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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – 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

Heinrich grills energy secretary on proposed $100M budget cut for LANL cleanup

“I can’t understand why this administration does not value cleanup and would risk breaking the legal commitments [the Department of Energy] has made to the state of New Mexico with budget numbers like that,” Heinrich said. “Why is the cleanup number so abysmal in this budget?”

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Sen. Martin Heinrich speaks to a group gathered at the Celebrating Culture: Workshops Supporting New Mexico Arts and Culture at the Santa Fe Convention Center on Monday afternoon. Gabriela Campos/ The New Mexican

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich fired tough questions and caustic comments at Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on Tuesday over the proposed $100 million cut in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s cleanup program for radioactive waste it produced during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Nuclear Tests Marked Life on Earth With a Radioactive Spike

Even as it disappears, the “bomb spike” is revealing the ways humans have reshaped the planet.

STORY BY: CARL ZIMMER | theatlantic.com

On the morning of March 1, 1954, a hydrogen bomb went off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. John Clark was only 20 miles away when he issued the order, huddled with his crew inside a windowless concrete blockhouse on Bikini Atoll. But seconds went by, and all was silent. He wondered if the bomb had failed. Eventually, he radioed a Navy ship monitoring the test explosion.

“It’s a good one,” they told him.

Then the blockhouse began to lurch. At least one crew member got seasick—“landsick” might be the better descriptor. A minute later, when the bomb blast reached them, the walls creaked and water shot out of the bathroom pipes. And then, once more, nothing. Clark waited for another impact—perhaps a tidal wave—but after 15 minutes he decided it was safe for the crew to venture outside.

The mushroom cloud towered into the sky. The explosion, dubbed “Castle Bravo,” was the largest nuclear-weapons test up to that point. It was intended to try out the first hydrogen bomb ready to be dropped from a plane.

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Senators ask government watchdog to assess NNSA’s nuclear weapons spending

Read the letter here

BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

The James Forrestal Building, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. / Staff photo by Colin Demarest

Two prominent Democratic senators have asked a congressional watchdog to examine the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons spending and related workload.

The request comes a little more than two weeks after President Donald Trump unveiled his fiscal year 2021 budget request, which included $19.8 billion for the semiautonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency, $15.6 billion of which is flagged for nuclear weapons work.

That’s 25.2% above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level.

“Questions about affordability are critical given the significant expansion in NNSA’s budget and activities,” U.S Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Ed Markey of Massachusetts wrote in their Feb. 27 letter to the Government Accountability Office.

“The GAO raised concerns in a 2017 report about the affordability of NNSA modernization efforts,” the letter also reads, “and NNSA’s budget and activities have expanded significantly since that time.”

The independent accountability office investigates and issues reports often, touching everything from agriculture and food to national defense and tax policy.

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GOP lawmaker accuses administration of ‘playing politics’ with Yucca Mountain reversal

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development

ARTICLE BY: RACHEL FRAZIN | thehill.com

© Cameron Lancaster

Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) accused the Trump administration of “playing politics” on Thursday with its reversal on funding for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada. 

“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to see this administration playing politics with something as important as completing the permanent solution to our nation’s high-level nuclear waste,” Newhouse said during a hearing on the administration’s proposed Department of Energy (DOE) budget.

“This budget is … a total waste of resources and a distraction from solving this very important issue,” he added.

President Trump announced this month that he no longer supports funding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, reversing his position on a controversial matter in a key state in November’s elections. The change was reflected in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021. 

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said during the hearing that the administration would not proceed with either licensing for Yucca Mountain or an interim storage facility.

“My understanding [is] under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act we are prohibited from starting construction on an interim facility, a federal facility,” Brouillette said.

Democrats also criticized the administration over cuts included in the budget proposal.

“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, in her opening statement.  

“Your budget proposes deep and arbitrary cuts that threaten progress one one of our most pressing challenges and that is climate change. We can be a leader in exporting clean energy technologies, but not under your budget request,” Kaptur added later in the hearing.

In response, Brouillette said, “Renewable technologies are becoming somewhat mature in the marketplace, so for us to focus again on these technologies that are now commercially widely available seems to us to be inappropriate.”

