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

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

NukeWatch Compilation of the DOE/NNSA FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

LANL FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2020 Budget Request – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2020 Budget Chart – Courtesy TriValley 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

Don’t Let START Stop

Drawing upon six decades of constructive contacts between American and Russian citizens, we the participants in the latest Dartmouth Conference have decided to issue this urgent appeal to our governments, warning of the dangers of a new nuclear arms race and strongly urging both governments to act immediately to extend the New START Treaty beyond its February 2021 expiration.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: James F. Collins, David Mathews, Vitaliy Naumkin & Yury Shafranik | russiamatters.org

Photo by U.S. Air Force.
The Dartmouth Conference, initiated with the support of President Eisenhower and Chairman Khrushchev, has met 147 times since 1960.  Under its auspices, experienced and thoughtful American and Russian citizens from the fields of diplomacy, military affairs, medicine, religion and others have gathered regularly to develop joint recommendations on the entire range of issues in our relationship.Given the deep concerns we share about the security of our peoples, for the first time in our history we are compelled by the urgency of the situation to issue this public appeal to our governments, founded on our view that the clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has re-emerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture.For more than four decades, the strategic stability, safety and security of the United States, Russia and the world at large have been protected by this arms control regime.  Those agreements, and the continuing bilateral contacts they required and facilitated, also have helped to limit the risks of military clashes between the two countries.  We express our concern in this regard at the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev, and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.Continue reading

State report: LANL lost track of 250 barrels of nuke waste

The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.

Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.

“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”

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Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments

Concerns that a calcium residue might be flammable prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory to curtail plutonium operations and suspend waste shipments in early November, according to a federal report.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The lab suspended most waste generation and certification at its plutonium facility and halted all waste shipments after officials questioned the accuracy of documentation, particularly on how much calcium-and-salt residue remained in transuranic waste after processing, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent oversight panel, said in a Nov. 15 report that was publicly released Friday.

Calcium is used to help reduce oxidation in plutonium. Traces of the substance typically linger after processing, and if they are too high, they can ignite when exposed to open air, the report says.

The report didn’t say how long the operations and waste shipments were suspended. A lab spokesman could not comment Monday.

Officials from multiple agencies met in Carlsbad on Nov. 5 and 6 to discuss the hazard, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, Triad National Security LLC — the consortium that operates the lab — and N3B, a cleanup contractor. They concluded there wasn’t enough evidence of a flammable calcium level to keep operations suspended, the report said.

However, they decided to withhold shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant until further testing could be conducted, the report said.

The underground storage facility near Carlsbad forbids waste that has volatile chemicals mixed in.

WIPP became more vigilant about testing for flammable mixtures after a waste container was packaged in 2014 with a volatile blend of wheat-based kitty litter and nitrate salts, which caused it to explode and leak radiation. WIPP shut down for almost three years while it underwent a $2 billion cleanup.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

“If DOE and LANL continue to treat the public with disdain, it is going to be a long and difficult permitting process. All in all, this first meeting was disappointing and unproductive.” — Joni Arends, of CCNS

nuclearactive.org

This week the renewal of the New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began in a very controlled public meeting at the Cities of Gold in Pojoaque.  There was no presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) or its contractor, Triad National Security, LLC, about their plans to renew the application.  If the public had questions, they were instructed to write them on a half-sheet comment and question card.  There was no explanation about if and how those comments and questions would be answered.

Listen to the full story:

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

CCNS has prepared a pre-emptive sample public comment letter you can use to express what needs to be included in LANL’s permit application, including proposals to install confined burn and detonation facilities, and coming into compliance with the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations dealing with tank systems (that are used to treat liquid hazardous and radioactive waste) and seismic requirements.  The last surface rupture on the Pajarito Plateau fault system was 1,400 years ago – thus requiring additional LANL submittals and NMED review.  LANL_Permit_Renewal_App_public_comment_120519 The current ten-year LANL permit expires in late December 2020.  Under the regulations, the permit application is due to the Environment Department 180 days before the permit expires, or in late June 2020.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/lanl-permit/  The hazardous waste permit renewal application for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is on the same timeline.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/  CCNS and others have made numerous requests to both LANL and WIPP management to submit their applications in the spring of 2020 to give additional opportunity for the public to review both.  At the meeting, CCNS asked when LANL would submit its application.  A LANL staff member said they could not disclose the date.

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Defense policy deal creates Space Force, sidesteps border wall controversy

ARTICLE BY JOE GOULD | defensenews.com

A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)
A formation of F-35A Lightning IIs, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, fly over the Utah Test and Training Range as part of a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

WASHINGTON ― Lawmakers involved in annual defense authorization negotiations finalized a sweeping deal late Monday that creates a new Space Force among other policies, but it dropped contentious border wall restrictions and several other provisions favored by progressives.

