Nuclear Watch New Mexico

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


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

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


Nuclear Watch New Mexico was in DC the last week of April, talking to congress and top officials on critical nuclear weapons and waste issues as part of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s 35th annual DC Days 2023.

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:

New & Updated

Current U.S. Nuclear Weapons Issues Updates — October 15, 2021

Congress passed a continuing resolution that keeps the government running until December 3. It freezes funding at 2021 levels which at least prevents short-term budget increases for nuclear weapons modernization programs and has no “anomalies” (i.e. exceptions) for these programs. That said, Biden passed on most of Trump’s nuclear weapons excesses forward in his FY 2022 budget, so it’s not like it makes a whole lot of difference.

Mitch McConnell agreed to let the Democrats raise the national debt ceiling, thereby averting national and international economic disaster. How gracious of him.

Democrats and Republicans joined together to roll Biden on the money in the FY 2023 Defense Authorization Act for the entire military (including the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). These bipartisan porkmeisters added $23.9 billion for $768 billion in total defense spending. The new bogeyman China was repeatedly invoked as the rationale (in comparison China now spends around $250 billion annually on its military).
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Radioactive Waste Could Be Killing Residents in Missouri Community, Say Federal Scientists

For decades, North St. Louis residents have lived in fallout from the Manhattan Project. Now, federal scientists are finally linking today’s cancers to the nation’s nuclear warfare legacy.


n Bridgeton, on the northern edge of St. Louis County, Missouri, a fire burns underground in a vast landfill, creeping closer and closer to a pile of radioactive waste from the World War II era that was dumped there back in the 1970s. This “subsurface smoldering event,” as these odorous, high-temperature chemical reactions are called, at the West Lake Landfill has burned continuously for almost a decade now, keeping nearby residents all too aware of the Superfund site in their backyard.

photo of West Lake Landfilll
About 87,000 tons of atomic waste lie buried in West Lake Landfill in the City of Bridgeton. An underground fire in a neighboring landfill is headed towards the radioactive material. Photo by Lori Freshwater.

For years, many of these residents have filed lawsuits against Cotter Corporation and Mallinckrodt, the companies responsible for dumping the radioactive nuclear waste in the unlined landfill (a former limestone quarry) as well as in open piles on a field near what’s now the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. These residents say that this waste has contaminated their homes. Many have sparred in open forums with officials from the Environmental Protection Agency. Others have met personally with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. All want answers to an unending list of questions.

As Dawn Chapman, co-founder of the grassroots advocacy group Just Moms STL and a mother of three who lives 2 miles from landfill, told me, “The battles at this site never end.”

Meanwhile, the fire burns. Closer and closer to the radioactive waste, like a ticking time bomb. But for many North County residents, that bomb has already gone off, and it’s fallen to members of the community to pressure local and federal officials to help pick up the pieces. Now, federal scientists at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are finally starting to admit the mistakes of the nation’s toxic past.

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International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons at Ghedi Base in Italy

View photos below of the initiative near the Italian base of Ghedi, which hosts US nuclear warheads, on the occasion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

About 100 people gathered outside the gates of the military base despite a heavy rain and despite anti-Covid regulations that prevented a demonstration with the usual characteristics.
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How do humans make sense of the bomb?

This stunning photo essay by Robert Del Tredici details the history of the atomic bomb through portraits of monuments, culture, and humans who co-exist with the bomb, from survivors to activists to nuclear scientists in At Work in the Fields of the Bomb

Photography and introduction by Robert Del Tredici. Captions by Robert Del Tredici and Gordon Edwards. | October 9, 2021

From the moment the atomic bomb was invented, humanity has struggled to make sense of it. It is a weapon of war, an enforcer of peace, a talisman of sovereignty, a fountainhead of undying radioactivity, and a fateful burden for humans into the far future. Yet the bomb’s physical presence—its deep grit and material magnitude of its mass production—has remained culturally invisible.

I wanted to take on this invisibility. I found out that the American bomb’s home ground had 12 factories, each making different materials and parts. I learned that each factory had a public relations officer. And I found out that the airspace above each plant was unrestricted.

But before engaging with the US nuclear weapons complex, I went to Hiroshima. I needed to find the human meaning of the bomb. One Hiroshima survivor told me, “If you weren’t there when it happened, you can have no idea what it was like.” Another told me, “Nuclear weapons and human beings cannot coexist.” I told them I wanted to photograph all of the American bomb-factories. An elderly survivor came over to me, put her hand on my arm and said, “Yes, you must do this.” Five years later, I completed my book of photographs and field notes, At Work in the Fields of the Bomb.

