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.

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

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

A Dirty Battle for a Nuclear Bailout in Ohio

“It has been known since the late 1970s that the cost of constructing nuclear plants in the United States is very high, but the cost gap between nuclear electricity and other alternatives has increased dramatically in the last decade. In its most recent estimate, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimated that a new nuclear plant will generate electricity at an average cost of $155 per megawatt hour, nearly four times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per megawatt hour each for new wind and solar energy plants. The average cost for natural gas plants is $56 per megawatt hour.
The gap will only grow larger. While the costs of nuclear power have been increasing, the costs of wind and solar power have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last decade.”

BY: Shakiba FadaieM. V. Ramana | thebulletin.org

mailer sent to thousands of Ohio residents falsely linked the Chinese government to anti-bailout activists. Image credit: WTOL Toledo, via Twitter.

Last July, Ohio’s governor signed House Bill 6 (HB6) to provide FirstEnergy (now Energy Harbor), a large electric utility, with subsidies of nearly $150 million per year to keep its Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants operating. Ohio is only the fifth US state to offer such subsidies; other states include New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Although the subsidies are justified by some as necessary for climate mitigation, in the latter four states, electricity generation from natural gas, which results in greenhouse gas emissions, has increased since 2017, when these subsidy programs started kicking in. Moreover, in Ohio, subsidies are also being extended to coal power plants, providing the clearest illustration that what underlies the push for subsidies to nuclear plants is not a result of a real commitment to climate mitigation but a way to use climate concerns to bolster the profits of some energy corporations.

Continue reading

Inhofe, Reed Praise Senate Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

The United States Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, 86-14.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 PRESS RELEASE: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/press-releases/inhofe-reed-praise-senate-passage-of-national-defense-authorization-act-of-fiscal-year-2021

Excerpt below from pages 416-417 includes review of transferring plutonium oxide production from Los Alamos to SRS, despite the fact that SRS already stores 11.5 MT of plutonium that South Carolina wants out of the state, and no more plutonium to come in until the current stockpile is gone.

Responsibility for Los Alamos Plutonium Facility 4 and Technical Area 55
Plutonium Facility 4 (PF–4) at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 is the primary plutonium handling facility within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). PF–4 is currently undergoing major modifications to produce war reserve plutonium pits, with a production goal of 30 pits per year by 2026.Continue reading

Bribed Ohio’s $60 Million Radioactive Uproar Rocks the 2020 Vote

“Ohio is in election-year turmoil over a Trump-supported nuke bailout bought with bribery. Whether public fury will kill the handout and affect the fall presidential election remains to be seen…But Bribed Ohio 2020 has clearly gone radioactive.”

BY: Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman | readersupportednews.com

Ohio’s biggest-ever bribery case is rocking America’s reactor industry … and the fall election.

Full details of the shocking arrest of Ohio’s powerful Speaker of the House are still unfolding.

But on Monday, the FBI charged Larry Householder and four associates with taking $60 million (that’s NOT a typo) in bribes from “Company A,” suspected to be the Akron-based nuke utility FirstEnergy. The company has not been formally named as the source of the bribe, but FE’s stock has since plummetted.

Continue reading

Former SCANA Executive Pleads Guilty to Fraud Charges Tied to Failed SC Nuclear Project

“I’m glad there is going to be a little bit of justice and that Mr. Byrne is now pleading guilty to his crime, so it’s a matter of holding others accountable who were former executives of SCANA,” Tom Clements said. “I would anticipate that Kevin Marsh and Jimmy Addison are probably next in the queue to be charged, and hopefully others.”

BY: Andrew Brown & Avery G. Wilks | postandcourier.com

COLUMBIA — Federal prosecutors locked in a valuable witness on Thursday that will give them insights and advantages as they continue to bring charges against the leaders of a failed $9 billion nuclear expansion project in South Carolina.
Steve Byrne, the former vice president of Cayce-based SCANA Corp., pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding electric customers and lying about construction progress as the company tried to build two new nuclear reactors at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Fairfield County.
The guilty plea requires Byrne, 60, to cooperate with federal prosecutors, who have spent three years investigating the project’s sudden abandonment in July 2017. That project’s failure cost South Carolina electric ratepayers billions of dollars in higher power bills. SCANA’s shareholders also suffered huge losses when the company’s stock value tanked.

