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.

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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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley 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

Proposed Plutonim Bomb Plant at SRS in South Carolina Draws Criticism from Public; NNSA’s Nuclear War Plans Challenged

DOE’s NNSA Quietly Plans for All-Out Nuclear War as Coronavirus Rages and Peace and Justice Demonstrations Grow; Plutonium Pit Production to Stimulate Arms Race

SAVANNAH RIVER SITE WATCH | einpresswire.com

Abandoned plutonium fuel (MOX) buiding at Savannah River Site, coutersy High Flyer to SRS Watch – Proposed to be converted into SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP), not for any concept of “deterrence” but for 4000 nuclear weapons to be used in all-out nuclear war

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, US, June 3, 2020 — Numerous public interest groups and individuals have submitted comments critical of the U.S. Department of Energy’s unjustified proposal to expand production of plutonium “pits” – the core of nuclear weapons – to DOE’s Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. A flurry of comments were submitted on the proposed SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) as the comment period ended on June 2.

Comments were formally submitted on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s “Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Plutonium Pit Production at Savannah River Site; Aiken, South Carolina,” which was released on April 3. Various groups submitted their own hard-hitting comments and solicited comments to be submitted by their supporters.

Commenters uniformly opposed plans to expand plutonium pit production into the terminated plutonium fuel (MOX) building at SRS, to produce 50 or more pits by 2030, called for preparation of an overarching Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) to review the need for pit-production expansion and impacts at a host of DOE sites.

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Dear SRS EIS NEPA Document Manager,

We respectfully submit these comments1 for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) DOE/EIS-0541 Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Plutonium Pit Production at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina2 (hereinafter “DEIS”). Through comprehensive research, public education, and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at defense 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.

These comments incorporate by reference the comments submitted by Nuclear Watch and others regarding NNSA’s Supplement Analysis of its 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.3 We believe they are relevant to connected issues which the agency seeks to segment contrary to statutory requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act.

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Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection

A whole slew of 2020 candidates have either pleaded ignorance on certain nuclear policies or given answers that were borderline incomprehensible.

ARTICLE BY JOHN KRZYANIAK | thebulletin.org

Why a US nuclear test in Nevada would be bad for the world—and Trump’s reelection
Craters in the desert at the Nevada National Security Site, 2005. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

On May 15, according to reporting in the Washington Post and the Guardian, the Trump administration held serious discussions about whether to conduct a nuclear test explosion, and those conversations are continuing.

Though the administration has not made any public remarks on the matter, many experts and policy makers have already chimed in to voice dissent. Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, said a nuclear test would “pose a grave challenge to global peace and security.”

Hans Kristensen, who directs the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, said it was “completely nuts.” Joe Biden, former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said a resumption of testing would be “as reckless as it is dangerous.”

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Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm

The Trump administration’s recent discussions on whether the U.S. should resume nuclear testing for the first time since 1992 have raised alarm among watchdogs and, if carried out, might affect Los Alamos National Laboratory’s nuclear “stockpile stewardship.”

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Talk of Reviving Nuclear Tests Raises Alarm
Storax Sedan shallow underground nuclear test by the United States, used for a cratering experiment. 6 July 1962 (GMT), Nevada Test Site Yield: 104 kt. The main purpose of the detonation was to asses the non military dimension of a nuclear explosion.

National security officials at the White House last month talked about lifting the 28-year moratorium on explosive nuclear tests, less as a technical necessity than in response to unconfirmed reports that Russia and China are conducting low-yield tests, according to the Washington Post.

At the moment, there are no actual plans to pursue underground nuclear testing, but talks will remain ongoing and tests will remain an option to consider, two unnamed sources told the Post. Another source said officials were leaning toward other ways to deal with China and Russia.

Nuclear nonproliferation advocates say it is significant that Trump officials are even floating the idea of reviving tests that were halted after the Cold War ended.

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New & Updated

The Nuns, The Priests, and The Bombs

Nuclear disarmament activists challenge the security and legality of America’s nuclear weapons when they break into two top-secret facilities: The “Fort Knox of Uranium” and a U.S. Navy Trident nuclear submarine base.

Are they criminals or prophets sending a wake-up call to the world?

Cleanup of U.S. Nuclear Waste Takes Back Seat as Virus Spreads

“The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates why we should get cleanup done once and for all,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “What we do as humans ebbs and flows with history, but the radioactive and toxic wastes that we leave behind last longer than our recorded history. We should be acting now.”

