden is here:

To sign your organization onto this letter:

Press release here:

Op-Ed/short version of the Biden letter here:

To send this to Biden as an individual, click here

The post Letter to Biden: Sign the TPNW appeared first on NuclearBan.US.

Comment on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement

Nuclear Watch New Mexico January 21, 2023 Email

Via email to: [email protected]
Ms. Fana Gebeyehu-Houston,
LLNL SWEIS Document Manager,
1000 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20585

Dear Ms. Fana Gebeyehu-Houston:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Draft Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for the continued operation of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Main Site in Livermore, CA and Site 300 high explosives testing range near Tracy, CA.

Nuclear Watch New Mexico takes particular interest in the Livermore Lab as the sister lab of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). We have long been involved in the issue of plutonium pit production at LANL. We see the two labs as inextricably linked given that LANL will be producing plutonium pits for the new W87-1 warhead, for which LLNL is the lead design agency.

Our mission statement: Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at 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.

NukeWatch DNFSB 2022 Hearing Comments 1-20-23

Nuclear Watch New Mexico January 20, 2023 Email

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20004

Via email at <[email protected]>

Re: Comments concerning the November 16, 2022 public hearing regarding legacy cleanup activities, nuclear safety, and increased production activities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory

Dear Safety Board:

Nuclear Watch New Mexico (NukeWatch) appreciates the opportunity to provide follow up written comments for the November 16, 2022 public hearing in Santa Fe, NM. We want to thank the Board for its continuing concern over Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) safety issues and for having a public hearing to begin with. Further, we are grateful for the DNFSB’s perseverance in the face of the Department of Energy’s arguably illegal attempts to restrict its access. We look forward to many more years of the Safety Board’s insights and recommendations on nuclear facilities at DOE and NNSA sites, for which the DNFSB is uniquely positioned. Your service is invaluable and irreplaceable. Thank you!

Our mission statement: Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at 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.

PLUTONIUM PIT PRODUCTION BRIEFING

Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico January 17, 2023 Email

GAO report: NNSA Does Not Have a Comprehensive Schedule or Cost Estimate for Pit Production Capability, January 12, 2023, gao.gov/products/gao-23-104661

  • “NNSA’s Plutonium Pit Production Scope of Work Includes Dozens of Programs, Projects, and Other Activities Managed by Multiple NNSA Offices at Multiple Sites.” p. 19
  • “NNSA Does Not Have a Comprehensive Schedule or Cost Estimate for Establishing its Pit Production Capability.” p. 40
  • They [NNSA officials] said they did not want to introduce uncertainty about dates and wanted to avoid releasing preliminary or unpalatable information that was subject to change.” pp. 40-41
  • “NNSA will have spent billions of dollars without having an overall idea of total program costs, or when program objectives, to include the capability to produce 80 pits per year, will be reached.” pp. 55-56

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Nuclear waste project in New Mexico opposed in recent poll, company asserts local support

…Opponents, including Southwest Research – a frequent critic of Holtec and the nearby Waste Isolation Pilot Plant repository for transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste – maintained the project would bring an undue risk to New Mexicans nearby and Americans along the waste transportation routes.

That’s why opposition was spread across political parties, gender and ethnicity,said Nuclear Waste Program Manager Don Hancock at Southwest Research and Information Center.

The poll showed more than half of those surveyed in the region were against the project…

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus | January 14, 2023 currentargus.com

A rendering of what Holtec International's interim nuclear waste repository would look like if completed.
A rendering of what Holtec International’s interim nuclear waste repository would look like if completed.

New Mexicans in every region of the state allegedly opposed storing high-level nuclear waste in their state, according to a recent poll, as a New Jersey company hoped to build a facility to do so near Carlsbad.

The poll, commissioned by Albuquerque-based Southwest Research and Information Center in a partnership with the Center for Civic Policy surveyed 1,015 voters across the state from Dec. 7 to 14.

It found 60 percent of those surveyed were in opposition to the project, with 30 percent supporting and 10 percent undecided.

Independent Government Accountability Office Releases Scathing Report on Expanding Plutonium Pit Production; Pressure Mounts on Los Alamos Lab to Increase Production

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 12, 2023 | Jay Coghlan – 505.989.7342 | Email

Santa Fe, NM – Today, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report entitled NNSA Does Not Have a Comprehensive Schedule or Cost Estimate for Pit Production Capability. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its parent Department of Energy have been on the GAO’s High Risk List for project mismanagement since 1991.

Plutonium pits are the essential radioactive cores of nuclear weapons. There has been only limited production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) since 1989 when a FBI raid investigating environmental crimes abruptly shut down production at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver. NNSA now plans to spend $2.9 billion in FY 2023 alone to establish production of at least 30 pits per year at LANL and 50 pits per year at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The two main findings of GAO’s report are:

  • NNSA’s Plutonium Pit Production Scope of Work Includes Dozens of Programs, Projects, and Other Activities Managed by Multiple NNSA Offices at Multiple Sites (p 19)

Continue reading

Independent Government Accountability Office Releases Scathing Report on Expanding Plutonium Pit Production; Pressure Mounts on Los Alamos Lab to Increase Production

Santa Fe, NM – Today, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing report entitled NNSA Does Not Have a Comprehensive Schedule or Cost Estimate for Pit Production Capability. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its parent Department of Energy have been on the GAO’s High Risk List for project mismanagement since 1991.

