Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.



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

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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LANL’s Central Mission: Los Alamos Lab officials have recently claimed that LANL has moved away from primarily nuclear weapons to “national security”, but what truly remains as the Labs central mission? Here’s the answer from one of its own documents:

LANL’s “Central Mission”- Presented at: RPI Nuclear Data 2011 Symposium for Criticality Safety and Reactor Applications (PDF) 4/27/11

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

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Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

New & Updated

New study reveals ‘shocking’ number of deaths in southern Ohio county

“PORTS is a massive complex that dominates the landscape in Pike County and, for people in the communities that surround it, so do cancer and death.

OHIO, LOCAL12 NEWS | | November 16, 2022 local12.com

ANOTHER SOMBER MOMENT IN THE CEMETERY

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) – On a crisp, sun-drenched day, the shadow of sadness followed Larry Farmer as he made a now-routine somber walk at Mound Cemetery in Piketon, Ohio.

Larry comes there three-to-four times a month to visit his son.

“I come in here and talk to Zach,” Larry said, at a spot overlooking a tombstone with etched pictures of his son smiling in his baseball uniform.

AN ALL-AMERICAN STORY

Zach Farmer was an All-American baseball pitcher at Piketon High School and rising start at Ohio State, when his dreams of making it to the big leagues were cut down by acute myeloid leukemia.

He died in 2015, just eight days after he turned 21.

“You’re never going to find peace,” Larry said as he recalled the pain of losing his son.

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Presentation to the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee on Discussion Topics Concerning LANL Jay Coghlan
Questionable Department of Energy benefits to New Mexico:

• DOE plans to spend $9.4 billion in New Mexico during this fiscal year 2023, 71% for nuclear weapons research and production while much of the rest is for related radioactive waste disposal. This is 10% more than the State’s entire operating budget of $8.5 billion. Forty-one percent of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nation-wide FY 2023 nuclear weapons research and production budget will be spent in the Land of Enchantment alone(1).

• How does this really benefit New Mexicans when the Land of Enchantment:

  • Has the third highest rate of poverty (18.2%) after Mississippi and Louisiana(2);
  • Is fourth lowest in per capita income in 2022, 3 down from 37th in 1959; and
  • Is ranked 46th in best states to live in, according to five criteria (affordability, economy, education and health, quality of life, and safety),4 dead last in quality of education(5) and dead last in quality of life for children?(6)

At the same time, Los Alamos County is the 11th richest county in the USA(7), has the most millionaires per capita (11.6%)(8), and has been ranked the best county to live in(9). Clearly the economic benefits are for a privileged minority of the New Mexican population.

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Russia and US to hold first nuclear talks since Ukraine war

“While the U.S. has cut off most contacts with Russia over the invasion, some channels remain. In Moscow, officials have called for a resumption of broader strategic dialogue, including on a possible successor treaty to New START. The U.S. has said that’s not possible until the inspections resume.” 

PONCA CITY NEWS | November 12, 2022 poncacitynews.com

Russia said it will hold talks with the U.S. from late November to early December in Cairo about inspections of atomic weapons sites under the New START treaty, a first step toward reviving broader arms-control talks suspended since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The consultations in the Egyptian capital will last about a week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Friday, according to state news service RIA Novosti.

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The Guardian – Letters: nuclear power is not the only option (UK Opinions)

THE GUARDIAN | November 13, 2022 theguardian.com

The Guardian - Letters: nuclear power is not the only option (UK Opinions)

I do not share your enthusiasm for the “good news” that Sizewell C is believed to be safe from Jeremy Hunt’s budgetary cuts (“Britain can’t afford to waver over nuclear power – soon it will be too late”, Editorial). “On a freezing cold, windless, winter’s evening”, Britain’s grid will indeed need an alternative power source to wind or solar, but why is it assumed that only nuclear can provide an alternative base load? And at the cost of how many billions? And how many decades of lead time?

Geothermal could do the job faster, more safely and cheaply – for about a quarter of the cost. Geothermal power plants operate already in the United States, Italy and Iceland. And nothing is more certain and regular than the tide twice a day; sea turbines already operate in tidal flows off Orkney and Shetland and are another safe source of energy baseload. Let us not be blinkered by nuclear.
Wendy Fowler
Carnac-Rouffiac, France

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Sweden to spurn nuclear weapons as NATO member, foreign minister says

Sweden plans to declare nuclear weapons cannot be stationed on its territory when the country joins the NATO military alliance, following in the footsteps of its Nordic neighbors, the Swedish foreign minister told local news agency TT on Friday.

REUTERS | November 11, 2022 reuters.com

Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO earlier this year in a move triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. So far, the application has been ratified by 28 of NATO’s 30 countries.

Sweden’s supreme commander raised eyebrows this month when he recommended that the government should not insert any red lines in the final negotiations with NATO, such as bans against permanent alliance bases or nuclear weapons on Swedish soil.

However, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said Sweden would join Denmark and Norway in unilaterally declaring that it would not allow nuclear weapons in Sweden.

“It is still the long-term Moderate Party position,” he told TT. “We have never intended to change the conditions for the application submitted by the previous government,” he said.

A Moderate Party-led alliance won the September general election, ending eight years of Social Democratic rule in Sweden.

US warns Australia against joining treaty banning nuclear weapons

“Australia must ‘make sure that we are able to be good nuclear stewards from cradle to grave’.” – Defence Minister of Australia Richard Marles

THE GUARDIAN | November 6, 2022 theguardian.com

US warns Australia against joining treaty banning nuclear weaponsThe US has warned Australia against joining a landmark treaty banning nuclear weapons, saying the agreement could hamper defence arrangements between the US and its allies.

