Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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

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

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

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

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Follow the Money!

Nuclear Watch Analysis of NNSA FY 2022 Budget Request

LANL FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

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 Blog Posts

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New & Updated

Nuclear Power Is COP26’s Quiet Controversy

“We have to get everything done in the next 25 years…The idea that you’re going to scale up a technology you don’t even have yet, and it’s going to be commercially viable [in that time], just seems to me like la la land.” — Tom Burke, co-founder of climate think tank E3G.

BY ALEJANDRO DE LA GARZA time.com

In the midst of the COP26 climate talks yesterday, U.S. and Romanian officials stepped aside for a session in the conference’s Blue Zone, establishing an agreement for U.S. company NuScale to build a new kind of modular nuclear power plant in the southeastern European country. The company’s plants—designed to be quickly scaled up or down based on need—are intended to be quicker and cheaper to build than the traditional kind, with some considering them to be a promising alternative for countries seeking to wean themselves off fossil fuels.

NuScale CEO John Hopkins sees the agreement as part of a broader recognition that nuclear power has a big role to play as the world decarbonizes. “I’ve seen a significant shift here,” Hopkins said, speaking to TIME from Glasgow yesterday. “It used to be the only thing really discussed was renewables, but I think people are starting to be a little more pragmatic and understand that nuclear needs to be in the mix.”

But others at COP26 aren’t convinced that NuScale’s small reactors can help avoid climate catastrophe. Some point to the fact that NuScale has yet to build a single commercial plant as evidence that the company is already too late to the party.

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US Government Works to ‘Cocoon’ Old Nuclear Reactors

Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.

Hanford watchdogs generally agree with this process, said Tom Carpenter, director of the Seattle-based watchdog group Hanford Challenge.

“Nobody is raising any concerns about cocooning,” Carpenter said. “We’re all worried about the tank waste that needs immediate and urgent attention.” The bigger question is whether future generations will be willing to pay the massive costs of Hanford cleanup, he said.

By November 4, 2021 abcnews.go.com

A sign informs visitors of prohibited items on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington in July 2014. from Ted S. Warren/AP
A sign informs visitors of prohibited items on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington in July 2014. from Ted S. Warren/AP

SPOKANE, Wash. — Costs to clean up a massive nuclear weapons complex in Washington state are usually expressed in the hundreds of billions of dollars and involve decades of work.

But one project on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is progressing at a much lower price.

The federal government is moving forward with the “cocooning” of eight plutonium production reactors at Hanford that will place them in a state of long-term storage to allow radiation inside to dissipate over a period of decades, until they can be dismantled and buried.

“It’s relatively non-expensive,” Mark French, a manager for the U.S. Department of Energy, said of cocooning. “The cost of trying to dismantle the reactor and demolish the reactor core would be extremely expensive and put workers at risk.”

The federal government built nine nuclear reactors at Hanford to make plutonium for atomic bombs during World War II and the Cold War. The site along the Columbia River contains America’s largest quantity of radioactive waste.

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Is it green, or forever toxic? Nuclear rift at climate talks

“Whether we decide to go on with the nuclear energy or not…We will need to find a solution for the management of that nuclear waste” that humankind has already produced.” — Audrey Guillemenet, geologist and spokesperson for one of France’s underground waste repositories.

By November 4, 2021 apnews.com

FILE – A group of activists clash with riot police officers early Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, in Lieusaint, Normandy, France, as they try to block the train tracks in an effort to stop a train loaded with nuclear waste and heading to Gorleben in Germany. Nuclear power is a central sticking point as negotiators plot out the world’s future energy strategy at the climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. Critics decry its mammoth price tag, the disproportionate damage caused by nuclear accidents and radioactive waste. But a growing pro-nuclear camp argues that it’s safer on average than nearly any other energy source. (AP Photo/David Vincent, File)

SOULAINES-DHUYS, France (AP) — Deep in a French forest of oaks, birches and pines, a steady stream of trucks carries a silent reminder of nuclear energy’s often invisible cost: canisters of radioactive waste, heading into storage for the next 300 years.

