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!

Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

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

Recent Blog Posts

What’s the Current Status of U.S. and Russian Nuclear Weapons? How Many Exist and Just How Powerful Are They?

The interest in this question has gone up immensely over the past 50 days, since Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, and since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country’s nuclear forces had been placed on “high alert” just a few days later on the 27th.

In 1986, there were 70,000 nuclear weapons on the planet—an entirely terrifying number. Nuclear weapons analysts estimate that the world’s nine nuclear states—China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States—have around 13,000 nuclear warheads in total today (Arms Control Association). That build-down started when U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, agreed under the INF Treaty on the Soviet Union destroying 889 of its intermediate-range missiles and 957 shorter-range missiles, and the U.S. destroying 677 and 169 respectively (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

 What are the specifics of where the remaining nuclear weapons possessed by the U.S. and Russia are located? How powerful are they, and, most relevantly, what is the readiness levels of these weapons to launch?

This graphic from Hans Kristensen at the Federation of American Scientists shows the locations of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Storage Sites in Europe, where there are currently an estimated 100 US Air Force nuclear bombs stored.

HOW MANY WEAPONS IN THE UNITED STATES?

  • WHAT ARE THE LIMITS? On April 8, 2010, the United States and Russia signed New START, a legally binding, verifiable agreement that limits each side to 1,550 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 700 strategic delivery systems (ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers) and limits deployed and nondeployed launchers to 800 (Arms Control Association).
  • WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL NUMBERS? At the beginning of 2021, the U.S. maintained an estimated stockpile of approximately 3,800 nuclear warheads for delivery by 800 ballistic missiles and aircraft (Arms Control Association).

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New & Updated

Energy secretary: We must find a solution for nuclear waste

“People feel, you know, this was not the deal when these [nuclear power] plants were built.”

BY AP NEWS | apnews.com

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut.

Granholm was invited to tour Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford by Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the local congressional member. They are both working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored nationwide to solve a decadeslong stalemate.

Spent fuel that was meant to be stored temporarily at current and former nuclear plant sites nationwide is piling up. Some of it dates to the 1980s.

Local 12 Investigation tracks down source of Russian radioactive shipments to Ohio

“Around PORTS, plutonium, and plutonium isotopes, which are far more dangerous than uranium, are now being picked up government air monitors. An independent study by Dr. Michael Ketterer at Northern Arizona University confirmed plutonium isotopes were found in river sediment and in dust collected from homes surrounding the Southern Ohio facility.

When Nadezda learned that information, she was stunned to learn America would accept anything from Mayak…”

BY DUANE POHLMAN WKRC | local12.com

MAYAK AND THE CLOSED CITY

With a simple phrase typed in the search bar of Google Earth, a massive nuclear complex in Russia’s Ural Mountains comes into full view.

From the beginning, the Mayak Production Association – or simply, “Mayak,” played a critical role in providing plutonium for the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.

For more than four decades it was on the front lines of the atomic efforts in Russia, while very little was known about this once-secret facility.

Nadezda Kutepova grew up in the shadow of Mayak in Ozersk, a city as secret as the plant itself.

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New Mexico: Work for Peace, Not Nuclear Weapons

 “Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor, and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.”

New Mexico: Work for Peace Not Nuclear Weapons

BY “MY VIEW” SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | santafenewmexiacn.com

I was stunned to read in a recent article (“LANL would get over $1B bump in proposed budget,” April 20) that Los Alamos National Lab would get more than a $1 billion increase in its proposed budget, ensuring the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2023 spending in the Land of Enchantment would exceed New Mexico’s entire state budget by nearly a billion dollars ($9.4 billion vs. $8.5 billion).

Out of that, over 70 percent would go for programs that seek to indefinitely preserve existing nuclear weapons and build new plutonium “pit” bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons. Further, much of the remaining money supports those nuclear weapons programs, such as $450 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the dump for future radioactive wastes from expanded pit production.

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As Finland Nears NATO, Russia Flags ‘Full-Fledged Nuclear War’ Risk

Russia has railed against NATO expansion towards its borders and used the presence of the alliance near its borders as one of the justifications for its invasion of Ukraine.

BY | newsweek.com

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has warned of the risk of “open conflict” between Moscow and NATO, which could escalate into a nuclear war, just as Finland announced plans to join the alliance.

Although he did not mention Russia’s neighbor by name, Medvedev, who is the deputy chairman of his country’s Security Council, raised the threat of nuclear war in a Telegram post which was published less than an hour after Helsinki announced its NATO intentions.

The Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday that, following Finland’s move, it will be “forced to take retaliatory steps, both of a military-technical and other nature to stop the threats to its national security,” RIA Novosti reported.

Earlier, Medvedev had described how there was “endless talk by foreign analysts about NATO’s war with Russia,” which in his view was “becoming more and more forthright.”

State Announces Cleanup For Contaminated Nuclear Site, Which Advocates Call ‘A Back Room Deal’

“They make it sound like they’re helping us and protecting our children and they’re doing the opposite,” said Melissa Bumstead of West Hills, founder of Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab.

Bumstead’s daughter Gracie developed a rare cancer at age four. “This agreement is going backwards. It’s putting our kids at risk, we’re not safer,” says Bumstead.