Trump’s budget request would reduce spending significantly at several energy and environment-related agencies, including the energy department. Trump has consistently proposed cutting funding such agencies, and Congress has routinely ignored those proposals and instead increased funding.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

New & Updated

FBI agent who raided Rocky Flats Plant to speak

Lipsky, who continues to raise concerns about the dangers of radioactive waste, will be in Santa Fe this week for a workshop organized by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which opposes plans for pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The event takes place Wednesday evening at the Mud Gallery.

ARTICLE BY: MARK OSWALD | abqjournal.com

Jon Lipsky (Photo by Patti Lipsky)

SANTA FE, N.M. — Jon Lipsky is a retired federal agent with a big notch in his gun – he shut down a plant that made plutonium parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons.In an episode unique in American history, in June 1989, Lipsky led the FBI’s raid on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, where the cores of nuclear weapons, or “pits,” were made.

Later, under a plea deal, the private contractor that ran the plant for the DOE – Rockwell International – admitted to four felonies and six misdemeanors for environmental crimes and paid the government $18.5 million. The plant formally closed forever in 1992 and the U.S. has made only a handful of pits since.

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3:00PM TODAY on KTRC Talk Radio 1260 AM: Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats Nuclear Bomb Plant

Tune in here ↓

santafe.com/radio/ktrc/stream

12 years and counting: Effort to lock Hanford’s radioactive waste in glass faces more delays

Feds aim to push back the opening of ‘glassification’ plants, while state officials say the Department of Energy has been underfunding the cleanup of America’s most poisoned site.

Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay.

ARTICLE BY: JOHN STANG | crosscut.com

A sign at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation warns of possible hazards in the soil along the Columbia River near Richland in Benton County, Aug. 14, 2019. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Since the 1990s, Washington state has been prodding the U.S. Department of Energy to build two “glassification” plants at Hanford that would permanently contain the waste stored in aging tanks on the site. Delays have added to the cost of the project, now estimated at $17 billion.

Glassification was supposed to begin in 2007. On the current schedule, lower-level radioactive waste wouldn’t be entombed in glass cylinders until 2023. And the high-level radioactive wastes? At present, glassification of that waste is set to begin in 2036, 29 years behind the original deadline.

The Energy Department wants to push that target back even further, and last month began negotiations with state leaders to do so. Those negotiations are also expected to address whether additional tanks must be built to hold the waste, a move the state supports, but which the DOE has been reluctant to adopt

“We want to try to come up with a schedule that doesn’t have to be revised every few years,” said Suzanne Dahl, section manager for tank waste management with the state Department of Ecology. Dahl noted that the longer the project takes, the more it will cost the federal government.

Located dead center in the 584-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most radiologically and chemically polluted spot in the Western Hemisphere. The site’s 177 underground tanks hold 56 million gallons of radioactive fluids, sludges and chunks, mixtures of roughly 100 different substances.

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Nuclear watchers warn of pit production hazards, consequences during Aiken forum

The environmental disaster at the nixed Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado should be a red flag to those in the CSRA, watchdogs cautioned Tuesday, as the nation’s energy and defense departments consider establishing a new nuclear weapons mission at the sprawling Savannah River Site.

ARTICLE BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements holds a large photo of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, a never-completed nuclear fuel plant at the Savannah River Site. Staff photo by Colin Demarest

SRS Watch Director Tom Clements and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Colorado on Tuesday warned roughly two-dozen forum attendees of health and environmental repercussions that could come with a local plutonium pit production mission, as has been suggested.

The Rocky Flats Plant was the last place the federal government produced pits, nuclear weapon cores, en masse.

It was raided by the FBI decades ago following a clandestine investigation, was subsequently shuttered and then shoddily cleaned up, according to Pat Mellen, a Colorado-based attorney who spoke Tuesday.

“It was an absolute disaster,” Clements said of the Rocky Flats facility, which is near Denver. “Plutonium fires, releases, worker exposure, downwind exposure. We have been where you’re at right now, and we did it wrong,” Mellen said, speaking after the SRS Watch director. “We did it wrong at Rocky Flats.”

The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Department of Energy, in May 2018 recommended producing pits at the Savannah River Site, about 30 minutes south of Aiken.