The 3,488-page compromise bill, which supports $738 billion in defense spending for 2020, left out limits on the border wall, low-yield nuclear weapons and the president’s authorization to wage war on Iran. However, Democratic leaders did win ― in exchange for the Space Force ― an agreement for 12 weeks of paid parental leave to millions of federal workers, which could give some House Democrats otherwise opposed to the large defense bill a reason to vote for it.

The agreement caps months of negotiations made unusually complex because Democrats control the House and Republicans the Senate. The House is expected to vote as soon as Wednesday, as Congress has only a few days to pass the bill before the House’s Christmas recess begins Thursday afternoon. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

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New & Updated

NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

A U.S. Forest Service employee assesses sagebrush ecosystems of the Curlew National Grassland in Idaho. With NEPA’s passage, federal agencies were required to bring in specialists to study proposed project areas in depth. Employee on the Curlew National Grassland, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Credit: US Forest Service.

In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”

Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.

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A Gateway to Nuclear Catastrophe: Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy

The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”

BY: TOM Z. COLLINA | defenseone.com

Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?

Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.

AP / ALEX BRANDON – In this 2018 photo, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, stands as Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, second from left, speaks, accompanied by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”

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Watch the Pentagon test a previously banned ballistic missile

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

For the first time since the end of the INF Treaty, the U.S. Air Force has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.

The test, which occurred Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST, was configured to represent a conventional warhead. The test was anticipated for months, with Defense Department officials previously indicating they hoped to have it happen before the end of the year.

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This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”

ARTICLE BY: MATTHEW GAULT | vice.com

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.

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Uranium contaminated property collapsing into Detroit River

Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.

beyondnuclear.org

Michigan.gov

The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”

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Here’s how Trump can get a win with Russia — and actually help all Americans

Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: MICHAEL MCFAUL | washingtonpost.com

This image, provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch on Oct. 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The image was taken with a slow shutter speed. (J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)

President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.

Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.

That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.

But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.

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Pentagon: Nuke official sexually harassed 3 women on his staff, resigns during probe

ARTICLE BY: TOM VANDEN BROOK | usatoday.com

WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.

Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.


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The New START Treaty Keeps Nuclear Arsenals In Check And President Trump Must Act To Preserve It

Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: HANS KRISTENSEN & MATT KORDA | forbes.com

Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while

President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”

New START Treaty aggregate numbers of strategic forces

The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.

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Win Without War + 37 Orgs: NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON — 30 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report:

“Despite the fact that we do not all advocate on the same issues, we are compelled to state clearly in one voice: The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous. The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.

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Defense Authorization Act 2020 – Out Now

The 3488-page Conference Report is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/CRPT-116hrpt333.pdf
The 741-page Joint Explanatory Statement is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/116hrpt333-JointExplanatoryStatement.pdf
The 19-page bill summary is at:
https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/CRPT-116hrpt333-summary.pdf

On Plutonium Pit Production:

Nuclear Forces have been the cornerstone of our national defense and the conference agreement funds the President’s budget request for Nuclear National Security Administration programs, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation activities. In addition, the FY20 NDAA supports the U.S. Strategic Command requirement to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 and doesn’t prohibit the Department from deploying low-yield nuclear weapons. It also clarifies nuclear safety authorities.

1. Page 1907 of the report defines a requirement to submit the costs of complying with cleanup agreements:

SEC. 4409. ESTIMATION OF COSTS OF MEETING DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP MILESTONES REQUIRED BY CONSENT ORDERS.

”The Secretary of Energy shall include in the budget justification materials submitted to Congress in support of the Department of Energy budget for each fiscal year (as submitted with the budget of the President under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code) a report on the cost, for that fiscal year and the four fiscal years following that fiscal year, of meeting milestones required by a consent order at each defense nuclear facility at which defense environmental cleanup activities are occurring. The report shall include, for each such facility—”(1) a specification of the cost of meeting such milestones during that fiscal year; and ”(2) an estimate of the cost of meeting such milestones during the four fiscal years following that fiscal year.”.

2. On page 1914 of the report: Prohibiting the DOE high-level waste interpretation from being applied (only) to Hanford.

However, the Joint Explanatory Statement (p. 492 of PDF) states: “The conferees note that the inclusion of the provision does not prejudice how to process high-level waste nor does it discourage the use of the Department of Energy’s interpretation of high-level waste in future years or at other locations.”

3. On pages 1942-51 of the report: Changes to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).

Among those changes is trying to ensure DNFSB access to DOE sites. One example is that DNFSB has access to nuclear facilities “without regard to the hazard or risk category assigned to a facility by the Secretary.”