BY Joel Grover and Josh Davis | nbclosangeles.com

In a statement to the I-Team, Boeing said the agreement “provides a clear, accelerated path forward” for the cleanup of SSFL, and calls it “a win for California.”

The state on Monday announced an agreement with the Boeing Corporation to clean up a large part of one of California’s most contaminated sites--the Santa Susana Field Lab (SSFL)--located in the hills above the San Fernando and Simi Valleys.

In a 2015 investigation called “LA’s Nuclear Secret,” the NBC4 I-Team exposed how radioactive and chemical contamination from the Field Lab was spilling into nearby neighborhoods, where there were dozens of childhood cancer cases.

SSFL was the site of a 1959 partial nuclear meltdown and then decades of rocket tests, all of which left a stew of radioactive and toxic chemicals in the ground. Boeing now owns the majority of SSFL.

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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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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th Progressive Democrats of America Central New Mexico Community Gathering:

PDA CNM Community Gathering - March 9, 2022 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, spoke at PDA CNM's March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester's] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.”

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

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Past Nuclear News

Petition calls for A-bomb victims to be remembered during Olympics

“The moment of silence will also express a commitment to making world peace a reality through the abolition of nuclear weapons.” 

 KYODO NEWS – Jul 22, 2021 | kyodonews.net

A former mayor of Hiroshima has launched an online petition calling for a moment of silence to be observed during the Tokyo Olympics at the time the atomic bomb was dropped on his western Japan city on Aug. 6.

Tadatoshi Akiba, 78, launched the Change.org campaign on the day International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on July 16, amid opposition from some A-bomb survivors who said the visit ahead of the Tokyo Games starting Friday was politically motivated.

“He should have no objections to how important it is to spread the message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world,” Akiba said, noting that Bach came to Hiroshima in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and opposition from many people.

The petition proposes that athletes and people from around the globe observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 to remember not only those who perished in the atomic bombings of the two cities, but all victims of war.
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Carbon-Free Power Project: Don’t Continue To Delay The Inevitable

“Disclosure of these would go a long way toward improving the credibility of NuScale, UAMPS, and the community boards who are putting their own credibility on the line by subscribing to this project.

We must not forget that our ratepayer and taxpayer monies are being used to underwrite this ambitious project. We are owed transparency in return.”

BY GEORGE CHANDLER, Los Alamos

Los Alamos County Councilors,

I hope you will choose to take this unexpected off-ramp rather than continue to delay the inevitable.  The UAMPS CFPP project looks to be slowly dying, apparently because not enough communities believe it to be a viable project, or perhaps because of a lack of transparency.  If you choose to continue, then you can make this a better project.

I submitted the questions below to the Utilities Board prior to their July 21 meeting.  The Director of the Utilities Department asked CFPP to address these questions at the July 21 meeting, and Mr. Baker and Mr. Hughes did address most of them during their presentation and under questioning by Ms. Walker.  Their responses were  incomplete, contradictory, and generally unsatisfying.  The three of most  importance are the Economic Competitiveness Test (ECT), the work on the reactor core being done by Fromatome and Enfission, and the rather curious explanations of the 54% change in output with no design changes.

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Eastern Idaho nuclear reactor project downsized

Others who support the project worry about its incomplete financial support. All but one council member that day voted to continue Idaho Fall’s 5 MW commitment. But two voiced direct concern over the project not having full subscriptions. Council member Jim Francis was the sole nay vote.

“If this project works out, it’ll be great. I just wish there was a slight bit more security,” he told the Post Register in a phone interview.

BY:

A project to build a first-of-its-kind nuclear reactor in eastern Idaho has been significantly downsized.

The initial plan for the Carbon-Free Power Project was to build 12 interconnected miniature nuclear reactor modules to produce a total of 600 megawatts. It would be the first small modular reactor in the United States. After the company tasked with manufacturing the plants said it could make the reactors more power-efficient, planners reduced the project down to six module reactors that could produce 462 MW total.

“After a lot of due diligence and discussions with members, it was decided a 6-module plant producing 462 MW would be just the right size for (Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems) members and outside utilities that want to join,” said LaVarr Webb, UAMPS spokesman.

The decision was made in late June, Webb said.

The project between UAMPS and Portland-based reactor producer NuScale received $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy last year. The reactor is planned to be built on the DOE’s 890-square mile desert site west of Idaho Falls at Idaho National Laboratory. The plant is expected to be running by 2029.

“A 6-module plant allows us to get to full subscription faster, but we would have reached full subscription regardless,” Webb said of the project’s ability to achieve full financial commitment from partners. “Before joining a next-generation, first-of-a-kind nuclear plant, utilities obviously want to be certain the plant is feasible and will be built. Now that we have made significant progress, including a large cost-share award from the Department of Energy, and NuScale has received design approval from the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), we’re seeing more and more utilities express interest in the plant.”

So far, Webb said 28 participants have committed to a total of 103 MW. But, he said, “all are currently evaluating whether to increase or decrease” their commitments. He also said “a number of utilities outside of UAMPS are considering” making a commitment.

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