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

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NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley CAREs – VIEW

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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

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 Posts

EU Labors to Keep Nuclear Deal Alive After New Iran Moves

“It’s a great agreement and we need to keep it alive,” Slovakia’s foreign minister, Miroslav Lajcak, told reporters.

However, the Europeans are hardly surprised by Iran’s actions. They believe the writing has been on the wall ever since Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year, claiming that it does not to stop Tehran from developing missiles or undermining stability in the Gulf region.
“Sadly, it’s a degradation that was to be expected,” Asselborn said.

ARTICLE BY: LORNE COOK | dailyinterlake.com

EU Labors to Keep Nuclear Deal Alive After New Iran Moves
Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, left, talks to Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva, right, and Malta’s Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela during an European Foreign Aairs Ministers meeting at the Europa building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. European Union foreign ministers are discussing ways to keep the Iran nuclear deal intact after the Islamic Republic began enrichment work at its Fordo power plant. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union foreign ministers on Monday affirmed their support for the nuclear deal with Iran, after the Islamic Republic began enrichment work at its Fordo site in a fresh act of defiance that seems likely to spell the end of the painstakingly crafted international agreement.

At talks in Brussels, the ministers mulled what action to take as they awaited a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency later Monday on whether Iran is still complying with its commitments.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the ministers underlined their “full commitment to the agreement that remains crucial for our security, even if it’s increasingly difficult to preserve it. We will continue our efforts to have a full implementation of the agreement.”

The EU powers that signed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — Britain, France and Germany — were due to hold talks later Monday in Paris to discuss the next steps once the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog issues its latest findings.

A joint commission meeting of all the signatories is likely to be held in coming days.

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One Year After Woolsey Fire, Federal Agencies Escalate Efforts to Abandon Cleanup of Contaminated Nuclear Site Where Fire Began

Boeing, Dept. of Energy and NASA push plans to renege on agreements to fully clean up the Santa Susana Field Lab, point of origin for Woolsey Fire

“Time and again, Boeing has cut corners on safety, whether on its airplanes or at SSFL, putting profits above all else.”
“The failure to clean up the site added insult to injury for people impacted by the fire.”

Contact:  Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.orgDan Hirsch, 831-336-8003 or dhirsch1@cruzio.comMelissa Bumstead melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net  | psr-la.org

One year after the devastating Woolsey Fire began at and burned most of the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL,) Boeing, the Department of Energy and NASA are pushing forward plans to abrogate cleanup agreements and leave most of the radioactive and chemical contamination on the site unremediated. SSFL is grossly polluted from decades of nuclear and rocket-engine testing activities including several accidents, spills, and intentional toxic releases.

On November 8, 2018, the Woolsey Fire ignited approximately 1,000 yards from the site of a partial nuclear meltdown of SSFL’s Sodium Reactor Experiment. The fire burned approximately 80% of the contaminated 2,850 acre facility before burning to Malibu, scorching nearly 97,000 acres, 1,643 structures, and prompting the evacuation of more than a quarter million people in one of Southern California’s worst wildfires to date. Three people lost their lives in the fire.

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Why should anyone trust LANL on nuclear safety?

JAY COGHLAN | abqjournal.com

Ask the downwinders of nuclear weapons tests at the Marshal Islands and the Nevada Test Site whether the government should be trusted. Why should LANL be trusted, when it used to claim that groundwater contamination was impossible, but today we know it is contaminated with chromium, perchlorates, high explosives, etc.?

More recently, how can the public trust LANL when it sent an improperly prepared radioactive waste barrel that ruptured and closed the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for three years, contaminating 21 workers with plutonium and costing the American taxpayer $3 billion to reopen?

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From A to Zia

November 5  This week features Princeton physicist Dr. Zia Mian, sitting down with Michelle Dover to discuss the India-Pakistan nuclear dyad and whether the global nuclear order is worth saving.
“Who decides how human society and human civilization conducts affairs,” Dr. Mian asked Dover. “Nine countries with nuclear weapons or everybody else?”

Before that, Esther Im from the National Committee on North Korea joins Michelle Dover and Akshai Vikram for the Early Warning news segment.

