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

Banner displaying “Nuclear Weapons Are Now Illegal” at the entrance in front of the Los Alamos National Lab to celebrate the Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on January 22, 2021

Follow the Money!

Nuclear Watch Analysis of NNSA FY 2022 Budget Request

LANL FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2022 Budget Request – VIEW

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 Blog Posts

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New & Updated

76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building Weapons of Mass Destruction

76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building New Weapons of Mass Destruction

Last week, July 16 2021, marked the 76th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb explosion. Within another month, memorials and commemorations will be held for the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the U.S. bombed on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. Although it was unknown to most residents of New Mexico until after the United States’ atomic bombing of Japan, the citizens and communities in the southern region of the state were in fact the first nuclear victims.

When the U.S. Army detonated an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 at 5:29 a.m., “its thunderous roar during the rainy season knocked people from breakfast tables in Tularosa and sent others on the Mescalero Apache reservation into hiding.” (axios.com) Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico are working to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered extremely because of the experiment. Rare forms of cancer and other health problems have been discovered in those living near the site of the Trinity Test, and the vast, noxious consequences of this experiment have had lasting impact on now multiple, entire generations.

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‘Downwinders’ To Hold Candlelight Vigil In Remembrance Of Trinity Test

BY:  

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Southern New Mexicans will hold their 12th candlelight vigil in Tularosa Saturday commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Trinity Test, and remembering the suffering and deaths they believe it caused. The test was history’s first detonation of a nuclear device.

KSFR’s Dennis Carroll talks with Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, about progress she and supporters have made in their quest for acknowledgement and justice.

Latinos Still Coping with the Fallout of 1st Nuclear explosion

Russell Contreras | axios.com

The 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico this month are marking the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity Test — an experiment resulting in health problems for generations living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion.

Why it matters: Descendants of those families use the July 16 anniversary to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered rare forms of cancer ever since the explosion.

The big picture: Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders, tells Axios that the overlooked residents of southern New Mexico finally are closer to being included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

  • The act is scheduled to sunset on July 15, 2022, but the Hispanic village of Tularosa and the Mescalero Apache Reservation were never included in the law to compensate Americans who lived near and suffered from nuclear testing.
  • Cordova said the Tularosa Basin Downwinders expect the U.S. Senate this year to consider a bill to extend the law and include southern New Mexico residents, in addition to Navajo uranium miners and some Idaho residents near other sites.
Tina Cordova speaking about the Trinity Test and its effects on her family.
Tina Cordova speaking about the Trinity Test and its effects on her family. Photo: Russell Contreras

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) plans on introducing a bill later this month that would extend the radiation act and include those forgotten residents, Crapo spokeswoman Melanie B. Lawhorn confirmed to Axios.

What happened: On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the U.S. Army detonated an atomic bomb developed through the Manhattan Project by scientists at the then-secret community of Los Alamos.

  • The bomb exploded at 5:29 a.m., and its thunderous roar during the rainy season knocked people from breakfast tables in Tularosa and sent others on the Mescalero Apache reservation into hiding.
  • The Army publicly attributed the sound to a mere ammunition explosion.
  • Residents reported black rain and burned cows that passed on radiation poisoning through milk to unsuspecting residents.
  • No one told residents of the site’s dangers, and they often picnicked there and took artifacts, including the radioactive green glass known as “trinitite.”

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In Memoriam: Priscilla Johnson McMillan, 1928–2021

A longtime supporter and friend of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, nuclear historian Priscilla Johnson McMillan passed away at 92 on July 7, 2021.

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

“Priscilla was generous with her time and intelligence. She was astonishingly knowledgeable about Russia as it emerged from the Cold War and equally modest. She will be greatly missed,” — Kennette Benedict

A 2013 article from the Cambridge Chronicle states, “Since high school, McMillan had been active in politics and supported strengthening the United Nations in the hopes of controlling nuclear weapons.

‘It was the early post-war generation,’ she recalled. ‘We were trying to strengthen the UN so nuclear weapons wouldn’t belong to one country or another.’”

New Mexico: Number One in Nuclear Weapons and Radioactive Wastes Near Last in Citizen and Child Well-Being

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 2, 2021
Santa Fe, NM – According to budget documents just released by the Department of Energy, DOE facilities in New Mexico will receive $8 billion in FY 2022, nearly double that of any other state. Seventy-five percent ($6 billion) is for core nuclear weapons research and production programs under the DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. This is 39% of the agency’s total nation-wide nuclear weapons budget of $15.5 billion, more than double the next closest state.