Continue reading

Covid-19 Stopped Water Pollution Monitoring At A Major Radioactive Site For Months

“Given LANL’s history it’s imperative that monitoring be robustly resumed,” Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said in an email. “This is after all the Lab that use to claim that groundwater contamination was impossible… Now we know of heavy chromium and high explosives groundwater contamination which are a harbinger for more contaminants to come.”

BY: ERIC MACK | forbes.com

Town of Los Alamos, New Mexico on the left and center, the Omega Bridge in the middle and the Los Alamos National Laboratories on the right. GETTY

When the coronavirus and resulting Covid-19 pandemic closed everything in mid-March, TA-54 was one of the many places where all activity came to a virtual standstill.

Technical Area 54 is a part of Los Alamos National Labs (LANL) in New Mexico – the same Los Alamos that was home to the Manhattan Project, which ushered in the atomic era and today continues to produce radioactive triggers for nuclear weapons.

Within TA-54 is what’s called Area G. The federal government refers to as LANL’s “legacy waste management area.” For over 60 years, it has been a storage, processing and disposal area for different kinds of radioactive and otherwise toxic waste from LANL.

Continue reading

New & Updated

New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded

A Russian nuclear energy agency released formerly classified footage of the Soviet Union’s 1961 Tsar Bomba test.

BY:  | nytimes.com

A still image from a 30-minute, previously secret documentary on the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated. Credit: Rosatom

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

Continue reading

Don’t Preach Nuclear Arms to Archbishop

“That $2 trillion nuclear weapons modernization will do nothing to protect us against the global pandemic impacting Americans now. Further, the Sandia and Los Alamos labs may actually degrade national security with planned new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested because of the global testing moratorium. Or worse yet, this may prompt the U.S. back into testing, throwing more gas on the fire of the new nuclear arms race.”

BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO, SANTA FE
Monday, August 24th, 2020 at 12:02am

In response to (the Aug. 13) editorial “Archbishop’s nuclear weapons view needs a homily on reality,” I was one of the speakers at the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, organized by Fr. John Dear, at which Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester eloquently spoke. The editorial declared “neither Wester nor Dear appear to accept the premise there is any deterrent benefit to the nuclear arsenal.”

To the contrary, the Journal perpetuates the delusion that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is just for deterrence, a premise fed to American taxpayers since the beginning of the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. arsenal has always been about nuclear warfighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it. This continues to this day, as the Pentagon made clear in a 2013 nuclear policy declaration: “The 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.”

Continue reading

NOTE: This study has notable implications since the New Mexico congressional delegation touts expanded nuclear weapons programs as an economic engine for northern New Mexico.

Study: Neighboring counties lose money due to LANL

BY: Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — A study conducted by University of New Mexico researchers found that Los Alamos National Laboratory has a negative economic impact on nearby communities, despite employing many people in the area.

Of the seven counties included in the study, governments in six of them were found to be losing money due to LANL’s impact, with the exception of Los Alamos. Those counties include Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Taos and Mora.

The study, conducted by UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, found Los Alamos County gained $13 million from economic activity created by the lab, while all other counties lost an average of $1.25 million.

Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties, home to 40% of the Lab’s employees, had the largest losses, at more than $2 million.

In a Friday presentation of the findings to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, Bureau Director Jeff Mitchell said his team calculated how much revenue LANL employees produce for an area versus what it costs a local government to provide services for them.

The study, Mitchell said, found that LANL and its employees tend to spend their money in only a few places.

Thirty-eight percent of the Lab’s spending actually goes to Bernalillo County, with another 42% staying within Los Alamos County, according to the study.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Trump Administration Sends Mixed Signals on Nuclear Weapons Budgeting

“A Senate-passed proposal would grant the Nuclear Weapons Council new authority to edit NNSA’s budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office.”

BY: &

WASHINGTON ― Defense hawks in Congress are pushing a contentious plan to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets, but the Trump administration has been sending mixed messaging over recent weeks about whether the change is needed.

