Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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!

LANL FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

The Wall St. Journal has compiled a searchable database of contaminated sites across the US. (view)
Related WSJ report: https://www.wsj.com

Recent Posts

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New & Updated

Russia Says Using New U.S. Warheads Would Provoke Nuclear Retaliation

Fires are still blazing near the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, marking the 34th anniversary of the accident.

ARTICLE BY: CLYDE HUGHES | upi.com

The Pentagon said the W76-2 nuclear warhead was first deployed with the USS Tennessee, pictured, late last year. File Photo by Mass Communication 2nd Class Bryan Tomforde/U.S. Navy/UPI

Wednesday, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova cautioned the U.S. military that using those weapons against Russia would warrant a nuclear retaliatory strike.

“Any attack involving a U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missile, regardless of its weapon specifications, would be perceived as a nuclear aggression,” Zakharova said. “Those who like to theorize about the flexibility of American nuclear potential must understand that in line with the Russian military doctrine such actions are seen as warranting retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Russia.”

The U.S. State Department suggested last week that equipping Navy submarines with the low-yield nukes — which have explosive power similar to the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during World War II — would only serve to deter military provocation from Russia and China.

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Defense Budget Brawl Looms After Pandemic

Defense budget cuts are looming as the coronavirus pandemic places pressure on the federal budget across various agencies.

ARTICLE BY: REBECCA KHEEL | thehill.com

© Greg Nash

The Pentagon had already been expecting relatively flat budgets for the next few years due to economic constraints caused by the widening deficits in the country.

But with the pandemic, the deficit is projected to explode after Congress passed trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief packages, with more aid bills expected. Defense budget analysts are predicting that will mean cuts to defense spending down the line.

Meanwhile, Democrats say the crisis should result in a rethinking of national security that gives less money to the Pentagon and more to areas like public health.

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Agency seeks $8K reimbursement from former executive director

REGIONAL COALITION OF LANL COMMUNITIES
Two years after parting ways with the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, state Rep. Andrea Romero is still being haunted by improper reimbursements that cast a dark cloud over her tenure as the agency’s executive director.

Agency seeks $8K reimbursement from former executive director

The board of the taxpayer-funded agency that represents local governments around Los Alamos National Laboratory recently decided to ask Romero to return $8,000 in questionable reimbursements she received for travel and entertainment expenses while she was at the helm of the organization, which occurred before she was elected to a seat in the state House of Representatives.

But the board is unlikely to pursue the matter further if Romero rejects the request.

The board reached its decision to try to recoup the money after receiving a review of past audits of the agency, also known as RCLC, from its contracted legal counsel, Nancy Long.

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Fire Licks the Chernobyl Perimeter

Fires are still blazing near the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has visited firefighters trying to extinguish the flames, marking the 34th anniversary of the accident.

ARTICLE BY: CINDY FOLKERS | beyondnuclearinternational.org

More than 1,000 firefighters were working on Sunday to contain wildfires in the radiation-contaminated Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine. Sunday marks the 34-year anniversary of Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

How close to the Chernobyl nuclear plant did the recent forest fires come? Did the smoke that enveloped Kyiv contain dangerous levels of radioactivity? We look at these and other questions about the deadly legacy of the 1986 nuclear disaster.

The recent wildfires in Ukraine and Belarus came dangerously close to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site. Some burn still; others are smoldering. So, too, are the lingering doubts about denials from the Ukraine government that the fires, which tore through areas of the already radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, posed no radiological risks to those breathing in their fumes.

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The Trump Administration Is Suddenly Pretending That It Didn’t Blow Up the Iran Nuclear Deal

BY: | slate.com

While everyone is riveted to the deadly grind of COVID-19, the Trump administration is stepping up its efforts to crush the Islamic Republic of Iran through one of the most squirrely legal arguments that a nation-state has ever devised.

The move is also a political shot in the foot, because it amounts to an unwitting admission that President Donald Trump was wrong to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

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Appeal: New Mexico ignored rules in OK of nuke site work

Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press | apnews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A watchdog group asked the New Mexico Court of Appeals to put the brakes on a key construction project at the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository.

The Southwest Research and Information Center alleged in court documents that state environmental officials ignored existing regulations, past agency practices and case law when giving temporary approval for contractors to begin building a new ventilation shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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WIPP faces security, space challenges

The experts are recommending the Energy Department conduct an environmental review to consider the full effects of the plan on the repository, which plays a key role in the nation’s multibillion-dollar program to clean up Cold War-era waste from decades of nuclear research and bomb making.