Don’t Let START Stop

Drawing upon six decades of constructive contacts between American and Russian citizens, we the participants in the latest Dartmouth Conference have decided to issue this urgent appeal to our governments, warning of the dangers of a new nuclear arms race and strongly urging both governments to act immediately to extend the New START Treaty beyond its February 2021 expiration.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: James F. Collins, David Mathews, Vitaliy Naumkin & Yury Shafranik | russiamatters.org

Photo by U.S. Air Force.
The Dartmouth Conference, initiated with the support of President Eisenhower and Chairman Khrushchev, has met 147 times since 1960.  Under its auspices, experienced and thoughtful American and Russian citizens from the fields of diplomacy, military affairs, medicine, religion and others have gathered regularly to develop joint recommendations on the entire range of issues in our relationship.Given the deep concerns we share about the security of our peoples, for the first time in our history we are compelled by the urgency of the situation to issue this public appeal to our governments, founded on our view that the clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has re-emerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture.For more than four decades, the strategic stability, safety and security of the United States, Russia and the world at large have been protected by this arms control regime.  Those agreements, and the continuing bilateral contacts they required and facilitated, also have helped to limit the risks of military clashes between the two countries.  We express our concern in this regard at the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev, and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.Continue reading

State report: LANL lost track of 250 barrels of nuke waste

The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.

Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.

“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”

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Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments

Concerns that a calcium residue might be flammable prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory to curtail plutonium operations and suspend waste shipments in early November, according to a federal report.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The lab suspended most waste generation and certification at its plutonium facility and halted all waste shipments after officials questioned the accuracy of documentation, particularly on how much calcium-and-salt residue remained in transuranic waste after processing, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent oversight panel, said in a Nov. 15 report that was publicly released Friday.

Calcium is used to help reduce oxidation in plutonium. Traces of the substance typically linger after processing, and if they are too high, they can ignite when exposed to open air, the report says.

The report didn’t say how long the operations and waste shipments were suspended. A lab spokesman could not comment Monday.

Officials from multiple agencies met in Carlsbad on Nov. 5 and 6 to discuss the hazard, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, Triad National Security LLC — the consortium that operates the lab — and N3B, a cleanup contractor. They concluded there wasn’t enough evidence of a flammable calcium level to keep operations suspended, the report said.

However, they decided to withhold shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant until further testing could be conducted, the report said.

The underground storage facility near Carlsbad forbids waste that has volatile chemicals mixed in.

WIPP became more vigilant about testing for flammable mixtures after a waste container was packaged in 2014 with a volatile blend of wheat-based kitty litter and nitrate salts, which caused it to explode and leak radiation. WIPP shut down for almost three years while it underwent a $2 billion cleanup.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

“If DOE and LANL continue to treat the public with disdain, it is going to be a long and difficult permitting process. All in all, this first meeting was disappointing and unproductive.” — Joni Arends, of CCNS

nuclearactive.org

This week the renewal of the New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began in a very controlled public meeting at the Cities of Gold in Pojoaque.  There was no presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) or its contractor, Triad National Security, LLC, about their plans to renew the application.  If the public had questions, they were instructed to write them on a half-sheet comment and question card.  There was no explanation about if and how those comments and questions would be answered.

Listen to the full story:

Hazardous Waste Permit Renewal Begins for LANL

CCNS has prepared a pre-emptive sample public comment letter you can use to express what needs to be included in LANL’s permit application, including proposals to install confined burn and detonation facilities, and coming into compliance with the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations dealing with tank systems (that are used to treat liquid hazardous and radioactive waste) and seismic requirements.  The last surface rupture on the Pajarito Plateau fault system was 1,400 years ago – thus requiring additional LANL submittals and NMED review.  LANL_Permit_Renewal_App_public_comment_120519 The current ten-year LANL permit expires in late December 2020.  Under the regulations, the permit application is due to the Environment Department 180 days before the permit expires, or in late June 2020.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/lanl-permit/  The hazardous waste permit renewal application for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is on the same timeline.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/  CCNS and others have made numerous requests to both LANL and WIPP management to submit their applications in the spring of 2020 to give additional opportunity for the public to review both.  At the meeting, CCNS asked when LANL would submit its application.  A LANL staff member said they could not disclose the date.

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Nuclear News

The Air Force Has Stopped Using 8-Inch Floppy Disks for Missile Command

The US nuclear forces’ Dr. Strangelove-era messaging system finally got rid of its floppy disks

BY: VALERIE INSINNA | c4isrnet.com

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — In 2014, “60 Minutes” made famous the 8-inch floppy disks used by one antiquated Air Force computer system that, in a crisis, could receive an order from the president to launch nuclear missiles from silos across the United States.

But no more. At long last, that system, the Strategic Automated Command and Control System or SACCS, has dumped the floppy disk, moving to a “highly secure solid state digital storage solution” this past June, said Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron.

Russia test-fires missile from new nuclear-powered submarine

Russia has successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile from its latest nuclear-powered submarine, the country’s defence ministry says.

