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

Quote of the Week

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

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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

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

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

Recent Posts

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New & Updated

A Path Toward Renewing Arms Control

A path toward renewing arms control
Rocket models are stuck in a bucket during a February protest action in Berlin against the imminent withdrawal of the INF disarmament agreement between Russia and the USA. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa

LAWRENCE J. KORB | thebulletin.org

At the late June G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, US President Trump and Russian President Putin met to discuss a number of issues, including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, and arms control. While all of these are important, none is more urgent at the current time than arms control because we are on the brink of a new arms race that could be an existential threat not only to these two nuclear super powers but to humanity.

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Fewer Inspections for Aging Nuclear Plants, Regulators Propose

Steam escapes a nuclear plant in Byron, Ill., one of 59 such plants nationwide. Many of them are reaching the end of their licensed operating lives.CreditCreditRobert Ray/Associated Press
Steam escapes a nuclear plant in Byron, Ill., one of 59 such plants nationwide. Many of them are reaching the end of their licensed operating lives.CreditCreditRobert Ray/Associated Press

BY CORAL DAVENPORT | nytimes.com

WASHINGTON — A new report by staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the safety of the nation’s 59 aging nuclear power plants, recommends that the commissioners significantly weaken or reduce safety inspections of the plants.

Edwin Lyman, the acting director of nuclear safety programs for the Union of Concerned Scientists, was highly critical of the proposal. “That’s bad because it could impair the ability of the N.R.C. to see larger patterns of violations at a plant,” he said, and called the proposal “a PR stunt. They’re doing it to make these things sound better.”

The report, published Tuesday, comes after a yearlong consultation and public meeting process, including views from the Nuclear Energy Institute, which lobbies on behalf of the nuclear power plant industry and has long sought weaker safety rules. It also comes amid a broader push by the Trump administration for reduced regulations on industry.

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Hanford Nuclear Reservation technicians test drums of hazardous and radioactive waste for signs of leakage Oct. 16, 2003, on the reservation near Richland, Wash., in preparation for transport of the material to a storage facility in New Mexico. The waste had been buried during decades of producing nuclear material for the nation's atomic arsenal. The technicians are not identified. (AP Photo/Fluor Handford, Ho) --- Files/The Associated Press A sign warns of radiation on the Hanford nuclear reservation, which houses Washington’s only operating nuclear power plant. ---

When Radioactive Wastes Aren’t Radioactive Wastes

With Congress Limiting What Can Be Dumped at Nuke Sites, the Energy Department May Just Redefine What It’s Dumping

JILLIAN S. AMBROZ. | dcreport.org

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redefine what constitutes high-level radioactive waste, cutting corners on the disposal of some of the most dangerous and long-lasting waste byproduct on earth—reprocessed spent fuel from the nuclear defense program.

The agency announced in October 2018 plans for its reinterpretation of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), as defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, with plans to classify waste by its hazard level and not its origin.  By using the idea of a reinterpretation of a definition, the DOE may be able to circumvent Congressional oversight. And in its regulatory filing, the DOE, citing the NWPA and Atomic Energy Act of 1954, said it has the authority to “interpret” what materials are classified as high-level waste based on their radiological characteristics. That is not quite true, as Congress specifically defined high-level radioactive waste in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and any reinterpretation of that definition should trigger a Congressional response.

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Lawmaker: Expand compensation from nuclear weapons testing

Original Article: apnews.com | BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A compensation program for those exposed to radiation from years of nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining would be expanded under legislation that seeks to address fallout across the western United States, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan rolled out the measure Tuesday on the 74th anniversary of the Trinity Test.

As part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, government scientists and the U.S. military dropped the first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert in 1945. Nearly 200 atmospheric tests followed. Uranium mining persisted even after the tests ceased.

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The Pentagon has more money than it can spend. Both Democrats and the GOP are to blame.

“To save taxpayer money and increase U.S. national security, the first step must be to reconceptualize U.S. strategy. That means abandoning the military-first approach that has governed U.S. security policy during this century.”

ARTICLE BY BEN FREEMANWILLIAM D. HARTUNG | newsweek.com 

The bid from the Republican controlled Senate is $750 billion. The just passed bid from the Democratic controlled House is $733 billion. Both have radically overbid on the price of the Pentagon.

The real cost of the prize that is America’s security is significantly lower than what either party is currently bidding. As the Sustainable Defense Task Force—a group of ex-military officers, former White House and Congressional budget experts, and non-governmental analysts convened by the Center for International Policy which we co-chair—has found, America can be made more secure through less, not more, Pentagon spending. This is possible by rethinking U.S. defense strategy, taking a sober and fact-based assessment of the enormous amount of money already flowing to the Pentagon, and rigorously cutting waste and inefficiencies from the Pentagon bureaucracy.