Susan Montoya Bryan / Associated Press | santafenewmexican.com

ALBUQUERQUE — Security and the availability of space at the U.S. government’s only underground nuclear waste repository are among the challenges identified by a group of scientists and other experts tasked by Congress to review the viability of a plan to dispose of tons of weapons-grade plutonium at the desert location.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on Thursday released its final report on the plan, which would cost an estimated $18 billion over three decades to dilute a few dozen metric tons of plutonium and ship it to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

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STALKING CHERNOBYL: exploration after apocalypse (Trailer) from Cultures of Resistance Films on Vimeo.

“A vivid and compelling film… where a dose of adrenaline matters more than a dose of radiation.” — Beyond Nuclear International

“Stalking Chernobyl: Exploration After Apocalypse” (2020) is a fascinating documentary from Cultures of Resistance Films that offers a unique portal into the clandestine culture that has developed around the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone three decades after the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

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Defense budget cuts following the pandemic will be hard to swallow

BY: DOV S. ZAKHEIM | thehill.com

© Photo illustration/Nicole Vas

Congress has appropriated more than $2.25 trillion to counter the impact of COVID-19 on American families and the economy. It is likely to spend even more once legislators return from their recess in early May. This unprecedented level of expenditure is resulting in a massive deficit and national debt levels that are likely to exceed 120 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, especially as GDP growth itself is no longer a foregone conclusion. In turn, there will be renewed pressure on the defense budget, which already is forecast to have no real growth in fiscal year 2021.

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NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

BY: COLIN DEMAREST | aikenstandard.com

The National Nuclear Security Administration has extended the period in which it is taking comments and input on its draft review of the environmental impacts of plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site.

NNSA lengthens comment period for Savannah River pit production environmental study

Feedback can now be submitted through June 2. The previous deadline was May 18.

Comments concerning the Savannah River Site plutonium pit production draft environmental impact statement can be emailed, the preferred method, to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov. Comments can also be mailed to Jennifer Nelson, NEPA Document Manager, National Nuclear Security Administration, Savannah River Field Office, P.O. Box A, Aiken, S.C. 29802.

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“STALKING CHERNOBYL” Q&A EVENT ON APRIL 26

On Sunday, 26 April 2020 the UN-designated International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day, “Stalking Chernobyl” director Iara Lee hosted a live online Q&A session moderated by Jodie Evans, CODEPINK founder, with:

• Cindy Folkers, Radiation & Health Specialist from Beyond Nuclear International
• Sergii Mirnyi, scientist/tour operator from Chernobyl Tours
• Vitaly Servetnik from Friends of the Earth/Russian Socio-Ecological Union
• “Stalking Chernobyl” editor Dimo Petkov, cameraman Anton Fedorrko, co-producer Oleg Shalashov
• Dominik Orfanus, Yurij Syrcek, and Igor Pasko from the ; Chernobyl Welcome Tour Company
• Vladislav Voznjuck from the stalker/tour group DiggTour
• Lucas Brunelle, extreme cyclist and creator of ” Lucas Brunelle Goes To Chernobyl”

The discussion was livestreamed to Cultures of Resistance’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CulturesOfResistance/ and YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/CulturesofResistance

New Mexico’s U.S. senators request more time for comment on LANL pit production

A letter from 120 activist groups and citizens has prompted the state’s two U.S. senators to ask federal agencies to give the public more time to comment on possible environmental effects of pit production at Los Alamos Laboratory.

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich wrote to the National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday, urging it to extend the public comment period to June 19 on its environmental study of the lab’s future production.

They cited challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis and referred to a letter they received from activists who had asked for the June 19 extension.

“We continue to believe that providing the public ample opportunity to comment on environmental documents … provides an invaluable source of expertise to NNSA’s decision-makers, enhances transparency and ensures accountability,” the senators wrote. “We respectfully request that you give careful consideration to extending the public comment period.”

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60+ Orgs to Congress: No More COVID-19 Money For the Pentagon

Win Without Warcommondreams.com WASHINGTON – Congressional leadership must ensure that future COVID-19 response bills do not include any additional funds for the Pentagon, 61 organizations representing pro-diplomacy, veteran, faith, environmental, and anti-war communities, and more, from across the country, said in a letter today.

