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.

Plutonium Sampling at Los Alamos National Laboratory

PBS Special: The Vow From Hiroshima

Where the film “Oppenheimer” failed to explore the devastating impact of nuclear destruction on victims and the environment, "The Vow From Hiroshima" offers a poignant and timely counter-narrative. It shares an intimate, uplifting glimpse into the life of Setsuko Thurlow, an 85-year-old survivor of the atomic bombing who dedicated her life to peace and the elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Special on PBS |

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

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Follow the Money!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

In 1985, US President Ronald Reagan and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands after signing the arms control agreement banning the use of intermediate-range nuclear missles, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Reduction Treaty.

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

New & Updated

A long road to remediation for hexavalent chromium plume near Los Alamos

Regulators order halt to plume cleanup, say contaminants moving toward pueblo

“It’s been nearly 20 years since the chromium plume was discovered, yet DOE is still struggling with cleanup,”

The current pump-and-treat method is marginally effective at best and a process that actually could take centuries to complete at this pace, said Scott Kovac, Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s operations director.

The contaminated water should be removed, treated and taken to another site instead of injected back into the plume, he said.

By Scott Wyland, The Santa Fe New Mexican | February 22, 2023 santafenewmexican.com

State regulators have ordered the U.S. Energy Department to stop injecting treated water into an underground chromium plume by April 1, saying the method is pushing the contamination at the Los Alamos National Laboratory site toward a nearby pueblo and deeper into the aquifer.

The state Environment Department has called into question a pump-and-treat method the federal agency’s environmental management branch has used for years in an effort to remedy the mile-long toxic plume and keep it from spreading to the adjacent San Ildefonso Pueblo.

Regulators say the technique of extracting contaminated water, treating it and pumping it back into the aquifer is not remediating the decades-old plume or containing it but instead is stirring up the hexavalent chromium and pushing it toward the pueblo.

Hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen. If ingested in drinking water, it can harm the liver, kidneys and reproductive systems, and some research indicates consuming large amounts over a long period can cause stomach cancer.

“DOE has not demonstrated … that injection of treated water has resulted in hydraulic control of the plume,” Environment Department spokesman Matt Maez wrote in an email. “NMED is concerned about threats to public health and the environment from the plume being pushed towards and onto San Ildefonso, instead of being mitigated by DOE’s current injection strategy.”

Fire ‘involving URANIUM’ breaks out at Tennessee National Security Complex where America’s first atom bomb was developed, forcing evacuation of 200 staffers

The Oak Ridge complex was home to the Manhattan Project for research and development during World War II
An NNSA spokesperson confirmed that the fire started at 9.15am at the federal facility: Authorities confirmed that the material involved in the fire was a metal compound of uranium.

By EMMA JAMES FOR DAILYMAIL.COM | February 22, 2023 dailymail.co.uk

The National Nuclear Security Administration said that an emergency response responded to the blaze on Wednesday morning at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge
The National Nuclear Security Administration said that an emergency response responded to the blaze on Wednesday morning at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge

A fire ‘involving uranium’ broke out at a National Security Complex in Tennessee with all staff being evacuated from the site.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said that an emergency response responded to the blaze on Wednesday morning at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

All of their 200 employees were accounted for, with other buildings next to the site being evacuated as a precaution.

An NNSA spokesperson confirmed that the fire started at 9.15am at the federal facility, and the blaze was limited to the site itself.

They added: ‘Emergency Services responded to the event. The site activated the Y-12 Emergency Response Organization and we’ve been in close contact with local and state officials.

‘There are no reports of injury or contamination.’

But they confirmed that they would assess employees, if needed, following the incident.

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State Environment Department Begins to Rein in Work On LANL’s Chromium Plume Given Major Differences With DOE

At a February 9, 2023 public community forum hosted by the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Office, there were strong indications that the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is convinced that DOE’s plans to remediate the chromium groundwater contamination plume under Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is not working. Kimberly Lebak, program manager for N3B, the LANL cleanup contractor, described how it is finalizing the 2023 milestones under the Consent Order that governs cleanup, despite the fact that the NMED Groundwater Bureau has requested that DOE stop injecting treated water by April 1, 2023. DOE and NMED are not seeing eye-to-eye concerning the “Interim Measure” that N3B is using to contain the chromium plume.

The two agencies disagree on the Interim Measure, originally designed to prevent chromium from migrating across the San Ildefonso Pueblo border while DOE tries to figure out a final remedy.

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State Environment Department Begins to Rein in Work On LANL’s Chromium Plume Given Major Differences With DOE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 21, 2023 | Scott Kovac – 505.989.7342 | Email

At a February 9, 2023 public community forum hosted by the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Office, there were strong indications that the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is convinced that DOE’s plans to remediate the chromium groundwater contamination plume under Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is not working. Kimberly Lebak, program manager for N3B, the LANL cleanup contractor, described how it is finalizing the 2023 milestones under the Consent Order that governs cleanup, despite the fact that the NMED Groundwater Bureau has requested that DOE stop injecting treated water by April 1, 2023. DOE and NMED are not seeing eye-to-eye concerning the “Interim Measure” that N3B is using to contain the chromium plume.

The two agencies disagree on the Interim Measure, originally designed to prevent chromium from migrating across the San Ildefonso Pueblo border while DOE tries to figure out a final remedy.

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Putin Suspends Nuclear-Arms Treaty Between Russia, U.S.

“‘Putin’s announcement makes it far more likely that after New START expires, there will be no agreement limiting U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972,’ said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based organization that supports arms control agreements.”

What does justice, therefore, mean to a community that has lost so much?

By Ann M. Simmons, Sabrina Siddiqui and Austin Ramzy THE WALL STREET JOURNAL | February 21, 2023 wsj.com

MOSCOW—Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would step back from the last remaining major nuclear-arms-control treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and vowed to continue the military campaign in Ukraine as the diplomatic gulf widened between Moscow and the West.

Mr. Putin’s move, announced Tuesday during a wide-ranging state-of-the-nation address in Moscow, came hours before President Biden again sought to rally international support for Ukraine in Poland ahead of the first-year anniversary of the invasion, and a day after traveling to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

District Court Denies Department of Energy’s Motion to Dismiss Plutonium Pits Suit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 13, 2023 | South Carolina Environmental Law Project, Savannah River Site Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri-Valley CAREs, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition

AIKEN, S.C. — In a win for public participation and environmental protection, the United States District Court of South Carolina denied the Department of Energy’s motion to dismiss a 2021 legal action filed by multiple citizen groups. The suit was prompted by the agencies’ failure to take the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act at their plans to more than quadruple the production of plutonium pits for new nuclear weapons and split their production between the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site.

In her ruling, Judge Mary Geiger Lewis thoroughly rejected the defendants’ arguments that the plaintiffs lacked standing, saying it was “not a close call”.

“We were able to defeat yet another attempt to use standing as a weapon to keep members of the public out of the government’s decision-making process,” said Leslie Lenhardt, Senior Managing Attorney at the South Carolina Environmental Law Project (SCELP).

To date, the Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to fully examine the environmental and safety impacts of their cross-country plan, which would create massive quantities of dangerous and radioactive material, put hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, risk a new nuclear arms race, and violate the nation’s foundational environmental law.

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CRITICAL EVENTS

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New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

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