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Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

Gov. Gordon Open to Nuclear Waste Storage

Gov. Mark Gordon says he is open to Wyoming pursuing a nuclear waste storage facility though he doesn’t personally believe it’s the best industry for the state.

ARTICLE BY TOM COULTER | wyomingnews.com

Gov. Mark Gordon gives a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in his office at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne. Jacob Byk/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Gov. Mark Gordon said last week he could still be convinced to pursue a nuclear waste storage program that will be considered Tuesday in a legislative committee meeting.

During a meeting Monday with the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s editorial board, Gordon said he would wait to see what the Wyoming Legislature finds in its studies.

“I don’t think it’s the best industry for Wyoming,” Gordon said. “But I would say this emphatically: If there is a good reason to do it, and we have adequate safeguards, though personally I may not feel it’s the best industry for Wyoming, I’m not going to stand in its way.”

During the second day of its meeting next week in Casper, the Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee will consider a bill authorizing the governor to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Energy to store spent nuclear fuel rods within the state.

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New & Updated

The Waste that Remains

Los Alamos Labs hit with $222,313 fine for safety violations. Meanwhile, clean-up of legacy sites may permanently seal waste in the ground.

BY LEAH CANTOR | sfreporter.com

The Waste that Remains - Workers excavating a waste disposal site | US Department of Energy
Workers excavating a waste disposal site | US Department of Energy

Even as Los Alamos National Labs takes on contracts for new weapons manufacturing, taxpayers are still shelling out for the clean-up costs of contamination dating back to atomic bomb testing. The latest clean-up proposals will likely leave hazardous waste in the ground. Meanwhile, recent hazardous waste safety violations add up to $222,313.

N3B, the company recently contracted by the US Department of Energy to complete a significant portion of remaining clean-up efforts, gave a presentation to the public at the Santa Fe Community College on Thursday as part of a series of community meetings leading up to the process to decide methods for cleaning up several contaminated legacy waste sites around LANL.

…The DOE reported that 1,168 of 2,123 contaminated sites have been cleaned and 10,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste removed, leaving 5,000 cubic meters of waste remaining identified for clean-up. Yet, according to watchdog group Nuke Watch New Mexico, that leaves 690,251 cubic meters of waste permanently buried on-sight in unlined pits and shafts above a regional aquifer that provides drinking water for San Ildefonso Pueblo, Española, Los Alamos and Santa Fe, among other communities. Nuke Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan tells SFR this number is from analysis of publicly available LANL documents and data.

Continue reading

Russian Nuclear Blast Theories Hint at No-Holds-Barred Arms Race

Amid the mysteries surrounding a deadly blast at a Russian military facility that killed at least five researchers and caused a brief radiation spike, one thing is clear: the new arms race is going full speed.

BY JAKE RUDNITSKY & ILYA ARKHIPOV | bloomberg.com

Burevestnik/SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile. Source: Russian Ministry of Defence

The Aug. 8 explosion at a remote testing facility in the White Sea has remained a tightly guarded secret by the military, with Russian radiation-monitoring stations suddenly failing to send their data to international agencies in the days that followed. President Vladimir Putin would say only that the accident involved “work on promising weapons systems” that Russia is developing in response to “what our partners, including the Americans, are testing.”

President Donald Trump was more forthcoming in a tweet on the mishap, saying it involved a new nuclear-powered cruise missile known in the West as “Skyfall” but adding that the U.S. version is better. Putin’s spokesman insisted Russia’s is superior.

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New Mexico has enough nuclear waste

We cannot not let the U.S. Department of Energy and the out-of-state nuclear waste generators turn New Mexico into the nuclear waste capital of the United States.

BY GEORGE ANASTAS & LOKESH CHATURVEDI | santafenewmexican.com

Nuclear waste sites in New Mexico are prolific. The Department of Energy and the nuclear industrial waste complex want to further thrust the nuclear waste sword into the heart of New Mexico.

Congratulations to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for standing up for New Mexico. It is time for all New Mexicans to raise their voices and say, “Enough is enough.”