While many local officials and lawmakers have welcomed the enduring mission, others, like Clements, have expressed repeated concerns.

“I used to tell students, ‘If you want to be protected from Rocky Flats, don’t breathe,'” said LeRoy Moore, another speaker at the Tuesday night event. That comment received some laughs.

The proposed production hub at SRS, a never-completed and repurposed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, would be one prong in a two-pronged plan. Another 30 pits per year would be produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to the recommendation.

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Here’s how a CR could hurt America’s nuclear weapons modernization

“There could also be high-dollar costs. Responding to a lawsuit by environmental groups trying to halt the construction of the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, NNSA said a six- to 12-month delay in construction at that location could result in almost $1 billion in extra costs for taxpayers and the agency may have to lay off 1,000 construction personnel. Those numbers, first reported by the Exchange Monitor, likely have resonance with other potential delays at construction sites caused by a CR — meaning construction delays at one or more sites could quickly become costly for an agency whose facilities and construction needs have traditionally been underfunded.”

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — A long-term continuing resolution will result in delays for modernizing America’s nuclear warheads, while putting at risk an already challenging plan to build plutonium pits needed for the next generation of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear officials are warning.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semiautonomous agency under the Department of Energy that handles the manufacturing and maintenance of America’s nuclear warheads. Like other government agencies, NNSA would be limited to fiscal 2019 funding limits under a continuing resolution, and it would be unable to start new contracts.

The current continuing resolution, or CR, is set to end Nov. 21, but there is little expectation that regular budgeting will then resume. Congress is debating the merits of pushing the CR through December, but analysts are concerned the CR could extend into next year.

“We are in a situation right now where we have single-point failures throughout our enterprise,” Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the NNSA administrator, said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast earlier this month. “It’s necessary for us, for the NNSA and for the nuclear security enterprise to receive consistent and robust funding to modernize our infrastructure as well as continue ongoing operations.”

“We’re looking at where we can move funding insofar as CRs will allow us to do so,” she added. “We’re working very closely with OMB and the administration to see what we can do to continue our important programs to modernize the infrastructure as well as the stockpile and our workforce initiatives and our endeavors.”

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Citizens Rebut Government Attempt To Continue Illegal Construction Of Nuclear Weapons Plant

12 November 2019 for immediate release

Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration’s brazen disregard for a federal court’s September 24, 2019, ruling an “abuse of the judicial process,” the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four individual plaintiffs, returned to federal court in Knoxville, TN, today to file a rebuttal of the NNSA’s argument that the agency should be allowed to continue construction on a new nuclear weapons production plant “in the interim”—even while they are preparing the studies that will tell them whether the facilities can be made safe for workers and the public in the event of an earthquake.
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$1.5 MILLION IN NEW GRANTS TO STOP NUCLEAR THREATS

The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded grants to over 20 organizations

The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded $1.5 million in new grants to over 20 organizations working to end nuclear threats.

“These investments will develop new champions, provide vital research and empower American citizens to create a new vision for a saner nuclear policy,” said Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione. “We have a balanced portfolio,” Cirincione explained, “The board invests in the best expert research, the most effective advocates, the clearest media messengers and, increasingly, in the new mass movements energizing public involvement on policy issues.”

For example, a new grant to National Security Action will allow that organization of former and future government officials to craft a new nuclear posture plan for the United States. To promote diplomacy and reduce the risk of war, the board gave a grant to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to help launch this new institute and work on the threat of new wars in the Middle East and to promote diplomacy with North Korea. “We want to inject new ideas and proposals, providing political space to de-escalate current tensions and create viable diplomatic solutions,” said Director of Programs Michelle Dover.

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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.

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

Russia says it’s already too late to replace new START treaty

Last Major Nuclear Arms Pact Could Expire With No Replacement, Russia Says

The treaty, disliked by President Trump, will run out in 14 months — and there is too little time to hammer out a new one, a Russian official said.

ARTICLE BY TOM BALMFORTH | reuters.com

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday there was no longer enough time left for Moscow and Washington to negotiate a full-fledged replacement for the New START nuclear arms control treaty before it expires in February 2021.

The New START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers and limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy.