The letter, led by Win Without War, states that the Pentagon’s $756 billion budget provides more than enough resources to respond to the crisis caused by the pandemic. While there may be a limited role for the Pentagon in responding to the crisis — by, for example, aiding with construction of hospitals — the letter’s signers agree that these activities should be funded by the already-oversized Pentagon budget.

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Letter With >120 Group & Individual Sign-Ons Asks Udall and Heinrich to Extend Public Comment Period on Los Alamos Lab Plutonium Bomb Core Production

Letter With >120 Group & Individual Sign-Ons Asks Udall and Heinrich to Extend Public Comment Period on Los Alamos Lab Plutonium Bomb Core Production

Today, on behalf of more than 120 groups and individuals, Nuclear Watch New Mexico sent a letter to New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich. It asks them to act upon their own words and demand that the public comment period be extended for plutonium “pit” bomb core production that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is fast tracking during the coronavirus epidemic. As sitting members of the Senate Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, Udall and Heinrich are in strong positions to make that demand of NNSA.

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How the Military-Industrial Complex Is Using the Coronavirus

Arms industry lobbyists are addressing this pandemic and preparing for the next by pushing weapons sales.

ARTICLE BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

A stockpile of munitions is stored in a secured facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 6, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

There’s a battle brewing for the future of national security spending.

On one side, there’s a growing bipartisan consensus that the coronavirus has fundamentally changed the way we should think about national security. Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser in the Obama White House, recently argued in The Atlantic that we have to rethink the orientation and priorities of our government, and “it makes no sense that the Pentagon budget is 13 times larger than the entire international-affairs budget, which funds the State Department, USAID, and global programs at other agencies.”

Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said the bottom line is that “we’re going to see enormous downward pressure on defense spending because of other urgent American national needs like health care.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: THE NATION

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

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

Another nuclear weapons contractor pays millions to settle charges of illegally diverting federal funds

Allegations of illegally spending federal funds to lobby for new funds now encompass contractors working at six of the eight U.S. nuclear weapons sites. 

By Patrick Malone, Center for Public Integrity

This time it’s Bechtel and URS Corp

The latest settlement involves work by Bechtel National Inc. and its parent Bechtel Corp., and URS Corp. and its subsidiary URS Energy and Construction Inc., which together have been trying to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, in Washington state, the most toxic site in the country. The settlement is part of an emerging pattern.

Lockheed Martin Corp., which operates one of three U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories – Sandia, agreed in August 2015 to pay $4.7 million to settle a complaint by the Justice Department that it used federal funds to lobby for a no-bid contract extension. In December of 2016, Department of Energy selected a different contractor team, led by Honeywell International, to run Sandia for up to a decade, beginning next year.)
Meanwhile, Fluor Corp. paid $1.1 million in April 2013 to settle accusations that it used federal funds to lobby government agencies for more business at its Hanford training facility.

(Read more at PublicIntegrity.org)

Caution Radiation Area

Area G – Brief Backgrounder

For more than 70 years, Los Alamos National Laboratory dug thousands of deep and shallow graves across mesas and filled them with the radioactive waste, chemicals, and solvents used to make nuclear weapons.
Workers disposed of the waste in these unlined pits before the widespread contamination that would follow was fully understood or governed by environmental laws. Radioactive particles that live longer than some civilizations mixed freely with the red soil.

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WIPP plans will go on even if Russia quits plutonium deal

The Albuquerque Journal reports:

“At Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, the breakdown in the bilateral agreement may deal a decisive blow to already deteriorated relationships between scientists at New Mexico’s national laboratories and their Russian counterparts, who had been working together to iron out the technical aspects of plutonium disposition under the deal, according to Don Hancock with the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque.”

Ed Lyman of Union of Concerned Scientists said “Even until last week, the U.S. was optimistic that this was one area that Russia and the U.S. could cooperate.”

Read More…

UN council urges all to ratify security ban

Security Council Urges All to Ratify Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

“Reaffirming that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, threatens international peace and security, the United Nations Security Council today adopted a resolution urging all States who haven’t done so to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”

-From UN News

“A world free of nuclear of weapons goes by stopping testing too, and then taking steps that will reinforce the agreements that are already here, and then leading us towards what we all want: a world free of nuclear weapons; a world free of any attempt of modernization that some are talking about today.”

-Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of CTBTO:

NTI Launches the William J. Perry Project

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has just published a new book, a memoir titled “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink”. At the same time, NTI has launched the online William J. Perry Project, to “educate and engage the public on the dangers of nuclear weapons in the 21st century”.