Read on to learn about the many nuclear waste sites in New Mexico:

Continue reading

Pakistan Leader Vents Frustration at India: ‘No Point in Talking to Them’

“My worry is that this [the crisis in Kashmir] can escalate and for two nuclear-armed countries, it should be alarming for the world what we are facing now.” — Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan

BY SALMON MASOOD & MARIA ABI-HABIB | nytimes.com

Pakistan Leader Vents Frustration at India: 'No Point in Talking to Them' Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he warned President Trump of a “potentially very explosive situation.” Credit: Saiyna Bashir for The New York Times
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he warned President Trump of a “potentially very explosive situation.” Credit: Saiyna Bashir for The New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan intensified his criticism of India on Wednesday over its Kashmir crackdown, saying he would no longer seek dialogue with Indian officials and raising the threat of a military escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Khan complained bitterly about what he described as repeated rebuffs from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at his entreaties for communication, both before and after the Aug. 5 crackdown on the disputed territory of Kashmir.

“There is no point in talking to them. I mean, I have done all the talking. Unfortunately, now when I look back, all the overtures that I was making for peace and dialogue, I think they took it for appeasement,” Mr. Khan said during the interview, at the prime minister’s office in Islamabad. “There is nothing more that we can do.”

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U.S. tests first intermediate-range missile since withdrawing from treaty with Russia

“This is a very clear sign that the United States and Russia are on the verge of a new missile race,” — Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

BY MISSY RYANwashingtonpost.com

U.S. tests first intermediate-range missile since withdrawing from treaty with Russia A cruise missile launches off the coast of California on Aug. 18. (Scott Howe/Department of Defense/AP)
A cruise missile launches off the coast of California on Aug. 18. (Scott Howe/Department of Defense/AP)

The U.S. military has conducted a test launch of an intermediate-range cruise missile for the first time since withdrawing from a Cold War-era arms-control pact with Russia earlier this month, the Pentagon said Monday.

The conventional missile, which was fired from a mobile ground launcher and flew more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) before hitting its target, launched off the coast of California on Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said in a statement.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the statement said.

The test follows the Trump administration’s formal withdrawal Aug. 2 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a 1987 agreement that banned Washington and Moscow from testing, producing or deploying missiles with ranges from 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,400 miles).

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August 20 William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the corporate connection to US arms sales abroad, and whether or not companies manufacturing weapons of war should bear responsibility for the casualties incurred as a result of their use.

Joe Cirincione hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Lee, Senior Director at Council of Korean Americans. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Melissa about the differences in US policy toward Iran and North Korea.

U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: The Corporate Connection, William Hartung’s new report: static.wixstatic.com/ugd/fb6c59_7fa…0227cc59fb.pdf

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Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

August 20 William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the corporate connection to US arms sales abroad, and whether or not companies manufacturing weapons of war should bear responsibility for the casualties incurred as a result of their use.

Joe Cirincione hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Lee, Senior Director at Council of Korean Americans. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Melissa about the differences in US policy toward Iran and North Korea.

U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: The Corporate Connection, William Hartung’s new report: static.wixstatic.com/ugd/fb6c59_7fa…0227cc59fb.pdf

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

IPPNW warns of dire consequences of military escalation in Kashmir

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is calling on the Indian government to restore immediately all communications and freedom of movement in Kashmir and Jammu, and urging all states in the disputed border regions to initiate new diplomatic talks aimed at reducing tensions and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the long-standing conflict.

IPPNW is deeply concerned that deteriorating humanitarian and political conditions in Kashmir, after the Indian government put the area in lockdown earlier this month, are increasing significantly the risk of military escalation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Three of the four wars fought between India and Pakistan have started in Kashmir.

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The nuclear arms race is back … and ever more dangerous now

Donald Trump has increased spending on America’s arsenal while ripping up cold war treaties. Russia and China are following suit.

BY SIMON TISDALL | theguardian.com

A missile test launch by North Korea on 25 July this year. Photograph: AP

Imagine the uproar if the entire populations of York, Portsmouth or Swindon were suddenly exposed to three times the permissible level of penetrating gamma radiation, or what the nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford termed gamma rays. The outpouring of rage and fear would be heard across the world.

That’s what happened to the roughly 200,000 people who live in the similarly sized northern Russian city of Severodvinsk on 8 August, after an explosion at a nearby top-secret missile testing range. Russia’s weather service, Rosgidromet, recorded radiation levels up to 16 times higher than the usual ambient rate.