ARTICLE BY: SUSAN MONTOYA BRIAN | santafenewmexican.com

The U.S. government’s efforts to clean up Cold War-era waste from nuclear research and bomb making at federal sites around the country has lumbered along for decades, often at a pace that watchdogs and other critics say threatens public health and the environment.

Now, fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic is resulting in more challenges as the nation’s only underground repository for nuclear waste finished ramping down operations Wednesday to keep workers safe.

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Trump Administration Determined to Exit Treaty Reducing Risk of War

Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper agreed to proceed with US withdrawal of Open Skies Treaty despite pandemic, sources say

ARTICLE BY: JULIAN BORGER | theguardian.com

Trump Administration Determined to Exit Treaty Reducing Risk of War
Mike Pompeo attends a news conference at the state department in Washington DC, on 17 March. Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

The Trump administration is determined to withdraw from a 28-year-old treaty intended to reduce the risk of an accidental war between the west and Russia by allowing reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has put off a full national security council (NSC) meeting on the Open Skies Treaty (OST), the secretary of defence, Mark Esper, and secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, have agreed to proceed with a US exit, according to two sources familiar with administration planning.

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Gorbachev: Time to Revise the Entire Global Agenda

An Interview with Mikhail Gorbachev, World BEYOND War, April 5, 2020 | worldbeyondwar.org

Q: How did you take the news of the pandemic?

A: I think I took it the way most people did. Initially, there was hope that it could be controlled, localized. But things took a very different turn and the epidemic spread far and wide. Unprecedented measures and decisions became necessary. Leaders, citizens and international organizations found themselves in an extremely difficult situation. All of this will have to be thoroughly analyzed, but the priority now is to take things in hand and defeat this new, vicious enemy.

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Advocates raise questions about proposal to allow some nuclear waste to be disposed in landfills

“I find it just astonishing that they would do that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. How the NRC can look themselves in the mirror to propose massive deregulation and do it in the midst of the pandemic, I find it just ethically shocking.” — Dan Hirsch, former director of the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy

ARTICLE BY RACHEL FRAZINthehill.com

Scientists and advocates are raising concerns about a proposed relaxation on regulations for disposing of nuclear waste, saying that the government should halt the proposal as the scientific community focuses on the coronavirus.

A March 6 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) proposal would allow for the disposal of some nuclear waste in municipal landfills, rather than a licensed facility.

Advocates say the proposal could put public health at risk, pushing the NRC to give the public more time to weigh in.

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NRC Proposes Allowing Nuclear Waste at Dumps, Recycling Sites

“Diane D’Arrigo, radioactive waste project director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, says the change would allow the industry to dispose of any waste other than irradiated fuel at landfills. That includes concrete, soil, clothing or any material where radiation still exists.”

ARTICLE FROM publicnewsservice.org

NRC Proposes Allowing Nuclear Waste at Dumps and Recycling Sites
A federal rule change could allow waste disposal at locations other than radioactive-storage facilities. (Scanrail/Adobe Stock)

BOISE, Idaho — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may change its rules to allow the nuclear industry to dump some of its waste in landfills.

Opponents say the change poses a public health risk and would allow waste to go unmonitored.

The proposal would enable the NRC to reinterpret the meaning of low-level radioactive waste so that it could be accepted at dumps and hazardous waste sites, rather than regulated storage facilities.

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Why should NM store nation’s nuclear waste?

ARTICLE BY: LAURA WATCHEMPINO | MULTICULTURAL ALLIANCE FOR A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, PUEBLO OF ACOMA

If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s conclusion that it’s safe to move spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants across the country to a proposed storage facility in Lea County sounds vanilla-coated, it’s because the draft environmental impact statement for a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility submitted by Holtec International did not address how the casks containing the spent fuel would be transported to New Mexico.

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LANL Tritium Ventilation Project On Hold Due To COVID-19, Scope Of Work Amended To Include Possible Secondary Venting

ARTICLE BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

Examples of flanged tritium waste containers. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos National Laboratory has notified the Environmental Protection Agency that plans for venting four flanged tritium waste containers (FTWCs) at Technical Area 54 have been finalized with an amended scope of work. However, according to NNSA Los Alamos Field Office spokesperson Toni Chiri, the operations, originally slated for this month, have been postponed due to COVID -19 and won’t be executed until the Laboratory is able to support the activity with a full complement of operational personnel.