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Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security.

July 15 — In this episode, Michelle Dover, Abigail Stowe-Thurston and Tom Collina deliver a wonderful, incisive news segment summarizing the major gains and debates in the NDAA (and how the Kardashians are getting involved in nuclear issues!).

Suzanne DiMaggio is featured delving deep into the dynamics of the crises with Iran and North Korea. Suzanne also presents her powerful rationale for the new Quincy Institute, where she is chair of the board.

“Looking at the catastrophic failures in foreign policy over the past decades, it is clearly time for something new,” Suzanne says, “The times demand it…We have to change the narrative in this town.”

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

Zakaria: The cancerous consensus in today’s politicized Washington

The United States’ defense budget is out of control, lacking strategic coherence, utterly mismanaged, ruinously wasteful and yet eternally expanding… “We never expected to pass [a financial audit],” admitted then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

BY FAREED ZAKARAIA | trib.com

You often hear that in these polarized times, Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked on almost everything. But the real scandal is what both sides agree on. The best example of this might be the defense budget. Last week, the Democratic House, which Republicans say is filled with radicals, voted to appropriate $733 billion for 2020 defense spending. The Republicans are outraged because they — along with President Trump — want that number to be $750 billion. In other words, on the largest item of discretionary spending in the federal budget, accounting for more than half of the total, Democrats and Republicans are divided by 2.3 percent. That is the cancerous consensus in Washington today.

America’s defense budget is out of control, lacking strategic coherence, utterly mismanaged, ruinously wasteful and yet eternally expanding.

Continue reading

Lindsey Graham joins legal fight to restart SC nuclear fuel plant (MOX)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging the nation’s highest court to take up what appears to be South Carolina’s final push to resuscitate a shuttered nuclear facility at the Savannah River Site and bolster federal rules tied to plutonium processing and long-term storage.

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in April 2018. High Flyer/Provided
The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in April 2018. High Flyer/Provided

BY COLIN DEMAREST | postandcourier.com 

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, argues that the federal government walked away from its obligation to address the plutonium stored in the Palmetto State. He addressed these concerns in a brief filed July 11 with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The federal government previously made legally binding commitments to the state of South Carolina in recognition of its sovereign status and its proprietary interests,” Graham argued in the brief. “It has now breached those commitments, causing injury to the state that a court may redress.”

The brief describes Graham as “personally familiar” with the matters at hand and profoundly interested in the federal government’s promises to the state, which he was involved in negotiating.

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Class Action Suit Draws Big Crowd – Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

“DOE is simply not to be trusted. Period.”

— Carlos Williams speaking about local cancer concerns.
He has lived for thirty years five miles from the Portsmouth, Ohio uranium enrichment plant.

BY TOM CORRIGAN | PORTSMOUTH DAILY TIMES © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Their stories were extremely varied. But many had one unfortunate commonality: cancer.

A small portion of the crowd which lined up and waited hours Tuesday in the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.
A small portion of the crowd which lined up and waited hours Tuesday in the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.

Larry and Janie Williams describe themselves as being fence line neighbors of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant since 1972. When she began to fall ill somewhat over four years ago, Larry said his wife’s doctor asked how she had come to be exposed to radiation. Janie never worked at the Portsmouth plant but spoke of daily hearing the ongoing construction of the decommissioned plant’s controversial on-site waste disposal facility. Janie said she developed a type of cancer that attacked her blood. Treatment included extremely expensive stem cell transplants. The transplants did buy her some time, though she added doctors gave her three to five years of life.

“I’m in year four,” said Janie, who clearly is accepting of her situation and spoke of her story unabashedly. She is 63.

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Why SC is likely stuck with a stockpile of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear materials

POST & COURIER SPECIAL REPORT: LETHAL LEGACY

BY THAD MOORE & COLIN DEMAREST | postandcourier.com

South Carolina could be stuck with a massive stockpile of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear material for decades, despite a federal mandate and years of promises that the state wouldn’t become America’s plutonium dumping ground.

A restricted internal report obtained by the Aiken Standard and The Post and Courier suggests that the state is likely to become a long-term repository for enough plutonium to build the bomb dropped on Nagasaki nearly 2,000 times over.

South Carolina faces this prospect despite a federal law that gives the U.S. Department of Energy just 2½ more years to remove its plutonium from the Savannah River Site, a huge swath of federal land along the Georgia border.

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Hundreds gather in Piketon for town hall on alleged radioactive contamination

“[I] wanted to see what information is available,” Brandon Moore said. “What are we doing to help all these folks that are impacted or that may be impacted in the future?”

