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

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

Cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford: Secrecy, delays and budget debates

A plan to turn radioactive waste into glass logs has raised a lot of questions, many of which don’t appear to have public answers.

“It’s not clear whether the high-level waste plant will ever operate,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, a watchdog organization.

“We need to get some stuff out of here, or we’ll end up with it permanently staying here…This is a generational problem,” Stephen Wiesman said.

Ultimately, this project, originally scheduled to be finished this decade, will likely be completed in the latter half of this century. In other words, it could take 70 to 75 years (mid-1990s to 2069) to deal with the 56 million gallons of radioactive tank waste created by 42 years of manufacturing plutonium.

By John Stang, Crosscut columbian.com August 23, 2021

The Hanford Vit Plant covers 65 acres with four nuclear facilities in southeastern Washington state. (Bechtel National)

Stephen Wiesman has worked for about three decades on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s project to convert the radioactive waste in its huge underground tanks into safer glass logs.

A Hanford engineer since 1980, Wiesman helped create the Office of Protection, the Department of Energy’s unit in charge of dealing with the nuclear waste stored in those tanks, serving as a senior technical adviser since the late 1990s.

Now 75 and retired since 2012, Wiesman is on the Hanford Advisory Board, which represents environmentalists, Tri-Citians, tribes, health officials, business interests and governments from across the Northwest. Currently, Wiesman is the board’s chairman.

Hanford dates back to late 1942, when it became a super-secret World War II site to create plutonium for the first atomic bomb exploded — in New Mexico and later over Nagasaki, Japan. The nuclear reservation continued that mission during the Cold War and through 1987.

During four decades of production, uranium rods and other nuclear waste were stored in 149 single-shell tanks, of which at least 68 have since sprung leaks. Hanford added 28 safer double-shell tanks and transferred the liquid wastes into them.

Hanford has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in those 177 underground tanks at this remote decommissioned nuclear production site near the Columbia River in Benton County.

Those leak-prone tanks are arguably the most radiologically contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere.

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New criminal charges filed against Westinghouse official in SC’s nuclear plant failure

“As construction problems mounted, costs rose, and schedules slipped, (and) defendants hid the true status of the project,” the indictment said.
“…Delays and cost overruns — hidden by SCANA officials from the public and state regulators — eventually doomed the effort, making it one of the largest business failures in South Carolina history.”

BY JOHN MONK | August 19, 2021 thestate.com

Acting United States Attorney Rhett DeHart pledges continued efforts in prosecuting those responsible for the failed nuclear site in Fairfield County. BY TRACY GLANTZ


A second high-ranking employee of Westinghouse Electric Corp. is facing criminal charges in connection with the multi-billion dollar failure of the doomed nuclear project in Fairfield County.

Jeffrey Benjamin, a former Westinghouse senior vice president of new plants and projects, faces multiple counts of fraud, according to an 18-page indictment made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Columbia.

It is the latest criminal charge in a four-year federal investigation of what went wrong at the highest levels of two substantial American companies — Westinghouse and the former SCANA Corp.

The charges against Benjamin are “for his role in failing to truthfully report information regarding construction of new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart said in a press release.

Benjamin’s alleged cover-up of billions of dollars in losses at Westinghouse’s troubled nuclear plants in South Carolina and Georgia were part of a series of events leading to the company’s bankruptcy in March 2017, according to the indictment.

“The defendant’s misrepresentations and omissions, as well as the associated cover-up, resulted in billions of dollars in losses to (SCANA), ratepayers and investors,” the indictment said.

Benjamin, who was responsible for Westinghouse’s worldwide construction of nuclear reactors, is the fourth person to face criminal charges in connection with the SCANA scandal. The three others — another former Westinghouse employee and two top SCANA officials — all have agreed to plead guilty to various counts of fraud but have not yet been sentenced.

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Top Westinghouse Nuclear Executive Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud in 16-Count Federal Indictment

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Columbia, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina M. Rhett DeHart announced today that a Federal Grand Jury has charged former Westinghouse Electric Company Senior Vice President Jeffrey A. Benjamin for his role in failing to truthfully report information regarding construction of new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.

Benjamin, who served as Senior Vice President for New Plants and Major Projects and directly supervised all new nuclear projects worldwide for Westinghouse during the V.C. Summer project, is charged in a federal indictment with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.

The charges Benjamin faces carry a maximum of twenty years imprisonment and a $5,000,000 fine.

The indictment alleges that Benjamin was personally involved in communications between Westinghouse and its owners, SCANA and Santee Cooper, regarding the status of the V.C. Summer project.

The indictment further alleges that, throughout 2016 and into 2017, when Westinghouse had direct control over the construction and schedule of the project, Benjamin received information that the V.C. Summer units were materially behind schedule and over budget.  Nevertheless, at various times from September 2016 through March 2017, the indictment alleges that Benjamin assured the owners that the units would be completed on schedule and took active steps to conceal from the owners damaging information about the project schedule.  During this time period, the owners paid Westinghouse over $600,000,000 to construct the two V.C. Summer units, both of which were ultimately abandoned.

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Critics Decry $12 Billion for Nuclear in Infrastructure Bill

Smith in his Monday missive warned a bevy of NNSA endeavors, like pit production and the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility before it, “have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.” Two things, Smith wrote, are vital to the successful modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons: affordability and executability.

By Eric Tegethoff, Producer | August 12, 2021 publicnewsservice.org

Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls study nuclear energy. (Sam Beebe/Flickr)

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Senate has passed a massive infrastructure bill, and buried within the package is $12 billion for the nuclear industry, but critics said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Half of the money is reserved for nuclear facilities under threat of shutting down due to economic factors. The other half is for research and development, such as on the small modular nuclear reactor model being built in Idaho.

Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said the industry as a whole is struggling, with even the Idaho project being scaled back.

“By propping up the existing reactors and preventing them from being replaced with renewable energy, the nuclear industry’s essentially trying to keep sort of a foothold in the energy system until they can try to ram some of these new reactor projects like the one in Idaho through, if it ever happens,” Judson asserted.

He hopes the U.S. House makes changes to the investments in nuclear. The industry and some environmental groups have touted nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels as the country moves toward clean energy sources.

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How the nuclear weapons industry is dominating think tank research

A recent study finds that all major institutions working on nuke policy are getting funds from companies with a vested interest in it.