“I hope to encourage young people to take the baton I am trying to pass to them. My generation created this existential problem- their generation must find a way to solve it.”

– William Perry.

70th Anniversary of the Trinity Test

The first atomic detonation. Oppenheimer recalls his impressions of the moment for an interview on NBC in 1965.

The first nuclear weapon test was carried out by the United States at the Trinity site on July 16, 1945, with a yield approximately equivalent to 20 kilotons. The first hydrogen bomb, codenamed “Ivy Mike”, was tested at the Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands in November 1952, also by the United States. The largest nuclear weapon ever tested was the “Tsar Bomba” of the Soviet Union at Novaya Zemlya on October 30, 1961, with an estimated yield of around 50 megatons.

In 1963, many (but not all) nuclear and many non-nuclear states signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, pledging to refrain from testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, or in outer space. The treaty permitted underground nuclear testing. France continued atmospheric testing until 1974, China continued up until 1980. Neither has ever signed the treaty.[1]

The United States conducted its last underground test in 1992, the Soviet Union in 1990, the U.K. in 1991, and both China and France in 1996. After signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 (which has as of 2012 not yet entered into force), all these states have pledged to discontinue all nuclear testing. Non-signatories India and Pakistan last tested nuclear weapons in 1998. The most recent nuclear test was by North Korea on Feb. 12, 2013.

For a more detailed resource on the history of Nuclear testing, see this United Nations guide,released August 29, 2012, the official ‘International Day Against Nuclear Tests’.

Cooperation of US and Russian scientists helped avoid nuclear catastrophe at Cold War’s end

Former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker recounts the epic story of how American and Russian scientists joined forces to avert some of the greatest post-Cold War nuclear dangers.

Hecker is currently a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, and a research professor of Management Science and Engineering.

Flawed Pentagon Nuclear Cruise Missile Advocacy

Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists, writes:

“The Pentagon’s arguments for why the LRSO is needed and why the amendments [to strip funding] are unacceptable are amazingly shallow – some of them even plain wrong.”

Here is a particularly disturbing argument:

“The Kendall letter from March also defends the LRSO because it gives the Pentagon the ability to rapidly increase the number of deployed warheads significantly on its strategic launchers. He does so by bluntly describing it as a means to exploit the fake bomber weapon counting rule (one bomber one bomb no matter what they can actually carry) of the New START Treaty to essentially break out from the treaty limit without formally violating it:

Additionally, cruise missiles provide added leverage to the U.S. nuclear deterrent under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The accounting rules for nuclear weapons carried on aircraft are such that the aircraft only counts as one weapon, even if the aircraft carries multiple cruise missiles.

It is disappointing to see a DOD official justifying the LRSO as a means to take advantage of a loophole in the treaty to increase the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons above 1,550 warheads. Not least because the 2013 Nuclear Employment Strategy determined that the Pentagon, even when the New START Treaty is implemented in 2018, will still have up to one-third more nuclear weapons deployed than are needed to meet US national and international security commitments. (more at FAS)

See the DOD letter circulated to Congress in May.

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

Trump Plan to Build Nuclear Bombs Divides a Scarred Factory Town

“To me, they haven’t proven that this is going to be safe,” said Pete LaBerge, a 70-year-old retiree who lives about three miles away from the Savannah River Site in nearby Windsor, which has 150 residents. He worries about a release of radiation. “Part of my theory is it’s sort of a make-work program for the Energy Department.”

BY: ARI NATTER & CHARLIE MCGEE | bloomberg.com

A factory along South Carolina’s Savannah River produced tritium and plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, employing thousands of workers but leaving behind a toxic legacy of radioactive waste.

Now the Trump administration has proposed spending $9 billion over 10 years to restart production of bomb parts there and at another site. The plan has raised the welcome prospect of new jobs though also rekindled environmental fears. And it’s set off alarms about a new nuclear arms race just as key treaties with Russia lapse.

“It’s a waste of money and dangerous,” said Stephen Young, an expert on arms control and international security issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists.

ABC NEWS FILE PHOTO Nov., 20, 2013, file photo, radioactive waste, sealed in large stainless steel canisters, are stored under a five-feet of concrete in a storage building at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C.