Yet the incident has been met with surly silence by Russia. It was five days before officials confirmed a blast at the Nyonoksa range had killed several people, including nuclear scientists. No apologies were offered to Severodvinsk residents. There is still little reliable information. “Accidents, unfortunately, happen,” a Kremlin spokesman said. That callous insouciance is not universally shared. According to western experts, the explosion was caused by the launch failure of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, one of many advanced weapons being developed by Russia, the US and China in an accelerating global nuclear arms race.

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RCLC Does Not Represent The Taos Constituency

La Jicarita

BY KAY MATTHEWSlosalamosreporter.com

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has ties to some of the same people and businesses as that of the Rocky Flats Coalition, and this connection may well influence on-going cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the transfer of contaminated lands from Department of Energy responsibility, some of which has already occurred.

David Abelson of Crescent Strategies, brought in to facilitate the LANL Coalition back in 2011, was the executive director of the Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments, and several Washington-based D.C. businesses that advised the Rocky Flats Coalition are working with the LANL Coalition. They all assisted in the effort to convert Rocky Flats to a wildlife refuge, an outcome which required much lower standards for clean-up than, for example, human residency. This created a credibility gap that the mission of the RCLC is to lobby for cleanup of LANL.

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Nuclear weapons are spreading. This plutonium scientist is trying to stop that

Siegfried Hecker serves as a scientific shuttle diplomat, building ties with rival nuclear researchers the world over.

BY STEPHEN SHANKLAND | cnet.com

CC: STEPHEN SHANKLAND/CNET

When you think of efforts to pare down the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, maybe you imagine heads of state and uniformed generals sternly staring down their military rivals across a huge table.

Reality, though, looks very different.

Picture instead a white-haired, US weapons scientist sidestepping the summit meetings and heading directly to research labs in Russia, China, Pakistan and even North Korea to chat about physics and build the direct ties that may be more effective at establishing trust than edicts from the top brass.

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Native American tribe claims nuclear waste can’t be stored on its land

To the Western Shoshone, most of Nevada isn’t Nevada. At least not in the current sense.

BY JOHN SADLER | lasvegassun.com

Corbin Harney, an elder with the Western Shoshone Tribe, beats a drum during a May 2002 tribal protest near the planned Yucca Mountain national nuclear waste dump.

More than 150 years after the first treaty between the Western Shoshone and the federal government was signed, the two nations disagree on the outcome—the Shoshone say they never turned over their land.

The majority of the land in Nevada falls under the Shoshone’s historical claim. It includes the Nevada National Security Site (formerly Nevada Test Site), which has released hundreds of tons of fallout in its operational history. It also includes Yucca Mountain, which has been the center of a decades-long argument centered on the long-term storage of the nation’s nuclear waste.

The plan to turn the mountain into a nuclear waste facility drums up memories of past nuclear use of the land, and some members of the tribe are pushing back.

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August 13 Robert Malley, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the current situation in Iran, which he sees as a 21st century ‘Guns of August.’

Robert served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Adviser to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign, and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Sleight, Program Director at Global Zero.

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Church Rock, America’s Forgotten Nuclear Disaster, Is Still Poisoning Navajo Lands 40 Years Later

Residents say they’ve been ignored even as they struggle with contaminated water and worry about having children.

BY SAMUEL GILBERT & RAMSAY DE GIVE | cnn.com

A BARBED-WIRE FENCE IN CHURCH ROCK, NEW MEXICO.

Early in the summer of 1979, Larry King, an underground surveyor at the United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock Uranium mine in New Mexico, began noticing something unusual when looking at the south side of the tailings dam. That massive earthen wall was responsible for holding back thousands of tons of toxic water and waste produced by the mine and the nearby mill that extracted uranium from raw ore. And as King saw, there were “fist-sized cracks” developing in that wall. He measured them, reported them to his supervisors, and didn’t think anything more of it.

A few weeks later, at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1979, the dam failed, releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive water into the Rio Puerco and through Navajo lands, a toxic flood that had devastating consequences on the surrounding area.