BY: JONATHAN MARCUS | bbc.com

Footage captured overnight shows the release of the so-called Bulava missile from an underwater position in the White Sea, the ministry said.

It was fired from Russia’s new Prince Vladimir submarine and was reported to have travelled thousands of kilometres.

The submarine is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Completed in the early hours of Thursday, the Bulava missile launch – the first of its kind from the Prince Vladimir – was one of many weapons tests expected to take place in the coming weeks.

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The US is rethinking the 50-plus nuclear weapons it keeps in Turkey

“The US is storing perhaps 50 air-dropped thermonuclear bombs at its Incirlik Airbase in southern Turkey, less than 100 miles from the Syrian border where this conflict is taking place.”

BY: TIM FERNHOLZ | qz.com

Turkish forces are pushing into northern Syria, replacing and sometimes even firing on the US troops retreating at Donald Trump’s orders.

The question of whether Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is really a US ally was put to US defense secretary Mark Esper on Fox television this morning. “No, I think Turkey, the arc of their behavior over the past several years has been terrible,” he said.

The nuclear stockpile dates back to the Cold War, when the US sought to keep a sufficient supply of atomic weapons deployed in Europe to deter potential Soviet aggression. Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Italy also host similar arsenals, and the US trains the participating nations in the use of the doomsday devices.

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Trump Claims Energy Secretary Rick Perry Is Behind Ukraine Call at Heart of Impeachment Inquiry: Report

President Trump told House Republicans that he made his now infamous phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the urging of Energy Secretary Rick Perry — a call Trump claimed he didn’t even want to make.

BY ANNA KAPLAN | thedailybeast.com Oct. 5, 2019

Carlos Barria/Reuters

President Trump has reportedly tried to pin the explosive Ukraine call at the center of an impeachment inquiry on Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Axios reports that the president claimed Perry had asked him to make the July phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that sparked a whistleblower complaint. Trump reportedly claimed that he did not even want to call Zelensky, but said Perry had wanted him to inquire about a liquified natural gas plant. Trump is currently facing an impeachment inquiry for allegedly using that phone call to pressure Zelensky to pursue an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and his son’s ties to a major Ukrainian gas company. 

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12 States join the Nuclear Ban Treaty on International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 12 states took another significant step towards achieving this goal by signing or ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, during a special High-Level Ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The five nations that ratified during the ceremony are:

  • Bangladesh
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Trinidad & Tobago

These states are also joined by Ecuador, which became the 27th state to ratify the Treaty on September 25th, one day before the ceremony.

The following states signed on to the Treaty:  Botswana, Dominica, Grenada, Lesotho, St Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as the Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago (as the latter two states both signed and ratified the Treaty during the ceremony).

The treaty now has 79 signatories and 32 States Parties. By signing, a State commits to not take any action that would undermine the treaty’s object and purpose. Upon depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, a state becomes legally bound by the terms of the treaty. When the Treaty has 50 states Parties it will enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The ceremony was hosted by long-time champions of the Treaty: Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand and enabled presidents and foreign ministers to take this important step while they were gathered at the UNGA.

ICAN meets Irish President Michael Higgins

Newly-elected President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, opened the ceremony, and spoke passionately in support of the Treaty’s importance in ending nuclear weapons. “We commend states that have joined TPNW and urge those who have not done so to do join in this most vital action,“ he said during his address to the UNGA Plenary event earlier in the day.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, celebrated the move by these 12 countries and the outspoken support for the Treaty around the world throughout the day.  “Away from most cameras, we come together to do the actual work of nuclear disarmament. For the good of your people and the good of the world you propel the Treaty toward entry-into-force […]  Today, in this room, I feel the scale tilting toward the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day of action gives us all hope at a bleak time.”

After today, the treaty is almost two-thirds of the way to its entry into force, and this momentum is expected to continue. Several countries have confirmed to ICAN that their ratifications are imminent, and campaigners around the world will not stop until every country is on board.

Join the movement to end nuclear weapons

The full ceremony can be viewed here:

Nuclear power is not the answer in a time of climate change

Wild weather, fires, rising sea levels, earthquakes and warming water temperatures all increase the risk of nuclear accidents, while the lack of safe, long-term storage for radioactive waste remains a persistent danger.

BY HEIDI HUTNER & ERICA CIRINO | aeon.co 

The Woolsey Fire seen from Topanga Canyon in California. Photo courtesy of Peter Buschmann/USDA/Flickr

Proponents of nuclear power say that the reactors’ relative reliability and capacity make this a much clearer choice than other non-fossil-fuel sources of energy, such as wind and solar, which are sometimes brought offline by fluctuations in natural resource availability. Yet no one denies that older nuclear plants, with an aged infrastructure often surpassing expected lifetimes, are extremely inefficient and run a higher risk of disaster.