The fate of the accord has been in the spotlight since Washington in August pulled out of another landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), citing violations by Russia that Moscow denies.

“It’s already obvious that with the time that is left… we will not be able to work out a full-fledged replacement document,” Vladimir Leontyev, a foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The treaty can be extended by mutual agreement, but the prospect of that happening is unclear as Washington is not moving quickly and Moscow would need at least half a year to implement any extension agreement, Leontyev said. There was no immediate reaction from Washington to his comments.

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Action Alerts

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Critical Events

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Summary of Recent NEPA Comments

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the opportunity for public comment on major federal proposals.

  1. Most recently, on June 2nd, Nuclear Watch New Mexico submitted formal 48-page comments on NNSA's draft environmental impact statement on plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site SRS available here
    1. Also recommended: comments by Tri-Valley CAREs and SRS Watch.
  2. On May 26 NukeWatch submitted formal comments on a draft "Supplement Analysis" dealing with seismic issues at the Y-12 Plant near Oak Ridge, TN, available here
    1. NNSA was compelled to prepare that Supplement Analysis due to ongoing litigation by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, NukeWatch and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The main issue is NNSA's planned continued use of two old contaminated facilities previously slated for decontamination and decommissioning to help produce nuclear weapons "secondaries" that put the "H" in H-bomb.

Also Recommended:

3. Finally, on May 9 NukeWatch submitted formal NEPA comment on a draft Supplement Analysis on plutonium pit production at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), available here

Also recommended: comments by Tri-Valley CAREs and SRS Watch.

Nuclear News

The modern nuclear arsenal: A nuclear weapons expert describes a new kind of Cold War

The modern nuclear arsenal: A nuclear weapons expert describes a new kind of Cold War

Nuclear Knowledge: The modern nuclear arsenal

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/politics/nuclear-knowledge-the-modern-nuclear-arsenal/2018/08/20/9d370fec-a0b8-11e8-a3dd-2a1991f075d5_video.html
Secrecy, bombastic threats and doomsday talk abound when talking about nuclear weapons, so The Post sat down with expert Hans Kristensen to clear the air. (Jenny Starrs /The Washington Post)

By Jenny Starrs
August 24 at 7:00 AM

With the flurry of talks with North Korea and the fallout from the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, nuclear weapons have become a major topic of discussion in recent months. But secrecy abounds: Who has what weapons? How many? How much damage could they do?

Hans Kristensen tries to answer those questions. As the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Kristensen and his colleagues delve into open source data, analyze satellite imagery and file requests under the Freedom of Information Act to get the most accurate picture of the world’s nuclear-armed countries. The initiative produces reports on nuclear weapons, arms control and other nuclear matters, and gives recommendations on how to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Kristensen sat down with The Washington Post to discuss how the United States’s nuclear capabilities stack up with the rest of the world, and potential problems down the road. The questions and answers have been edited for brevity.

Read the Article here

Los Alamos National Laboratory

New Los Alamos lab manager Triad will pay Gross Receipts Tax

New Los Alamos lab manager Triad will pay GRT, official says
By Andy Stiny | astiny@sfnewmexican.com
Aug 22, 2018 Updated 16 hrs ago

A representative of Triad National Security LLC, which takes over management of Los Alamos National Laboratory in November, said Wednesday the consortium will pay gross receipts taxes, easing concerns of local officials about losing millions of dollars in revenue.
Scott Sudduth, assistant vice chancellor with the Office of Federal Relations for the Texas A&M University system, told an audience of about 50 community members during a meeting in Los Alamos that the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department responded to a recent inquiry from Triad by saying that “it is their view that the gross receipts tax does apply to Triad.”
Los Alamos County officials had said previously that if Triad were deemed to have nonprofit status, the county estimated it could lose $21 million annually and the state $23 million in gross receipts tax revenues, according to published reports.

Read More in the SF New Mexican here.

ELEA/Holtec storage ground view

State could block proposed nuclear storage site near Carlsbad

State could block nuclear storage site near Carlsbad even if federally licensed

State lawmakers maintained they will have a say in a proposed facility to store high-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad and Hobbs, despite an opinion issued by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas suggesting New Mexico will have a limited role in licensing the project.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), who chairs the New Mexico Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee said Balderas’ opinion was informative but did not preclude lawmakers from preventing the facility from operating.

