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

NUKEWATCH IN WASHINGTON

Nuclear Watch New Mexico was in DC the last week of April, talking to congress and top officials on critical nuclear weapons and waste issues as part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s 35th annual DC Days 2023.

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

Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review Fuels the New Nuclear Arms Race

Santa Fe, NM– Today, the Biden Administration has released its long awaited unclassified Nuclear Posture Review. It headlines a “Comprehensive, balanced approach to defending vital national security interests and reducing nuclear dangers.” It also declares that “deterrence alone will not reduce nuclear dangers.”

“Deterrence” against others has always been the publicly sold rationale for the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile. First, there is the inconvenient fact that the U.S. was the first and only to use nuclear weapons in war. But secondly, the United States and the USSR (now Russia) never possessed their huge stockpiles for the sole purpose of deterrence anyway. Instead, their nuclear weapons policies have always been a hybrid of deterrence and nuclear war fighting, which threatens global annihilation to this very day.

FULL PRESS RELEASE [PDF]

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

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said given the reported problems the lab and Savannah River are grappling with, the review might be trying to add “wiggle room” to production goals.

“It’s interesting how vague the Nuclear Posture Review is on both the rate and timing of pit production,” Coghlan said.”

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

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

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

“A lawsuit remains before a federal judge in South Carolina in which the plaintiffs – SRS Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM) and Tri-Valley CAREs (Livermore, CA) – have demanded that a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on pit production be prepared. The PEIS would analyze impacts of pit production at all DOE sites, including heretofore unanalyzed disposal of plutonium by-product waste (transuranic waste) from pit production in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.”

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

SRS Pit Plant would Fabricate Plutonium Pits (Cores) for New and Old Nuclear Weapons; Schedule Delays, Cost Increases Mounting, with Cost Nearing $12 Billion

Our prediction that the unneeded SRS plutonium pit plant would continue to face significant delays and substantial cost increases is sadly being proven true”

— Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, US – A facility proposed to make the key plutonium component for new U.S. nuclear warheads faces another substantial delay, according a U.S. Department of Energy official at a nuclear meeting this week in South Carolina. The delay of construction of the Plutonium Bomb Plant, proposed to make plutonium “pits” at the U.S. Department of Energy’s sprawling 310-square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, SC, could push the price tag to $11.5 billion or higher.

Archbishop renews call for dialogue on ridding world of nuclear weapons

“Congress should have the courage to begin to help lead us toward a future world free of nuclear weapons…In particular, I call upon the New Mexican congressional delegation to end their support for unneeded, exorbitantly expensive plutonium pit production for nuclear weapons. ”

| October 23, 2022 osvnews.com

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS) — The world still has not learned “the essential lesson” of the Cuban Missile Crisis that “the only way to eliminate the nuclear danger is through careful, universal, verifiable steps to eliminate nuclear weapons,” said Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“It is the very nature of these weapons that the possession of any nuclear weapons is an existential danger to all,” he said. “And Pope Francis has been explicitly clear that ‘the possessing of nuclear weapons is immoral.’”

He renewed his call “for dialogue on the existential issue of eliminating nuclear weapons” and said New Mexico’s congressional delegation should help lead this dialogue,” given that the federal government spends billions in the state on weapons production while New Mexico “remains mired at the bottom of numerous socioeconomic indicators.”

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A Guide to ‘Scoping’ The New LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement

“Scoping” means determining the issues that should be included in public analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of proposed major actions by the federal government. According to the Department of Energy ‘s own NEPA implementation regulations, DOE must prepare a new or supplemental site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) for its major sites when there are “significant new circumstances or information relevant to environmental concerns.” The last site-wide EIS for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) was completed in 2008 and is badly outdated. Moreover, since 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, has been aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons at the Lab.

On August 19, 2022, NNSA finally announced its intent to prepare a new LANL SWEIS, but apparently the agency will not address expanded plutonium pit production.1 NNSA’s dubious argument is that it performed the legally required NEPA analysis for expanded plutonium pit production in a 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the 2008 LANL SWEIS and a woefully inadequate “Supplement Analysis” in 2020 that concluded a new SWEIS was not needed. 2 3

Issues That Must Be Addressed in a New LANL SWEIS

This is meant to be a guide to (or list of) the issues that must be addressed in a new draft LANL SWEIS. It is not completely exhaustive, nor is it a comprehensive fact sheet on the substance of the issues. Nuclear Watch New Mexico will offer suggested scoping comments for interested citizens and submit its own comprehensive formal comments before the October 3 deadline or extended deadline (see “Timing” below).

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The Cuban Missile Crisis 60 Years Ago, Ukraine Today: What, if Anything, Have we Learned?

Scoping Comments to the National Nuclear Security Administration On the Los Alamos National Laboratory Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement

A Reduced Operations Alternative is not only a reasonable alternative but is in the actual best interests of the nation.

Such an alternative would best preserve stockpile reliability by foregoing production of new pits that may deviate from tested designs; conservatively maintain the existing, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile; augment and accentuate nonproliferation programs, especially the development of monitoring and verification technologies that could help underpin a future world free of nuclear weapons; and augment and accentuate cleanup programs that are truly comprehensive, permanently eliminating the threat to groundwater.

October 18, 2022

LANL SWEIS COMMENTS
NNSA Los Alamos Field Office
3747 W. Jemez Road
Los Alamos, NM 87544

Via [email protected]

Dear National Nuclear Security Administration:

Nuclear Watch New Mexico hereby submits these scoping comments on the new Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS).