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Covid-19 is Killing Off Our Traditional Notions of National Defense

“It never made any sense, as Trump’s 2021 budget had initially proposed, to increase spending on nuclear weapons by $7 billion while cutting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding by $1.2 billion.”

Covid-19 is Killing Off Our Traditional Notions of National DefenseMAX BOOT | washingtonpost.com

I have always been a strong supporter of the U.S. armed forces, because I believe they are needed to safeguard our freedom and prosperity in a dangerous world. But even hawks like me cannot be blind to the prevalence of “black swan” events in the past 20 years.

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NPT Review Conference To Be Postponed

“The specter of unconstrained nuclear competition looms over us for the first time since the 1970s. We are witnessing what has been termed a qualitative nuclear arms race, one not based on numbers but on faster, stealthier and more accurate weapons. Regional conflicts with a nuclear dimension are worsening, and proliferation challenges are not receding,” United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director | armscontrol.org

The global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has forced a postponement of the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), possibly until early 2021. Originally scheduled to be held at UN headquarters in New York from April 27 until May 22, the conference typically involves hundreds of representatives from most of the 191 states-parties to the treaty, as well as nongovernmental organizations and meeting support personnel. The conference caps off a five-year cycle of meetings through which states-parties review implementation and compliance with the treaty and seek agreement on action steps to overcome new challenges and to fulfill core goals and objectives.

Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina, president-designate of the 2020 NPT Review Conference, addresses the UN Security Council in February. (Photo: Evan Schneider/UN)
Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina, president-designate of the 2020 NPT Review Conference, addresses the UN Security Council in February. (Photo: Evan Schneider/UN)

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PENTAGON ASKS TO KEEP FUTURE SPENDING SECRET

PENTAGON ASKS TO KEEP FUTURE SPENDING SECRET
“At a time when it is clear to everyone that US national security spending is poorly aligned with actual threats to the nation, the DoD proposal would make it even harder for Congress and the public to refocus and reconstruct the defense budget.”

The Department of Defense is quietly asking Congress to rescind the requirement to produce an unclassified version of the Future Years Defense Program (FYDP) database.

Preparation of the unclassified FYDP, which provides estimates of defense spending for the next five years, has been required by law since 1989 (10 USC 221) and has become an integral part of the defense budget process.

But the Pentagon said that it should no longer have to offer such information in an unclassified format, according to a DoD legislative proposal for the pending FY 2021 national defense authorization act.

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New study says LANL nuclear pit production could go higher

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said he doubted the lab has the “expertise and competence” to produce 80 plutonium pits, “but they’re going to eat up taxpayers’ money.” Coghlan said he’s also concerned about defense leaders refusing to use the thousands of pits stockpiled during the Cold War and instead favoring new, heavily modified pits. That raises the question of whether the Pentagon might resume nuclear testing on these untried cores instead of computer simulations.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory should be able to produce 80 plutonium pits to meet surges in demand, not just the official goal of 30 pits a year, according to a proposed update to the lab’s last sitewide analysis.

Defense plans call for the lab to produce 30 pits — the grapefruit-sized explosive centers in nuclear warheads — in 2026 and the Savannah River Site to manufacture 50 in 2030.

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ONE YEAR OF U.S. NUCLEAR WEAPONS SPENDING WOULD PROVIDE 300,000 ICU BEDS, 35,000 VENTILATORS AND SALARIES OF 75,000 DOCTORS

| newsweek.com

The amount of money spent in one year by the U.S. on nuclear weapons could instead provide 300,000 ICU (intensive care unit) beds, 35,000 ventilators and 75,000 doctors’ salaries, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)–a “coalition of non-government organizations promoting adherence to and implementation of the UN [United Nations} nuclear weapon ban treaty.”

In its recent report, the group stated that, according to armscontrol.org, the U.S. spent $35.1 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019. The costs are based on reported averages, but the study noted that the $35.1 billion in nuclear weapons spending would instead pay for “300,000 beds in intensive care units, 35,000 ventilators, and the salaries of 150,000 U.S. nurses and 75,000 U.S. doctors.”

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E.P.A., Citing Coronavirus, Drastically Relaxes Rules for Polluters

“Environmental groups and former Obama administration officials described the policy as an unprecedented relaxation of rules for petrochemical plants and other major polluters.”