The committee convened in May to study the project proposed by New Jersey-based Holtec International, and held its third meeting on Wednesday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

Opposed to the project, Steinborn said state lawmakers owe their constituents a full review of the proposal.

“I think it’s kind of a troubling deficiency in the government if the state doesn’t have to give consent to have something like this foisted upon it,” he said. “The State of New Mexico owes it to the people to look at every aspect of it.”

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Trinity site cancer study expected to finish in 2019

  • Updated

ALBUQUERQUE — A long-anticipated study into the cancer risks of New Mexico residents living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test likely will be published in 2019, the National Cancer Institute announced.

Institute spokesman Michael Levin told the Associated Press that researchers are examining data on diet and radiation exposure on residents who lived near the World War II-era Trinity test site, and scientists expect to finish the study by early next year.

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St Louis Contaminated Area Map

Federal health officials agree radioactive waste in St. Louis area may be linked to cancer

The federal government confirms some people in the St. Louis area may have a higher risk of getting cancer. A recent health report found some residents who grew up in areas contaminated by radioactive waste decades ago may have increased risk for bone and lung cancers, among other types of the disease. The assessment was conducted by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports, the situation is not unique to St. Louis because it’s connected to America’s development of its nuclear weapons program decades ago. Radioactive wastes persist in soils, and many believe that’s why they or a loved one developed cancer. Now for the first time, federal health officials agree, on the record, that’s a real possibility.

Read More

Watch Report

WIPP Underground Schematic

NMED Announces Comment Period For WIPP Permit Modification to Change Waste Volume Accounting

In an example of Now-You-See-It-Now-You-Don’t, the NM Environment Department (NMED) is proposing to change their method of measuring waste emplaced into the underground at WIPP. This would would allow 30% more waste into WIPP than is currently allowed. This sleight of hand would be accomplished by not counting the outer-most container of waste packages in the future. This proposal is one piece of a larger plan to bring more waste to WIPP. New Mexicans have already taken enough of the nation”s radioactive waste. More waste increases the the chance of serious accidents leading to dangerous contamination.

Comments are currently due September 20, 2018 at 5pm, but this deadline ridiculously short. Please join us when we ask for an extension.

We will soon post some sample comments and will give updates as soon as NMED posts the Permit Modification online.

See the Notice here – WIPP Class 3 VOR Notice

 

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

FBI agent who raided Rocky Flats Plant to speak

Lipsky, who continues to raise concerns about the dangers of radioactive waste, will be in Santa Fe this week for a workshop organized by Nuclear Watch New Mexico, which opposes plans for pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The event takes place Wednesday evening at the Mud Gallery.

ARTICLE BY: MARK OSWALD | abqjournal.com

Jon Lipsky (Photo by Patti Lipsky)

SANTA FE, N.M. — Jon Lipsky is a retired federal agent with a big notch in his gun – he shut down a plant that made plutonium parts for the nation’s nuclear weapons.In an episode unique in American history, in June 1989, Lipsky led the FBI’s raid on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado, where the cores of nuclear weapons, or “pits,” were made.

Later, under a plea deal, the private contractor that ran the plant for the DOE – Rockwell International – admitted to four felonies and six misdemeanors for environmental crimes and paid the government $18.5 million. The plant formally closed forever in 1992 and the U.S. has made only a handful of pits since.

Continue reading

3:00PM TODAY on KTRC Talk Radio 1260 AM: Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Jon Lipsky, the FBI agent who led the 1989 raid investigating environmental crimes that shut down the Rocky Flats Nuclear Bomb Plant

Tune in here ↓

santafe.com/radio/ktrc/stream

12 years and counting: Effort to lock Hanford’s radioactive waste in glass faces more delays

Feds aim to push back the opening of ‘glassification’ plants, while state officials say the Department of Energy has been underfunding the cleanup of America’s most poisoned site.

Already 12 years behind schedule, a project at the Hanford nuclear complex meant to transform millions of gallons of radioactive waste into benign glass faces yet another delay.