1 Model of UraniumAtom

Model of the Uranium Atom

American Museum of Science and Energy, Los Alamos, New Mexico
June 11, 1982

Of all the naturally occurring materials found on Earth, uranium is the only element whose atoms can be split in a process that releases energy and neutrons in a chain reaction. The neutrons go on to split more atoms, which release more energy and more neutrons, until an exponential increase in energy ignites an atomic fireball. In the photo, two boys play at shouldering the model of the atom, which is too big for them to handle.

The atomic bomb was conceived within living memory, and unless abolition ends it, the bomb will be passed on to our grandchildren’s grandchildren—a burden weightier than Atlas could have imagined.

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Ex-CEO who oversaw doomed nuclear project sentenced

An executive who lied to regulators about two South Carolina nuclear plants that never generated a watt of power has been sentenced to two years in prison

By October 7, 2021

Image: The Associated Press
FILE – In a Sept. 21, 2016 file photo, Kevin Marsh, CEO of SCANA Corp., speaks to the media at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville, S.C. Marsh and prosecutors have agreed to ask for a two-year prison sentence on federal and state charges he lied about the progress of two nuclear plants that were never finished. A judge will sentence Marsh Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A utility executive who repeatedly lied to keep investors pumping money into South Carolina’s $9 billion nuclear reactor debacle will spend two years in prison for fraud, a federal judge decided on Thursday.

Former SCANA Corp. CEO Kevin Marsh agreed with prosecutors that he should serve the sentence and the judge approved the deal, making him the first executive put behind bars for misleading the public on the project, which failed without ever generating a watt of power.

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Biden administration reveals number of nuclear weapons in US stockpile

“The Biden administration’s decision to declassify updated information on the number of nuclear warheads in the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal is a welcome step that reverses an unwise decision by the Trump administration to classify this information,” the Arms Control Association said in a statement Wednesday.

“It also puts pressure on other nuclear armed states that maintain excessive secrecy about their arsenals.”

By Chandelis Duster and Nicole Gaouette, October 7, 2021

Biden administration reveals number of nuclear weapons in US stockpile
A stockpile of munitions stored in a secured facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 6, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine)

(CNN) In a reversal from the Trump administration, the State Department revealed the number of nuclear weapons in the US stockpile for the first time in four years on Tuesday.

The US has 3,750 nuclear warheads in its stockpile and 2,000 are waiting to be dismantled, according to a release from the State Department, which emphasized the importance of transparency.
The release of the “Transparency in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile” fact sheet comes as the Biden administration is conducting a review of its nuclear weapons policy and capabilities ahead of a 2022 meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, where the US and other nuclear powers who are party to the Treaty will review each signatory’s disarmament commitments.
“Increasing the transparency of states’ nuclear stockpiles is important to nonproliferation and disarmament efforts, including commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and efforts to address all types of nuclear weapons, including deployed and non-deployed, and strategic and non-strategic,” the State Department said.

Nuclear submarines will not deter China from conflict with Taiwan, but Australia has an alternative arsenal

As a committed supporter of international institutions and the world’s 13th largest economy, Australia has real clout

“As the gap between China’s military and Australia’s widens, it is unlikely that Australia’s capability – even with a fleet of nuclear submarines, supplied by its Aukus partners – will determine the balance of military power in the Indo-Pacific.”

By October 6, 2021 The Guardian

Australia’s submarines and other forces can be used for a variety of purposes – but, in the terrifying case of a standoff over Taiwan, they will not be decisive. Photograph: Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock

For an emerging superpower prone to petulant outbursts and coercive retaliation, China’s initial response to the recent announcement of the new three-way security pact between Australia, the United States and Britain seemed surprisingly tepid.

Hours after the trio unveiled their “forever partnership”, known as Aukus, China formally requested that it be allowed to join an 11-member Asia-Pacific trade grouping, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

This was an odd move by China, whose application requires the consent of the grouping’s members, which include Australia. In recent years, China has responded to previous perceived slights from Canberra by imposing economic sanctions worth $20bn and freezing ministerial contacts.

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One Man Shouldn’t Control the Nuclear Button

Congress should require consultation, so generals wouldn’t have to break the rules to save the world.