LISA FRIEDMAN | nytimes.org

One former senior E.P.A. official called the move “a nationwide waiver of environmental rules.”Credit: David J. Phillip/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution.

The move comes amid an influx of requests from businesses for a relaxation of regulations as they face layoffs, personnel restrictions and other problems related to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Trump’s Environmental Rollbacks Find Opposition Within: Staff Scientists

“Federal scientists and lawyers, told to undo regulations that some have worked on for decades, have embedded data into technical documents that environmental lawyers are using to challenge the rollbacks.”

ARTICLE BY: CORAL DAVENPORT | nytimes.com

“WASHINGTON — President Trump has made rolling back environmental regulations a centerpiece of his administration, moving to erase Obama-era efforts ranging from landmark fuel efficiency standards and coal industry controls to more routine rules on paint solvents and industrial soot.

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Nuclear News

Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Breaks Nuclear Deal Limit. Here’s What That Means

An Iranian security official in protective clothing walks through a uranium conversion facility in 2005. Iran says it is now enriching uranium above the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal. Vahid Salemi/AP
An Iranian security official in protective clothing walks through a uranium conversion facility in 2005. Iran says it is now enriching uranium above the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal.
Vahid Salemi/AP

BY GEOFF BRUMFIEL | npr.org July 7, 2019

Iran has crossed another line set in the 2015 nuclear deal between it and major world powers.

According to state media, Iran has begun enriching uranium above levels enshrined in the agreement. The move sends a signal that Iran is losing patience with a deal that has not provided the economic relief promised, more than a year after the United States withdrew from the agreement.

By Monday, Iran had reached levels of around 4.5% enrichment, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the semiofficial Fars news agency. He warned that Iran could go as high as 20% in the future, though that level is “not needed now.”

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has crossed the line.

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Dangerous chromium plume closer to Los Alamos County well

Chemical contamination more than four times the state limit was detected late last month at the edge of a plume in the aquifer roughly 1,000 feet below Los Alamos National Laboratory.

BY REBECCA MOSS | santafenewmexican.com June 21, 2019

It is the closest high-level measurement of hexavalent chromium detected near the well used to pump drinking water to Los Alamos County, roughly a third of a mile away.

“Our drinking water supply is safe, and we are vigilantly working to keep it that way,” said Tim Glasco, utilities manager for Los Alamos County.

Hexavelent chromium, an industrial chemical tied to lung and other cancers, was found pooled below Sandia and Mortandad canyons in 2005, and environmental managers have since been working to define the full scope of the contamination. It spans at least a mile long and half-mile wide, and abuts San Ildefonso Pueblo.

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New Mexico land boss concerned with nuclear waste proposal

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN | apnews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard says southeastern New Mexico, which is home to one of the world’s most prolific oil and gas basins, is not the right place for storing spent nuclear fuel.

In a letter to Holtec International, she outlined her concerns about plans to build a multibillion-dollar facility that would be capable of temporarily storing tons of high-level radioactive waste from commercial reactors around the U.S.

Nearly 2,500 oil and gas wells and other mineral developments operated by dozens of different businesses are located within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of the proposed site. Garcia Richard contends that storing the waste above active oil, gas and mining operations raises serious safety concerns.

She accused the company of not addressing the potential safety issues and suggested that it hasn’t been forthcoming in its filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is considering whether to issue a 40-year license for the facility.

“There is no guarantee that high-level nuclear waste can be safely transported to and through New Mexico. There is no guarantee that there won’t be a hazardous interaction between the storage site and nearby oil, gas and mining activities. There is no guarantee that this site will truly be ‘interim’ and won’t become the permanent dumping ground for our nation’s nuclear waste,” she said in a statement.

Holtec International has argued that the federal government has unmet obligations to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of waste building up at nuclear power plants and the proposed facility is needed.

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LANL cleanup costs continue piling up

The U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 drafted a list of 17 projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the surrounding town to clean up soil and groundwater that remained contaminated decades after the Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons work.

At the time, more than $2 billion had been spent in a decade on environmental cleanup projects. The Department of Energy estimated it would cost another $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion to finish the job — and up to 25 more years.

The work is far from complete.

Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said cleanup costs have been “woefully underestimated,” and that an updated cost analysis is overdue.