ARTICLE BY: JOHN STANG | crosscut.com

A sign at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation warns of possible hazards in the soil along the Columbia River near Richland in Benton County, Aug. 14, 2019. (Elaine Thompson/AP)

Since the 1990s, Washington state has been prodding the U.S. Department of Energy to build two “glassification” plants at Hanford that would permanently contain the waste stored in aging tanks on the site. Delays have added to the cost of the project, now estimated at $17 billion.

Glassification was supposed to begin in 2007. On the current schedule, lower-level radioactive waste wouldn’t be entombed in glass cylinders until 2023. And the high-level radioactive wastes? At present, glassification of that waste is set to begin in 2036, 29 years behind the original deadline.

The Energy Department wants to push that target back even further, and last month began negotiations with state leaders to do so. Those negotiations are also expected to address whether additional tanks must be built to hold the waste, a move the state supports, but which the DOE has been reluctant to adopt

“We want to try to come up with a schedule that doesn’t have to be revised every few years,” said Suzanne Dahl, section manager for tank waste management with the state Department of Ecology. Dahl noted that the longer the project takes, the more it will cost the federal government.

Located dead center in the 584-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation is the most radiologically and chemically polluted spot in the Western Hemisphere. The site’s 177 underground tanks hold 56 million gallons of radioactive fluids, sludges and chunks, mixtures of roughly 100 different substances.

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Nuclear watchers warn of pit production hazards, consequences during Aiken forum

The environmental disaster at the nixed Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado should be a red flag to those in the CSRA, watchdogs cautioned Tuesday, as the nation’s energy and defense departments consider establishing a new nuclear weapons mission at the sprawling Savannah River Site.

ARTICLE BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements holds a large photo of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, a never-completed nuclear fuel plant at the Savannah River Site. Staff photo by Colin Demarest

SRS Watch Director Tom Clements and representatives of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Colorado on Tuesday warned roughly two-dozen forum attendees of health and environmental repercussions that could come with a local plutonium pit production mission, as has been suggested.

The Rocky Flats Plant was the last place the federal government produced pits, nuclear weapon cores, en masse.

It was raided by the FBI decades ago following a clandestine investigation, was subsequently shuttered and then shoddily cleaned up, according to Pat Mellen, a Colorado-based attorney who spoke Tuesday.

“It was an absolute disaster,” Clements said of the Rocky Flats facility, which is near Denver. “Plutonium fires, releases, worker exposure, downwind exposure. We have been where you’re at right now, and we did it wrong,” Mellen said, speaking after the SRS Watch director. “We did it wrong at Rocky Flats.”

The Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration, part of the Department of Energy, in May 2018 recommended producing pits at the Savannah River Site, about 30 minutes south of Aiken.

While many local officials and lawmakers have welcomed the enduring mission, others, like Clements, have expressed repeated concerns.

“I used to tell students, ‘If you want to be protected from Rocky Flats, don’t breathe,'” said LeRoy Moore, another speaker at the Tuesday night event. That comment received some laughs.

The proposed production hub at SRS, a never-completed and repurposed Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, would be one prong in a two-pronged plan. Another 30 pits per year would be produced at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, according to the recommendation.

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Here’s how a CR could hurt America’s nuclear weapons modernization

“There could also be high-dollar costs. Responding to a lawsuit by environmental groups trying to halt the construction of the Y-12 facility in Tennessee, NNSA said a six- to 12-month delay in construction at that location could result in almost $1 billion in extra costs for taxpayers and the agency may have to lay off 1,000 construction personnel. Those numbers, first reported by the Exchange Monitor, likely have resonance with other potential delays at construction sites caused by a CR — meaning construction delays at one or more sites could quickly become costly for an agency whose facilities and construction needs have traditionally been underfunded.”

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

WASHINGTON — A long-term continuing resolution will result in delays for modernizing America’s nuclear warheads, while putting at risk an already challenging plan to build plutonium pits needed for the next generation of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear officials are warning.

The National Nuclear Security Administration is a semiautonomous agency under the Department of Energy that handles the manufacturing and maintenance of America’s nuclear warheads. Like other government agencies, NNSA would be limited to fiscal 2019 funding limits under a continuing resolution, and it would be unable to start new contracts.