By (former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern) and | July 28, 2021 responsiblestatecraft.org

If you read a report about nuclear weapons, odds are it was published by a think tank funded by a company producing nuclear weapons. In our recent study of global nuclear weapons spending, we found that almost all major think tanks working on nuclear weapon issues took money from companies involved in the nuclear weapons industry in 2020 — raising questions about their intellectual independence and moral integrity.

In the report, we include 12 think tanks, picked from the Global Think Tank Index’s top foreign policy think tanks that also publish regularly on nuclear weapons from France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We found the 21 companies that received nuclear weapon contracts gave $10 million in grants to these think tanks in just one year, as reported in the think tanks’ own annual reports and on their websites. This is a systemic issue. It’s not just one think tank, or a few $100,000 grants. Half of the profiled think tanks received up to well over one million dollars in one year from at least nine different companies working on nuclear weapons.

These companies don’t just donate money; key executives also oversee and advise several of these think tanks. Three CEOs of nuclear weapons-producing companies — Guillaume Faury (Airbus), Gregory J. Hayes (Raytheon), and Marillyn A. Hewson (until recently Lockheed Martin) — sit on the advisory board of the Atlantic Council. The Center for New American Security has a similar story: up to $1.8 million received from companies working on nuclear weapons and five board seats for those whose livelihoods are tied to nuclear weapon production.

These links are a problem for two reasons: it raises questions about the think tanks’ independence, and it ties them to companies engaging in immoral activities banned under international law.

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Northern New Mexico Activists Hold Events Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On August 6th and 9th, 1945, the U.S. Government dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  Over 200,000 people died instantly, while survivors suffered radiation exposure.  The harm that was done is formally acknowledged every August at commemoration events around the world.  This year, commemoration events were held in Los Alamos on Saturday, August 7th and in Taos on Sunday, August 8th.

On Saturday, at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos, Ken Mayers, chair of the Joan Duffy Santa Fe Chapter of the Veterans for Peace, led a two-hour vigil, “In Remembrance: Hiroshima and Nagasaki – 1945.”  http://www.vfp-santafe.org/home.html

The program included Judith Rane reading a series of haiku that she had written.  Her haiku, a short form of Japanese poetry, recalled the plans for and the disaster that resulted from bombing Japan.  https://www.taosnews.com/tempo/film/pilgrimage-of-peace/article_d9de4599-f6e5-5c0d-83cb-525894fb6208.htmlThen came songs from the Albuquerque Raging Grannies, a chapter of an international organization that has a wide repertoire of songs with anti-war lyrics set to familiar tunes. https://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/485700nm08-21-06.htm

After the program, there was consensus that the New Mexico Congressional Delegation needs to know that many people continue to oppose the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to increase the production of plutonium pits, or triggers, for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Rep. Smith presses Biden to audit pit production as Nuclear Posture Review progresses

Smith in his Monday missive warned a bevy of NNSA endeavors, like pit production and the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility before it, “have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.” Two things, Smith wrote, are vital to the successful modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons: affordability and executability.

By

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Monday urged President Joe Biden to include an audit of plutonium pit production plans and costs in his administration’s broader assessment of U.S. nuclear policy and capabilities.

Writing about the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, Rep. Adam Smith pressed the president to closely examine pit production — the crafting of nuclear weapon cores, namely in South Carolina and New Mexico — and to “ensure it is both necessary and achievable within the announced cost and schedule.”

“As we near the budgetary heights of the ‘nuclear modernization mountain’ we can ill afford further delays and cost overruns,” wrote the Washington Democrat, who time and again has expressed reservations about pit production in the Palmetto State. He continued: “It is simply acknowledging reality that we must make hard choices.”

Federal law mandates production of 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 — a rate and date motivated by military demand.

But while National Nuclear Security Administration officials believe production benchmarks in 2024, 2025 and 2026 can be met in New Mexico, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, they do not think a 2030 production target in South Carolina, at the Savannah River Site, is achievable.

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered

We must speak out and call for action, to ensure that the horrific events witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated

BY: Chris McDonnell | United Kingdom

Two aerial photos of atomic bomb mushroom clouds, over two Japanese cities in 1945 (Left photo: Hiroshima / Right photo: Nagasaki) From Wikimedia Commons.

It was just after breakfast time on August 6, 1945 when a single B29 super fortress bomber plane of the US Air Force appeared in the clear blue sky above the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

It was about to unleash the most destructive weapon of war yet developed by mankind on the unsuspecting population going about their business in the streets below.

Piloted by Paul Tibbets, the B29 bore the name of his mother on its fuselage nosecone — Enola Gay. Its payload bomb known as Little Boy was the result of years of nuclear research in the United States under the code name of the Manhattan Project. It was the start of the Atomic Age.

In the middle of July the first experimental atomic weapon was detonated at the Alamogordo test range in New Mexico. It created a crater 300 metres in width. It was ironically given the code name “Trinity”. The scene was set for the first use of nuclear weapons in the theatre of war.

Preparations went ahead on the Pacific island of Tinian for the first attack, the city of Hiroshima, with a population well over a quarter of a million people, the designated target.

The bomb was released over the city at 8.15 am that Monday morning and exploded at an altitude of just under 2,000 feet.

The blast equivalent was estimated to be the equivalent of 13 kilotons of TNT, destroying an area of just under 5 square miles. It is likely that 90,000 people lost their lives…

Report: Some Los Alamos nuclear waste too hazardous to move

“In the October report, the safety board said lab personnel had failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for incompatible chemicals to cause a container to explode. Crews also never sufficiently estimated how much radiation would be released by such an event.”

BY: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com August 2, 2021

Los Alamos National Laboratory has identified 45 barrels of radioactive waste so potentially explosive — due to being mixed with incompatible chemicals — that crews have been told not to move them and instead block off the area around the containers, according to a government watchdog’s report.

Crews have worked to ferret out drums containing volatile compounds and move them to a more secure domed area of the lab after the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued a scathing report last year saying there were possibly hundreds of barrels of unstable nuclear waste.

The safety board estimated an exploding waste canister could expose workers to 760 rem, far beyond the threshold of a lethal dose. A rem is a unit used to measure radiation exposure. In its latest weekly report, the safety board said crews at Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B — the contractor in charge of cleaning up the lab’s legacy waste — have pegged 60 barrels with volatile mixtures and have relocated 15 drums to the domed area.