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Nuclear Waste Storage Concerns Raised By Panel Members During Santa Fe Forum

Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday in Santa Fe
Participating in a panel on nucelar waste in New Mexico Wednesday June 19, 2019 in Santa Fe were, from left, Don Hancock, Sally Rodgers, Rep. Christine Chandler and State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

BY MAIRE O’NEILL
maire@losalamosreporter.com

Multiple concerns were raised by panel members Wednesday June 21, 2019 during a forum on nuclear waste in the state of New Mexico hosted by the Santa Fe Democratic Party Platform and Resolutions Committee at the Center for Progress and Justice in Santa Fe.

Land Commissioner Garcia Richard said her office has direct oversight of mineral leasing at the proposed Holtec site. She made public a letter she sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing her concerns about representations made by Holtec to the NRC and New Mexicans about its control of the proposed site as well as agreements it claims to have secured from the state Land Office. She said while the Eddy-Leah County Energy Alliance LLC privately owns the surface of the proposed site, the State Land Office owns the mineral estate and that has not been disclosed by Holtec.

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Government watchdog finds 3 issues disrupting US nuclear modernization efforts

Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)
Sandia National Laboratories researchers perform series of tests to study fragmenting explosives. The lab is part of the NNSA. (Courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

BY KELSEY REICHMANN | defensenews.com June 20, 2019

WASHINGTON — The U.S. agency responsible for making explosive materials used in nuclear weapons is facing challenges that could impact the country’s planned modernization of its nuclear arsenal, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within the Energy Department, is facing three main challenges, according to the report: a dwindling supply of explosive materials, aging and deteriorating infrastructure, and difficulty in recruiting and training qualified staff.

This report comes amid congressional debate over the cost of modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, an effort driven by President Donald Trump.

NNSA’s supply of materials, which are “highly specialized” with specific chemical and physical characteristics, are in low supply, the report says. Furthermore, the NNSA is lacking the knowledge base to produce the materials, as the recipes to make them were not well-documented, or the processes themselves infrequently practiced, the report notes.

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Billion-dollar LANL building has plumbing problem

BY MARK OSWALD / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 12:05am Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A building at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a price pegged at more than $1 billion apparently has some bad plumbing.

A federal safety oversight board recently reported that the operations staff at the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building found a leak in the building’s radioactive liquid waste system.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent LANL critic who called attention to the recent safety board report, said the plumbing problem is symptomatic of the lab’s history of safety issues, which has included using the wrong kind of cat litter as a desiccant when packing a radioactive waste drum. A reaction in the drum caused it to breach in 2014 and contaminate the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad.

Read the complete article here

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.

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New & Updated

Cleanup of US Nuclear Waste Takes Back Seat as Virus Spreads

FILE – In this April 2019 file photo provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory, barrels of radioactive waste are loaded for transport to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) at the Radioactive Assay Nondestructive Testing (RANT) facility in Los Alamos, N.M. The U.S. government’s efforts to clean up decades worth of Cold War-era waste from nuclear research and bomb making at federal sites around the country has chugged along, often at a pace that watchdogs and other critics say threatens public health and the environment. Now, fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic is resulting in more challenges as WIPP, the nation’s only underground repository for nuclear waste, finished ramping down operations Wednesday, April 1, 2020, to keep workers safe. (Nestor Trujillo/Los Alamos National Laboratory via AP, File)

Over more than 20 years, tons of waste have been stashed deep in the salt caverns that make up the southern New Mexico site. Until recently, several shipments a week of special boxes and barrels packed with lab coats, rubber gloves, tools and debris contaminated with plutonium and other radioactive elements were being trucked to the remote facility from South Carolina, Idaho and other spots.

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OREPA Accuses NNSA of Mendacity on Nuclear Criticality Safety

OREPA Accuses NNSA of Mendacity on Nuclear Criticality Safety

OREPA | orepa.org

A letter dated April 6, 2020 from Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, to Consolidated Nuclear Services, operating contractor of the Pantex and Y-12 nuclear weapons facilities, highlights ongoing criticality safety deficiencies at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The letter, a Preliminary Notice of Violation, characterizes the nuclear criticality safety deficiencies as “of high safety significance.” In the letter, NNSA reveals that CNS has failed to implement the criticality safety plan that was in place when it took over operations at the facility in 2014.