The current continuing resolution, or CR, is set to end Nov. 21, but there is little expectation that regular budgeting will then resume. Congress is debating the merits of pushing the CR through December, but analysts are concerned the CR could extend into next year.

“We are in a situation right now where we have single-point failures throughout our enterprise,” Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, the NNSA administrator, said during a Defense Writers Group breakfast earlier this month. “It’s necessary for us, for the NNSA and for the nuclear security enterprise to receive consistent and robust funding to modernize our infrastructure as well as continue ongoing operations.”

“We’re looking at where we can move funding insofar as CRs will allow us to do so,” she added. “We’re working very closely with OMB and the administration to see what we can do to continue our important programs to modernize the infrastructure as well as the stockpile and our workforce initiatives and our endeavors.”

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Citizens Rebut Government Attempt To Continue Illegal Construction Of Nuclear Weapons Plant

12 November 2019 for immediate release

Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration’s brazen disregard for a federal court’s September 24, 2019, ruling an “abuse of the judicial process,” the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four individual plaintiffs, returned to federal court in Knoxville, TN, today to file a rebuttal of the NNSA’s argument that the agency should be allowed to continue construction on a new nuclear weapons production plant “in the interim”—even while they are preparing the studies that will tell them whether the facilities can be made safe for workers and the public in the event of an earthquake.
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$1.5 MILLION IN NEW GRANTS TO STOP NUCLEAR THREATS

The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded grants to over 20 organizations

The Ploughshares Fund board of directors recently awarded $1.5 million in new grants to over 20 organizations working to end nuclear threats.

“These investments will develop new champions, provide vital research and empower American citizens to create a new vision for a saner nuclear policy,” said Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione. “We have a balanced portfolio,” Cirincione explained, “The board invests in the best expert research, the most effective advocates, the clearest media messengers and, increasingly, in the new mass movements energizing public involvement on policy issues.”

For example, a new grant to National Security Action will allow that organization of former and future government officials to craft a new nuclear posture plan for the United States. To promote diplomacy and reduce the risk of war, the board gave a grant to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft to help launch this new institute and work on the threat of new wars in the Middle East and to promote diplomacy with North Korea. “We want to inject new ideas and proposals, providing political space to de-escalate current tensions and create viable diplomatic solutions,” said Director of Programs Michelle Dover.

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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.

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

Russia says it’s already too late to replace new START treaty

Last Major Nuclear Arms Pact Could Expire With No Replacement, Russia Says

The treaty, disliked by President Trump, will run out in 14 months — and there is too little time to hammer out a new one, a Russian official said.

ARTICLE BY TOM BALMFORTH | reuters.com

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Friday there was no longer enough time left for Moscow and Washington to negotiate a full-fledged replacement for the New START nuclear arms control treaty before it expires in February 2021.

The New START accord is the last major nuclear arms control treaty between the world’s two biggest nuclear powers and limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy.

The fate of the accord has been in the spotlight since Washington in August pulled out of another landmark strategic arms accord, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), citing violations by Russia that Moscow denies.

“It’s already obvious that with the time that is left… we will not be able to work out a full-fledged replacement document,” Vladimir Leontyev, a foreign ministry official, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The treaty can be extended by mutual agreement, but the prospect of that happening is unclear as Washington is not moving quickly and Moscow would need at least half a year to implement any extension agreement, Leontyev said. There was no immediate reaction from Washington to his comments.

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Quotes

Alber Einstein

Nuclear Catastrophe

“The splitting of the atom has changed everything but our way of thinking; hence we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

-Albert Einstein

George Kennan

George Kennan

“We have gone on piling weapon upon weapon, missile upon missile helplessly, almost involuntarily, like the victims of some sort of hypnosis, like men in a dream, like lemmings headed for the sea…”

-George Kennan, 1981 From IN THE NATION; A Collision Course

Martin Amis

The Use of Nuclear Weapons

“What is the only provocation that could bring about the use of nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the priority target for nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons. What is the only established defense against nuclear weapons? Nuclear weapons.

How do we prevent the use of nuclear weapons? By threatening the use of nuclear weapons. And we can’t get rid of nuclear weapons, because of nuclear weapons. The intransigence, it seems, is a function of the weapons themselves.”

– Martin Amis, Einstein’s Monsters