BY BRYANT SOMERVILLE. | 10tv.com

PIKETON, Ohio – People stood in line for hours, Tuesday, wanting to make sure they and their families were safe.

“I just want to make sure what’s going on if there was any contamination there or where we’re at,” Steve Copper said. “I want to make sure we got everything taken care of.”

“These materials are ounce-for-ounce the most dangerous materials known to man,” Stuart Smith said.

Smith is with Cooper Law Firm out of New Orleans. It was his firm that filed the lawsuit in May alleging Ohio residents near a former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon were exposed to radioactive contaminants that spread to other properties but were never informed.
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Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW HERE

Victims of the Trinity Test remain uncompensated, yet the Los Alamos Lab continues to expand plutonium pit production.

BY KATHLEEN M. TUCKER & ROBERT ALVAREZ | thebulletin.org

For the past several years, the controversy over radioactive fallout from the world’s first atomic bomb explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945—code-named Trinity—has intensified. Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children. Even though the first scientifically credible warnings about the hazards of radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion had been made by 1940, historical records indicate a fallout team was not established until less than a month before the Trinity test, a hasty effort motivated primarily by concern over legal liability.

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Action Alerts

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Critical Events

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Summary of Recent NEPA Comments

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

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

Also Recommended:

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

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

Nuclear News

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.

U.S. Had Plans for “Full Nuclear Response” In Event President Killed or Disappeared during an Attack on the United States.

From the Nukevault

Newly declassified document expands limited public record on nuclear “pre-delegation”.

Both USSR and China were to be targeted simultaneously, even if attack were conventional or accidental, and regardless of who was responsible.

LBJ ordered a change in instructions in 1968 to permit more limited response, avert “dangerous” situation.

See: Electronic Briefing Book No. 406

How A War Game Brought The World To The Brink Of Nuclear Disaster

1983: Once-classified documents show how close Soviet Union came to launching nuclear war

“Chilling new evidence that Britain and America came close to provoking the Soviet Union into launching a nuclear attack has emerged in former classified documents written at the height of the cold war… Cabinet memos and briefing papers released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that a major war games exercise, Operation Able Archer, conducted in November 1983 by the US and its Nato allies was so realistic it made the Russians believe that a nuclear strike on its territory was a real possibility…”

(Jamie Doward, The Observer, 10/02/13)

LANL Cleanup: What you can do

Please consider attending and giving public comments at local public meetings concerning cleanup at Los Alamos. Public comments do make a difference!

Follow NukeWatch and submit public written comments. We frequently comment on environmental impact statements and provide sample comments. Support Us: https://nukewatch.org/get-involved/donate/

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

New & Updated

A Path Toward Renewing Arms Control

A path toward renewing arms control
Rocket models are stuck in a bucket during a February protest action in Berlin against the imminent withdrawal of the INF disarmament agreement between Russia and the USA. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa

LAWRENCE J. KORB | thebulletin.org

At the late June G-20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, US President Trump and Russian President Putin met to discuss a number of issues, including Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine, and arms control. While all of these are important, none is more urgent at the current time than arms control because we are on the brink of a new arms race that could be an existential threat not only to these two nuclear super powers but to humanity.

Continue reading

Fewer Inspections for Aging Nuclear Plants, Regulators Propose

Steam escapes a nuclear plant in Byron, Ill., one of 59 such plants nationwide. Many of them are reaching the end of their licensed operating lives.CreditCreditRobert Ray/Associated Press
Steam escapes a nuclear plant in Byron, Ill., one of 59 such plants nationwide. Many of them are reaching the end of their licensed operating lives.CreditCreditRobert Ray/Associated Press

BY CORAL DAVENPORT | nytimes.com

WASHINGTON — A new report by staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees the safety of the nation’s 59 aging nuclear power plants, recommends that the commissioners significantly weaken or reduce safety inspections of the plants.

Edwin Lyman, the acting director of nuclear safety programs for the Union of Concerned Scientists, was highly critical of the proposal. “That’s bad because it could impair the ability of the N.R.C. to see larger patterns of violations at a plant,” he said, and called the proposal “a PR stunt. They’re doing it to make these things sound better.”

The report, published Tuesday, comes after a yearlong consultation and public meeting process, including views from the Nuclear Energy Institute, which lobbies on behalf of the nuclear power plant industry and has long sought weaker safety rules. It also comes amid a broader push by the Trump administration for reduced regulations on industry.