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Lawsuit Filed Against Biden Administration Over Nuclear Bomb Core Production Plans

Federal agencies’ refusal to review cross-country expansion of plutonium pit production violates the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedures Act, groups say.

AIKEN, S.C. – Today, a coalition of community and public interest groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). This legal action is prompted by the agencies’ failure to take the “hard look” required by the National Environmental Policy Act at their plans to more than quadruple the production of plutonium pits and split their production between the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

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South Carolina Environmental Law Project and Nuclear Watchdogs Virtual Press Conference

Nuclear Watch New Mexico, along with other watchdog groups, has announced a lawsuit against the Biden administration over its expanded production of plutonium cores for the U.S. nuclear weapons “modernization” plans. There has been inadequate environmental review by federal agencies, who have failed to detail potential impacts of the projects around communities in New Mexico and South Carolina.

The lawsuit was filed against the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration demanding the federal agency that oversees U.S. nuclear research and bombmaking must “take a legally required ‘hard look’ at impacts on local communities and possible alternatives before expanding manufacturing of the plutonium cores used to trigger nuclear weapons.”

The push from U.S. officials to “modernize” the country’s nuclear arsenal cites only general global security concerns that do not justify the science and brand new, untested technology that will be necessary to the task. citing global security concerns. Although “most of the plutonium cores currently in the stockpile date back to the 1970s and 1980s,” scientific experts estimate that plutonium pits will last 100 years or more., and on warhead type, the best estimate of minimum pit life is 85–100 years.minimum.

Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico and the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina face enormous (and, frankly, unrealistic) deadlines to produce a massive number of plutonium cores in coming years – 50 or more cores at South Carolina and 30 or more at Los Alamos National Lab. The Savannah River Site location now has estimated costs up to $11.1 billion, with a completion date ranging from 2032 to 2035. The U.S. doesn’t need the new plutonium cores with the taxpayer bearing the burden for the expense of lagging deadlines and bloated budgets.

“The watchdog groups said Tuesday that the agency took a piecemeal approach to decide on locating the production at Los Alamos and the Savannah River Site, where nearby communities are already underrepresented and underserved.”

Tom Clements of Savannah River Site Watch said the South Carolina location was picked for political reasons following the failure of a facility designed to convert weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel. As the Savannah River Site has never served as a storage or production site for the pits in its history, establishing pit construction there would be “a daunting technical challenge that has not been properly reviewed,” Clements said.

With very real, current threats the U.S. is facing right now, we don’t need another Rocky Flats situation in New Mexico or South Carolina where a $7 billion, yearslong cleanup is required after the facilities fail due to leaks, fires and environmental violations, doing irreparable damage to the earth and placing communities there in unequivocal peril.

Feds face suit over plan to build atomic weapons component factory in SC

VIEW NEWS CONFERENCE & PRESS RELEASE ABOVE

(also archived on the Facebook page of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project: https://www.facebook.com/scelp.org)

BY: SAMMY FRETWELL

The government never finished this mixed oxide fuel plant at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. This site would be converted to a pit plutonium factory, according to plans. COURTESY HIGH FLYER

Four public interest groups said Tuesday they are suing the federal government, seeking to stop construction of multi-billion dollar nuclear production factories in South Carolina and New Mexico that would make components for new atomic weapons.

Savannah River Site Watch, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri Valley CARES and the Gullah Geechee Sea Island Coalition are seeking an extensive study, known as a programmatic environmental impact statement, to weigh the effects of new pit plants on the environment and people who live near them.

Federal officials have sought the new plants to update the nuclear arsenal, a prospect that project boosters say could provide 1,000 jobs at the Savannah River Site, the Aiken area weapons complex where a pit factory would be located.

But critics say the promise of jobs isn’t worth the risk of environmental contamination or the cost, now estimated to be about $15 billion for the two plants. 

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7-acre desert site building at Idaho National Laboratory emptied, awaiting destruction

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) collects waste from across the country. WIPP is the nation’s only repository for the disposal of nuclear waste known as transuranic, or TRU, waste. Most of the waste slated for WIPP disposal comes from the remediation of sites used to produce atomic weapons during World War II and through the Cold War. WIPP’s original planned closure date was 2024.