The Senate-passed version of the annual defense policy bill would give the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council a say in the budget development of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that’s responsible for the stockpile’s safety, security, and effectiveness.

Continue reading

NOTE: This article is illustrative of the absolutely key role New Mexico plays in the new nuclear arms race, far beyond just the Los Alamos and Sandia Labs. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is on Kirtland Air Force Base which shares runways with the Albuquerque, NM airport. The new nuclear arms race will be increasingly dangerous with likely hypersonic and cyber weapons.

US Air Force May Have Accidentally Revealed Interest in Hypersonic Nuke

BY:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has issued, and quietly revoked, a solicitation to industry seeking technologies that would support a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of traversing intercontinental ranges, potentially signaling the military’s interest in a hypersonic nuclear weapon.

According to an Aug. 12 request for information first reported by Aviation Week, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center sought ideas for potential upgrades to intercontinental ballistic missiles, including a “thermal protection system that can support [a] hypersonic glide to ICBM ranges.”

Continue reading

USAF Rethinks Relationship Between Conventional, Nuclear Weapons

“What we’re trying to prepare ourselves to do is to respond with whatever force is necessary in a nuclear environment. It’s not so much to fight tactically. Really, the ultimate goal here is to deter. We want to raise that threshold of using nuclear weapons, whether strategic or non-strategic … to the highest level possible.”
To do that, Clark argues the Air Force needs ways to stop others from using nuclear weapons in the first place, and options to retaliate if deterrence fails. Technology, training, and command-and-control requirements all need to be updated to support that approach.

BY: Rachel S. Cohen

The Air Force is crafting new policy that envisions more fluidity between conventional and nuclear weapons, as well as a broader range of options to keep others from using their own nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has long treated conventional and nuclear warfare as separate concepts, but that’s beginning to change, said Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

Continue reading

DOE Issues Draft RFP for the Oak Ridge Reservation Cleanup Contract

Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) issued a Draft Request for Proposals for the Oak Ridge Reservation Cleanup Contract (ORRCC) procurement at the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Media Contact:
Toni Rutherford
(513) 246-1374
Toni.Rutherford@emcbc.doe.gov

The purpose of the Draft RFP is to solicit input from interested parties to assist DOE in developing a Final RFP for this procurement. DOE invites all interested parties to thoroughly examine the Draft RFP and the accompanying procurement website in their entirety and to submit comments to DOE.

DOE anticipates an Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract with a ten-year ordering period from which Firm-Fixed-Price and/or Cost-Reimbursement-type task orders may be issued, with an estimated contract ceiling of approximately $8.3 billion over the ordering period. It is anticipated that task order performance may extend up to five years beyond the end of the ordering period.

Continue reading

OREPA challenges NNSA’s “Final Supplement Analysis.”

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, along with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has challenged the National Nuclear Security Administration’s latest justification for the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant under construction at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In a letter to the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the NNSA, OREPA and NWNM pointed out that the Final Supplement Analysis, released in July, falls far short of the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

See OREPA Comments

The Final Supplement Analysis is NNSA’s attempt to comply with the order of the federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee. The court, in September of last year, ruled in favor of OREPA, NWNM, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual plaintiffs who argued that NNSA is in violation of NEPA, the law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions.

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SEE ALSO:


[ILLINOIS] ComEd, Madigan Sued for $450M in Racketeering Suit

Illinois electric customers filed a federal civil racketeering lawsuit against ComEd and state House Speaker Michael Madigan, seeking more than $450 million in damages.
Breaking news update: Today, August 10, a putative class of Commonwealth Edison customers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Commonwealth Edison Company (“ComEd”), ComEd’s parent Exelon Corporation, and several other defendants. Read all the details here.

BY: Michael Yoder | rtoinsider.com

The recent Illinois lobbying corruption scandal involving Exelon Corporation, its subsidiary Commonwealth Edison and Democratic House Speaker, Michael Madigan, demonstrates the extent to which nuclear “power” is about more than electrons.