“The water, filled with acids from the milling process, twisted a metal culvert in the Puerco,” according to Judy Pasternak’s book Yellow Dirt: A Poisoned Land and the Betrayal of the Navajos. “

Sheep keeled over and died, and crops curdled along the banks. The surge of radiation was detected as far away as Sanders, Arizona, fifty miles downstream.” According to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report, radioactivity levels in the Puerco near the breached dam were 7,000 times that of what is allowed in drinking water.

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Critical Events

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Action Alerts

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Nuclear News

POGO: Congress Pushes Back on Nuke Agency’s Unnecessary Plutonium Buildup

“In a letter to the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee last month, the Project On Government Oversight was joined by Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Savannah River Site Watch in requesting justification for this expanded capacity. NNSA has over 14,000 plutonium cores already constructed and in storage, many of them specifically designated for potential reuse in new nuclear weapons as part of a ‘strategic reserve.’

If the interoperable warhead is not needed or wanted by the Defense Department, then new pit production is not needed, and the MOX facility can be terminated once and for all. If it is, Congress should ensure that any path forward will be appropriately sized and scoped to meet that mission need. Either way, if all of these interlocking parts are not matched up as part of an overall strategy then there’s only going to be more waste, fraud, and abuse and it is the average American taxpayer who will pay the price.”

-Lydia Dennett, POGO investigator See her full report at POGO)

B2 Nuclear Stealth Bombers Arrive In UK

Russian military: incoming missiles will be shot down if they threaten Russian personnel. Trump: “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart!” Read More…

A BBC production, 2016.

MOX is Dead

NNSA: Plutonium Pit Production at Both Los Alamos and Savannah River Site

“To achieve DoD’s 80 pits per year requirement by 2030, NNSA’s recommended alternative repurposes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to produce plutonium pits while also maximizing pit production activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This two-prong approach with at least 50 pits per year produced at Savannah River and at least 30 pits per year at Los Alamos is the best way to manage the cost, schedule, and risk of such a vital undertaking.”

-Joint Statement from Ellen M. Lord and Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty on Recapitalization of Plutonium Pit Production

See full NNSA statement

NB: Lisa Gordon-Hagerty is the Administrator of the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration); Ellen Lord is a DOD Under-secretary and Chair of the Nuclear Weapons Council (Gordon-Hagerty is also an NWC member).

Growing Alarm Over Possibility of Nuclear War Between NATO and Russia

Read the recent articles linked below to get a feel for how alarmed some in the know are at this time. These concerns are not heard much on US mass media. You may find some alarmist, but the general drift is unmistakeable. And lets’ not forget that those who know, such as Former Defense Secretary William Perry, have been saying we are not alarmed enough, nowhere near enough. Perry: “The danger of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than during the Cold War. Our public is blissfully unaware.” (ref)

– Foreign Policy: On the Verge of Nuclear War
– Time: Mikhail Gorbachev: The U.S. and Russia Must Stop the Race to Nuclear War
– The Nation: Unproven Allegations Against Trump and Putin Are Risking Nuclear War
– Counterpunch: The Skripal Poisonings and the Ongoing Vilification of Putin
– Salon: Behind this week’s Russia headlines:
A mystery, a leap to conclusions and a fateful turn

How did we get to this point? Here’s some background:
– Andrew Lichterman: U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Racing: Still Crazy After All These Years
– Austin Long: Red Glare: The Origin and Implications of Russia’s ‘New’ Nuclear Weapons

LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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.

New & Updated

The Waste that Remains

Los Alamos Labs hit with $222,313 fine for safety violations. Meanwhile, clean-up of legacy sites may permanently seal waste in the ground.

BY LEAH CANTOR | sfreporter.com

The Waste that Remains - Workers excavating a waste disposal site | US Department of Energy
Workers excavating a waste disposal site | US Department of Energy

Even as Los Alamos National Labs takes on contracts for new weapons manufacturing, taxpayers are still shelling out for the clean-up costs of contamination dating back to atomic bomb testing. The latest clean-up proposals will likely leave hazardous waste in the ground. Meanwhile, recent hazardous waste safety violations add up to $222,313.

N3B, the company recently contracted by the US Department of Energy to complete a significant portion of remaining clean-up efforts, gave a presentation to the public at the Santa Fe Community College on Thursday as part of a series of community meetings leading up to the process to decide methods for cleaning up several contaminated legacy waste sites around LANL.