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Energy Department: Cap rather than clean up Los Alamos lab waste site

A watchdog group called the plan an attempt to save money without considering the potential long-term hazards of keeping highly toxic, slow-decaying waste buried in unlined pits roughly 1,000 feet above a vital groundwater source.
“The aquifer — that’s our main concern,” said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “If climate change does affect us and things start drying out, then our aquifer is going to be even more important than it already is. We have to do everything to protect our aquifer that we can.”

Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com | Santa Fe New Mexican July 31, 2021

Radioactive trash is dumped into Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Disposal Area C, Pit 6, in 1958. U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover over Area C, which was shut down in 1974.
New Mexican file photo

One of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s older nuclear waste disposal sites — a Cold War relic — would be capped and covered rather than cleaned up under a plan put forth by federal officials.

Known as Area C, the 73-year-old dumpsite was shut down in 1974 after taking radioactive waste, caustic chemicals, treatment-plant sludge and a variety of trash, according to records.

U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover they say will safely contain the waste, prevent toxins from leaching into soil and groundwater, and avoid the hazards that excavating the waste would pose to workers and the environment. It also would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant needs more space to dispose of nuclear waste, officials say

“..A 10-year renewal of the permit itself was underway after expiring last year and Don Hancock, nuclear waste program manager at watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center said any modifications to the permit should be included in the full renewal or wait until after its approval.

He said the DOE aimed to “piecemeal” an expansion of WIPP operations and its lifetime to avoid a discussion on broadening the facility’s purpose and keeping it operational indefinitely.

The current permit called for WIPP to be closed by 2024, but officials speculated it could take as long as until 2050 to complete its mission.”

BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus

More underground space is needed to complete the mission at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to dispose of nuclear waste, contend WIPP officials during a Monday public meeting.

The U.S. Department of Energy was underway with a permit modification request (PMR) that would amend the DOE’s permit with the State of New Mexico to allow for the mining of two new panels where waste would be disposed of along with drifts connecting the panels to the rest of the underground repository.

At WIPP, transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste consisting of clothing items and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities at DOE sites across the country is disposed of via burying in an underground salt deposit.

To achieve this, panels consisting of seven rooms each are mined about 2,000 feet underground where drums of the waste are emplaced, and the salt gradually collapses to permanently entomb the waste.

But due maintenance issues and a three-year shutdown of underground operations in 2014 following an accidental radiological release, portions of three of panels were left unusable and the DOE hoped to mine new panels to finishing burying the waste.

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America’s Nuclear Waste Has Nowhere to Go and More Is Coming

Nuclear power isn’t a silver bullet for our climate problems and there’s a host of issues with constructing new plants. The biggest of which is what to do with the waste. One of the most frequently proposed long term solutions is a geologic repository, a specially designed hole in the ground with thick barriers where large amounts of toxic waste can slowly degrade over hundreds of years.

The problem is that no one can ever agree on where to build a giant and expensive hole to dump nuclear waste that will render the site unusable for generations.”

BY Matthew Gault VICE News

Outside the sleepy Maine town of Wiscasset (population 3,700), armed guards patrol a slab of concrete surrounded by a chain link fence. On the slab is 60 cement and steel canisters containing 550 tons of nuclear waste with nowhere to go according to the Bangor Daily News.

It’s a problem across the country. Nuclear power plants produce waste that’s stored on site in what’s billed as a temporary solution. After decades of promising to move the waste, the Department of Energy (DOE) hasn’t found a more permanent solution. And now, the Pentagon is moving forward with plans to increase the production of plutonium pits, a core component of nuclear weapons, which will produce more highly toxic and radioactive waste.

Nuclear power is incredibly efficient and produces little carbon. A move towards a world based on nuclear power would dramatically cut down on emissions that lead to climate change. But nuclear power produces nuclear waste, a variety of highly toxic substances that will take hundreds of years to become inert.

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Expanded Plutonium “Pit” Bomb Production Rules Over Genuine Cleanup Los Alamos Lab Plans to Make Existing Nuclear Waste Dumps Permanent Without Eliminating Threat to Groundwater

The Department of Energy (DOE) has submitted a report to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) declaring its preferred plan to “cap and cover” radioactive and toxic wastes at one of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) oldest dumps. DOE’s $12 million cleanup-on-the-cheap plan for Material Disposal Area C will create a permanent nuclear waste dump above our regional groundwater. In contrast, DOE has asked Congress for one billion dollars for expanded plutonium “pit” bomb core production at LANL for fiscal year 2022 alone.

LANL used to falsely claim that groundwater contamination was impossible and even asked NMED for a waiver from even having to monitor for it. We now know that there is extensive groundwater contamination from hexavalent chromium (the carcinogen in the Erin Brockovich movie) and high explosives. Traces of plutonium have been detected 1,300 feet under Area C in regional groundwater monitoring wells. The dump also has a large toxic gaseous plume of industrial solvents known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which threatens nearby facilities.

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Nuclear Officials Discuss Modernization of Arsenal in Online Forum

“Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration have said the earlier estimate of Savannah River meeting its pit production target in 2030 was unrealistic and that it could take until 2035.

Meanwhile, the most recent cost estimate for bringing Savannah River’s pit plant online has swelled to $11 billion from $4.6 billion.”

BY: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com Jul 20, 2021

A group of nuclear weapons managers agreed Tuesday that making more plutonium cores for warheads will be key to modernizing the nation’s arsenal as a deterrent against rival countries.

But during an online forum, a few of the managers who work at facilities with nuclear weapons programs also delved into a military leader’s assertion in recent months the U.S. is unable to produce a brand-new nuclear weapon, unlike Russia and China.

Peter Heussy, a defense consultant, asked the panel to interpret the comments by Adm. Charles Richard, head of U.S. Strategic Command, based on their work in the field.

“My thinking is: By policy we’re not supposed to be designing new [weapons]. We’re not being asked to do it, either,” said Mark Martinez, who oversees mission support and testing at the Nevada National Security Site.

The current focus is on life extension, Martinez said, referring to the program to replace or upgrade aging components, including the softball-sized plutonium cores — or pits — that detonate warheads.