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Russia Says Using New U.S. Warheads Would Provoke Nuclear Retaliation

Fires are still blazing near the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, marking the 34th anniversary of the accident.

ARTICLE BY: CLYDE HUGHES | upi.com

The Pentagon said the W76-2 nuclear warhead was first deployed with the USS Tennessee, pictured, late last year. File Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Bryan Tomforde/U.S. Navy/UPI

Wednesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cautioned the U.S. military that using those weapons against Russia would warrant a nuclear retaliatory strike.

“Any attack involving a U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missile, regardless of its weapon specifications, would be perceived as a nuclear aggression,” Zakharova said. “Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of American nuclear potential must understand that in line with the Russian military doctrine such actions are seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.”

The U.S. State Department suggested last week that equipping Navy submarines with the low-yield nukes — which have explosive power similar to the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during World War II — would only serve to deter military provocation from Russia and China.

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Defense Budget Brawl Looms After Pandemic

Defense budget cuts are looming as the coronavirus pandemic places pressure on the federal budget across various agencies.

ARTICLE BY: REBECCA KHEEL | thehill.com

© Greg Nash

The Pentagon had already been expecting relatively flat budgets for the next few years due to economic constraints caused by the widening deficits in the country.

But with the pandemic, the deficit is projected to explode after Congress passed trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief packages, with more aid bills expected. Defense budget analysts are predicting that will mean cuts to defense spending down the line.

Meanwhile, Democrats say the crisis should result in a rethinking of national security that gives less money to the Pentagon and more to areas like public health.

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Agency seeks $8K reimbursement from former executive director

REGIONAL COALITION OF LANL COMMUNITIES
Two years after parting ways with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, state Rep. Andrea Romero is still being haunted by improper reimbursements that cast a dark cloud over her tenure as the agency’s executive director.

Agency seeks $8K reimbursement from former executive director

The board of the taxpayer-funded agency that represents local governments around Los Alamos National Laboratory recently decided to ask Romero to return $8,000 in questionable reimbursements she received for travel and entertainment expenses while she was at the helm of the organization, which occurred before she was elected to a seat in the state House of Representatives.

But the board is unlikely to pursue the matter further if Romero rejects the request.

The board reached its decision to try to recoup the money after receiving a review of past audits of the agency, also known as RCLC, from its contracted legal counsel, Nancy Long.

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Fire Licks the Chernobyl Perimeter

Fires are still blazing near the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, marking the 34th anniversary of the accident.

ARTICLE BY: CINDY FOLKERS | beyondnuclearinternational.org

More than 1,000 firefighters were working on Sunday to contain wildfires in the radiation-contaminated Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. Sunday marks the 34-year anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

How close to the Chernobyl nuclear plant did the recent forest fires come? Did the smoke that enveloped Kyiv contain dangerous levels of radioactivity? We look at these and other questions about the deadly legacy of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

The recent wildfires in Ukraine and Belarus came dangerously close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site. Some burn still; others are smoldering. So, too, are the lingering doubts about denials from the Ukraine government that the fires, which tore through areas of the already radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, posed no radiological risks to those breathing in their fumes.

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The Trump Administration Is Suddenly Pretending That It Didn’t Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Deal

BY: | slate.com

While everyone is riveted to the deadly grind of COVID-19, the Trump administration is stepping up its efforts to crush the Islamic Republic of Iran through one of the most squirrely legal arguments that a nation-state has ever devised.

The move is also a political shot in the foot, because it amounts to an unwitting admission that President Donald Trump was wrong to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

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Appeal: New Mexico ignored rules in OK of nuke site work

Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press | apnews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A watchdog group asked the New Mexico Court of Appeals to put the brakes on a key construction project at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

The Southwest Research and Information Center alleged in court documents that state environmental officials ignored existing regulations, past agency practices and case law when giving temporary approval for contractors to begin building a new ventilation shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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WIPP faces security, space challenges

The experts are recommending the Energy Department conduct an environmental review to consider the full effects of the plan on the repository, which plays a key role in the nation’s multibillion-dollar program to clean up Cold War-era waste from decades of nuclear research and bomb making.

Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press | santafenewmexican.com

ALBUQUERQUE — Security and the availability of space at the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository are among the challenges identified by a group of scientists and other experts tasked by Congress to review the viability of a plan to dispose of tons of weapons-grade plutonium at the desert location.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Thursday released its final report on the plan, which would cost an estimated $18 billion over three decades to dilute a few dozen metric tons of plutonium and ship it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

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STALKING CHERNOBYL: exploration after apocalypse (Trailer) from Cultures of Resistance Films on Vimeo.