Executive Summary

First, NNSA should complete a new nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production. A new LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement should then be “tiered” off of that document and address all of these issues outlined in these scoping comments, and in particular the site-specific impacts of expanded plutonium pit production. In the event that NNSA continues its arguably illegal behavior in not completing a new PEIS, a new draft LANL SWEIS should nevertheless analyze the issues outlined in these scoping comments, particularly expanded plutonium pit production.
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LANL SWEIS Scoping Comments due on Tuesday, October 18th - Submit TODAY!

EDIT & SUBMIT TODAY! YOUR COMMENTS COUNT!! SAMPLE COMMENTS FOR SCOPING THE LANL SWEIS: Formal Scoping Comment to the National Nuclear Security Administration on the Los Alamos Lab Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement



October xxxx, 2022
Via [email protected]

Dear National Nuclear Security Administration:

Pursuant to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, the following issues should be analyzed and considered within the scope of the new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The last Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) was completed in 2008 and is badly outdated. Since 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, has been aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons at the Lab.

On August 19, 2022, NNSA finally announced its intent to prepare a new LANL SWEIS, but apparently the agency will not address expanded plutonium pit production.[1] NNSA’s legally dubious claim is that it performed the required NEPA analysis for expanded plutonium pit production in a 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the 2008 LANL SWEIS and a woefully inadequate “Supplement Analysis” of the 2008 SWEIS completed in 2020. This last document concluded that a new SWEIS was not needed, after which NNSA issued an Amended Record of Decision expanding plutonium pit production at LANL to at least 30 pits per year.[2]

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Boeing’s Weak Santa Susana Cleanup Triggers Lawsuit 

Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates


PRESS RELEASEInline image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, October 6, 2022
Contact
Jeff Ruch, PEER, [email protected] (510) 213-7028
Melissa Bumstead, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab [email protected] (818) 233-0642
Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 
[email protected] (310) 339-9766
Lawrence Yee 
[email protected] 


Oakland — The Newsom administration’s backroom deal with the Boeing Co. to dramatically weaken cleanup standards at the profoundly polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory violates the public involvement and transparency requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), charges a lawsuit filed today by community and public health groups. The suit would open the cleanup agreement to public scrutiny and force the state agencies and the Boeing Co. to justify a cleanup methodology that leaves 90% of the contamination onsite.

Filed today in Ventura County Superior Court by Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA Chapter), and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the suit would, if successful, vacate both the cleanup agreement and an accompanying promise to free Boeing from toxic stormwater discharge requirements.

“This suit does not prevent cleanup from beginning immediately but instead aims to ensure it continues until it is fully completed,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that under a prior Consent Order, the cleanup was supposed to have been completed back in 2017. “This lawsuit is about having this cleanup done right and well beyond the outrageous ‘rip and skip’ deal that Boeing wrangled behind closed doors.”

After repeatedly promising to enforce a 2007 legally binding cleanup agreement with Boeing, the Newsom administration secretly negotiated an 800-page agreement that “supersedes” the prior order by substantially relaxing key cleanup requirements, allowing hundreds of times higher levels of toxic chemicals than previously permitted, and leaving much of the contamination onsite.

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‘Nuclear accident’ warnings amid Russia missile strikes

By  | October 6, 2022 channel4news.com

Russia has faced weeks of military defeats in Ukraine, but today brought a reminder its military is still able to cause substantial destruction.

Overnight, and again this morning, the city of Zaporizhzhia suffered a series of missile attacks, including a direct strike on a residential apartment building.

The strikes raised concerns for the nearby nuclear power plant, leading to a warning from the International Atomic Energy Agency that an accident there is “a very clear possibility”.

‘Nuclear accident’ warnings amid Russia missile strikes

NY TIMES: I’ve Studied 13 Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This Is What I See When I Look at Putin.

By Michael DobbsThe New York Times | October 5, 2022 nytimes.com

Two nuclear-armed states on a collision course with no obvious exit ramp. An erratic Russian leader using apocalyptic language — “if you want us to all meet in hell, it’s up to you.” Showdowns at the United Nations, with each side accusing the other of essentially gambling with Armageddon. For six …

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s pit production a year behind schedule

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the lab has a history of delays and cost overruns that predates the pandemic.

“I suspect LANL and [the federal government] are using COVID as a convenient excuse for what’s going to happen anyway,” Coghlan said. “I’m certainly not saying there was no delay for COVID, but I doubt this much.”

Coghlan said the revelation is significant because it’s the first official confirmation the Los Alamos lab is running behind schedule with its planned pit production.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | October 5, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory (Jathan Campbell/Los Alamos National Laboratory )

(Tribune News Service) — Los Alamos National Laboratory’s effort to produce 30 nuclear bomb cores a year by 2026 was stalled for 13 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, calling into question whether it can make the much-touted target.

An anti-nuclear activist obtained a redacted management plan for the lab’s plutonium operations through a Freedom of Information Act Request, which describes how the production deadline is more likely to be missed because of preparatory work being delayed during a hard-hitting stretch of the pandemic.

STATEMENT: Archbishop Wester on Feast Day of St. Francis, Pray for Peace in Ukraine, Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Today, October 4 is the feast day of St. Francis, the tireless promoter of peace and patron saint of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, and three days ago, he declared:

“The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating, and threatening as to cause great concern… [W]hat about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd… It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

This October is the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, about which then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said humanity survived only by luck. Sixty years later, we are facing the most serious nuclear threats since then.

Pope Francis has called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, declaring they can no longer be justified even by the deterrence strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

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Plutonium Contamination at Depth at Los Alamos Lab

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