President Donald Trump’s plan, announced by the departments of Energy and Defense in 2018, calls for restarting production of nuclear bomb ‘pits’ at the South Carolina site and another one in New Mexico. The bowling-ball sized spheres of plutonium act as the trigger in a nuclear warhead, setting off the explosive chain reaction.

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WIPP: Nuclear Watchdog Group Again Challenges Utility Shaft in New Mexico Supreme Court

The Southwest Research and Information Center previously filed a motion to the court in April, seeking to block the New Mexico Environment Department’s (NMED) temporary approval (TA) of plans for the shaft that saw no public hearing or comment process.

BY: ADRIAN HEDDEN | carlsbadcurrentargus.com

The $100 million project to build the shaft was intended to increase airflow to the WIPP underground, where transuranic (TRU) waste is permanently disposed of, to allow emplacement of waste and mining of panels where it is emplaced to occur simultaneously.

A nuclear watchdog group in Albuquerque filed two appeals in New Mexico Supreme Court last week, seeking to block the construction of a utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.

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‘Will to fight together’: Fiji’s has taken another bold step in the battle against nuclear weapons

“For many in the Pacific, memories of the impact of nuclear weapons testing still exist, its legacies continue, and the Pacific-wide solidarity that started in Fiji carries lessons for the world.”
Ratification of United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons honours a half-century of anti-nuclear activism

By: Vanessa Griffen & Talei Luscia Mangioni | theguardian.com

The Against Testing on Mururoa (ATOM) committee protests on the streets of Suva, Fiji, in the 1970s Photograph: The Guardian

In the streets of Suva in the 1970s it was the young who carried the cause. In afros, headbands and bell-bottom jeans they handed out pamphlets and printed newsletters, performed skits and variety shows, gave lectures, and led rallies on the streets of Fiji’s capital.

Crowds heard firebrand speeches from church leaders, trade unionists, university staff and student leaders.

The Atom (Against Testing on Mururoa) committee, formed in Fiji in 1970, was dedicated to educating, creatively but powerfully, the Fijian public of the dangers of radioactive fallout from French testing and colonialism in the Pacific.

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China Challenges the U.S. to Reduce Its Nuclear Arsenal to Same Level

BEIJING — If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

REUTERS/NEW YORK TIMES | nytimes.com

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Senate Undoes Proposed Power Shift in Nuclear Arms Budgeting

Moves comes at the behest of the Energy secretary

BY: JOHN M. DONNELLY | rollcall.com

UNITED STATES – MAY 13: Sen. Maria Cantwell , D-Wash., sanitizes her hands as she arrives for the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate voted quietly Thursday to undo a proposal in its fiscal 2021 defense authorization bill that would have given the Pentagon extraordinary new power to shape the Energy Department’s future nuclear weapons budgets.

CQ Roll Call reported this week on behind-the-scenes opposition to provisions in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA that would have given certain Defense Department officials new clout to set the amount and the content of the budget the Energy Department prepares for its National Nuclear Security Administration every year.

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Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Energy and Water Development Funding Bill

“Policy Provision: The bill prohibits funding for nuclear weapons testing.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
Contact:
Evan Hollander (Appropriations), 202-225-2771
Griffin Anderson (Kaptur), 202-225-4146

Legislation invests $49.6 billion in Energy and Water Development programs, an increase of $1.26 billion above the fiscal year 2020 enacted level, addressing climate change, improving infrastructure, and upholding our commitment to strengthening national security

In response to the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, legislation provides an additional $43.5 billion in emergency spending to repair water infrastructure and modernize energy infrastructure

WASHINGTON — The House Appropriations Committee today released the draft fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies funding bill, which will be considered in subcommittee tomorrow. The legislation funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Interior programs, the Department of Energy, and other related agencies.

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Fifteen LANL Workers Being Evaluated For Possible Exposure To Plutonium-238 Following June 8 Glovebox Glove Breach

Los Alamos National Laboratory is investigating the possible exposure of Laboratory employees to plutonium-238 after a breach in a glovebox glove at the Plutonium Facility on June 8.

BY: MAIRE O’NEILL | losalamosreporter.com

The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Courtesy photo

A Lab spokesperson told the Los Alamos Reporter Monday that employees responded promptly and appropriately, and cleared the room in a safe manner.

“Fifteen Laboratory workers are being evaluated for potential exposure. The area inside the Plutonium Facility where this occurred has been secured, pending a review of the events and there is no risk to public health and safety,” the spokesperson said.