As negotiators plot out how to fuel the world while also reducing carbon emissions at climate talks in Scotland, nuclear power is a central sticking point. Critics decry its mammoth price tag, the disproportionate damage caused by nuclear accidents, and radioactive leftovers that remain deadly for thousands of years.

But increasingly vocal and powerful proponents — some climate scientists and environmental experts among them — argue that nuclear power is the world’s best hope of keeping climate change under control, noting that it emits so few planet-damaging emissions and is safer on average than nearly any other energy source. Nuclear accidents are scary but exceedingly rare — while pollution from coal and other fossil fuels causes death and illness every day, scientists say.

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U.S. Discloses Nuclear Stockpile Numbers

The Biden administration has publicly released the total number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, a sharp reversal of the previous administration’s refusal to do so for the past three years.

By: Shannon Bugos ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION armscontrol.org

“Today, as an act of good faith and a tangible, public demonstration of the U.S. commitment to transparency, we will present data which documents our own record of continued progress toward the achievement of the goals” of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), said Bonnie Jenkins, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on Oct. 5.

The U.S. stockpile of nuclear warheads was at 3,750 as of September 2020, according to the administration document. This number captures active and inactive warheads, but not the roughly 2,000 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement. The document lists stockpile numbers going back to 1962, including the warhead numbers from the years when the Trump administration refused to declassify the information.

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Art and “un-forgetting”: How to honor the atomic dead

“The hibakusha narrative has expanded over time to include victims beyond the city limits of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and as far away as the Navajo Nation, which still suffers the radiation effects of uranium mining; the Marshall Islands, where the United States conducted so many nuclear tests that, on average, the equivalent of 1.6 Hiroshima-size bombs was detonated every day for 12 years; Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union tested its nuclear weapons for four decades; and other places around the world adversely affected by the development and maintenance of nuclear weapons.”

Noguchi himself considered the term hibakusha to include the victims of nuclear weapons worldwide; he changed the name of his proposed “Memorial to the Dead of Hiroshima” to the more inclusive “Memorial to the Atomic Dead.”

By Molly Hurley | November 26, 2021 thebulletin.org

As I eagerly await Spotify’s year-end report on my most-played songs of 2021, I wonder which ones will remind me of my summer in New York City—of off-pitch Karaoke Television with friends, or the distinct “popping” sound of a pigeon being run over by a taxi not more than two feet in front of me. Though I thrived amid the frenzied surprises of the city, I also found sudden moments of quiet solemnity while sketching inside the many art museums of the Big Apple. One of those museums was the Noguchi Museum, established in 1985 by its namesake Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American sculptor who is also well known for his landscape architecture and modern furniture designs such as the iconic Noguchi table.Continue reading

HIDDEN AGENDA: The unspoken argument for more nuclear power

Nuclear power is so slow and expensive that it doesn’t even matter whether or not it is ‘low-carbon’ (let alone ‘zero-carbon’). As the scientist, Amory Lovins, says, “Being carbon-free does not establish climate-effectiveness.” If an energy source is too slow and too costly, it will “reduce and retard achievable climate protection,” no matter how ‘low-carbon’ it is.

By Linda Pentz Gunter beyondnuclearinternational.org

So here we are again at another COP (Conference of the Parties). Well, some of us are in Glasgow, Scotland at the COP itself, and some of us, this writer included, are sitting at a distance, trying to feel hopeful.

But this is COP 26. That means there have already been 25 tries at dealing with the once impending and now upon us climate crisis. Twenty five rounds of “blah, blah, blah” as youth climate activist, Greta Thunberg, so aptly put it.

So if some of us do not feel the blush of optimism on our cheeks, we can be forgiven. I mean, even the Queen of England has had enough of the all-talk-and-no-action of our world leaders, who have been, by and large, thoroughly useless. Even, this time, absent. Some of them have been worse than that.