The FBI arrests of the Ohio House Speaker and five others in a $60 million bribery/corruption scheme; the $10 billion Exelon nuclear bailout in New York; the questionable circumstances surrounding Exelon’s 2016 PepCo merger; and the South Carolina $9 billion SCANA fraud case, suggest that this may be a national pandemic.

Continue reading

Public Interest Group Requests DOE Prepare “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” on Plutonium Disposition, in Support of Recommendation by National Academies of Sciences Pane

Plutonium Disposition via “Dilute & Dispose” to Bring at Least 22.5 Metric Tons More of Plutonium to Savannah River Site, On Top of 11.5 MT of Pu Already at SRS, Must Not be Stranded if Project Changes

Link to SRS Watch’s August 11 Letter to DOE on Plutonium Disposition and Need for PEIS

Savannah River Site Watch
https://srswatch.org/
Columbia, South Carolina
For immediate Release
August 12, 2020
 
Contact: Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch, tel. 803-834-3084, cell 803-240-7268

Columbia, SC – The U.S. Department of Energy must prepare an overarching environmental analysis of slow-moving plans to process and dispose of surplus weapons plutonium at Savannah River Site and other DOE sites, according to a request made by Savanna River Site Watch, a public interest group providing oversight of SRS and DOE.

The August 11, 2020 letter to key DOE officials highlights reasons for preparation of a “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements” (PEIS) on plutonium disposition and affirmed support for a recent recommendation by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS).  A PEIS, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, would review the need for the project, assess DOE system-wide plutonium-disposition impacts and would analyze various sites to be utilized, including SRS, Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the Pantex site in Texas (where more than 15,000 plutonium pits removed from weapons are stored).

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Critical Events

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Nuclear Media

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

Nuclear News

Pending Energy Spending Bill Mixed Bag for INL

“We all know major change takes time, and we know that it is difficult to turn this ship, but we are doing it in our time…We can and must do better than refight a tired old battle on Yucca Mountain.” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

By: | postregister.com

Idaho National Laboratory

The Energy and Water appropriations bill Congress is expected to take up next week represents a mixed bag for Idaho National Laboratory, with spending on some priorities kept flat and slight increases for others.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines earlier this month, with the Democrats in favor and the Republicans opposed, to advance the bill. At $49.6 billion in the regular budget, it represents a $1.26 billion increase over this year’s spending, according to a committee reporting summarizing the bill. However, on top of this it also includes an additional $23.5 billion in emergency one-time funding meant to bolster various clean energy projects and aid in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic that has led to pushback from Republicans. It and six other spending bills are expected to be considered by the full House this week, according to a news release from the committee.

Continue reading

Novel gas-capture approach advances nuclear fuel management

“If one day we want to treat the spent fuels, which in the U.S. are currently stored in pools and dry casks at the nuclear power plant sites, we need to handle the volatile radionuclides.” explains Ju Li, MIT’s Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering. “Physisorption of krypton and xenon is a good approach, and we were very happy to collaborate with this large team on the MOF approach.”

By: PETER DUNN, MIT | phys.org

Separation of 85Kr from spent nuclear fuel by a highly selective metal organic framework. Credit: Mike Gipple/NETL

Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, and over half of its carbon-free generating capacity.

Operations of commercial nuclear reactors produce small quantities of spent fuel, which in some countries is reprocessed to extract materials that can be recycled as fuel in other reactors. Key to the improvement of the economics of this fuel cycle is the capture of gaseous radioactive products of fission such as 85krypton.

Therefore, developing efficient technology to capture and secure 85krypton from the mix of effluent gasses would represent a significant improvement in the management of used nuclear fuels. One promising avenue is the adsorption of gasses into an advanced type of soft crystalline material, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which have extremely high porosity and enormous internal surface area and can incorporate a vast array of organic and inorganic components.

Continue reading

Inhofe, Reed Praise Senate Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

The United States Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, 86-14.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 PRESS RELEASE: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/press-releases/inhofe-reed-praise-senate-passage-of-national-defense-authorization-act-of-fiscal-year-2021

Excerpt below from pages 416-417 includes review of transferring plutonium oxide production from Los Alamos to SRS, despite the fact that SRS already stores 11.5 MT of plutonium that South Carolina wants out of the state, and no more plutonium to come in until the current stockpile is gone.