A report by Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board inspectors Jonathan Plaue and David Gutowski dated June 12 noted that on June 8 continuous air monitors sounded when an operator pulled out of the glovebox gloves after weighing and packaging plutonium-238 oxide powder.

“The worker received significant contamination on his protective clothing, hair, and skin, as well as positive nasal swabs indicating a potential intake. Radiation protection personnel successfully decontaminated the individual, and he was provided chelation therapy,” the report states. “The room experienced significant airborne radioactivity and was contaminated. Fourteen additional workers were placed on bioassay. On Thursday (June 11), Triad management conducted a fact-finding to discuss the event, response, and near-term actions. Given the significance of the event, they chartered a team to perform a comprehensive investigation.”

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

House Panel Would Block Pentagon From Extra Sway Over Nuclear Weapons Budget

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

BY: JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

Airman 1st Class William Ray removes the screws holding the nose point of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to the rest of the reentry system inside a payload transporter at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. (Senior Airman Brandon Valle/U.S. Air Force)

WASHINGTON ― House appropriators on Tuesday approved a spending bill that would block plans from defense hawks to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets.

The House Appropriations Committee passed their Energy-Water bill, which contained the provision, by a voice vote. The $49.6 billion spending bill contained $13.7 billion for nuclear weapons accounts ― a $1.2 billion increase over fiscal 2020 that’s still $1.9 billion less than the president’s request.

Lead Republicans voiced opposition to the bill, arguing that Democrats had not consulted with Republicans on pandemic emergency funds in the bill and that Democrats included policy riders the White House will seek to cut. The top Republican on the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, said the bill “still shortchanges funding for the nuclear weapons program.”

“While I acknowledge the increase above last year, we must also acknowledge that the threats we face today are not the same threats we faced in the years immediately following the end of the Cold War,” he said. “We must adequately fund the activities necessary to maintain a safe, reliable and effective stockpile.”

The bill would bar funding for the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council, and would prevent it from assisting with the budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency under the Energy Department.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the annual defense policy bill would allow the council to edit the budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office. The move was seen as giving the Pentagon extra sway to boost warhead programs and nuclear weapons laboratories.

Its introduction came after Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette clashed with SASC Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who backed a budget request for the larger number than Brouillette sought.

The Energy-Water spending bill contains language ordering no funds “may be used in furtherance of working through the Nuclear Weapons Council to guide, advise, assist, develop, or execute a budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.”

Separately, the proposed bill would ban the Trump administration’s reported plan to resume nuclear weapons testing. The bill would prohibit funding “to conduct, or prepare to conduct, any explosive nuclear weapons test that produces any yield.”

“Critically, the bill would prevent the Trump administration from using any funds to carry out its dangerous and short-sighted plan to resume nuclear testing,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement.

The Trump administration was reportedly discussing whether a “rapid test” could aid it in negotiations with Russia and China, as the White House seeks a trilateral nuclear weapons pact.

The defense appropriations bill introduced Tuesday would also bar funding for explosive nuclear weapons tests.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

GROUPS ASK TO RESUME PUBLIC MEETINGS ON BOMB PLANT

Kathy Helms

Special correspondent
July 4, 2020
 
SANTA FE – Seven non-governmental organizations are asking the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Energy for the resumption of semi-annual presentations covering the production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The public participation provisions are contained in a 2005 settlement agreement. The settlement was reached after the same seven organizations objected to the issuance of an air emissions permit for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.
At the same time, a New Mexico Environment Department draft air emissions permit is being prepared for public review and comment on releases from the lab and manufacturing facilities. The organizations said they are working to ensure those provisions public meetings covering construction at the weapons-component production facilities and a dedicated website are included in the air permit.

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Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The All-American Way

Today, in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests, TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich considers the all-American version of “extreme materialism” that Martin Luther King called out more than half a century ago. And when it comes to the overwhelming urge to get one’s hands on the goods, among the looters of this moment two groups are almost never mentioned: the Pentagon and the police.

BY: ANDREW BASEVICH | tomdispatch.com

Yet, in 1997, the Department of Defense set up the 1033 program as part of the National Defense Authorization Act to provide thousands of domestic police forces with “surplus” equipment of almost every imaginable militarized kind. Since then, thanks to your tax dollars, it has given away $7.4 billion of such equipment, some of it directly off the battlefields of this country’s forlorn “forever wars.” For items like grenade launchers, mine-resistant armored vehicles, military rifles, bayonets, body armor, night-vision goggles, and helicopters, all that police departments have to fork over is the price of delivery. The Pentagon has, in fact, been so eager to become the Macy’s of militarized hardware that, in 2017, it was even willing to “give $1.2 million worth of rifles, pipe bombs, and night vision goggles to a fake police department,” no questions asked. That “department” proved to be part of a sting operation run by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). “It was like getting stuff off of eBay,” a GAO official would say. Only, of course, for free.