Plans call for Los Alamos National Laboratory to produce 30 pits by 2026 and Savannah River Site in South Carolina to make 50 pits in the 2030s.

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76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building Weapons of Mass Destruction

76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building New Weapons of Mass Destruction

Last week, July 16 2021, marked the 76th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb explosion. Within another month, memorials and commemorations will be held for the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the U.S. bombed on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. Although it was unknown to most residents of New Mexico until after the United States’ atomic bombing of Japan, the citizens and communities in the southern region of the state were in fact the first nuclear victims.

When the U.S. Army detonated an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 at 5:29 a.m., “its thunderous roar during the rainy season knocked people from breakfast tables in Tularosa and sent others on the Mescalero Apache reservation into hiding.” (axios.com) Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico are working to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered extremely because of the experiment. Rare forms of cancer and other health problems have been discovered in those living near the site of the Trinity Test, and the vast, noxious consequences of this experiment have had lasting impact on now multiple, entire generations.

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‘Downwinders’ To Hold Candlelight Vigil In Remembrance Of Trinity Test

BY:  

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Southern New Mexicans will hold their 12th candlelight vigil in Tularosa Saturday commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Trinity Test, and remembering the suffering and deaths they believe it caused. The test was history’s first detonation of a nuclear device.

KSFR’s Dennis Carroll talks with Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, about progress she and supporters have made in their quest for acknowledgement and justice.

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

Nuclear Media

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More Nuclear News

Petition calls for A-bomb victims to be remembered during Olympics

“The moment of silence will also express a commitment to making world peace a reality through the abolition of nuclear weapons.” 

 KYODO NEWS – Jul 22, 2021 | kyodonews.net

A former mayor of Hiroshima has launched an online petition calling for a moment of silence to be observed during the Tokyo Olympics at the time the atomic bomb was dropped on his western Japan city on Aug. 6.

Tadatoshi Akiba, 78, launched the Change.org campaign on the day International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on July 16, amid opposition from some A-bomb survivors who said the visit ahead of the Tokyo Games starting Friday was politically motivated.

“He should have no objections to how important it is to spread the message of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the world,” Akiba said, noting that Bach came to Hiroshima in spite of the coronavirus pandemic and opposition from many people.

The petition proposes that athletes and people from around the globe observe a moment of silence at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 to remember not only those who perished in the atomic bombings of the two cities, but all victims of war.
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Carbon-Free Power Project: Don’t Continue To Delay The Inevitable

“Disclosure of these would go a long way toward improving the credibility of NuScale, UAMPS, and the community boards who are putting their own credibility on the line by subscribing to this project.

We must not forget that our ratepayer and taxpayer monies are being used to underwrite this ambitious project. We are owed transparency in return.”

BY GEORGE CHANDLER, Los Alamos

Los Alamos County Councilors,

I hope you will choose to take this unexpected off-ramp rather than continue to delay the inevitable.  The UAMPS CFPP project looks to be slowly dying, apparently because not enough communities believe it to be a viable project, or perhaps because of a lack of transparency.  If you choose to continue, then you can make this a better project.

I submitted the questions below to the Utilities Board prior to their July 21 meeting.  The Director of the Utilities Department asked CFPP to address these questions at the July 21 meeting, and Mr. Baker and Mr. Hughes did address most of them during their presentation and under questioning by Ms. Walker.  Their responses were  incomplete, contradictory, and generally unsatisfying.  The three of most  importance are the Economic Competitiveness Test (ECT), the work on the reactor core being done by Fromatome and Enfission, and the rather curious explanations of the 54% change in output with no design changes.

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Eastern Idaho nuclear reactor project downsized

Others who support the project worry about its incomplete financial support. All but one council member that day voted to continue Idaho Fall’s 5 MW commitment. But two voiced direct concern over the project not having full subscriptions. Council member Jim Francis was the sole nay vote.

“If this project works out, it’ll be great. I just wish there was a slight bit more security,” he told the Post Register in a phone interview.

BY:

A project to build a first-of-its-kind nuclear reactor in eastern Idaho has been significantly downsized.

The initial plan for the Carbon-Free Power Project was to build 12 interconnected miniature nuclear reactor modules to produce a total of 600 megawatts. It would be the first small modular reactor in the United States. After the company tasked with manufacturing the plants said it could make the reactors more power-efficient, planners reduced the project down to six module reactors that could produce 462 MW total.

“After a lot of due diligence and discussions with members, it was decided a 6-module plant producing 462 MW would be just the right size for (Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems) members and outside utilities that want to join,” said LaVarr Webb, UAMPS spokesman.

The decision was made in late June, Webb said.

The project between UAMPS and Portland-based reactor producer NuScale received $1.4 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy last year. The reactor is planned to be built on the DOE’s 890-square mile desert site west of Idaho Falls at Idaho National Laboratory. The plant is expected to be running by 2029.

“A 6-module plant allows us to get to full subscription faster, but we would have reached full subscription regardless,” Webb said of the project’s ability to achieve full financial commitment from partners. “Before joining a next-generation, first-of-a-kind nuclear plant, utilities obviously want to be certain the plant is feasible and will be built. Now that we have made significant progress, including a large cost-share award from the Department of Energy, and NuScale has received design approval from the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission), we’re seeing more and more utilities express interest in the plant.”

So far, Webb said 28 participants have committed to a total of 103 MW. But, he said, “all are currently evaluating whether to increase or decrease” their commitments. He also said “a number of utilities outside of UAMPS are considering” making a commitment.

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Next Steps Following Public Hearing on New Shaft for WIPP Expansion

Last week the New Mexico Environment Department virtual public hearing on the new shaft to expand the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) took place over four days, from Monday through Thursday.  The public comment period ended on Friday.

[A special shout out to all those who submitted public comments.  THANK YOU!!!] 

The hearing process continues until at least October with the filing of post-hearing documents by the Parties supporting the expansion, including the Hazardous Waste Bureau of the Environment Department https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/ , the Department of Energy (DOE), and Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, the contractors at WIPP.  https://wipp.energy.gov/

The Parties opposing the expansion are:  Southwest Research and Information Center http://www.sric.org/ ; CCNS http://nuclearactive.org/ ; Nuclear Watch New Mexico https://nukewatch.org/ ; and individuals, including longtime activist Deborah Reade; former Environment Department Regulator for WIPP, Steve Zappe; and a former Environmental Evaluation Group (EEG) scientist, George Anastas.  Dr. James Channell, another former EEG scientist, testified in opposition to the new shaft and WIPP’s physical expansion.  http://www.sric.org/nuclear/eeg.php

CCNS anticipates the Hearing Officer’s report and the Parties’ comments will end up on the Environment Department Secretary’s desk in mid-September.