Responsibility for Los Alamos Plutonium Facility 4 and Technical Area 55
Plutonium Facility 4 (PF–4) at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 is the primary plutonium handling facility within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). PF–4 is currently undergoing major modifications to produce war reserve plutonium pits, with a production goal of 30 pits per year by 2026.Continue reading

DOE Targets End to US Reliance on Russian Nuclear Fuel, Revived Domestic Capability

“Industry and NGO representatives did not agree with Brouillette’s assertions regarding U.S. reliance on Russian nuclear fuel.
“Brouillette overstated the U.S. commercial nuclear industry’s dependence of Russian uranium ore, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Utility Dive. “Most of it comes from Australia and Canada,” he said. Industry sources put the amount coming from Russia at 20%.”

By: | utilitydive.com

Dive Brief:

  • The Department of Energy is working to end U.S. reliance on Russia for nuclear fuel, Secretary Dan Brouillette told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy last week.
  • The department’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group wants American-sourced uranium and plans to begin processing U.S. uranium into high-grade fuel at a DOE facility in Portsmouth, Ohio, as early as next year, Brouillette said. The high-grade fuel is particularly important for new and smaller commercial reactors that DOE considers critical to grid stability as renewables replace aging fossil fuel power plants, he said.
  • Brouillette also said the government has been able to blunt cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid “from places like Russia” and is working to ban Chinese-made grid equipment it believes could contain spyware, he told the subcommittee.

Continue reading

Global Zero Mourns the Loss of Dr. Bruce Blair

June 20, 2020
Source:
Global Zero

“We are saddened to announce that Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder of Global Zero and President of its Board of Directors, died unexpectedly on Sunday, July 19, following a sudden illness.

Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero, released the following statement on behalf of the organization regarding the recent passing of Dr. Blair:

“I am heartbroken at the sudden loss of my colleague, mentor, and dear friend, Bruce Blair.

“15 years ago, Bruce brought together an unprecedented international community of leaders and visionaries to build a new kind of movement to persuade governments to come to their senses and set aside the most catastrophic weapons on the planet. A veteran nuclear launch officer and unrivaled expert in command and control, Bruce understood — perhaps better than any single person alive — the urgency, enormity, and complexity of the nuclear threat. He built the Global Zero movement from the ground up and devoted all of his energy to making the world safer and better for all people.

Continue reading

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.

Action Alerts

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

New & Updated

New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded

A Russian nuclear energy agency released formerly classified footage of the Soviet Union’s 1961 Tsar Bomba test.

BY:  | nytimes.com

A still image from a 30-minute, previously secret documentary on the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated. Credit: Rosatom

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

Continue reading

Don’t Preach Nuclear Arms to Archbishop

“That $2 trillion nuclear weapons modernization will do nothing to protect us against the global pandemic impacting Americans now. Further, the Sandia and Los Alamos labs may actually degrade national security with planned new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested because of the global testing moratorium. Or worse yet, this may prompt the U.S. back into testing, throwing more gas on the fire of the new nuclear arms race.”

BY: JAY COGHLAN / NUCLEAR WATCH NEW MEXICO, SANTA FE
Monday, August 24th, 2020 at 12:02am

In response to (the Aug. 13) editorial “Archbishop’s nuclear weapons view needs a homily on reality,” I was one of the speakers at the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, organized by Fr. John Dear, at which Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester eloquently spoke. The editorial declared “neither Wester nor Dear appear to accept the premise there is any deterrent benefit to the nuclear arsenal.”

To the contrary, the Journal perpetuates the delusion that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is just for deterrence, a premise fed to American taxpayers since the beginning of the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. arsenal has always been about nuclear warfighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it. This continues to this day, as the Pentagon made clear in a 2013 nuclear policy declaration: “The 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.”

Continue reading

NOTE: This study has notable implications since the New Mexico congressional delegation touts expanded nuclear weapons programs as an economic engine for northern New Mexico.