‘The primary source of nuclear power going forward will be the current nuclear fleet of old plants,’ said Joseph Lassiter, an energy expert and nuclear proponent who is retired from Harvard University. But ‘even where public support exists for [building new] nuclear plants, it remains to be seen if these new-build nuclear plants will make a significant contribution to fossil-emissions reductions given the cost and schedule overruns that have plagued the industry.’

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Nuclear Abolition: The Road from Armageddon to Transformation

Nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to the future of civilization. As long as we allow these weapons to exist, we flirt with the catastrophe that they will be used, whether intentionally or accidentally.

ESSAY BY DAVID KRIEGER
Great Transition Initiative
(August 2018), http://www.greattransition.org/publication/nuclear-abolition.

Meanwhile, nuclear weapons skew social priorities, create imbalances of power, and heighten geopolitical tension. Diplomacy has brought some noteworthy steps in curbing risks and proliferation, but progress has been uneven and tenuous. The ultimate aim of abolishing these weapons from the face of the earth—the “zero option”—faces formidable challenges of ignorance, apathy, and fatigue.

Yet, the total abolition of nuclear weapons is essential for a Great Transition to a future rooted in respect for life, global solidarity, and ecological resilience.

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The Catastrophic Tenure Of John Bolton

 “The national security adviser’s principal responsibility has traditionally been to oversee a disciplined policymaking process that includes the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, and to tee up big decisions for the president,” editorialized The Washington Post the night of Bolton’s firing, “Mr. Bolton didn’t do that.”

BY JOE CIRINCIONE | lobelog.com Sep. 11, 2019

John Bolton’s tenure was a complete disaster. The national security architecture after Bolton looks like the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.

Seventeen months ago, before Bolton became Donald Trump’s third national security advisor, the United States still had a deal that had stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks. More, it had rolled it back to a fraction of its original size and boxed it into the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated. It was a deal for the ages. All of Trump’s military, intelligence and security advisors and our closest allies urged Trump to stay in the accord. Bolton destroyed it in two months, pushing Trump to violate it and impose draconian sanctions on Iran.

“Withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal should be a top Donald Trump administration priority,” Bolton tweeted in July 2017, months before his appointment. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he shouted at an MEK rally in July 2017, promising them that they would all celebrate in Tehran “before 2019.”

Today, Iran is slowly pealing away from the deal, too, taking baby steps towards restarting capabilities that someday could allow it to make the material for a bomb, should it decide to do so. No new deal. No better deal. No regime change. No celebration in Tehran. “Trump has spent years making a mess of Iran policy for no reason other than right wing politics and incompetence,” tweeted former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as news of Bolton’s sacking spread.

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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.

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Courting Disaster: How Not to Manage Existential Threats to National Security

Washington’s pursuit of national ballistic missile defense for the last twenty years has, as much as anything else, driven Russian and Chinese strategic nuclear weapons acquisition decisions.

BY: ROBERT GALLUCCI | nationalinterest.org

Photo: National Interest

There are a small number of threats to our nation’s security, involving truly catastrophic consequences, which may be managed by good public policy. Some of these involve uncertainties over scientific or technological developments that could lead to good, as well as very bad outcomes. Think designer biology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But two stand out both for the certainty and magnitude of their destructive impact: climate change and nuclear weapons.

What does good public policy look like when dealing with nuclear weapons? It looks like actions that reduce uncertainty, increase transparency and security, and decrease numbers. It is called “arms control.”

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NEPA transformed federal land management — and has fallen short

A look back at the ground-breaking legislation on its 50th anniversary.

BY: ADAM M. SOWARDS | defenseone.com

A U.S. Forest Service employee assesses sagebrush ecosystems of the Curlew National Grassland in Idaho. With NEPA’s passage, federal agencies were required to bring in specialists to study proposed project areas in depth. Employee on the Curlew National Grassland, Caribou-Targhee National Forest. Credit: US Forest Service.

In late January 1969, a blowout on Unocal’s Platform A leaked 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean, just 6 miles from Santa Barbara, California. The spill — at the time, the largest in U.S. history — spread over 800 square miles, coated 8 miles of beaches and killed thousands of animals. Images of the devastation shocked a public increasingly worried about the environment and helped spur Congress to pass a sweeping law aimed at preventing similar disasters in the future — the National Environmental Policy Act.

President Richard Nixon signed NEPA into law on Jan. 1, 1970, from his home office on the Pacific Coast. The signing was a fitting launch for the environmental decade of the 1970s — a time when “America pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its waters, and our living environment,” as Nixon said in his signing statement. “It is literally now or never.”

Reckoning with History is an ongoing series that seeks to understand the legacies of the past and to put the West’s present moment in perspective.