…The DOE reported that 1,168 of 2,123 contaminated sites have been cleaned and 10,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste removed, leaving 5,000 cubic meters of waste remaining identified for clean-up. Yet, according to watchdog group Nuke Watch New Mexico, that leaves 690,251 cubic meters of waste permanently buried on-sight in unlined pits and shafts above a regional aquifer that provides drinking water for San Ildefonso Pueblo, Española, Los Alamos and Santa Fe, among other communities. Nuke Watch Executive Director Jay Coghlan tells SFR this number is from analysis of publicly available LANL documents and data.

Continue reading

Russian Nuclear Blast Theories Hint at No-Holds-Barred Arms Race

Amid the mysteries surrounding a deadly blast at a Russian military facility that killed at least five researchers and caused a brief radiation spike, one thing is clear: the new arms race is going full speed.

BY JAKE RUDNITSKY & ILYA ARKHIPOV | bloomberg.com

Burevestnik/SSC-X-9 Skyfall missile. Source: Russian Ministry of Defence

The Aug. 8 explosion at a remote testing facility in the White Sea has remained a tightly guarded secret by the military, with Russian radiation-monitoring stations suddenly failing to send their data to international agencies in the days that followed. President Vladimir Putin would say only that the accident involved “work on promising weapons systems” that Russia is developing in response to “what our partners, including the Americans, are testing.”

President Donald Trump was more forthcoming in a tweet on the mishap, saying it involved a new nuclear-powered cruise missile known in the West as “Skyfall” but adding that the U.S. version is better. Putin’s spokesman insisted Russia’s is superior.

Continue reading

New Mexico has enough nuclear waste

We cannot not let the U.S. Department of Energy and the out-of-state nuclear waste generators turn New Mexico into the nuclear waste capital of the United States.

BY GEORGE ANASTAS & LOKESH CHATURVEDI | santafenewmexican.com

Nuclear waste sites in New Mexico are prolific. The Department of Energy and the nuclear industrial waste complex want to further thrust the nuclear waste sword into the heart of New Mexico.

Congratulations to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for standing up for New Mexico. It is time for all New Mexicans to raise their voices and say, “Enough is enough.”

Read on to learn about the many nuclear waste sites in New Mexico:

Continue reading

Pakistan Leader Vents Frustration at India: ‘No Point in Talking to Them’

“My worry is that this [the crisis in Kashmir] can escalate and for two nuclear-armed countries, it should be alarming for the world what we are facing now.” — Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan

BY SALMON MASOOD & MARIA ABI-HABIB | nytimes.com

Pakistan Leader Vents Frustration at India: 'No Point in Talking to Them' Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he warned President Trump of a “potentially very explosive situation.” Credit: Saiyna Bashir for The New York Times
Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he warned President Trump of a “potentially very explosive situation.” Credit: Saiyna Bashir for The New York Times

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan intensified his criticism of India on Wednesday over its Kashmir crackdown, saying he would no longer seek dialogue with Indian officials and raising the threat of a military escalation between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Khan complained bitterly about what he described as repeated rebuffs from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India at his entreaties for communication, both before and after the Aug. 5 crackdown on the disputed territory of Kashmir.

“There is no point in talking to them. I mean, I have done all the talking. Unfortunately, now when I look back, all the overtures that I was making for peace and dialogue, I think they took it for appeasement,” Mr. Khan said during the interview, at the prime minister’s office in Islamabad. “There is nothing more that we can do.”

Continue reading

U.S. tests first intermediate-range missile since withdrawing from treaty with Russia

“This is a very clear sign that the United States and Russia are on the verge of a new missile race,” — Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

BY MISSY RYANwashingtonpost.com

U.S. tests first intermediate-range missile since withdrawing from treaty with Russia A cruise missile launches off the coast of California on Aug. 18. (Scott Howe/Department of Defense/AP)
A cruise missile launches off the coast of California on Aug. 18. (Scott Howe/Department of Defense/AP)

The U.S. military has conducted a test launch of an intermediate-range cruise missile for the first time since withdrawing from a Cold War-era arms-control pact with Russia earlier this month, the Pentagon said Monday.

The conventional missile, which was fired from a mobile ground launcher and flew more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) before hitting its target, launched off the coast of California on Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon said in a statement.

