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.

Plutonium Sampling at Los Alamos National Laboratory

PBS Special: The Vow From Hiroshima

Where the film “Oppenheimer” failed to explore the devastating impact of nuclear destruction on victims and the environment, "The Vow From Hiroshima" offers a poignant and timely counter-narrative. It shares an intimate, uplifting glimpse into the life of Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bombing who dedicated her life to peace and the elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Special on PBS |

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

GAO: Lab faces four-year delay, cost growth for making nuclear bomb cores

“The agency spending more on pit production than originally envisioned isn’t technically a cost overrun because no funding baseline was ever established…This means there’s no benchmark anyone can point to and say the agency has spent too much, she said, which in turn leaves funding for pits open-ended.”

By Scott Wyland [email protected] THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | August 19, 2023 santafenewmexican.com

View/Download: GAO report on NNSA projects

Federal officials estimate Los Alamos National Laboratory won’t produce 30 nuclear bomb cores until 2030 — four years after the legally required deadline.

A plutonium pellet, “illuminated by its own energy,” according to the Department of Energy. DOE

The additional time needed to produce 30 bowling-ball-sized warhead triggers, known as pits, will cost the lab significantly more than originally estimated, a government watchdog said in a newly released report.

The agency in charge of the country’s nuclear arsenal estimates in the Government Accountability Office report it will take until 2030 for the Los Alamos lab’s plutonium facility to be capable of making 30 pits.

In Search of Resolution: New Documentary on Nuclear Dangers

The new documentary “In Search of Resolution,” examines the current state of international nuclear arms control and is the third film of The Nuclear World Project.

Filmed in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this timely documentary examines the continuing dangers posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. The program includes in-depth interviews with scholars, ambassadors, and leaders in the field to provide historical context, while international experts reflect on arms control measures, nuclear disarmament, and possible ways forward.

The film provides, among other things, an interesting inside look at the TPNW MSP1, the 2022 Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, and the 2022 NPT Review Conference.

Find out more and watch online here: https://video.kpbs.org/show/in-search-of-resolution/

Author Details the Nuclear ‘Colonization’ of New Mexico

🠟 LISTEN • 28:59

By Megan Kamerick, KUNM | August 18, 2023 kunm.org

A warning sign placed by the Puerco river by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Division after the Church Rock uranium mill spill on July 16, 1979.
Environmental Protection Agency A warning sign placed by the Puerco river by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Division after the Church Rock uranium mill spill on July 16, 1979.

University Showcase 8/18 8a: This month marks the 78th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the first atomic blast, which took place on July 16th, 1945 in New Mexico. The new film “Oppenheimer” focuses on the physicist who led the Manhattan Project here in Los Alamos.

National Nuclear Security Administration: New Assessments of Major Projects from the Government Accountability Office

National Nuclear Security Administration: Assessments of Major Projects

GAO-23-104402 Published: Aug 17, 2023. Publicly Released: Aug 17, 2023.

The National Nuclear Security Administration plans to invest over $30 billion in its major projects to modernize the research and production infrastructure supporting the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. This is our first biennial assessment of NNSA’s major projects.

As of March 2023, NNSA’s major projects collectively exceeded their cost estimates by over $2 billion. They also surpassed their collective schedules by almost 10 years. Cost growth and schedule delays had multiple causes, such as lower levels of worker productivity than planned.


The Department of Energy has been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement since 1991. A January 2023 GAO report says it all: NNSA Does Not Have a Comprehensive Schedule or Cost Estimate for Pit Production Capability. Congress has made its ongoing concern over the lack of pit aging studies explicit in legislation. The FY 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted the following provision:

“Pit and Plutonium Aging.-There is concern with the apparent lack of focus on advancing knowledge regarding pit and plutonium aging since the JASONs conducted its first study in 2006. Given the future needs of the nation’s nuclear deterrent, a robust program of research and experimentation is needed. Therefore, NNSA is directed to develop a comprehensive, integrated ten-year research program for pit and plutonium aging that represents a consensus program among the national laboratories and federal sponsors. Such a plan shall include estimated cost of ongoing research, new or upgraded capability needs, and key near-, mid-, and long-range milestones. The plan shall be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations of both Houses of Congress not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act.”

As far as is publicly known no such plan has been submitted to Congress despite its statutory requirement. That said, a ten year plan to have plutonium pit aging studies is not sufficient to begin with when uncertainty over pit aging is being used as the rationale for an aggressive plutonium pit production program costing at least $60 billion over the next thirty years. The recent GAO report states, “…Six projects in the design phase are implementing significant changes that may increase their cost and schedule beyond NNSA’s preliminary estimates. These include a project to modify existing plutonium processing facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.”

Furthermore, the entire U.S. $2 Trillion “Modernization” plan includes new intercontinental ballistic missiles, new cruise missiles, heavy stealth bombers and
submarines, which entails rebuilding warheads with new military capabilities plus completely new-design nuclear weapons. This is not just for “deterrence” but instead for nuclear warfighting capabilities. No production of plutonium pits is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear stockpile; instead it is for new-design nuclear weapons. The US is inspiring a new arms race with nuclear weapons forever.
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Oppenheimer Author Endorses Norton Bill Calling for the US to sign Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

“My book chronicles the birth of the nuclear age. Since the first nuclear testing and bombing in 1945, the man-made nuclear danger has continually increased. Now, today’s 13,000 atomic weapons are unthinkably destructive, indiscriminate, climate-altering devices that can be unleashed by design, by sabotage, or by accident. Therefore, I strongly endorse Congresswoman Norton’s Nuclear Abolition and Conversion Act, H.R. 2775…”

NUCLEAR BAN US | August 17, 2023 nuclearban.us

New York (August 16, 2023) – Kai Bird, co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book on which Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie is based, issued the following statement endorsing a bill by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the  Nuclear Abolition and Conversion Act, H.R. 2775

Downwinders are Finally Close to Getting Justice

“Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the Senate recently passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act making Trinity Downwinders, and communities in three other western states, eligible for recognition and compensation by the federal government. It is now up to congressional leaders to meet in conference and negotiate a final version of the bill.”

BY RAÚL TORREZ, NEW MEXICO ATTORNEY GENERAL, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL | August 13, 2023 abqjournal-nm.newsmemory.com

Of all the chores I had to do during summer visits to my grandmother Savina’s home in southern New Mexico, hauling water out of the cistern was my least favorite.

As a city kid, I was always puzzled by the fact that she still insisted on using rainwater for cooking and cleaning, even after my family had upgraded her house with indoor plumbing. But I knew better than to question the wisdom of a woman who had managed to lift her family out of rural poverty in the span of a single generation and conceded that maybe the tortillas she cooked on her wood-burning stove did taste better with fresh rainwater. It certainly never occurred to her that the rainwater in that cistern, along with most of the locally harvested food she used to sustain her large family, was likely contaminated as a result of the detonation of the world’s first nuclear weapon, which occurred 72 miles west of Savina’s home on July 16, 1945.
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CRITICAL EVENTS

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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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