“A vivid and compelling film… where a dose of adrenaline matters more than a dose of radiation.” — Beyond Nuclear International

“Stalking Chernobyl: Exploration After Apocalypse” (2020) is a fascinating documentary from Cultures of Resistance Films that offers a unique portal into the clandestine culture that has developed around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone three decades after the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

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Defense budget cuts following the pandemic will be hard to swallow

BY: DOV S. ZAKHEIM | thehill.com

© Photo illustration/Nicole Vas

Congress has appropriated more than $2.25 trillion to counter the impact of COVID-19 on American families and the economy. It is likely to spend even more once legislators return from their recess in early May. This unprecedented level of expenditure is resulting in a massive deficit and national debt levels that are likely to exceed 120 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, especially as GDP growth itself is no longer a foregone conclusion. In turn, there will be renewed pressure on the defense budget, which already is forecast to have no real growth in fiscal year 2021.

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NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

The National Nuclear Security Administration has extended the period in which it is taking comments and input on its draft review of the environmental impacts of plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site.

NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

Feedback can now be submitted through June 2. The previous deadline was May 18.

Comments concerning the Savannah River Site plutonium pit production draft environmental impact statement can be emailed, the preferred method, to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov. Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer Nelson, NEPA Document Manager, National Nuclear Security Administration, Savannah River Field Office, P.O. Box A, Aiken, S.C. 29802.

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“STALKING CHERNOBYL” Q&A EVENT ON APRIL 26

On Sunday, 26 April 2020 the UN-designated International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, “Stalking Chernobyl” director Iara Lee hosted a live online Q&A session moderated by Jodie Evans, CODEPINK founder, with:

• Cindy Folkers, Radiation & Health Specialist from Beyond Nuclear International
• Sergii Mirnyi, scientist/tour operator from Chernobyl Tours
• Vitaly Servetnik from Friends of the Earth/Russian Socio-Ecological Union
• “Stalking Chernobyl” editor Dimo Petkov, cameraman Anton Fedorrko, co-producer Oleg Shalashov
• Dominik Orfanus, Yurij Syrcek, and Igor Pasko from the ; Chernobyl Welcome Tour Company
• Vladislav Voznjuck from the stalker/tour group DiggTour
• Lucas Brunelle, extreme cyclist and creator of ” Lucas Brunelle Goes To Chernobyl”

The discussion was livestreamed to Cultures of Resistance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CulturesOfResistance/ and YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/CulturesofResistance

New Mexico’s U.S. senators request more time for comment on LANL pit production

A letter from 120 activist groups and citizens has prompted the state’s two U.S. senators to ask federal agencies to give the public more time to comment on possible environmental effects of pit production at Los Alamos Laboratory.

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich wrote to the National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday, urging it to extend the public comment period to June 19 on its environmental study of the lab’s future production.

They cited challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis and referred to a letter they received from activists who had asked for the June 19 extension.

“We continue to believe that providing the public ample opportunity to comment on environmental documents … provides an invaluable source of expertise to NNSA’s decision-makers, enhances transparency and ensures accountability,” the senators wrote. “We respectfully request that you give careful consideration to extending the public comment period.”

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Quotes

“It’s a terrible world in which rage and fantasy replace logic and truth, and cyber-enabled information portends just such a world,”

“If it’s left unchecked, it undermines our ability — the world’s ability — to deal constructively with all of the threats facing us including especially those of nuclear weapons and climate change.”

― Herb Lin, senior research scholar for cyberpolicy and security at Stanford University.

Campaigns by nationalist leaders and their surrogates to spread misinformation, particularly online, are worsening social divisions and undermining confidence in science, elections and democratic institutions, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists warns.

“The Cold War times have passed. We don’t need an rearmament debate, we need a debate about disarming. We cannot answer today’s security questions with the deterrence ideologies from last century.”

– Oliver Meier in Berlin, in response to a question about the INF Treaty

Chinese “carrier killers” (military vehicles carrying DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, potentially capable of sinking a U.S. Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in a single strike) during a 2015 military parade in Beijing.

Cold War times | REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool/File Photo