Not doing anything radical on climate at this stage is fundamentally a crime against humanity. And everything else living on Earth. It should be grounds for an appearance at the International Criminal Court. In the dock.

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‘Ignored for 70 years’: human rights group to investigate uranium contamination on Navajo Nation

Boost for advocates’ group is step further in decades-long fight against mining pollution

By: THE GUARDIAN theguardian.com

A protest sign saying ‘No Mining’ in Navajo is seen next to the entry to Northeast Church Rock abandoned uranium mine in Pinedale, New Mexico. Photograph: Pamela Peters/Reuters

Rita Capitan has been worrying about her water since 1994. It was that autumn she read a local newspaper article about another uranium mine, the Crownpoint Uranium Project, getting under way near her home.

Capitan has spent her entire life in Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the eastern Navajo Nation, and is no stranger to the uranium mining that has persisted in the region for decades. But it was around the time the article was published that she began learning about the many risks associated with uranium mining.

“We as community members couldn’t just sit back and watch another company come in and just take what is very precious to us. And that is water – our water,” Capitan said.

To this effect, Capitan and her husband, Mitchell, founded Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (Endaum). The group’s fight against uranium mining on their homeland has continued for nearly three decades, despite the industry’s disastrous health and environmental impacts being public knowledge for years.

Capitan’s newest concerns are over the Canadian mining company Laramide Resources, which, through its US subsidiary NuFuels, holds a federal mining license for Crownpoint and nearby Church Rock. Due to the snail’s pace at which operations like this can move, Laramide hasn’t begun extraction in these areas, but is getting closer by the day.

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An Unearthly Spectacle: The Untold Story of the World’s Biggest Nuclear Bomb

Take a minute to visit the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists website to read this brilliant photo essay on the Tsar Bomba by Associate Professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies program at the Stevens Institute of Technology Alex Wellerstein. His first book, Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States, was published by the University of Chicago Press in April 2021.

By Alex Wellerstein October 29, 2021 thebulletin.org

In the early hours of October 30, 1961, a bomber took off from an airstrip in northern Russia and began its flight through cloudy skies over the frigid Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya. Slung below the plane’s belly was a nuclear bomb the size of a small school bus—the largest and most powerful bomb ever created.

At 11:32 a.m., the bombardier released the weapon. As the bomb fell, an enormous parachute unfurled to slow its descent, giving the pilot time to retreat to a safe distance. A minute or so later, the bomb detonated. A cameraman watching from the island recalled:

A fire-red ball of enormous size rose and grew. It grew larger and larger, and when it reached enormous size, it went up. Behind it, like a funnel, the whole earth seemed to be drawn in. The sight was fantastic, unreal, and the fireball looked like some other planet. It was an unearthly spectacle! [1]

The flash alone lasted more than a minute. The fireball expanded to nearly six miles in diameter—large enough to include the entire urban core of Washington or San Francisco, or all of midtown and downtown Manhattan. Over several minutes it rose and mushroomed into a massive cloud. Within ten minutes, it had reached a height of 42 miles and a diameter of some 60 miles. One civilian witness remarked that it was “as if the Earth was killed.” Decades later, the weapon would be given the name it is most commonly known by today: Tsar Bomba, meaning “emperor bomb.”

A still frame from a once-secret Soviet documentary of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, released by Rosatom in August 2020.
A still frame from a once-secret Soviet documentary of the Tsar Bomba nuclear test, released by Rosatom in August 2020.

Designed to have a maximum explosive yield of 100 million tons (or 100 megatons) of TNT equivalent, the 60,000-pound monster bomb was detonated at only half its strength. Still, at 50 megatons, it was more than 3,300 times as powerful as the atomic bomb that killed at least 70,000 people in Hiroshima, and more than 40 times as powerful as the largest nuclear bomb in the US arsenal today. Its single test represents about one tenth of the total yield of all nuclear weapons ever tested by all nations.[2]

At the time of its detonation, the Tsar Bomba held the world’s attention, largely as an object of infamy, recklessness, and terror. Within two years, though, the Soviet Union and the United States would sign and ratify the Limited Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, and the 50-megaton bomb would fall into relative obscurity.