Read the whole story and more at nuclearactive.org

ILHAN OMAR SIGNS ICAN PLEDGE

April 30, 2021: Representative Ilhan Omar today submitted her signed ICAN Pledge to ICAN, becoming the eleventh member of the US Congress to sign the Pledge. Rep. Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the US House of Representatives. Rep Omar also co-sponsor the H.R.2850 Nuclear Abolition and Economic Conversion Act of 2021 that Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton reintroduced on April 26, 2021.

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Sleepwalking into Nuclear War?

“People like to think that every nuclear-armed country has only one “button”, with which a president could consciously choose to start a nuclear war, after careful deliberation. But in fact there are thousands of people in the world controlling different parts of different arsenals who could independently initiate a nuclear war.” – Caitlin Johnstone 

JONATHAN POWER | indepthnews.net

LUND, Sweden (IDN) — Last week on Tuesday (April 20), US Strategic Command, the part of the military responsible for nuclear weaponry and its use, posted an official Tweet that read, “We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option”.

This came just as Russia was pulling back its large deployment of troops on Ukraine’s border which, in turn, was triggered in part by President Joseph Biden’s decision to ship for the first time sophisticated weapons to Ukraine.

The crisis has now passed but the lesson lingers. Arguably we are closer to war with Russia than at any time since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 (which I wrote about last week, April 20).

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Offline Iowa Nuclear Plant Eyed as Site of Solar Project

AP News | apnews.com

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A decommissioned eastern Iowa nuclear plant could become the site of a new massive solar energy project.

NextEra Energy of Florida on Tuesday laid out plans in a meeting with nearby landowners to build a solar farm near the now-idle Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo, The Gazette of Cedar Rapids reported.

The company said the project could bring in a $700 million capital investment and about 300 construction jobs. The solar farm would stretch across 3,500 acres near the plant and would produce up to 690 megawatts of solar energy — more than the nuclear plant had generated.

“We’re also hoping to accompany that solar project with up to 60 megawatts of AC-coupled batteries,” project manager Kimberly Dickey said in the meeting. Battery storage allows a company to store energy for use during peak energy-use times.

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Scotland Reaches Green Landmark – Scotland generated 97.4% of its electricity demand from renewables last year

By: Juan Cole | scheerpost.com

In 2011, Scotland’s government, urged on by visionaries like Richard Dixon, set itself the ambitious goal to get 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. At that time, it only only got about a fourth from clean energy sources, and a lot of that was hydro.

The report card is in for 2020 and Scotland generated 97.4% of its electricity demand from renewables last year, just a whisker less than the 100% goal.

Scotland will host the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in a few months, and is well placed to assert climate leadership.

Scotland no longer has a coal plant, and its one natural gas plant is under-utilized and seems likely to close in a few years.

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DOE’s NNSA Reveals it’s Out of Money. Flat Broke. Busted. Nothing Left for Beneficial Nuclear Non-Proliferation Program to Convert Reactor from Weapon-Grade Uranium Fuel

By: SRS Watch | srswatch.com

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has revealed that it has spent all of our money. Busted flat. Nothing left. Nada. Zilch. Nichts.

Well, that’s what it seems like at the NNSA has notified GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy that there are no funds available to convert a test reactor in Vallecitos, California from weapon-grade uranium (highly enriched uranium, HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU), as part of an nuclear non-proliferation effort.

On March 25, 2021, NNSA told GE Hitac hi Nuclear Energy: “you are hereby notified that Department of Energy funding will not be available in fiscal year 2021 to complete the conversion of NTR to LEU fuel.” And GE subsequently told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that ” DOE funding is not currently available for conversion of the NTR fuel.”

See: “GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas, LLC – Annual Statement of Non-availability of Federal Government Funding for Conversion from HEU to LEU for VNC Nuclear Test Reactor (NTR) at https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML21084A808

BUT WAIT!  NNSA continues to front for boosters and contractors engaged in project to convert the abandoned plutonium fuel (MOX) plant at the Savannah River Site into the SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at a cost of $4.6 billion (add higher number if you wish) by 2030 (add any date you wish).  So, there seems to be money available for projects dangerous to our national security – making plutonium pits for unneeded and provocative new nuclear weapons – but not a penny left to get HEU out of commerce. This confirms that the priorities of NNSA are totally screwed up and that it’s placing contractor enrichment and parochial politics above national security.  Congress must make sure that the HEU conversion program is fully funded and that the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (with W87-1 warhead) and the new SLBM (with W93 warhead) – the first new weapons to get new plutonium pits – are terminated and funded halted.  As in nada, zilch, nothing.

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People downwind of atomic blasts renew push for US payout

“Officials say the team at Sandia is working with researchers from Australia as well as particle-technology researchers who are building a second concentrating solar power facility in Saudi Arabia to test variants of key components.”

By: The Associated Press / March 24, 2021 | apnews.com

The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)
The first atomic bomb test was conducted at Alamogordo, New Mexico, July 16, 1945. (AP / US Army)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — In the desert northeast of Las Vegas, residents living along the Nevada-Arizona border would gather on their front porches for bomb parties or ride horses into the fields to watch as the U.S. government conducted atomic tests during a Cold War-era race to build up the nation’s nuclear arsenal.

About 100 of those tests were aboveground, and U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton of Arizona testified during a congressional subcommittee hearing Wednesday that residents at the time marveled at the massive orange mushroom clouds billowing in the distance.

“They had no idea. They were never told that they were being exposed to dangerous cancer-causing radiation,” Stanton said. “As a direct result of the radiation exposure from these tests, thousands of Arizonans have suffered from cancer, entire families have suffered from cancer and far too many have died.”

He and others testified as part of a renewed push for compensation from the U.S. government following uranium mining and nuclear testing carried out during the Cold War.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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.