But New Zealand said it was “pleased to observe a positive shift” in Australia’s position in a United Nations vote and “would, of course, welcome any new ratifications as an important step to achieving a nuclear weapon-free world”.

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Sullivan has held talks with Putin aides amid nuclear fears: WSJ

“White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has held talks with top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions between Washington and Moscow in recent weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“After a series of setbacks in Ukraine, Putin has signaled that he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, causing Biden to warn of a nuclear ‘Armageddon.’”

THE HILL | BRAD DRESS  | November 6, 2022 thehill.com

U.S. officials and allies told the news outlet that Sullivan has been in talks with Yuri Ushakov, a foreign-policy adviser to Putin, as well as Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s security council.

It’s unclear how many times Sullivan has spoken with the officials, but the conversations have been focused on preventing escalation of the war as fears of Russia using nuclear weapons have been rising, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Interactive Map: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Expanded WIPP mission? No shortcuts

“This “bait and switch” tactic, where WIPP is marketed with one mission in mind, then greatly expanded decades later, contradicts DOE’s professed dedication to a consent-based process that, in their own words, “focuses on the needs and concerns of people and communities.”

This expansion represents such a dramatic change in WIPP’s core mission that its managers must reassess safety issues and negotiate a new social contract with the public before moving forward.”

, By Dennis McQuillan and Rodney Ewing | October 29, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Expanded WIPP mission? No shortcutsThe U.S. Department of Energy proposes a dramatic expansion of the type and amount of radioactive waste for burial at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. In March, community groups rallied outside the state Capitol protesting this planned expansion, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent the Department of Energy a letter in April that cited “ongoing frustration among New Mexicans regarding the lack of meaningful and transparent public engagement from the DOE on waste clean-up, shipments, and long-term plans for the WIPP.”

While it may seem too late to protest a facility that has operated for decades, citizen activists are right to object, and the governor is right to demand the Department of Energy address the concerns of state citizens.

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Nuclear injustice: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows the staggering human cost of deterrence

“Even a “limited” regional nuclear war could kill millions or even billions, disrupt global climate, and lead to mass starvation. Nuclear winter would not stop at the borders of nuclear perpetrator states—the entire global population would bear the costs of catastrophic deterrence failure or accidents.

Complicating the setting, it would most likely be future generations that would have to cope with the devastating consequences, which makes necessary action today appear to be a less pressing concern.

After all, why should today’s decision-makers—particularly in democracies, and nuclear-armed ones at that—care more about future voters than their current electorates?”

THE BULLETIN| Franziska StärkUlrich Kühn October 29, 2022 thebulletin.org

The global nuclear order—built on policies of nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation, and disarmament—is unjust. Russia’s war against Ukraine proves that the distribution of the costs and benefits of nuclear deterrence is particularly discriminatory. The current situation is a painful reminder that nuclear weapons are to global security what fossil fuels are to a green economy: a costly legacy of past generations thwarting justice and sustainability efforts in the long-term.

It is time for nuclear scholars, policy makers, and the general public to (re)politicize the ongoing and future negative effects of this Nuclear Injustice and push for fundamental change in the role of nuclear weapons in the world. They can do so by making Nuclear Injustice front and center at all relevant conferences and actively engaging in the debate about the nuclear lessons learned from the war in Ukraine.

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

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

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

As a pertinent example, after the Obama Administration released its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the Defense Department declared that, “…[t]he new guidance requires the United States to maintain significant counterforce capabilities against potential adversaries. The new guidance does not rely on a ‘counter-value’ or ‘minimum deterrence’ strategy.”[1] In simple language, that means nuclear war-fighting that could end civilization should deterrence fail, or even possible first strike. That is why we have thousands of nuclear weapons instead of just the few hundred needed for only deterrence. That is why we have the massive, $1.7 trillion “modernization” program that will keep nuclear weapons forever, for which Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review gives added policy foundation.

FULL PRESS RELEASE [PDF]

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

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

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

FULL PRESS RELEASE [PDF]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch

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

Archbishop renews call for dialogue on ridding world of nuclear weapons

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

| October 23, 2022 osvnews.com

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

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

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

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

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CRITICAL EVENTS

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ACTION ALERTS

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New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

A September 11th Catastrophe You’ve Probably Never Heard About

In 1957, America narrowly averted a nuclear meltdown at the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado. A new book explores how close we all came to disaster.

ANDREW COHEN | theatlantic.com

An interior view of the plutonium processing facility at Rocky Flats. (Library of Congress)
An interior view of the plutonium processing facility at Rocky Flats. (Library of Congress
On September 11, 1957 a national catastrophe was unfolding, one you likely have never heard about before. At the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility near Denver, inside the plutonium processing building, a fire had started in an area designed to be fireproof. Soon it was roaring over, through, and around the carefully constricted plutonium as one Cold-War-era safety feature after another failed. The roof of the building, the building itself, were threatened. And plumes of radioactive smoke went straight up into Colorado’s late summer night air. High into the air, if you believe the witnesses.For 13 hours on the night of the 11th, into the morning the next day, the fire raged inside that building, until firefighters put it out (with water — exposing themselves, and perhaps the entire front range of Colorado, to an even greater risk of radiation). When it was over, Energy Department officials, and the Dow Chemical officials who then ran the facility, did not share the extent of the catastrophe, or the radiation danger, with local officials or the media. For years, no one really knew how bad it had been, what it meant for those exposed to the radiation, or how such a dangerous event could be prevented in the future.

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