“What’s Yours Is Mine”

“The federal government knew, from at least the early 1950s, of severely harmful health effects from uranium mining, but it kept that information from the Diné, as Navajo people call themselves.”

DAILY PNUT  dailypnut.com

Navajo land
(Mandel Ngan via Getty Images)

The wheels of justice can move exceedingly slowly, if at all, and it often depends on whether an aggrieved group has much political recognition or clout. Issues linked to mainstream religious freedom can speed their way to the Supreme Court’s shadow docket in record time, while religious and environmental justice issues for Native Americans can simmer on the system’s back burner for a lifetime.

The sprawling Navajo reservation, located in parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, is the largest and most populous Native American reservation, almost 28,000 square miles. Its Four Corners area (the three states plus Colorado) is rich in radioactive uranium ore. From 1944 to 1986, nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from the reservation under leases with the Navajo Nation. Many Navajo worked the mines, often living and raising families close by.

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Groups Fire Back at Feds’ Move to Dismiss Plutonium Pit Lawsuit

Groups Fire Back at Feds’ Move to Dismiss Plutonium Pit Lawsuit

Federal agencies continue to reject a full review of the public safety and environmental risks of producing nuclear bomb cores at multiple DOE sites.

Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, “The government has yet to explain to American taxpayers why it will spend more than $50 billion to build new plutonium pit bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons when we already have thousands of existing pits proven to be reliable for a century or more. This has nothing to do with maintaining the safety and reliability of the existing stockpile and everything to do with building up a new nuclear arms race that will threaten the entire world.”

SRS WATCH / EIN PRESSWIRE October 26, 2021

AIKEN, SOUTH CAROLINA  — Public interest groups shot back at the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s attempt to suppress a lawsuit seeking a comprehensive environmental review of the agencies’ plans to produce large quantities of nuclear bomb cores, or plutonium pits, at DOE sites in New Mexico and South Carolina.

Attorneys for Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Savannah River Site Watch, Tom Clements, Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment and the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition filed a response to the motion to dismiss the case before the U.S. District Court in Aiken, SC on Monday.

The Federal Defendants sought dismissal on an alleged lack of constitutional standing and an assertion the Congressional mandate to increase production to at least 80 pits per year by 2030 means the agencies have no discretion in implementation of the mandate.

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WIPP Shipments Stopped Due to Maintenance Problems at Site

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “As early as November 2013, Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, began to physically expand the WIPP underground.  The fire and explosion shutdown that work.  It remains evident that NWP is more interested in doubling the size of the WIPP underground and keeping it open forever than doing preventive maintenance.”

CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR NUCLEAR SAFETY October 23, 2021

Due to on-going maintenance problems in the underground disposal facility, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) requested an extension of time from the New Mexico Environment Department to store waste in the Waste Handling Building.  https://wipp.energy.gov/

The request for a 45-day extension to store 13 shipments of plutonium- contaminated waste comes on the heels of on-going maintenance problems at WIPP [PDF]. On October 14th, 2021, the Environment Department approved the extension to November 30th, 2021 [PDF].  All waste shipments to WIPP had previously been stopped from August 25th until September 30th.

Maintenance problems include ventilation problems on the surface in the Waste Handling Building and managing the floors in the underground. The salt can heave and create uneven surfaces where waste is transported for disposal.

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To Avoid Armageddon, Don’t Modernize Missiles—Eliminate Them

Land-based nuclear weapons are world-ending accident waiting to happen, and completely superfluous to a reliable deterrent.