Critical Events

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New & Updated

‘A combination of failures:’ why 3.6m pounds of nuclear waste is buried on a popular California beach

The San Onofre nuclear power plant shut down years ago – but residents and experts worry what will happen with the waste left behind

Kate Mishkin

The defunct San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente, California. Photograph: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

More than 2 million visitors flock each year to California’s San Onofre state beach, a dreamy slice of coastline just north of San Diego. The beach is popular with surfers, lies across one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the Unites States and has a 10,000-year-old sacred Native American site nearby. It even landed a shout-out in the Beach Boys’ 1963 classic Surfin’ USA.

But for all the good vibes and stellar sunsets, beneath the surface hides a potential threat: 3.6m lb of nuclear waste from a group of nuclear reactors shut down nearly a decade ago. Decades of political gridlock have left it indefinitely stranded, susceptible to threats including corrosion, earthquakes and sea level rise.

The San Onofre reactors are among dozens across the United States phasing out, but experts say they best represent the uncertain future of nuclear energy.

“It’s a combination of failures, really,” said Gregory Jaczko, who chaired the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the top federal enforcer, between 2009 and 2012, of the situation at San Onofre.

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‘Star Wars’ no longer fiction

ABQ at center of research for tomorrow’s weapons
“Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the epicenter of directed energy research in the United States…If the arms race for directed energy indeed takes off, much of the action could take place in Albuquerque.”

BY RYAN BOETEL / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal August 20, 2021 abqjournal.com

Force fields protecting us from drones and missiles.

Guns that shoot lasers instead of firing bullets.

Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots zapping at each other on the battlefield.

A new report by the Air Force Research Laboratory titled Directed Energy Futures 2060 describes the sorts of “directed energy” weapons that may come to exist in the next 40 years. And the expected technology – much of which may be researched and developed in Albuquerque – is like something out of a science fiction movie.

Officials from multiple Department of Defense entities, partners with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other experts came together to write the report, which says the world is at a “tipping point.”

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MOX failed. But plutonium pit production is different, argues NNSA exec.

“Even with a potential surge in production at Los Alamos, there remains uncertainty about that capability, especially with their history of outages,” U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson

By Colin Demarest cdemarest@aikenstandard.com postandcourier.com August 21, 2021

The Hanford Vit Plant covers 65 acres with four nuclear facilities in southeastern Washington state. (Bechtel National)

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — In late 2018, a behemoth fuel facility at the Savannah River Site was axed. Its cancellation, enabled by a court ruling and promises of saving billions of dollars, marooned more than a decade of work and vexed a clutch of South Carolina politicians.

What remained was a shell: a Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility that was partially built and would eventually be secured and preserved, like an insect suspended in amber.

In the years that followed, the federal government began seriously pursuing a nuclear weapons mission – the crafting of warhead components known as plutonium pits — using the MOX skeleton as a springboard. That effort continues today, and at a clip some have likened to the Cold War or the Manhattan Project, the odyssey that birthed the nuclear age.

But where MOX failed, the Palmetto State pit factory will not, according Michael Thompson, a National Nuclear Security Administration executive. While bilateral friction and “higher-level policy choices” hamstrung the reactor fuel project, it’s a different matter when it comes to the plutonium cores and the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility, Thompson argued earlier this month.
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Cleaning up nuclear waste at Hanford: Secrecy, delays and budget debates

A plan to turn radioactive waste into glass logs has raised a lot of questions, many of which don’t appear to have public answers.

“It’s not clear whether the high-level waste plant will ever operate,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director of Hanford Challenge, a watchdog organization.

“We need to get some stuff out of here, or we’ll end up with it permanently staying here…This is a generational problem,” Stephen Wiesman said.

Ultimately, this project, originally scheduled to be finished this decade, will likely be completed in the latter half of this century. In other words, it could take 70 to 75 years (mid-1990s to 2069) to deal with the 56 million gallons of radioactive tank waste created by 42 years of manufacturing plutonium.

By John Stang, Crosscut columbian.com August 23, 2021

The Hanford Vit Plant covers 65 acres with four nuclear facilities in southeastern Washington state. (Bechtel National)

Stephen Wiesman has worked for about three decades on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s project to convert the radioactive waste in its huge underground tanks into safer glass logs.

A Hanford engineer since 1980, Wiesman helped create the Office of Protection, the Department of Energy’s unit in charge of dealing with the nuclear waste stored in those tanks, serving as a senior technical adviser since the late 1990s.

Now 75 and retired since 2012, Wiesman is on the Hanford Advisory Board, which represents environmentalists, Tri-Citians, tribes, health officials, business interests and governments from across the Northwest. Currently, Wiesman is the board’s chairman.

Hanford dates back to late 1942, when it became a super-secret World War II site to create plutonium for the first atomic bomb exploded — in New Mexico and later over Nagasaki, Japan. The nuclear reservation continued that mission during the Cold War and through 1987.

During four decades of production, uranium rods and other nuclear waste were stored in 149 single-shell tanks, of which at least 68 have since sprung leaks. Hanford added 28 safer double-shell tanks and transferred the liquid wastes into them.

Hanford has 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in those 177 underground tanks at this remote decommissioned nuclear production site near the Columbia River in Benton County.

Those leak-prone tanks are arguably the most radiologically contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere.

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New criminal charges filed against Westinghouse official in SC’s nuclear plant failure

“As construction problems mounted, costs rose, and schedules slipped, (and) defendants hid the true status of the project,” the indictment said.
“…Delays and cost overruns — hidden by SCANA officials from the public and state regulators — eventually doomed the effort, making it one of the largest business failures in South Carolina history.”

BY JOHN MONK | August 19, 2021 thestate.com

Acting United States Attorney Rhett DeHart pledges continued efforts in prosecuting those responsible for the failed nuclear site in Fairfield County. BY TRACY GLANTZ


A second high-ranking employee of Westinghouse Electric Corp. is facing criminal charges in connection with the multi-billion dollar failure of the doomed nuclear project in Fairfield County.

Jeffrey Benjamin, a former Westinghouse senior vice president of new plants and projects, faces multiple counts of fraud, according to an 18-page indictment made public Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Columbia.

It is the latest criminal charge in a four-year federal investigation of what went wrong at the highest levels of two substantial American companies — Westinghouse and the former SCANA Corp.

The charges against Benjamin are “for his role in failing to truthfully report information regarding construction of new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant,” Acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart said in a press release.