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A Gateway to Nuclear Catastrophe: Democrats Retreat on Nuclear Policy

The 2020 authorization bill fails to check Trump’s worst impulses. Over 30 progressive national security organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the final bill as doing “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy.” Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren said she would oppose the bill, calling it a “$738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors.”

BY: TOM Z. COLLINA | defenseone.com

Question: How do you go from a National Defense Authorization Act that in July was opposed by every House Republican to one that was approved by more GOP votes than Democratic ones and that President Donald Trump called a huge win that he cannot wait to sign?

Answer: Add Space Force and parental family leave and take out all of the progressive national security provisions.

AP / ALEX BRANDON – In this 2018 photo, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, stands as Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, second from left, speaks, accompanied by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The House passed the compromise NDAA last night; President Trump has said he will sign it. This final bill is a world apart from the version passed by House Democrats in July. The House version, ably led by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, prohibited deployment of Trump’s new “low-yield” nuclear weapon for Trident submarines, which defense experts called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”

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Watch the Pentagon test a previously banned ballistic missile

ARTICLE BY: AARON MEHTA | defensenews.com

For the first time since the end of the INF Treaty, the U.S. Air Force has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. has tested a ground-launched, intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, the first such test since the country withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty this year.

The test, which occurred Thursday at 8:30 a.m. PST, was configured to represent a conventional warhead. The test was anticipated for months, with Defense Department officials previously indicating they hoped to have it happen before the end of the year.

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This Simulator Shows the Devastating Consequences of Global Nuclear War

Nuclear War Simulator, launching in 2020, lets the user design a plausible doomsday scenario and study the humanitarian impact. Just don’t call it a “game.”

ARTICLE BY: MATTHEW GAULT | vice.com

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Full scale global nuclear war is hard to fathom. One nuclear launch could set off a chain of events that would radically alter life on the planet. Millions would die in the initial blasts and millions more would starve as the climate changed and our way of life withered. Just how are we supposed to reckon with the possibility of such wide-scale destruction?

Programs like NUKEMAP let you plot individual bombs and video games like Defcon simulate the war, but neither comes close to rendering the devastation a doomsday scenario would bring. That’s what Nuclear War Simulator (NWS) is for.

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Uranium contaminated property collapsing into Detroit River

Controversy continues to brew following revelations of repeated shoreline collapses into the Detroit River of a property contaminated with uranium, PCBs and other dangerous chemicals from an abandoned Manhattan Project contract facility in Detroit, Michigan.

beyondnuclear.org

Michigan.gov

The most recent collapse into the river occurred on November 26 or 27, 2019 but was not reported until a week later with a tip off to the Windsor Star newspaper just across the river in Canada. A previous collapse into the river occurred in October 2011 did not apparently result in remediations. The old Revere Copper and Brass site, now known as Detroit Bulk Storage, was used in the 1940s to process more than a thousand tons of uranium that was rolled into fuel rods to make the fissionable material for the first atomic bombs at the end of World War II. The facility continued to operate as part of the nation’s atomic bomb assembly line well into the 1950s before winding down and eventually abandoned in 1984. It is considered just one of hundreds of nuclear weapons contractor sites that make up America’s forgotten nuclear “waste land.”

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Here’s how Trump can get a win with Russia — and actually help all Americans

Extension of the New START Treaty would offer Trump an easy diplomatic win.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: MICHAEL MCFAUL | washingtonpost.com

This image, provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test launch on Oct. 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The image was taken with a slow shutter speed. (J.T. Armstrong/U.S. Air Force via AP)

President Trump received Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House this week — a meeting that prompted considerable controversy, given the fraught backdrop of U.S.-Russia relations. Yet the coverage — additionally complicated by the impeachment proceedings taking place on Capitol Hill — almost entirely overlooked a crucial topic of the negotiations: the urgent need to keep alive a vital nuclear arms agreement.

Readouts and media reports reveal that Lavrov discussed the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in February 2021, with his American interlocutors. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both suggested that China must be included in a future strategic nuclear arms deal, hinting that they may not extend the New START Treaty without Chinese involvement.

That would be a major mistake. The United States and Russia should extend the New START Treaty, an outcome that clearly would serve U.S. national security interests. At the same time, U.S. arms control negotiators could begin discussions with their Chinese counterparts about a new, future multilateral treaty to limit the deployments of nuclear weapons. While doing so, they should recognize that China is already well below the limits on nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles specified by New START and thus need not be a party to this agreement.

But these two negotiations should be sequenced, not linked. Extend the New START Treaty with Russia first; begin strategy stability talks with Russia and China second.

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Pentagon: Nuke official sexually harassed 3 women on his staff, resigns during probe

ARTICLE BY: TOM VANDEN BROOK | usatoday.com

WASHINGTON – A top Pentagon official for nuclear defense sexually harassed three women on his staff and resigned as an investigation substantiated the charges against him, the Defense Department inspector general reported Thursday.