“Getting trapped in an argument about the cheapest way to keep ICBMs operational in their silos is ultimately no-win. The history of nuclear weapons in this country tells us that people will spare no expense if they believe that spending the money will really make them and their loved ones safer—we must show them that ICBMs actually do the opposite.

By Daniel Ellsberg and Norman Solomon thenation.com October 22, 2021

A Titan nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile in a silo. (Michael Dunning / Getty Images)

The single best option for reducing the risk of nuclear war is hidden in plain sight. News outlets don’t mention it. Pundits ignore it. Even progressive and peace-oriented members of Congress tiptoe around it. And yet, for many years, experts have been calling for this act of sanity that could save humanity: Shutting down all of the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Four hundred ICBMs dot the rural landscapes of Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming. Loaded in silos, these missiles are uniquely—and dangerously—on hair-trigger alert. Unlike the nuclear weapons on submarines or bombers, the land-based missiles are vulnerable to attack and could present the commander in chief with a sudden use-them-or-lose-them choice. “If our sensors indicate that enemy missiles are en route to the United States, the president would have to consider launching ICBMs before the enemy missiles could destroy them. Once they are launched, they cannot be recalled,” former Defense Secretary William Perry warns. “The president would have less than 30 minutes to make that terrible decision.”

The danger that a false alarm on either side—of the sort that has occurred repeatedly on both sides—would lead to a preemptive attack derives almost entirely from the existence on both sides of land-based missile forces, each vulnerable to attack by the other; each, therefore, is kept on a high state of alert, ready to launch within minutes of warning. The easiest and fastest way for the US to reduce that risk—and, indeed, the overall danger of nuclear war—is to dismantle entirely its Minuteman III missile force. Gen.

James E. Cartwright, a former vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been commander of the Strategic Command, teamed up with former Minuteman launch officer Bruce G. Blair to write in a 2016 op-ed piece: “By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears.”
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Activists in Santa Fe concerned about plutonium shipping plan

“Santa Fe residents would see shipments of plutonium trucked through the city’s southern edge if federal agencies carry out plans announced nearly a year ago.”

By Scott Wyland  The Santa Fe New Mexican santafenewmexican.com

Activists in Santa Fe concerned about plutonium shipping planSanta Fe residents would see shipments of plutonium trucked through the city’s southern edge if federal agencies carry out plans announced nearly a year ago.

The prospect worries activists, local officials and some residents because plutonium is far more radioactive than the waste — contaminated gloves, equipment, clothing, soil and other materials — shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground disposal site near Carlsbad.

The U.S. Department of Energy issued a notice of intent in December to begin the process for an environmental impact statement as one of the first steps toward diluting and disposing of plutonium left from the Cold War.

The notice hints that “downblending” the plutonium would be necessary to reduce radioactivity enough for the waste to be accepted at WIPP, which only takes low-level nuclear waste.

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Action Alerts

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Environment Department files complaint against U.S. Department of Energy to speed clean-up of legacy waste, terminate 2016 Consent Order at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Non-compliance with 2016 Consent Order causing unacceptable delays, threatening public health and the environment

Click above for more information on the entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

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More Nuclear News

U.S. nuclear envoy visits S. Korea amid N. Korea missile tension, stalled talks

The U.S. envoy for North Korea arrived in South Korea on Saturday amid stalled denuclearization talks and tension over Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

cnbc.com

Special Representative Sung Kim’s visit came days after North Korea fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which prompted criticism from Washington and calls for a return to talks aimed at denuclearizing the North in return for U.S. sanctions relief.

Kim, after talks in Washington with South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday, urged North Korea “to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue.”

Pyongyang so far has rejected U.S. overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of talking diplomacy while ratcheting up tensions with their own military activities.

On Thursday, the North said the United States was overreacting to its self-defensive SLBM test and questioned the sincerity of Washington’s offers of talks, warning of consequences.

Arriving in South Korea, Kim said he looks forward to having “productive follow up discussions” with his counterpart, without elaborating.