Benjamin’s alleged cover-up of billions of dollars in losses at Westinghouse’s troubled nuclear plants in South Carolina and Georgia were part of a series of events leading to the company’s bankruptcy in March 2017, according to the indictment.

“The defendant’s misrepresentations and omissions, as well as the associated cover-up, resulted in billions of dollars in losses to (SCANA), ratepayers and investors,” the indictment said.

Benjamin, who was responsible for Westinghouse’s worldwide construction of nuclear reactors, is the fourth person to face criminal charges in connection with the SCANA scandal. The three others — another former Westinghouse employee and two top SCANA officials — all have agreed to plead guilty to various counts of fraud but have not yet been sentenced.

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Top Westinghouse Nuclear Executive Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud in 16-Count Federal Indictment

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Columbia, South Carolina — Acting United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina M. Rhett DeHart announced today that a Federal Grand Jury has charged former Westinghouse Electric Company Senior Vice President Jeffrey A. Benjamin for his role in failing to truthfully report information regarding construction of new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.

Benjamin, who served as Senior Vice President for New Plants and Major Projects and directly supervised all new nuclear projects worldwide for Westinghouse during the V.C. Summer project, is charged in a federal indictment with sixteen felony counts including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly-traded company to keep a false record.

The charges Benjamin faces carry a maximum of twenty years imprisonment and a $5,000,000 fine.

The indictment alleges that Benjamin was personally involved in communications between Westinghouse and its owners, SCANA and Santee Cooper, regarding the status of the V.C. Summer project.

The indictment further alleges that, throughout 2016 and into 2017, when Westinghouse had direct control over the construction and schedule of the project, Benjamin received information that the V.C. Summer units were materially behind schedule and over budget.  Nevertheless, at various times from September 2016 through March 2017, the indictment alleges that Benjamin assured the owners that the units would be completed on schedule and took active steps to conceal from the owners damaging information about the project schedule.  During this time period, the owners paid Westinghouse over $600,000,000 to construct the two V.C. Summer units, both of which were ultimately abandoned.

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Critics Decry $12 Billion for Nuclear in Infrastructure Bill

Smith in his Monday missive warned a bevy of NNSA endeavors, like pit production and the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility before it, “have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.” Two things, Smith wrote, are vital to the successful modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons: affordability and executability.

By Eric Tegethoff, Producer | August 12, 2021 publicnewsservice.org

Researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls study nuclear energy. (Sam Beebe/Flickr)

BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Senate has passed a massive infrastructure bill, and buried within the package is $12 billion for the nuclear industry, but critics said the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Half of the money is reserved for nuclear facilities under threat of shutting down due to economic factors. The other half is for research and development, such as on the small modular nuclear reactor model being built in Idaho.

Tim Judson, executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, said the industry as a whole is struggling, with even the Idaho project being scaled back.

“By propping up the existing reactors and preventing them from being replaced with renewable energy, the nuclear industry’s essentially trying to keep sort of a foothold in the energy system until they can try to ram some of these new reactor projects like the one in Idaho through, if it ever happens,” Judson asserted.

He hopes the U.S. House makes changes to the investments in nuclear. The industry and some environmental groups have touted nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels as the country moves toward clean energy sources.

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How the nuclear weapons industry is dominating think tank research

A recent study finds that all major institutions working on nuke policy are getting funds from companies with a vested interest in it.

By (former Nuclear Watch New Mexico Intern) and | July 28, 2021 responsiblestatecraft.org

If you read a report about nuclear weapons, odds are it was published by a think tank funded by a company producing nuclear weapons. In our recent study of global nuclear weapons spending, we found that almost all major think tanks working on nuclear weapon issues took money from companies involved in the nuclear weapons industry in 2020 — raising questions about their intellectual independence and moral integrity.

In the report, we include 12 think tanks, picked from the Global Think Tank Index’s top foreign policy think tanks that also publish regularly on nuclear weapons from France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We found the 21 companies that received nuclear weapon contracts gave $10 million in grants to these think tanks in just one year, as reported in the think tanks’ own annual reports and on their websites. This is a systemic issue. It’s not just one think tank, or a few $100,000 grants. Half of the profiled think tanks received up to well over one million dollars in one year from at least nine different companies working on nuclear weapons.

These companies don’t just donate money; key executives also oversee and advise several of these think tanks. Three CEOs of nuclear weapons-producing companies — Guillaume Faury (Airbus), Gregory J. Hayes (Raytheon), and Marillyn A. Hewson (until recently Lockheed Martin) — sit on the advisory board of the Atlantic Council. The Center for New American Security has a similar story: up to $1.8 million received from companies working on nuclear weapons and five board seats for those whose livelihoods are tied to nuclear weapon production.

These links are a problem for two reasons: it raises questions about the think tanks’ independence, and it ties them to companies engaging in immoral activities banned under international law.

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Northern New Mexico Activists Hold Events Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On August 6th and 9th, 1945, the U.S. Government dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  Over 200,000 people died instantly, while survivors suffered radiation exposure.  The harm that was done is formally acknowledged every August at commemoration events around the world.  This year, commemoration events were held in Los Alamos on Saturday, August 7th and in Taos on Sunday, August 8th.

On Saturday, at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos, Ken Mayers, chair of the Joan Duffy Santa Fe Chapter of the Veterans for Peace, led a two-hour vigil, “In Remembrance: Hiroshima and Nagasaki – 1945.”  http://www.vfp-santafe.org/home.html

The program included Judith Rane reading a series of haiku that she had written.  Her haiku, a short form of Japanese poetry, recalled the plans for and the disaster that resulted from bombing Japan.  https://www.taosnews.com/tempo/film/pilgrimage-of-peace/article_d9de4599-f6e5-5c0d-83cb-525894fb6208.htmlThen came songs from the Albuquerque Raging Grannies, a chapter of an international organization that has a wide repertoire of songs with anti-war lyrics set to familiar tunes. https://www.abqjournal.com/news/state/485700nm08-21-06.htm

After the program, there was consensus that the New Mexico Congressional Delegation needs to know that many people continue to oppose the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to increase the production of plutonium pits, or triggers, for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

Rep. Smith presses Biden to audit pit production as Nuclear Posture Review progresses

Smith in his Monday missive warned a bevy of NNSA endeavors, like pit production and the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility before it, “have seen massive cost increases, schedule delays, and cancellations of billion-dollar programs. This must end.” Two things, Smith wrote, are vital to the successful modernization of U.S. nuclear weapons: affordability and executability.