BY: JOHN ROARK

The Transuranic Storage Area/Retrieval Enclosure at the desert site of Idaho National Laboratory has been emptied and is awaiting demolition according to a Fluor press release. This will be the first building closed as part of a three phase closing of the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Projects complex.

The TSA/RE, part of the AMWTP complex, was built over an above-ground waste storage pad which housed Cold War weapons waste. Once covered, Fluor used the facility to characterize, treat, repackage, certify, and ship the waste out of Idaho.

Barrels and boxes of waste, heavy equipment, and metal debris were removed. Over the last 20 years more than 100,000 waste containers have been removed from the facility. Fluor personnel are removing the asphalt floor of the building and will dispose of the material at an on-site landfill, the release said.

Cleanup of the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Unit, including solid waste such as trash, tools, and clothes, is part of the 1995 settlement agreement to clean up waste from the Manhattan project and Cold War-era.

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South Carolina Environmental Law Project logo

MEDIA ADVISORY – South Carolina Environmental Law Project and Nuclear Watchdogs Hold Virtual Press Conference

WHAT:

Public interest groups will hold a press conference for a major announcement of a forthcoming legal action as the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration forge ahead with plans to drastically expand production of plutonium pits, the cores of nuclear weapons, at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. The legal action follows previous unanswered requests from the groups to DOE and NNSA as seen in correspondence in February and April.

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The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program Left ‘a Horrible Legacy’ of Environmental Destruction and Death Across the Navajo Nation

Navajo uranium miners have died of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses. They weren’t told of the risks, and they want compensation for radiation exposure continued.

BY: Cheyanne M. DanielsAmanda Rooker

Phil Harrison views a uranium loading bin left behind from the mining era, which stretched from the 1940s to the 1980s. Credit: Cheyanne M. Daniels/MNS

COVE CHAPTER, Ariz.—Phil Harrison walks the Lukachukai mountain range that towers over the Cove Chapter of the Navajo Nation in northeast Arizona. The mountains rise against a clear blue sky, and the red sand is dotted with sagebrush and flowers.

On a clear, warm day in May, he pauses, picks up a sprig of sagebrush and rubs it between his hands. “This is good medicine; it restores your brain,” he says.

He brings the crushed sage to his nose and inhales the sharp scent, holding out his hand and showing the green leaves in his palm. “Boil it, run it through a filter and you can drink that and it restores your memory, provides youth,” he says, then drops the sage and adds, “but I don’t know if this is contaminated.”

He shakes his head and moves on.

Despite the stunning beauty of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, the land is marred by a toxic history: a “horrible legacy” of uranium mining and processing that began in 1944, with the U.S. nuclear weapons program and has slowly killed Navajo miners and their families, littered the land with 523 abandoned mines and tainted pristine aquifers with radioactive ore and the dry air with radioactive dust.

It’s a legacy Harrison is intimately familiar with.

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Washington’s Dangerous New Consensus on China

Don’t Start Another Cold War

“Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with China will not be easy. But we can do better than a new Cold War.”

BY:

The unprecedented global challenges that the United States faces today—climate change, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, massive economic inequality, terrorism, corruption, authoritarianism—are shared global challenges. They cannot be solved by any one country acting alone. They require increased international cooperation—including with China, the most populous country on earth.

It is distressing and dangerous, therefore, that a fast-growing consensus is emerging in Washington that views the U.S.-Chinese relationship as a zero-sum economic and military struggle. The prevalence of this view will create a political environment in which the cooperation that the world desperately needs will be increasingly difficult to achieve.

It is quite remarkable how quickly conventional wisdom on this issue has changed. Just over two decades ago, in September 2000, corporate America and the leadership of both political parties strongly supported granting China “permanent normal trade relations” status, or PNTR. At that time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the corporate media, and virtually every establishment foreign policy pundit in Washington insisted that PNTR was necessary to keep U.S. companies competitive by giving them access to China’s growing market, and that the liberalization of China’s economy would be accompanied by the liberalization of China’s government with regard to democracy and human rights.

This position was seen as obviously and unassailably correct. Granting PNTR, the economist Nicholas Lardy of the centrist Brookings Institution argued in the spring of 2000, would “provide an important boost to China’s leadership, that is taking significant economic and political risks in order to meet the demands of the international community for substantial additional economic reforms.” The denial of PNTR, on the other hand, “would mean that U.S. companies would not benefit from the most important commitments China has made to become a member” of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Writing around the same time, the political scientist Norman Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute put it more bluntly. “American trade with China is a good thing, for America and for the expansion of freedom in China,” he asserted. “That seems, or should seem, obvious.”