When the US Air Force Accidentally Dropped an Atomic Bomb on South Carolina

On March 11, 1958, the Gregg family was going about their business when a malfunction in a B-47 flying overhead caused the atomic bomb on board to drop on to their S.C. backyard.

By Allison McNearney | thedailybeast.com

When the U.S. Air Force Accidentally Dropped an Atomic Bomb on South CarolinaGiven the history of nuclear proliferation throughout the 20th century, it seems like a miracle that only two atomic bombs were ever deployed against the human population. And, it turns out, it really was a very lucky break.

There is one part of atomic history that hasn’t made the history books. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. dropped several atomic bombs on unsuspecting people below, bombs that were multiple times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Rather than being acts of extreme aggression, these “broken arrows” as they became known, were pure accidents, explosive “oopsies” committed by the U.S. military against mostly U.S. citizens. In what has been hailed as either luck or very proficient engineering of safety devices, none of the nuclear components on the falling bombs actually detonated.

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Navy nuclear engineer and his wife charged with trying to share submarine secrets with a foreign country


By Devlin Barrett and Martin Weil | washingtonpost.com

A Navy nuclear engineer and his wife have been charged with repeatedly trying to pass secrets about U.S. nuclear submarines to a foreign country, in an alleged espionage plot discovered by the FBI, according to court documents.

Authorities say Jonathan Toebbe, who has a top-secret clearance, “has passed, and continues to pass, Restricted Data as defined by the Atomic Energy Act . . . to a foreign government . . . with the witting assistance of his spouse, Diana Toebbe,” according to a criminal complaint filed in West Virginia and unsealed Sunday.

The court papers say that in December 2020, an FBI official received a package that had been sent to the foreign country containing U.S. Navy documents, a letter and instructions for how to conduct encrypted communications with the person offering the information.

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Abdul Qadeer Khan, Father of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program, Dies at 85

Starting from scratch in 1976, he acquired the technology and knowledge that allowed Pakistan to detonate its first nuclear device in 1998.

Tim Weinernytimes.com

Abdul Qadeer Khan in 2004. To millions of Pakistanis, he was a national hero. To the C.I.A., he was one of the more dangerous men on earth.Credit…Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who became known to Western intelligence services as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and a worldwide dealer in weapons technology, died Sunday at a hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan. He was believed to be 85 years old.

Dr. Khan’s death was reported by Pakistan’s interior minister, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad. The apparent cause was complications from Covid-19, he said.

Dr. Khan was the man who made Pakistan a nuclear power. For at least 25 years, starting from scratch in 1976, he built, bought, bartered and stole the makings of weapons of mass destruction.

To millions of Pakistanis, he was a national hero, the man who developed a nuclear program to match the country’s rival, India. To the C.I.A., he was one of the more dangerous men on earth.

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, on Sunday said that he was “deeply saddened” by Dr. Khan’s death, praising him for “his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state.”

“This has provided us security against an aggressive, much larger nuclear neighbor,” Mr. Khan tweeted, referring to India. “For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon.”

Nuclear talks with US to resume ‘soon,’ Iranian foreign minister says

The US left the JCPOA in 2018, citing continued malign behavior by Iran in the region, and implementing a “maximum pressure” sanctions regime, but Biden seeks a return to the policy.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian on Wednesday said Iran would return to talks to reach a nuclear agreement “soon,” but made no commitment to a specific date for resuming the stalled negotiations to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the world’s leading powers.
Following a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Amirabdollahian said that “the process of reviewing Vienna talks is nearing completion and the talks will resume soon.
“Until Iran returns to the negotiating table, the other parties must also make new decisions and show their will and intention for the success of the talks and fulfilling their commitments,” he added.
Earlier, Amirabdollahian told the head of Iranian foundations in Moscow that a return to the nuclear deal could bolster Iran’s economy, “if we achieve tangible achievements in securing the rights of the Iranian people,” Iranian Mehr News Agency reported.