Continue reading

Hanford Nuclear Reservation technicians test drums of hazardous and radioactive waste for signs of leakage Oct. 16, 2003, on the reservation near Richland, Wash., in preparation for transport of the material to a storage facility in New Mexico. The waste had been buried during decades of producing nuclear material for the nation's atomic arsenal. The technicians are not identified. (AP Photo/Fluor Handford, Ho) --- Files/The Associated Press A sign warns of radiation on the Hanford nuclear reservation, which houses Washington’s only operating nuclear power plant. ---

When Radioactive Wastes Aren’t Radioactive Wastes

With Congress Limiting What Can Be Dumped at Nuke Sites, the Energy Department May Just Redefine What It’s Dumping

JILLIAN S. AMBROZ. | dcreport.org

The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redefine what constitutes high-level radioactive waste, cutting corners on the disposal of some of the most dangerous and long-lasting waste byproduct on earth—reprocessed spent fuel from the nuclear defense program.

The agency announced in October 2018 plans for its reinterpretation of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), as defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, with plans to classify waste by its hazard level and not its origin.  By using the idea of a reinterpretation of a definition, the DOE may be able to circumvent Congressional oversight. And in its regulatory filing, the DOE, citing the NWPA and Atomic Energy Act of 1954, said it has the authority to “interpret” what materials are classified as high-level waste based on their radiological characteristics. That is not quite true, as Congress specifically defined high-level radioactive waste in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and any reinterpretation of that definition should trigger a Congressional response.

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Lawmaker: Expand compensation from nuclear weapons testing

Original Article: apnews.com | BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A compensation program for those exposed to radiation from years of nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining would be expanded under legislation that seeks to address fallout across the western United States, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan rolled out the measure Tuesday on the 74th anniversary of the Trinity Test.

As part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, government scientists and the U.S. military dropped the first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert in 1945. Nearly 200 atmospheric tests followed. Uranium mining persisted even after the tests ceased.

Continue reading

The Pentagon has more money than it can spend. Both Democrats and the GOP are to blame.

“To save taxpayer money and increase U.S. national security, the first step must be to reconceptualize U.S. strategy. That means abandoning the military-first approach that has governed U.S. security policy during this century.”

ARTICLE BY BEN FREEMANWILLIAM D. HARTUNG | newsweek.com 

The bid from the Republican controlled Senate is $750 billion. The just passed bid from the Democratic controlled House is $733 billion. Both have radically overbid on the price of the Pentagon.

The real cost of the prize that is America’s security is significantly lower than what either party is currently bidding. As the Sustainable Defense Task Force—a group of ex-military officers, former White House and Congressional budget experts, and non-governmental analysts convened by the Center for International Policy which we co-chair—has found, America can be made more secure through less, not more, Pentagon spending. This is possible by rethinking U.S. defense strategy, taking a sober and fact-based assessment of the enormous amount of money already flowing to the Pentagon, and rigorously cutting waste and inefficiencies from the Pentagon bureaucracy.

Continue reading

Listen and subscribe to Press the Button, a weekly podcast from Ploughshares Fund dedicated to nuclear policy and national security.

July 15 — In this episode, Michelle Dover, Abigail Stowe-Thurston and Tom Collina deliver a wonderful, incisive news segment summarizing the major gains and debates in the NDAA (and how the Kardashians are getting involved in nuclear issues!).

Suzanne DiMaggio is featured delving deep into the dynamics of the crises with Iran and North Korea. Suzanne also presents her powerful rationale for the new Quincy Institute, where she is chair of the board.

“Looking at the catastrophic failures in foreign policy over the past decades, it is clearly time for something new,” Suzanne says, “The times demand it…We have to change the narrative in this town.”

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

Zakaria: The cancerous consensus in today’s politicized Washington

The United States’ defense budget is out of control, lacking strategic coherence, utterly mismanaged, ruinously wasteful and yet eternally expanding… “We never expected to pass [a financial audit],” admitted then-Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

BY FAREED ZAKARAIA | trib.com

You often hear that in these polarized times, Republicans and Democrats are deadlocked on almost everything. But the real scandal is what both sides agree on. The best example of this might be the defense budget. Last week, the Democratic House, which Republicans say is filled with radicals, voted to appropriate $733 billion for 2020 defense spending. The Republicans are outraged because they — along with President Trump — want that number to be $750 billion. In other words, on the largest item of discretionary spending in the federal budget, accounting for more than half of the total, Democrats and Republicans are divided by 2.3 percent. That is the cancerous consensus in Washington today.

America’s defense budget is out of control, lacking strategic coherence, utterly mismanaged, ruinously wasteful and yet eternally expanding.