Well, it wasn’t obvious to me, which is why I helped lead the opposition to that disastrous trade agreement. What I knew then, and what many working people knew, was that allowing American companies to move to China and hire workers there at starvation wages would spur a race to the bottom, resulting in the loss of good-paying union jobs in the United States and lower wages for American workers. And that’s exactly what happened.

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China’s nuclear leak no Chernobyl; we should still worry

The Taishan incident “should be an awakening for China to learn the lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima, and do some soul-searching.”

BY DAVID FICKLING | BLOOMBERG OPINION (TNS)

Is a nuclear power plant on the edge of China’s 60 million-strong Pearl River Delta megalopolis on the verge of an emergency? It doesn’t look like it — but that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern.

The U.S. government has been assessing a report of a leak at the Taishan No. 1 nuclear power plant west of the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, CNN reported Monday, adding that the situation doesn’t pose a severe safety threat to workers at the plant or the wider public.

A separate statement from Electricite de France SA, or EDF, which owns 30% of the facility and controls Framatome, the company responsible for its maintenance, said there had been an “increase in the concentration of certain noble gases in the primary circuit” of the plant, adding this was a “known phenomenon.”

Don’t fret. There’s nothing in the reports so far to suggest Taishan is anywhere near turning into a Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island.

Still, the manner in which the news has emerged suggests a deeper problem that China’s nuclear industry will need to rectify in the years ahead.

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Action Alerts

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Environment Department files complaint against U.S. Department of Energy to speed clean-up of legacy waste, terminate 2016 Consent Order at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Non-compliance with 2016 Consent Order causing unacceptable delays, threatening public health and the environment

Click above for more information on the entry into force of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Nuclear Media

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More Nuclear News

Sandia Labs to build solar power testing center in New Mexico

“Officials say the team at Sandia is working with researchers from Australia as well as particle-technology researchers who are building a second concentrating solar power facility in Saudi Arabia to test variants of key components.”

By: The Associated Press / March 26, 2021 | kob.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Sandia National Laboratories has been awarded a $25 million contract to build, test and operate a new solar power test facility on its campus in New Mexico.

Using a concentrated beam of sunlight to heat up sand-like particles, lab officials say the system will be able to produce thermal energy for thousands of hours and will have the capacity to store six hours of energy. This heat can be used to spin a turbine or power an engine to generate electricity.

The contract was announced Thursday by the lab and the U.S. Energy Department. The goal of the federal agency is to develop technology that can make concentrating solar power plants more reliable and easier to build using fewer high-cost materials so that they can be more widely commercialized.

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Transcript of interview with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Washington’s top diplomat holds roundtable with Japanese media in Tokyo

By: ERI SUGIURA| asia.nikkei.com

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to reporters during an online group interview in Tokyo on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy)

TOKYO — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a virtual roundtable with Nikkei Asia and other Japanese media in Tokyo on Wednesday, a day after he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met for “two-plus-two” talks with Japanese counterparts Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi.

Here is an edited transcript of the group interview with Blinken:

— Opening remarks

The partnership between the United States and Japan is absolutely vital. I think it’s vital to our country’s respective citizens to the region, and in so many ways to the world. It really starts with our common commitment to democracy. And I think that’s especially significant today because democracy is under challenge and under threat in ways that it hasn’t been before, certainly not in recent years, particularly from autocratic countries were on the rise around the world.

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Links between Box Elder landfill, California business charged in radioactive waste scandal emerge

“[Bradley] Angel, with Green Action, says his organization is relieved that Tetra Tech EC has been taken off the Hunter’s Point cleanup but still worries about all projects Tetra Tech is involved in.

“Promontory Point Resource’s application in Utah stresses the convenient value of superfund cleanup sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tetra Tech, which designed the Promontory landfill, has also been deeply invested in other northern California superfund projects. Besides Hunter’s Point, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency and news accounts show the company is actively involved in cleanups at other Bay Area superfunds like the Alameda Naval Air Station and McLellan Air Force Base. All these sites contain radioactive contaminants.”