Guy Roberts, who had served as the assistant Defense secretary for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, resigned on April 2 amid a probe into allegations from three women on his staff that he had forced hugs and kisses on them and told inappropriate jokes. The inspector general’s investigation began Feb. 22.


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The New START Treaty Keeps Nuclear Arsenals In Check And President Trump Must Act To Preserve It

Are the stars finally aligning for Washington and Moscow to extend the New START treaty?

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: HANS KRISTENSEN & MATT KORDA | forbes.com

Nuclear arms control is reportedly on the agenda for a rush-meeting between Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today. Over the past weeks, Russia had softened its preconditions for extending the New START Treaty––the only strategic arms control agreement still in place between the two nuclear superpower––while

President Donald Trump last week said that he had spoken with President Vladimir Putin and “we are – he very much wants to, and so do we, work out a treaty of some kind on nuclear weapons…”

New START Treaty aggregate numbers of strategic forces

The New START treaty limits US and Russian deployed strategic nuclear forces, and additionally facilitates inspections and exchanges of information on the status and movements of their intercontinental ballistic missiles and heavy bombers. Signed in 2010, the treaty expires in February 2021 but can be extended for another five years.There is nothing other than personalities and bad advice that is preventing Moscow and Washington from extending New START. Retaining the treaty is clearly in the interest of both countries, particularly as other arms control agreements have been abandoned and military tensions are steadily increasing.

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Win Without War + 37 Orgs: NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

WASHINGTON — 30 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report:

“Despite the fact that we do not all advocate on the same issues, we are compelled to state clearly in one voice: The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous. The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.

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Defense Authorization Act 2020 – Out Now

The 3488-page Conference Report is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/CRPT-116hrpt333.pdf
The 741-page Joint Explanatory Statement is at:
https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20191209/116hrpt333-JointExplanatoryStatement.pdf
The 19-page bill summary is at:
https://rules.house.gov/sites/democrats.rules.house.gov/files/CRPT-116hrpt333-summary.pdf

On Plutonium Pit Production:

Nuclear Forces have been the cornerstone of our national defense and the conference agreement funds the President’s budget request for Nuclear National Security Administration programs, including nuclear weapons and nuclear non-proliferation activities. In addition, the FY20 NDAA supports the U.S. Strategic Command requirement to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030 and doesn’t prohibit the Department from deploying low-yield nuclear weapons. It also clarifies nuclear safety authorities.

1. Page 1907 of the report defines a requirement to submit the costs of complying with cleanup agreements:

SEC. 4409. ESTIMATION OF COSTS OF MEETING DEFENSE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANUP MILESTONES REQUIRED BY CONSENT ORDERS.

”The Secretary of Energy shall include in the budget justification materials submitted to Congress in support of the Department of Energy budget for each fiscal year (as submitted with the budget of the President under section 1105(a) of title 31, United States Code) a report on the cost, for that fiscal year and the four fiscal years following that fiscal year, of meeting milestones required by a consent order at each defense nuclear facility at which defense environmental cleanup activities are occurring. The report shall include, for each such facility—”(1) a specification of the cost of meeting such milestones during that fiscal year; and ”(2) an estimate of the cost of meeting such milestones during the four fiscal years following that fiscal year.”.

2. On page 1914 of the report: Prohibiting the DOE high-level waste interpretation from being applied (only) to Hanford.

However, the Joint Explanatory Statement (p. 492 of PDF) states: “The conferees note that the inclusion of the provision does not prejudice how to process high-level waste nor does it discourage the use of the Department of Energy’s interpretation of high-level waste in future years or at other locations.”

3. On pages 1942-51 of the report: Changes to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).

Among those changes is trying to ensure DNFSB access to DOE sites. One example is that DNFSB has access to nuclear facilities “without regard to the hazard or risk category assigned to a facility by the Secretary.”

Don’t Let START Stop

Drawing upon six decades of constructive contacts between American and Russian citizens, we the participants in the latest Dartmouth Conference have decided to issue this urgent appeal to our governments, warning of the dangers of a new nuclear arms race and strongly urging both governments to act immediately to extend the New START Treaty beyond its February 2021 expiration.