Study: Neighboring counties lose money due to LANL

BY: Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — A study conducted by University of New Mexico researchers found that Los Alamos National Laboratory has a negative economic impact on nearby communities, despite employing many people in the area.

Of the seven counties included in the study, governments in six of them were found to be losing money due to LANL’s impact, with the exception of Los Alamos. Those counties include Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Taos and Mora.

The study, conducted by UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, found Los Alamos County gained $13 million from economic activity created by the lab, while all other counties lost an average of $1.25 million.

Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties, home to 40% of the Lab’s employees, had the largest losses, at more than $2 million.

In a Friday presentation of the findings to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, Bureau Director Jeff Mitchell said his team calculated how much revenue LANL employees produce for an area versus what it costs a local government to provide services for them.

The study, Mitchell said, found that LANL and its employees tend to spend their money in only a few places.

Thirty-eight percent of the Lab’s spending actually goes to Bernalillo County, with another 42% staying within Los Alamos County, according to the study.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Trump Administration Sends Mixed Signals on Nuclear Weapons Budgeting

“A Senate-passed proposal would grant the Nuclear Weapons Council new authority to edit NNSA’s budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office.”

BY: &

WASHINGTON ― Defense hawks in Congress are pushing a contentious plan to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets, but the Trump administration has been sending mixed messaging over recent weeks about whether the change is needed.

The Senate-passed version of the annual defense policy bill would give the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council a say in the budget development of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that’s responsible for the stockpile’s safety, security, and effectiveness.

Continue reading

NOTE: This article is illustrative of the absolutely key role New Mexico plays in the new nuclear arms race, far beyond just the Los Alamos and Sandia Labs. The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center is on Kirtland Air Force Base which shares runways with the Albuquerque, NM airport. The new nuclear arms race will be increasingly dangerous with likely hypersonic and cyber weapons.

US Air Force May Have Accidentally Revealed Interest in Hypersonic Nuke

BY:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force has issued, and quietly revoked, a solicitation to industry seeking technologies that would support a hypersonic glide vehicle capable of traversing intercontinental ranges, potentially signaling the military’s interest in a hypersonic nuclear weapon.

According to an Aug. 12 request for information first reported by Aviation Week, the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center sought ideas for potential upgrades to intercontinental ballistic missiles, including a “thermal protection system that can support [a] hypersonic glide to ICBM ranges.”

Continue reading

USAF Rethinks Relationship Between Conventional, Nuclear Weapons

“What we’re trying to prepare ourselves to do is to respond with whatever force is necessary in a nuclear environment. It’s not so much to fight tactically. Really, the ultimate goal here is to deter. We want to raise that threshold of using nuclear weapons, whether strategic or non-strategic … to the highest level possible.”
To do that, Clark argues the Air Force needs ways to stop others from using nuclear weapons in the first place, and options to retaliate if deterrence fails. Technology, training, and command-and-control requirements all need to be updated to support that approach.

BY: Rachel S. Cohen

The Air Force is crafting new policy that envisions more fluidity between conventional and nuclear weapons, as well as a broader range of options to keep others from using their own nuclear weapons.

The U.S. has long treated conventional and nuclear warfare as separate concepts, but that’s beginning to change, said Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.

Continue reading

DOE Issues Draft RFP for the Oak Ridge Reservation Cleanup Contract

Cincinnati – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) issued a Draft Request for Proposals for the Oak Ridge Reservation Cleanup Contract (ORRCC) procurement at the Oak Ridge Reservation (ORR), in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Media Contact:
Toni Rutherford
(513) 246-1374
Toni.Rutherford@emcbc.doe.gov

The purpose of the Draft RFP is to solicit input from interested parties to assist DOE in developing a Final RFP for this procurement. DOE invites all interested parties to thoroughly examine the Draft RFP and the accompanying procurement website in their entirety and to submit comments to DOE.

DOE anticipates an Indefinite-Delivery/Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contract with a ten-year ordering period from which Firm-Fixed-Price and/or Cost-Reimbursement-type task orders may be issued, with an estimated contract ceiling of approximately $8.3 billion over the ordering period. It is anticipated that task order performance may extend up to five years beyond the end of the ordering period.