Gen. Mark Milley is being criticized for taking actions to forestall the possibility of an inappropriate nuclear launch order by President Trump. The criticism is based on steps the general allegedly took, as described in Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, “Peril.” Gen. Milley was ostensibly concerned that Mr. Trump was unstable and might order a nuclear launch for political reasons. The general told Congress last month that because he believed China had unwarranted worries of a U.S. attack, he acted to “de-escalate” the situation and contacted his Chinese counterparts to indicate that no attack was planned.

The critics are missing the point. The overriding issue is not whether Gen. Milley was correct in his assessment, or whether he was authorized to take the reported actions, but what the consequences could have been if his concern had been warranted. It is not hyperbole to say that the consequences could have been a profound tragedy and, in the worst case, the end of civilization.

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The Stealthy F-35 Fighter Jet Is One Step Closer to Carrying Nuclear Weapons

“A pair of F-35s from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada released dummy nuclear bombs at a nearby test range this month, moving the advanced stealth fighter closer to carrying the world’s most powerful weapons into combat, the Air Force said.”

By Stephen Losey

An F-35A carrying a B61-12 Joint Test Assembly at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 21, 2021. Two F-35A Lightning II aircraft released B61-12 Joint Test Assemblies, completing the final flight test exercise of the nuclear design certification process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zachary Rufus)

The flights on Sept. 21 marked the “graduation” test exercise necessary for the Air Force variant of the F-35 to move ahead with what’s called the nuclear design certification process, according to the service’s press release.

It’s still not clear when the F-35A will receive its full nuclear certification allowing it to move from training ranges and dummy bombs to real-world battlefields. But when that happens, the Air Force will have a second stealth aircraft in its fleet that can carry nukes.

“The B-2 [Spirit] bomber was the prominent nuclear-capable stealth aircraft,” Lt. Col. Daniel Jackson, division chief for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration at Air Combat Command, said in the press release.

F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16C and D Fighting Falcon fighters do not have stealth capability but can carry nuclear weapons. The B-21 Raider heavy bomber will also have the capability and is expected to join the Air Force’s fleet in the mid-2020s, according to the latest estimates.

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DOE 2018 Claim LANL Cleanup 1/2 Complete

Four Takeaways from the 2021 World Nuclear Industry Status Report

“Although net nuclear capacity rose last year, the 0.4-gigawatt increase was minuscule in comparison with the gains made by renewable energy. ‘Nuclear is irrelevant in today’s electricity capacity newbuild market,’ the industry report concludes.”

By Dawn Stover | October 1, 2021 The Bulletin

The sixth reactor at the Tianwan Nuclear Power Station in China entered commercial operation in June 2021. Credit: China National Nuclear Corporation/Facebook

Although there are 23 fewer nuclear reactors in the world today than at the 2002 peak of 438, the past year saw a small uptick in the number of reactors operating worldwide and a corresponding increase in the global fleet’s net operating capacity.

That’s one data point in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021, the latest in a series of annual industry reports compiled by an international team of independent experts led by Mycle Schneider, a consultant based in Paris. The 409-page report, released this week, is packed with information about global and country-specific trends, but several findings stand out, and they don’t bode well for the nuclear energy industry.

First, although nuclear capacity is up, nuclear electricity production is down.

As of mid-2021, there were 415 nuclear reactors operating in 33 countries, seven reactors more than a year earlier. Their total capacity was 1.9 percent higher than a year earlier. But in 2020, the worldwide nuclear fleet generated 3.9 percent less electricity than in the previous year. That was the first decrease in output since 2012, when many reactors remained shut down in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Without China, where most of the new construction is happening, the decrease in production would look even bigger. In 2020, China for the first time produced more nuclear electricity than France, which relies heavily on nuclear energy. Only the United States produced more.

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Senator Markey and Rep Levin Introduce Legislation to Determine a Viable Consent Based Path Forward for Nuclear Waste

Currently, the United States has no permanent geologic repository for disposal of high-level nuclear waste

“The current system of spent nuclear fuel storage is not sustainable, particularly for sites that no longer have operating reactors and could be redeveloped for other beneficial uses, such as the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station,” said Representative Levin.

PRESS RELEASE September 28, 2021

A contractor walks into the south portal of Yucca Mountain during a congressional tour near Mercury on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal @csstevensphoto)

Washington (September 28, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chair of the Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Congressman Mike Levin (CA-49) today introduced the Nuclear Waste Task Force Act, legislation to establish a new task force to consider the implications of amending the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to remove exemptions from environmental laws for nuclear waste. Eliminating this loophole could help enable consent-based siting of long-term storage solutions for nuclear waste. The task force would also be responsible for providing a clear explanation of what constitutes “consent-based siting.”