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Non-Governmental Organizations Demand Resumption of Los Alamos Nuclear Bomb Plant Public Information Meetings


The NGOs request that the semi-annual public meetings resume by early fall 2020, and the CMRR Project website be updated and maintained until the RLUOB reconfiguration and PF-4 upgrades are completed. All documents and presentations from the previous 13 public meetings must be reposted. The NGOs are also asking that the unilateral decision by the DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to increase the amount of plutonium equivalent allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams be reviewed by NMED.

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Los Alamos Lab Suppresses Data on Negative Economic Impact on Surrounding Counties; Wealthy White Los Alamos County Asks for 3,000 Acres Seized from Hispanics and Native Americans

“This is yet another example of the racial disparity that exists in the wake of communities like Los Alamos, established under the protective umbrella of government sanctioned white privilege. When you take something by force and don’t pay for it, that’s called stealing. So why is land stolen by the US government from the original Hispanic and Native American owners not being given back to them?…As the national reckoning over racial injustice unfolds, let us not forget how Los Alamos Lab came to be and the insult to injury that giving away land stolen from others represents.”

— Chuck Montaño, Nuclear Watch NM Steering Committee member. Mr. Montaño, born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 32 years where he investigated allegations of fraud, waste and abuse.

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Nuclear War Simulator Reveals the Dystopia We’ll be Living in if Nuclear War Breaks Out

https://ivan-stepanov.itch.io/nuclear-war-simulator

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“There are currently over 13000 nuclear weapons on this planet of which over 9000 are in military stockpiles. This software should help you answer the question: what will happen if Russia and United States or India and Pakistan use their arsenals?

The goal of this project is to build a realistic simulation and visualization of large-scale nuclear conflicts with a focus on humanitarian consequences

There are a lot of interlocking systems and processes in a nuclear conflict: the command and control system, locations and movement of forces, weapons delivery systems and humanitarian consequences. By simulating the most relevant of these systems you should be able to tell a credible story about how nuclear conflicts play out and what are the consequences.”

— Ivan Stepanov

DOWNLOAD HERE

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Want To Know How A Nuclear War Might Go? There’s Now A Frighteningly Detailed ‘Game’ For That

To describe a nuclear war honestly is to argue for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

BY: KELSEY D. ATHERTONforbes.com

At least, that’s part of the goal of the Nuclear War Simulator, developed by Ivan Stepanov and released for download June 28. Built on the Unity3D engine, the simulator incorporates sheaves and sheaves of public data about yields, flight trajectories, and calculated armageddon.

Stepanov’s project specifically draws inspiration from the NUKEMAP made by Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at Stevens Institute of Technology. Wellerstein’s tool lets people pick an existing warhead, toggle some settings, and then place the blast over a target area, rendering in concentric colored circles the salient details about what kind of effect would hit what people, where.

“[Nuclear War Simulator] was made to help you answer the question: what will a war between Russia and United States or India and Pakistan look like and what are the consequences for the world, your country and your family?” writes Stepanov.

To capture this fuller feeling of human impact, the simulation includes a population density grid, to render an impact not just in terms of blast radii, but in the deaths and injuries that can easily number in the millions.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Quotes

Arjun Makhijani

Arjun Makhijani, President for the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Nuclear weapons production and testing have involved extensive health and environmental damage. A remarkable feature of this has been the readiness of governments to harm the very people they claimed to be protecting in building these weapons. Secrecy, fabrication of data, cover-ups in the face of attempted public inquiry… have all occurred in nuclear weapons production and testing programs

-Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Project on Government Oversight

“If you really want a future world free of nuclear weapons, you can hardly make a better investment than to give to Nuclear Watch New Mexico. They need and deserve your support so that they can carry on their groundbreaking work. I urge you to be generous with them!” – Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight.

James Doyle

“Many citizens, scientists and laymen alike, view nuclear-weapons abolition as an essential milestone in the development of human civilization, a moral, ideological and practical campaign that could catalyze the transformation of international relations and improve the outlook for civilization at a critical time.”