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Nuclear-Weapon-Free States Demand Immediate End to Deterrence Policies, Start of Dismantling Atomic Arsenals, as First Committee Continues General Debate

Calling for swift remedies to mend a fractured non-proliferation landscape, nuclear-weapon-free States demanded an immediate end to deterrence policies and the start of dismantling atomic arsenals, as the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) moved into the third day of its general debate.

UNITED NATIONS MEETINGS COVERAGE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FIRST COMMITTEE SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION, 4TH MEETING (PM)

As thousands of atomic bombs located around the world pose grave risks to humanity, delegates implored nuclear-weapon States to steer the planet onto a path of peace.  Some suggested such ways to do so, with delegates agreeing that dismantling nuclear arsenals must start now, in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and under safeguards established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  Many urged all nations with atomic arsenals to sign, ratify and fully implement existing conventions, including the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force in January, and some decried the quarter of a century delay in entering into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  To rectify this, many called for nuclear-weapon States to sign and ratify it so that atomic bomb testing can become part of the past.

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Opinion: Too many ‘downwinders’ are still suffering

“We are sponsoring a bill that would make sure the government’s responsibility to those who were harmed by nuclear testing does not get swept under the rug.”

By deseret.com

On December 18, 1970, the Baneberry underground nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site released radioactivity to the atmosphere. Baneberry had a yield of ten kilotons (a kiloton is the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT). It was buried about 900 feet beneath the surface of Yucca Flat, near the northern boundary of the NTS. Many Utahns suffered health effects believed to have resulted from nuclear testing. U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Any objective study of American history brings us to the realization that there are many Americans who quietly made, and continue to make, great sacrifices for our national security. Many of these women and men willingly give of themselves to ensure that our country remains free.

Tragically, under the banner of national security the United States government exposed Americans to radioactive uranium ore and radioactive dust — subjecting them to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses.

On July 16, we marked the 76th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon — code-named Trinity — in the desert of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. Three weeks after the Trinity detonation, the United States exploded the Little Boy bomb over Hiroshima and, three days later, the Fat Man bomb over Nagasaki. Six days later, Japan surrendered. In the aftermath of World War II, a nuclear arms race began that reached its zenith with over 60,000 nuclear weapons worldwide in 1986.

Many lives were lost or severely altered by the nuclear weapons program. Thankfully, the world stockpile of nuclear weapons has steadily declined since 1986 and will, hopefully, continue to do so in the future. Yet, the effects of detonating over 1,100 nuclear weapons since the Trinity test in 1945 continue to mar the lives of Americans to this day.

Through atmospheric weapons tests, as well as mining, transporting and milling of uranium ore, many Americans have been slowly killed by radiation exposure. Thousands of Utahns were infected by radiation exposure simply by living “downwind” of the federal government’s nuclear weapons testing sites. Additional Utahn miners were affected as they worked the uranium necessary for these weapons. These “downwinders” and miners and their families friends, and communities often suffered excruciating illness, loss and devastation.

In response to this malfeasance, Congress rightly enacted (and later amended in 2000) the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in 1990. This legislation was a good first step in making recompense to those who mined and hauled uranium ore and those who processed the ore at a mill. The RECA legislation also addresses those exposed to radiation downwind from nuclear test sites.

It has been more than 20 years since any meaningful reform to RECA has been made for those whose lives have been taken or irreversibly altered by our foray into the arms race. Several classifications of workers such as core drillers and ground workers have been denied justice by being excluded completely from the process.

Some diseases that should have been compensable have been excluded. Numerous geographical locations exposed to downwind radiation have been left out. Uranium miners continued to mine after the United States stopped buying uranium for its nuclear weapons programs in 1971. These so-called post-1971 workers were excluded from accessing benefits since the original RECA legislation had an arbitrary cutoff date of Dec. 31, 1971 — even though the federal government continued to regulate uranium mines long after 1971. To make matters worse, RECA is scheduled to sunset in July 2022 — potentially leaving all classifications of exposure victims without redress.