Plutonium pits are the essential radioactive cores of nuclear weapons. There has been only limited production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) since 1989 when a FBI raid investigating environmental crimes abruptly shut down production at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver. NNSA now plans to spend $2.9 billion in FY 2023 alone to establish production of at least 30 pits per year at LANL and 50 pits per year at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.

The two main findings of GAO’s report are:

  • NNSA’s Plutonium Pit Production Scope of Work Includes Dozens of Programs, Projects, and Other Activities Managed by Multiple NNSA Offices at Multiple Sites (p 19)

Continue reading

GAO: Cost, time estimates for making nuclear bomb cores flawed – Santa Fe New Mexican

The GAO report said the lack of detailed estimates of the costs, time and resources involved is especially glaring because this is the largest and most expensive weapons project undertaken by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department branch that oversees the arsenal.

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said an agency that boasts about having top-level technicians should have no problem supplying all the necessary information about pit production, including total costs.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | January 13, 2023 santafenewmexian.com

Estimates for costs and the time required to produce nuclear bomb cores, including 30 per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory, are severely lacking and could make it difficult for federal managers to avoid cost overruns, delays and other problems, a government watchdog said in a report released Thursday.

The plan for the lab and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce a combined 80 nuclear warhead triggers, or “pits,” each year by 2035 is a massive, complex undertaking that demands detailed scheduling, a careful accounting of costs and clear estimates of how long various tasks will take — none of which are being done by the federal agency in charge of nuclear weapons, the Government Accountability Office said in its 78-page report.

US nuclear agency falls short on scheduling, cost estimates

The U.S. agency in charge of jumpstarting the production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal is falling short when it comes to having a comprehensive schedule for the multibillion-dollar project

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, pointed to some of the price tags associated with the project having doubled over the last four years. He said production overall at the two sites could cost at least $60 billion over 30 years with radioactive waste disposal and other environmental and public health concerns adding to the bill.

“Until Congress and the New Mexican delegation demand credible cost estimates and schedules, Coghlan said lawmakers “should stop rewarding the guilty with yet more money…That is simple good governance that could help slow our sleepwalk into the new and unpredictable nuclear arms race,” he said.

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – KOB, THE WASHINGTON POST, US NEWS, ABC NEWS | January 13, 2023

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RE: The Santa Fe New Mexican “GAO: Cost, time estimates for making nuclear bomb cores flawed” – Underneath it All is the Nuclear Elephant in the Room: Future Pit Production is Actually Unnecessary.

BY JAY COGHLAN

Good article indeed. Kudos to Scott Wyland.

But to add to it:

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) cannot do, or rather will not do, good governance 101 for its largest program ever (i.e., expanded plutonium pit production), which is credible cost estimates and schedules. Why won’t NNSA do that? Because of PR and political concerns when their flaky cost estimates (such as they are) get blown up by inevitable escalating costs. NNSA knows that if it gave accurate projected costs Congress and the public would balk. Thus, the agency goes in lowballing costs, which always inevitably rise. I could rattle off a dozen NNSA projects over the last 15 years in which costs have exploded, wasting tens of billions of taxpayers’ dollars.

But get this, future pit production is also unnecessary and may actually degrade national security. To begin with, independent experts have found that pits have serviceable lifetimes of at least a century (their average age is now around 40). And we already have at least 15,000 existing pits stored at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, TX.

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The Results Are In! Staff at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Recognized as 2022 Arms Control Persons of the Year – SANTA FE ARCHBISHOP JOHN C. WESTER RUNNER-UP! Thank you for voting!

ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION | January 13, 2023 armscontrol.org Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director for communications, Daryl G. Kimball, executive director

(Washington, D.C.)—The Energoatom staff at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP) were selected as the 2022 Arms Control Persons of the Year through an online poll that drew more than 3,500 participants from nearly 80 countries.

Zaporizhzhia staff gathered Feb. 16, 2022, for a day of unity celebrated by Energoatom’s employees. (Photo: Energoatom)

Zaporizhzhia staff gathered Feb. 16, 2022, for a day of unity celebrated by Energoatom’s employees. (Photo: Energoatom)

The annual contest is organized by the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association to highlight positive initiatives—some at the grassroots level, some on the international scale—designed to advance disarmament, nuclear security, nonproliferation, civilian protection, and international peace, security, and justice.


The runner-up in this year’s contest was Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, nominated for preaching the nuclear disarmament gospel in a religious context. His January 2022 pastoral letter reflects the Catholic Church’s long history of speaking out against the threats posed by nuclear weapons and calls on U.S. citizens to take “concrete steps toward abolishing nuclear weapons and ending the nuclear threat.”

The December 2022 issue of Arms Control Today includes an interview with Wester by editor Carol Giacomo titled: “Making the Case That Nuclear Weapons Are Immoral.

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New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

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