By: Eric Peterson / Special to the Standard-Examiner | standard.net March 19, 2021

Promontory Point Resources landfill is again seeking out-of-state waste and is eyeing superfund sites in northern California for waste to bring in. Photo supplied, The Box Elder News Journal

After sitting empty for years on the north shore of the Great Salt Lake in Box Elder County, Promontory Point Resources is trying once again to receive out-of-state waste for its landfill after abandoning a previous attempt in 2018.

In its new Class V landfill application with the state Department of Environmental Quality, the company talks about the lucrative market in contaminated soils from superfund cleanup sites in northern California.

“The full market demand for excavated soil disposal from just counties around the San Francisco Bay appears to have an average in the range of 250,000 to 350,000 tons per year,” the document states.

The report does not mention many sites by name, although they are very well known in California.

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Cap on Trident nuclear warhead stockpile to rise by more than 40%

Boris Johnson announcement on Tuesday will end 30 years of gradual disarmament

By: Tricia Ennis | 13abc.com

The increased limit, from 180 to 260 warheads, is contained in a leaked copy of the integrated review of defence and foreign policy. Photograph: Tam McDonald/MoD/EPA

Britain is lifting the cap on the number of Trident nuclear warheads it can stockpile by more than 40%, Boris Johnson will announce on Tuesday, ending 30 years of gradual disarmament since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The increased limit, from 180 to 260 warheads, is contained in a leaked copy of the integrated review of defence and foreign policy, seen by the Guardian. It paves the way for a controversial £10bn rearmament in response to perceived threats from Russia and China.

The review also warns of the “realistic possibility” that a terrorist group will “launch a successful CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear] attack by 2030”, although there is little extra detail to back up this assessment.

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Ongoing ‘review’ forces Pentagon official to pull out of SC pit production briefing

A Pentagon official backed out of a plutonium pit production briefing in Columbia this week because the Biden administration is “engaged in a full review of the program,” according to Rick Lee, the chairman of the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council.

By:  | postandcourier.com

Rick Lee, the chairman of the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council, pictured here during a meeting in 2018. The council met in Columbia on Monday. (Colin Demarest/Staff)
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters Drew Walter was scheduled to make a presentation about pit production – the crafting of nuclear weapon cores, potentially in both South Carolina and New Mexico – “and why the Department of Defense feels it’s imperative that we get underway with the program,” Lee said.
But until the new administration settles on “what they want to do moving forward,” the chairman continued, Walter “would not be available for that kind of gathering.”
Exactly what the purported review covers or drills down on is unclear. A big question, Savannah River Site Watch Director Tom Clements suggested Wednesday, “is if there is any kind of formal review of pits and overall nuclear weapons modernization at DOE and DOD.”

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Report: Cancer death rates rising near Fermi nuclear plant

A new study is looking to test baby teeth from children living near the plant.

By: Tricia Ennis | 13abc.com

(Photo: DTE Energy) (WNDU)

NEWPORT, Mich. (WTVG) – A new report from the Radiation and Public Health Project claims that the cancer death rate in Monroe County, Michigan is on the rise and it’s tying that growth to the Fermi 2 nuclear plant in Newport.

According to the report, which uses public health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of death due to cancer in Monroe County was roughly equal to that of the rest of the United States. Since 1988, that rate has risen steadily, reaching 11.3% higher than the national average in the most recent 10 years (2009-2018). From 2014-2018, that rate was 14.3% higher than the national average, amounting to 1,794 deaths. In the period between 1969 and 1978, outlines the report, that rate was 4.5% lower than the national average.

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By: William D. Hartung | Arms & Security Program

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) have been called “some of the most dangerous weapons in the world” by former Defense Secretary William Perry, because under current policies the president would have only a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch them in a crisis, increasing the risks of an accidental nuclear war.1 Despite this reality, proposals for reducing this risk have routinely been blocked, in significant part due to a group of Senators from states that host ICBM bases or ICBM maintenance and development activities, often referred to as the ICBM Coalition. The Coalition includes Senators from Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The polices promoted by the ICBM Coalition and its allies do not have wide public support. A recent poll conducted by ReThink Media and the Federation of American Scientists found that 60% of Americans supported either forgoing the development of a new ICBM, eliminating ICBMs altogether, or eliminating all nuclear weapons, an indication that a change in current ICBM policies would have significant public support.