We are honored to represent some of these “downwinders” and their family members and want them to know their suffering — and the sacrifices they made for our nation — are not forgotten.

That is why we are pleased to be the lead Republican members of the House of Representatives on the “RECA Amendments Act of 2021,” legislation that will reauthorize RECA for those still suffering the consequences of nuclear testing.

The tragic consequences of the nuclear arms race cannot be swept under the rug of history. We urge our colleagues in Congress to support the “RECA Amendments Act of 2021.” Our country must act now to address the injustices of those who have been forgotten by their own government.

Rep. Burgess Owens represents Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Rep. Chris Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

NRDC: Legislation Offers Path Forward on Nuclear Waste

“This legislation could end years of debate and acrimony and help determine a path forward for disposing of nuclear waste. Placing nuclear waste under bedrock environmental laws could ensure strong repository standards, while giving states the power to approve what is sequestered within their borders.”

– Kit Kennedy, managing director for the Climate and Clean Energy program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

NRDC  nrdc.org

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) introduced legislation today that could end a 60-year impasse over our nation’s nuclear waste.

The bill would establish a task force to consider removing exemptions for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from our bedrock environmental laws. Doing so would allow for geologic repositories for nuclear waste that have strong environmental protections and the consent of state leaders and local residents.

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A Little Radiation Is Not Good For You

“…between 1977 and 1990, scientists tripled their estimate of the damage inflicted by a given dose of radiation. A 1992 study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that nuclear weapons production workers exposed to small doses were four to eight times more likely to contract cancer than previously estimated…even the very lowest background levels of radiation exposure are harmful to health and have statistically significant negative effects on DNA.”
Photograph Source: Joi Ito – CC BY 2.0

In a rare pushback against the radioactive pollution industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — well known as a rubber stamp for the nuclear lobby — has flatly rejected an attempt to further weaken the agency’s radiation exposure regulations.

After six years of deliberation, the NRC’s three commissioners, two Democrats and one Republican, voted unanimously to reject formal petitions submitted in February 2015 urging the agency to adopt a cost-cutting scheme known as “hormesis” which claims that “a little radiation is good for you.” The September 16 decision by the NRC says this “threshold theory posits that “there is some threshold dose below which there is either no radiation-related health detriment or a radiation-related health benefit that outweighs any detriment.”

The order then rebukes this concept, finding the petitioners “fail to present an adequate basis supporting the request,” and “Convincing evidence has not yet demonstrated the existence of a threshold below which there would be no … effects from exposure to low radiation doses.”

The basis for hormesis had been explicitly rejected ten years earlier, the NRC pointed out, by the National Academy of Sciences in its 2005 report “Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation, 7th Ed” or BEIR-VII. The National Research Council summed up its book-length BEIR-7 report saying, “the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans.”

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Kildee Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Opposing Proposed Canadian Permanent Nuclear Storage Site Near Great Lakes

Resolution Asks Biden Administration to Work with Canada to Prevent New Permanent Storage of Nuclear Waste in the Great Lakes Basin

By Devlin Barrett and Martin Weil | September 16, 2021 Press Release dankildee.house.gov

SAGINAW—Standing on the banks of the Saginaw River, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today announced the introduction of a bipartisan resolution opposing Canada’s new plan to build a permanent nuclear waste storage site in the Great Lakes Basin.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a non-profit established by the Canadian government, has unveiled new plans to build a facility that would permanently store more than 50,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in South Bruce, Ontario, located within the Great Lakes Basin. High-level nuclear waste is the most dangerous form of nuclear waste and remains hazardous for tens of thousands of years.

An accident involving radioactive waste near the Great Lakes would have catastrophic and long-term consequences for the health of Michigan, the Great Lakes region and all of the U.S. and Canada.

The U.S. and Canada have historically worked together to prevent the permanent storage of nuclear waste in their shared water basins.

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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.
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