Continue reading

Lindsey Graham joins legal fight to restart SC nuclear fuel plant (MOX)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is urging the nation’s highest court to take up what appears to be South Carolina’s final push to resuscitate a shuttered nuclear facility at the Savannah River Site and bolster federal rules tied to plutonium processing and long-term storage.

The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in April 2018. High Flyer/Provided
The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in April 2018. High Flyer/Provided

BY COLIN DEMAREST | postandcourier.com 

Graham, a South Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, argues that the federal government walked away from its obligation to address the plutonium stored in the Palmetto State. He addressed these concerns in a brief filed July 11 with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The federal government previously made legally binding commitments to the state of South Carolina in recognition of its sovereign status and its proprietary interests,” Graham argued in the brief. “It has now breached those commitments, causing injury to the state that a court may redress.”

The brief describes Graham as “personally familiar” with the matters at hand and profoundly interested in the federal government’s promises to the state, which he was involved in negotiating.

Continue reading

Class Action Suit Draws Big Crowd – Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

“DOE is simply not to be trusted. Period.”

— Carlos Williams speaking about local cancer concerns.
He has lived for thirty years five miles from the Portsmouth, Ohio uranium enrichment plant.

BY TOM CORRIGAN | PORTSMOUTH DAILY TIMES © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Their stories were extremely varied. But many had one unfortunate commonality: cancer.

A small portion of the crowd which lined up and waited hours Tuesday in the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.
A small portion of the crowd which lined up and waited hours Tuesday in the OSU Endeavor Center in Piketon.

Larry and Janie Williams describe themselves as being fence line neighbors of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant since 1972. When she began to fall ill somewhat over four years ago, Larry said his wife’s doctor asked how she had come to be exposed to radiation. Janie never worked at the Portsmouth plant but spoke of daily hearing the ongoing construction of the decommissioned plant’s controversial on-site waste disposal facility. Janie said she developed a type of cancer that attacked her blood. Treatment included extremely expensive stem cell transplants. The transplants did buy her some time, though she added doctors gave her three to five years of life.

“I’m in year four,” said Janie, who clearly is accepting of her situation and spoke of her story unabashedly. She is 63.

Continue reading

Why SC is likely stuck with a stockpile of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear materials

POST & COURIER SPECIAL REPORT: LETHAL LEGACY

BY THAD MOORE & COLIN DEMAREST | postandcourier.com

South Carolina could be stuck with a massive stockpile of the nation’s most dangerous nuclear material for decades, despite a federal mandate and years of promises that the state wouldn’t become America’s plutonium dumping ground.

A restricted internal report obtained by the Aiken Standard and The Post and Courier suggests that the state is likely to become a long-term repository for enough plutonium to build the bomb dropped on Nagasaki nearly 2,000 times over.

South Carolina faces this prospect despite a federal law that gives the U.S. Department of Energy just 2½ more years to remove its plutonium from the Savannah River Site, a huge swath of federal land along the Georgia border.

Continue reading

Hundreds gather in Piketon for town hall on alleged radioactive contamination

“[I] wanted to see what information is available,” Brandon Moore said. “What are we doing to help all these folks that are impacted or that may be impacted in the future?”

BY BRYANT SOMERVILLE. | 10tv.com

PIKETON, Ohio – People stood in line for hours, Tuesday, wanting to make sure they and their families were safe.

“I just want to make sure what’s going on if there was any contamination there or where we’re at,” Steve Copper said. “I want to make sure we got everything taken care of.”

“These materials are ounce-for-ounce the most dangerous materials known to man,” Stuart Smith said.

Smith is with Cooper Law Firm out of New Orleans. It was his firm that filed the lawsuit in May alleging Ohio residents near a former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon were exposed to radioactive contaminants that spread to other properties but were never informed.
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Trinity: “The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project”

“New Mexico residents were neither warned before the 1945 Trinity blast, informed of health hazards afterward, nor evacuated before, during, or after the test. Exposure rates in public areas from the world’s first nuclear explosion were measured at levels 10,000- times higher than currently allowed.”

Final Report of the Los Alamos Historical Document and Retrieval and Assessment Project, Prepared for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 2010, pp. ES-34-35. VIEW HERE

Victims of the Trinity Test remain uncompensated, yet the Los Alamos Lab continues to expand plutonium pit production.

BY KATHLEEN M. TUCKER & ROBERT ALVAREZ | thebulletin.org

For the past several years, the controversy over radioactive fallout from the world’s first atomic bomb explosion in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945—code-named Trinity—has intensified. Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children. Even though the first scientifically credible warnings about the hazards of radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion had been made by 1940, historical records indicate a fallout team was not established until less than a month before the Trinity test, a hasty effort motivated primarily by concern over legal liability.

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