“When it comes to the storage of nuclear waste, siting decisions must be rooted in geological science, not political science. After years of pushback and concern from the scientific community, it is clear that Yucca Mountain is a delusion, not a destination for nuclear waste. Storing all of our nation’s nuclear waste is a hard sell for any state, especially when it’s exempt from bedrock environmental laws,” said Senator Markey. 
“Enabling consent-based storage is the key to developing real, practical solutions for the long-term storage of nuclear waste. This nuclear waste task force will play a critical role in determining how to make that happen.”

Survivors Of The Trinity Nuclear Test Weren’t Warned — Then Were Lied To After

NPR’s Leila Fadel talks with Lesley Blume about the struggle of the survivors of the Trinity nuclear test in 1945 — one locals didn’t know was coming and caused serious health issues.
“The compensation act – RECA as it’s called – is about to expire next July…What’s happening right now is that
several members of Congress from New Mexico and from other Western states are trying to extend RECA, and they’re making a bid to have the Trinity downwinders included under this legislation at last, among other exposed communities.”

Heard on All Things Considered

Survivors Of The Trinity Nuclear Test Weren't Warned — Then Were Lied To After
An aerial view of the aftermath of the first atomic explosion at the Trinity test site in New Mexico in 1945. The device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT. Credit Associated Press


This was most of America’s introduction to nuclear power.

HARRY TRUMAN: A short time ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy.
FADEL: President Harry Truman’s announcement in August of 1945 heralded a terrifying new weapon.

TRUMAN: It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

FADEL: But the Atomic Age actually began the month before At the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range in New Mexico. The first nuclear test, codenamed Trinity, was a closely guarded secret. Locals, some as close as 12 miles away, had no idea it was coming. Lesley Blume wrote about them for National Geographic.

Welcome back.

LESLEY BLUME: Thank you so much.

FADEL: So, first, tell us what happened during that first test, codenamed Trinity.

BLUME: It was a huge success, but it also – the bomb was a lot more powerful than they had expected, three to five times as powerful. And, you know, initially they thought that the cloud was only going to go up about 12,000 or 13,000 feet. Well, guess what. It went up between 50,000 and 70,000 feet. It created sort of an estimated fallout zone about 100 miles long and 30 miles wide…

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International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2021

International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2021

Today, Sunday, September 26, 2021, marks the United Nations International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The United Nations has been working toward achieving global nuclear disarmament since the organization’s inception; it was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, with a mandate to make specific proposals for the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons has been observed annually since 2014, serving as a tool to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination. In 2013, the year the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was introduced, the President of the General Assembly noted that a “renewed international focus on the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons has led to a reinvigoration of international nuclear disarmament efforts.”

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‘Humanity remains unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation

“Now is the time to eliminate nuclear weapons from our world, and usher in a new era of dialogue, trust and peace”, declared UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Sunday, marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Addressing the threat of nuclear weapons, said Mr, Guterres, has been central to the work of the United Nations since its inception; the first General Assembly resolution in 1946 sought “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.” 

The UN chief pointed out that, although the total number of nuclear weapons has been decreasing for decades, some 14,000 are stockpiled around the world, which is facing the highest level of nuclear risk in almost four decades: “States are qualitatively improving their arsenals, and we are seeing worrying signs of a new arms race.” Humanity, continued the UN chief, remains unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation.

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Veterans Group Urges President Biden to Adopt No First Use Policy

To mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, September 26, Veterans For Peace is publishing an Open Letter to President Biden: Just Say NO to Nuclear War!

Veterans Group Urges President Biden to Adopt No First Use Policy
Veterans For Peace, with over 140 chapters in the United States and affiliates abroad, is calling on President Biden to step back from the brink of nuclear war by declaring and implementing a policy of No First Use and by taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert. The full letter will be published on the VFP website and offered to mainstream newspapers and alternative news sites: Click here to view.

While timed to coincide with the UN-declared International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a major motivation for the letter is the Nuclear Posture Review, currently underway.

The letter therefore states, “As veterans who have fought in multiple U.S. wars, we are concerned about the very real danger of a nuclear war that would kill millions of people and could possibly even destroy human civilization. Therefore we are asking to have input into the Nuclear Posture Review that your administration has recently initiated.”

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Plutonium Contamination at Depth at Los Alamos Lab

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New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

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