ARTICLE & ANALYSIS BY: James F. Collins, David Mathews, Vitaliy Naumkin & Yury Shafranik | russiamatters.org

Photo by U.S. Air Force.
The Dartmouth Conference, initiated with the support of President Eisenhower and Chairman Khrushchev, has met 147 times since 1960.  Under its auspices, experienced and thoughtful American and Russian citizens from the fields of diplomacy, military affairs, medicine, religion and others have gathered regularly to develop joint recommendations on the entire range of issues in our relationship.Given the deep concerns we share about the security of our peoples, for the first time in our history we are compelled by the urgency of the situation to issue this public appeal to our governments, founded on our view that the clear threat of an uncontrolled nuclear arms race has re-emerged with the collapse in recent years of key elements of the post-Cold War arms control architecture.For more than four decades, the strategic stability, safety and security of the United States, Russia and the world at large have been protected by this arms control regime.  Those agreements, and the continuing bilateral contacts they required and facilitated, also have helped to limit the risks of military clashes between the two countries.  We express our concern in this regard at the demise of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by President Nixon and Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev, and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev.Continue reading

State report: LANL lost track of 250 barrels of nuke waste

The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.

Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.

“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”

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Flammable hazard stalls LANL’s plutonium operations, waste shipments

Concerns that a calcium residue might be flammable prompted officials at Los Alamos National Laboratory to curtail plutonium operations and suspend waste shipments in early November, according to a federal report.

BY: SCOTT WYLAND | santafenewmexican.com

The lab suspended most waste generation and certification at its plutonium facility and halted all waste shipments after officials questioned the accuracy of documentation, particularly on how much calcium-and-salt residue remained in transuranic waste after processing, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent oversight panel, said in a Nov. 15 report that was publicly released Friday.

Calcium is used to help reduce oxidation in plutonium. Traces of the substance typically linger after processing, and if they are too high, they can ignite when exposed to open air, the report says.

The report didn’t say how long the operations and waste shipments were suspended. A lab spokesman could not comment Monday.

Officials from multiple agencies met in Carlsbad on Nov. 5 and 6 to discuss the hazard, including the National Nuclear Security Administration, Triad National Security LLC — the consortium that operates the lab — and N3B, a cleanup contractor. They concluded there wasn’t enough evidence of a flammable calcium level to keep operations suspended, the report said.

However, they decided to withhold shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant until further testing could be conducted, the report said.

The underground storage facility near Carlsbad forbids waste that has volatile chemicals mixed in.

WIPP became more vigilant about testing for flammable mixtures after a waste container was packaged in 2014 with a volatile blend of wheat-based kitty litter and nitrate salts, which caused it to explode and leak radiation. WIPP shut down for almost three years while it underwent a $2 billion cleanup.

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Los Alamos: A Whistleblower’s Diary

“A shocking account of foul play, theft and abuse at our nation’s premier nuclear R&D installation, uncovering a retaliatory culture where those who dare to question pay with their careers and, potentially, their lives.
Tommy was unrecognizable. His face was swollen, bruised, and stained with blood, his eyes barely visible through ballooning eyelids and a broken jaw. On his cheek was a ghostly imprint- the tread mark of someone’s shoe. Suddenly, with a slight movement of his hand, Tommy waved me in closer to hear him. Speaking softly through lips that barely moved, he said, ‘Be careful . . . They kept telling me to keep my fucking mouth shut; they kept telling me to keep my fucking mouth shut,’ he repeated.”

read more excerpts at the book’s website

Los Alamos: A Whistleblower’s Diary, by Chuck Montaño, released April 28, 2015. Order your copy from Amazon, or better yet, from the author directly.


Radio interview with Chuck Montaño on the book: KSFR Santa Fe.

Chuck Montaño was given the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s Whistleblower Award in Washington DC on April 19, 2016.

 

Quotes

“Our participation in the Cold War has devastated our lands and our way of life as Navajo people,”

– Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

“The impact is not only physical, but spiritual and emotional.”

Navajo miners work at the Kerr-McGee uranium mine at Cove, Ariz., on May 7, 1953. AP

Effects of radiation exposure on locals studied

On Monday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., served as chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing in Albuquerque to examine radiation exposure effects in Indian Country. Udall was joined by U.S. Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland for the hearing at the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute. For much of the 20th century, New Mexicans were not warned about the health effects of working or living near uranium mines or nuclear test sites. Radiation exposure still affects residents today, including a disproportionate number of Native Americans.

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“Every nuclear weapon that is dismantled makes us a little bit safer…

These weapons threaten our society simply by existing, because there is always the risk of intentional use, unintentional use or accidents.”

— Lilly Adams

“The primary aim of our work is to reduce our nuclear weapons arsenal and spending on nuclear weapons, and working towards a world without nuclear weapons,”

Lilly Adams is the security program organizer for WPSR, as well as the co-chair of the group’s Nuclear Weapons Abolition Task Force. Adams coordinates WPSR’s statewide coalition, Washington Against Nuclear Weapons.

Various members of different CND, anti-war and peace campaigners gathered to protest the bases of nuclear capable submarines, September 22, 2018, in Helensburgh, Scotland. STEWART KIRBY / SOPA IMAGES / LIGHTROCKET VIA GETTY IMAGES

Physicians Work to Bring Back the Anti-Nuclear Movement – truthout.org

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