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OREPA challenges NNSA’s “Final Supplement Analysis.”

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, along with Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has challenged the National Nuclear Security Administration’s latest justification for the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant under construction at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In a letter to the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the NNSA, OREPA and NWNM pointed out that the Final Supplement Analysis, released in July, falls far short of the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

See OREPA Comments

The Final Supplement Analysis is NNSA’s attempt to comply with the order of the federal court in Knoxville, Tennessee. The court, in September of last year, ruled in favor of OREPA, NWNM, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual plaintiffs who argued that NNSA is in violation of NEPA, the law that requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions.

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SEE ALSO:


[ILLINOIS] ComEd, Madigan Sued for $450M in Racketeering Suit

Illinois electric customers filed a federal civil racketeering lawsuit against ComEd and state House Speaker Michael Madigan, seeking more than $450 million in damages.
Breaking news update: Today, August 10, a putative class of Commonwealth Edison customers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, Commonwealth Edison Company (“ComEd”), ComEd’s parent Exelon Corporation, and several other defendants. Read all the details here.

BY: Michael Yoder | rtoinsider.com

The recent Illinois lobbying corruption scandal involving Exelon Corporation, its subsidiary Commonwealth Edison and Democratic House Speaker, Michael Madigan, demonstrates the extent to which nuclear “power” is about more than electrons.

The FBI arrests of the Ohio House Speaker and five others in a $60 million bribery/corruption scheme; the $10 billion Exelon nuclear bailout in New York; the questionable circumstances surrounding Exelon’s 2016 PepCo merger; and the South Carolina $9 billion SCANA fraud case, suggest that this may be a national pandemic.

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Public Interest Group Requests DOE Prepare “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement” on Plutonium Disposition, in Support of Recommendation by National Academies of Sciences Pane

Plutonium Disposition via “Dilute & Dispose” to Bring at Least 22.5 Metric Tons More of Plutonium to Savannah River Site, On Top of 11.5 MT of Pu Already at SRS, Must Not be Stranded if Project Changes

Link to SRS Watch’s August 11 Letter to DOE on Plutonium Disposition and Need for PEIS

Savannah River Site Watch
https://srswatch.org/
Columbia, South Carolina
For immediate Release
August 12, 2020
 
Contact: Tom Clements, Director, SRS Watch, tel. 803-834-3084, cell 803-240-7268

Columbia, SC – The U.S. Department of Energy must prepare an overarching environmental analysis of slow-moving plans to process and dispose of surplus weapons plutonium at Savannah River Site and other DOE sites, according to a request made by Savanna River Site Watch, a public interest group providing oversight of SRS and DOE.

The August 11, 2020 letter to key DOE officials highlights reasons for preparation of a “Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements” (PEIS) on plutonium disposition and affirmed support for a recent recommendation by a panel of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS).  A PEIS, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, would review the need for the project, assess DOE system-wide plutonium-disposition impacts and would analyze various sites to be utilized, including SRS, Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico and the Pantex site in Texas (where more than 15,000 plutonium pits removed from weapons are stored).

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Must Reads

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Ron Rosenbaum, in his fascinating and highly readable “How The End Begins” (2011) notes that when Kissinger told Nixon that Ellsberg was “the most dangerous man in America” he wasn’t referring to the Pentagon Papers but to what Ellsberg knew about top secret nuclear war plans from his work at RAND. Ellsberg had also made off with thousands of nuclear war-fighting strategy documents in addition to the Pentagon Papers, but decided to release the latter first. As it turned out much of the nuclear papers were lost during the turmoil following the Pentagon Papers release. This book, long overdue, is about what he learned then.

Ellsberg recalls being tasked to review the strategic war-fighting plans in effect under Eisenhower, and discovering that they called for “hitting every city, actually every town, above 25,000 population” in Russia and China and to some extent East Europe. Pressed for an estimate of death toll, the pentagon came back with 600 million dead. And that was not counting US and West European death tolls. “I thought, ‘This is the most evil plan that has ever existed. It’s insane.'”

Referring to US and Russian ICBM forces still to this day on alert: “Here is what we now know: the United States and Russia each have an actual Doomsday Machine.”