By

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Monday urged President Joe Biden to include an audit of plutonium pit production plans and costs in his administration’s broader assessment of U.S. nuclear policy and capabilities.

Writing about the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, Rep. Adam Smith pressed the president to closely examine pit production — the crafting of nuclear weapon cores, namely in South Carolina and New Mexico — and to “ensure it is both necessary and achievable within the announced cost and schedule.”

“As we near the budgetary heights of the ‘nuclear modernization mountain’ we can ill afford further delays and cost overruns,” wrote the Washington Democrat, who time and again has expressed reservations about pit production in the Palmetto State. He continued: “It is simply acknowledging reality that we must make hard choices.”

Federal law mandates production of 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 — a rate and date motivated by military demand.

But while National Nuclear Security Administration officials believe production benchmarks in 2024, 2025 and 2026 can be met in New Mexico, at Los Alamos National Laboratory, they do not think a 2030 production target in South Carolina, at the Savannah River Site, is achievable.

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Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered

We must speak out and call for action, to ensure that the horrific events witnessed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are never repeated

BY: Chris McDonnell | United Kingdom

Two aerial photos of atomic bomb mushroom clouds, over two Japanese cities in 1945 (Left photo: Hiroshima / Right photo: Nagasaki) From Wikimedia Commons.

It was just after breakfast time on August 6, 1945 when a single B29 super fortress bomber plane of the US Air Force appeared in the clear blue sky above the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

It was about to unleash the most destructive weapon of war yet developed by mankind on the unsuspecting population going about their business in the streets below.

Piloted by Paul Tibbets, the B29 bore the name of his mother on its fuselage nosecone — Enola Gay. Its payload bomb known as Little Boy was the result of years of nuclear research in the United States under the code name of the Manhattan Project. It was the start of the Atomic Age.

In the middle of July the first experimental atomic weapon was detonated at the Alamogordo test range in New Mexico. It created a crater 300 metres in width. It was ironically given the code name “Trinity”. The scene was set for the first use of nuclear weapons in the theatre of war.

Preparations went ahead on the Pacific island of Tinian for the first attack, the city of Hiroshima, with a population well over a quarter of a million people, the designated target.

The bomb was released over the city at 8.15 am that Monday morning and exploded at an altitude of just under 2,000 feet.

The blast equivalent was estimated to be the equivalent of 13 kilotons of TNT, destroying an area of just under 5 square miles. It is likely that 90,000 people lost their lives…

Report: Some Los Alamos nuclear waste too hazardous to move

“In the October report, the safety board said lab personnel had failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for incompatible chemicals to cause a container to explode. Crews also never sufficiently estimated how much radiation would be released by such an event.”

BY: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com August 2, 2021

Los Alamos National Laboratory has identified 45 barrels of radioactive waste so potentially explosive — due to being mixed with incompatible chemicals — that crews have been told not to move them and instead block off the area around the containers, according to a government watchdog’s report.

Crews have worked to ferret out drums containing volatile compounds and move them to a more secure domed area of the lab after the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued a scathing report last year saying there were possibly hundreds of barrels of unstable nuclear waste.

The safety board estimated an exploding waste canister could expose workers to 760 rem, far beyond the threshold of a lethal dose. A rem is a unit used to measure radiation exposure. In its latest weekly report, the safety board said crews at Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B — the contractor in charge of cleaning up the lab’s legacy waste — have pegged 60 barrels with volatile mixtures and have relocated 15 drums to the domed area.

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Energy Department: Cap rather than clean up Los Alamos lab waste site

A watchdog group called the plan an attempt to save money without considering the potential long-term hazards of keeping highly toxic, slow-decaying waste buried in unlined pits roughly 1,000 feet above a vital groundwater source.
“The aquifer — that’s our main concern,” said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “If climate change does affect us and things start drying out, then our aquifer is going to be even more important than it already is. We have to do everything to protect our aquifer that we can.”

Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com | Santa Fe New Mexican July 31, 2021

Radioactive trash is dumped into Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Disposal Area C, Pit 6, in 1958. U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover over Area C, which was shut down in 1974.
New Mexican file photo

One of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s older nuclear waste disposal sites — a Cold War relic — would be capped and covered rather than cleaned up under a plan put forth by federal officials.

Known as Area C, the 73-year-old dumpsite was shut down in 1974 after taking radioactive waste, caustic chemicals, treatment-plant sludge and a variety of trash, according to records.

U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover they say will safely contain the waste, prevent toxins from leaching into soil and groundwater, and avoid the hazards that excavating the waste would pose to workers and the environment. It also would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

Browse the WatchBlog

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

“This is a social justice issue. We want acknowledgment that the federal government did this without our consent then forgot about us and left us to fend for ourselves.”

FILE – In this Tuesday, July 14, 2015 file photo from video, Tina Cordova talks of her late father, Anastacio Cordova, in her Albuquerque home. Cordova believes her father, who died in 2013 after suffering from multiple bouts of cancer, was affected by the atomic bomb Trinity Test in New Mexico since he lived in nearby Tularosa, N.M. as a child. A report is scheduled to be released Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, on the health effects of the people who lived near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb test. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will release the health assessment report Friday on residents of a historic Hispanic village of Tularosa near the Trinity Test in the New Mexico desert. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras,File)

Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and former Tularosa resident – Quote from the article Latinos still coping with the fallout of 1st nuclear explosion, Axios, July 15, 2021

“The Pentagon is hell-bent on securing funds to develop a brand new suite of nuclear weapons to replace its Cold War-era arsenal, with the federal government projecting expenditures of $190 billion through 2030 to modernize powerful missiles, warheads, bombers, and submarines originally conceived at the height of a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union.”

Sara Sirota – from the article Nuclear Weapons Skeptics Face Turbulent Path to Rein in the Pentagon, The Intercept, July 1, 2021

“A nuclear war between any nuclear states, using much less than one percent of the current nuclear arsenal, would produce climate change unprecedented in human history. A small nuclear war could reduce food production by 10 to 40 percent for a decade, with massive increases in ultraviolet radiation (which causes deadly skin cancers).”

— Alan Robock, professor of climate science in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University
From the article: oakridger.com

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