“Data collected and lessons learned from this test will inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the statement said.

The test follows the Trump administration’s formal withdrawal Aug. 2 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a 1987 agreement that banned Washington and Moscow from testing, producing or deploying missiles with ranges from 500 to 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,400 miles).

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August 20 William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the corporate connection to US arms sales abroad, and whether or not companies manufacturing weapons of war should bear responsibility for the casualties incurred as a result of their use.

Joe Cirincione hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Lee, Senior Director at Council of Korean Americans. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Melissa about the differences in US policy toward Iran and North Korea.

U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: The Corporate Connection, William Hartung’s new report: static.wixstatic.com/ugd/fb6c59_7fa…0227cc59fb.pdf

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August 20 William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the corporate connection to US arms sales abroad, and whether or not companies manufacturing weapons of war should bear responsibility for the casualties incurred as a result of their use.

Joe Cirincione hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Lee, Senior Director at Council of Korean Americans. Also, Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Melissa about the differences in US policy toward Iran and North Korea.

U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia: The Corporate Connection, William Hartung’s new report: static.wixstatic.com/ugd/fb6c59_7fa…0227cc59fb.pdf

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Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

IPPNW warns of dire consequences of military escalation in Kashmir

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is calling on the Indian government to restore immediately all communications and freedom of movement in Kashmir and Jammu, and urging all states in the disputed border regions to initiate new diplomatic talks aimed at reducing tensions and negotiating a peaceful settlement to the long-standing conflict.

IPPNW is deeply concerned that deteriorating humanitarian and political conditions in Kashmir, after the Indian government put the area in lockdown earlier this month, are increasing significantly the risk of military escalation between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. Three of the four wars fought between India and Pakistan have started in Kashmir.

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The nuclear arms race is back … and ever more dangerous now

Donald Trump has increased spending on America’s arsenal while ripping up cold war treaties. Russia and China are following suit.

BY SIMON TISDALL | theguardian.com

A missile test launch by North Korea on 25 July this year. Photograph: AP

Imagine the uproar if the entire populations of York, Portsmouth or Swindon were suddenly exposed to three times the permissible level of penetrating gamma radiation, or what the nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford termed gamma rays. The outpouring of rage and fear would be heard across the world.

That’s what happened to the roughly 200,000 people who live in the similarly sized northern Russian city of Severodvinsk on 8 August, after an explosion at a nearby top-secret missile testing range. Russia’s weather service, Rosgidromet, recorded radiation levels up to 16 times higher than the usual ambient rate.

Yet the incident has been met with surly silence by Russia. It was five days before officials confirmed a blast at the Nyonoksa range had killed several people, including nuclear scientists. No apologies were offered to Severodvinsk residents. There is still little reliable information. “Accidents, unfortunately, happen,” a Kremlin spokesman said. That callous insouciance is not universally shared. According to western experts, the explosion was caused by the launch failure of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, one of many advanced weapons being developed by Russia, the US and China in an accelerating global nuclear arms race.

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RCLC Does Not Represent The Taos Constituency

La Jicarita

BY KAY MATTHEWSlosalamosreporter.com

The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities has ties to some of the same people and businesses as that of the Rocky Flats Coalition, and this connection may well influence on-going cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the transfer of contaminated lands from Department of Energy responsibility, some of which has already occurred.

David Abelson of Crescent Strategies, brought in to facilitate the LANL Coalition back in 2011, was the executive director of the Rocky Flats Coalition of Local Governments, and several Washington-based D.C. businesses that advised the Rocky Flats Coalition are working with the LANL Coalition. They all assisted in the effort to convert Rocky Flats to a wildlife refuge, an outcome which required much lower standards for clean-up than, for example, human residency. This created a credibility gap that the mission of the RCLC is to lobby for cleanup of LANL.

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Nuclear weapons are spreading. This plutonium scientist is trying to stop that

Siegfried Hecker serves as a scientific shuttle diplomat, building ties with rival nuclear researchers the world over.

BY STEPHEN SHANKLAND | cnet.com

CC: STEPHEN SHANKLAND/CNET

When you think of efforts to pare down the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, maybe you imagine heads of state and uniformed generals sternly staring down their military rivals across a huge table.