Democracy Now interview with transcript

Harper’s Magazine excerpt, Dec 6, 2017

Dave Davies excellent NPR interview

at Amazon

The U.S. Sprayed, Injected and Fed Radiation to Countless Innocents in Secret Cold War-Era Testing

Behind the Fog by Martino-TaylorMilitary scientists exposed American civilians to radiation without their knowledge or consent. “Behind the Fog” documents a dark chapter of “large-scale organizational deviance”…

From the publisher:

“Martino-Taylor documents the coordinated efforts of a small group of military scientists who advanced a four-pronged secret program of human-subject radiation studies that targeted unsuspecting Americans for Cold War military purposes… Agency and academic partnerships advanced, supported, and concealed the studies from the public at large who ultimately served as unwitting test subjects.

‘They targeted the most vulnerable in society… They targeted children. They targeted pregnant women in Nashville. People who were ill in hospitals. They targeted wards of the state. And they targeted minority populations.’

Martino-Taylor’s comprehensive research illuminates a dark chapter of government secrecy, the military-industrial-academic complex, and large-scale organizational deviance in American history. In its critical approach, Behind the Fog effectively examines the mechanisms that allow large-scale elite deviance to take place in modern society.”

(ABC News story / publisher’s book page)

Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself – While the Rest of Us Die.

Raven Rock by Garrett M. Graff“Raven Rock is this massive, hollowed-out mountain. It’s a free-standing city… with individual buildings, three-story buildings, built inside of this mountain. It has everything that a small city would- there’s a fire department there, there’s a police department, medical facilities, dining halls. The dining facility serves four meals a day, it’s a 24 hour facility, and it was sort of mothballed to a certain extent during the 1990s as the Cold War ended and then was restarted in a hurry after Sept. 11 and has been pretty dramatically expanded over the last 15 years, and today could hold as many as 5,000 people in the event of an emergency.”

Almighty

Almighty Dan ZakCourage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age 

By Dan Zak, reviewed by Kai Bird

“Zak’s narrative is a perfectly measured blend of biography, suspense and history. He skillfully uses the small, finite story of the Y-12 protest [the break-in 4 years ago by Sister Rice and friends] to explore our national identity as a people whose culture is now intimately connected with things nuclear. Our bomb culture has not come cheap; the environmental costs have been devastating for many communities. And even though scores of governments- but not our own- are on record supporting a treaty that would ban nuclear weapons, Zak shows this is still an outlier dream. He quotes a United States admiral intoning: ‘I don’t see us being nuclear-free in my lifetime. Or in yours.’

We are stuck with Armageddon in our dreams. And in the meantime the Sister Megans of our bomb culture will no doubt try again and again to cry out against our complacency. But truly, it seems hopeless. As Billy Pilgrim laments repeatedly in Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’, ‘So it goes.'”

more at NYTimes


Interview with Dan Zak, “Almighty” author 

A Texas public radio interview with the very knowledgable and thoughtful Dan Zak, author of “Almighty”. Dan discusses The Lieu-Markey bills to restrict presidential authority to launch nuclear war, the B61-12 nuclear bomb and its new capabilities, the planned trillion-dollar “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal, North Korea, deterrence, and the Oak Ridge Y-12 break-in of 2012.

audio podcast

Quotes

“Those who sacrificed for our country’s national security, in some cases unknowingly, should not have to doubly fear this crisis,” Groups Demand Relief for Nuclear Frontline Communities

Over 120 local and national organizations are urging the U.S. Congress to provide assistance to nuclear frontline communities.

Every year, Los Alamos National Laboratory produces 7 million pounds of chemical waste and 15,000 pounds of low-level radioactive waste, as well as more than 700 cubic yards of more highly radioactive waste, according to Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

“Just as the threat of the new coronavirus must be met by cooperation, common-sense and solidarity among peoples and nations, so must the danger of a nuclear war…
Humankind cannot remain oblivious of this persisting danger to its own survival.
The Novel Coronavirus and Nuclear Weapons

As with viruses, containment of atomic weapons may be good, but eradication is best. —