Reality, though, looks very different.

Picture instead a white-haired, US weapons scientist sidestepping the summit meetings and heading directly to research labs in Russia, China, Pakistan and even North Korea to chat about physics and build the direct ties that may be more effective at establishing trust than edicts from the top brass.

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Native American tribe claims nuclear waste can’t be stored on its land

To the Western Shoshone, most of Nevada isn’t Nevada. At least not in the current sense.

BY JOHN SADLER | lasvegassun.com

Corbin Harney, an elder with the Western Shoshone Tribe, beats a drum during a May 2002 tribal protest near the planned Yucca Mountain national nuclear waste dump.

More than 150 years after the first treaty between the Western Shoshone and the federal government was signed, the two nations disagree on the outcome—the Shoshone say they never turned over their land.

The majority of the land in Nevada falls under the Shoshone’s historical claim. It includes the Nevada National Security Site (formerly Nevada Test Site), which has released hundreds of tons of fallout in its operational history. It also includes Yucca Mountain, which has been the center of a decades-long argument centered on the long-term storage of the nation’s nuclear waste.

The plan to turn the mountain into a nuclear waste facility drums up memories of past nuclear use of the land, and some members of the tribe are pushing back.

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August 13 Robert Malley, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group, sits down with Joe Cirincione to discuss the current situation in Iran, which he sees as a 21st century ‘Guns of August.’

Robert served in the Obama administration as Special Assistant to the President, Senior Adviser to the President for the Counter-ISIL Campaign, and White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Ploughshares Fund Deputy Director of Policy Mary Kaszynski and Jessica Sleight, Program Director at Global Zero.

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Church Rock, America’s Forgotten Nuclear Disaster, Is Still Poisoning Navajo Lands 40 Years Later

Residents say they’ve been ignored even as they struggle with contaminated water and worry about having children.

BY SAMUEL GILBERT & RAMSAY DE GIVE | cnn.com

A BARBED-WIRE FENCE IN CHURCH ROCK, NEW MEXICO.

Early in the summer of 1979, Larry King, an underground surveyor at the United Nuclear Corporation’s Church Rock Uranium mine in New Mexico, began noticing something unusual when looking at the south side of the tailings dam. That massive earthen wall was responsible for holding back thousands of tons of toxic water and waste produced by the mine and the nearby mill that extracted uranium from raw ore. And as King saw, there were “fist-sized cracks” developing in that wall. He measured them, reported them to his supervisors, and didn’t think anything more of it.

A few weeks later, at 5:30 a.m. on July 16, 1979, the dam failed, releasing 1,100 tons of uranium waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive water into the Rio Puerco and through Navajo lands, a toxic flood that had devastating consequences on the surrounding area.

“The water, filled with acids from the milling process, twisted a metal culvert in the Puerco,” according to Judy Pasternak’s book Yellow Dirt: A Poisoned Land and the Betrayal of the Navajos. “

Sheep keeled over and died, and crops curdled along the banks. The surge of radiation was detected as far away as Sanders, Arizona, fifty miles downstream.” According to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report, radioactivity levels in the Puerco near the breached dam were 7,000 times that of what is allowed in drinking water.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Quotes

Joseph Rotblat

“Nuclear disarmament is not just an ardent desire of the people, as expressed in many resolutions of the United Nations. It is a legal commitment by the five official nuclear states, entered into when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

-Nobel Laureate Joseph Rotblat

General Lee Butler

“I am the only person who ever looked at all twelve thousand five hundred of our targets. And when I got through I was horrified. Deterrence was a formula for disaster. We escaped disaster by the grace of God. If you ask one person who has lived in this arena his whole career, I have come to one conclusion. This has to end. This must stop. This must be our highest priority.”

-Gen. Lee Butler (Ret.), former Commander in Chief, U.S. Strategic Command

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a risk that they could be used- by accident, via a technical failure, or though the evil will of a man, madmen or terrorists. A nuclear-free world is not a utopia, but an imperative. Yet it can be achieved only through the demilitarization of international relations.”

-Mikhail Gorbachev, speaking in Reykjavik, marking the 30th anniversary of the 1986 Soviet-American summit.

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

-Albert Einstein