REPORT SUMMARY

FULL REPORT

Putin, Biden Should Aim For More Arms Curbs: Gorbachev

Gorbachev told the Interfax news agency that the two leaders  – who spoke by phone after Biden’s inauguration last month – should meet and discuss further arms curbs.

By: AFP NEWS – Agence France Presse /

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Saturday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin and new US President Joe Biden to push for deeper restrictions on nuclear weapons.

Tensions soared between the two nations under previous US leader Donald Trump, fuelled by allegations of sweeping cyberattacks and a litany of other disagreements.

But soon after Biden took office, the two powers extended a pact that limits each side to 1,550 nuclear warheads, which Putin hailed as a positive development.
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The Future of War in Biden’s America

Danny Sjursen offers a Bidenesque tour of U.S. militarism.

By: Danny Sjursen Tom’s Dispatch | consortiumnews.com

2009: Vice President Joe Biden with U.S. sailors stationed in San Diego who were preparing to deploy to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. (U.S. Navy, Amanda L. Ray)

Hard as it is to believe in this time of record pandemic deaths, insurrection, and an unprecedented encore impeachment, Joe Biden is now officially at the helm of the U.S. war machine.  He is, in other words, the fourth president to oversee America’s unending and unsuccessful post-9/11 military campaigns.

In terms of active U.S. combat, that’s only happened once before, in the Philippines, America’s second-longest (if often forgotten) overseas combat campaign.

Yet that conflict was limited to a single Pacific archipelago. Biden inherits a global war — and burgeoning new Cold War — spanning four continents and a military mired in active operations in dozens of countries, combat in some 14 of them, and bombing in at least seven. 

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Bombs Away: Weapon Systems That Biden Administration Could Curtail or Retire

Here are some of weapons that might be reviewed by the president-elect

By: Michael R. Gordon | Wall Street Journal

President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will reduce “excessive” expenditures on nuclear modernization. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2017 that the Pentagon’s plans for updating and sustaining the nuclear triad of air, sea and land-borne weapons would cost $1.2 trillion, and some lawmakers say the eventual cost might exceed $1.5 trillion. Here are some of the weapons that might be reviewed.
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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.

Critical Events

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New & Updated

Report: Some Los Alamos nuclear waste too hazardous to move

“In the October report, the safety board said lab personnel had failed to analyze chemicals present in hundreds of containers of transuranic nuclear waste, making it possible for incompatible chemicals to cause a container to explode. Crews also never sufficiently estimated how much radiation would be released by such an event.”

BY: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com August 2, 2021

Los Alamos National Laboratory has identified 45 barrels of radioactive waste so potentially explosive — due to being mixed with incompatible chemicals — that crews have been told not to move them and instead block off the area around the containers, according to a government watchdog’s report.

Crews have worked to ferret out drums containing volatile compounds and move them to a more secure domed area of the lab after the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board issued a scathing report last year saying there were possibly hundreds of barrels of unstable nuclear waste.

The safety board estimated an exploding waste canister could expose workers to 760 rem, far beyond the threshold of a lethal dose. A rem is a unit used to measure radiation exposure. In its latest weekly report, the safety board said crews at Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B — the contractor in charge of cleaning up the lab’s legacy waste — have pegged 60 barrels with volatile mixtures and have relocated 15 drums to the domed area.

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Energy Department: Cap rather than clean up Los Alamos lab waste site

A watchdog group called the plan an attempt to save money without considering the potential long-term hazards of keeping highly toxic, slow-decaying waste buried in unlined pits roughly 1,000 feet above a vital groundwater source.
“The aquifer — that’s our main concern,” said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for the nonprofit Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “If climate change does affect us and things start drying out, then our aquifer is going to be even more important than it already is. We have to do everything to protect our aquifer that we can.”

Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com | Santa Fe New Mexican July 31, 2021

Radioactive trash is dumped into Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Disposal Area C, Pit 6, in 1958. U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover over Area C, which was shut down in 1974.
New Mexican file photo

One of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s older nuclear waste disposal sites — a Cold War relic — would be capped and covered rather than cleaned up under a plan put forth by federal officials.

Known as Area C, the 73-year-old dumpsite was shut down in 1974 after taking radioactive waste, caustic chemicals, treatment-plant sludge and a variety of trash, according to records.

U.S. Department of Energy officials propose installing a 2-foot-thick, dirt-and-rock cover they say will safely contain the waste, prevent toxins from leaching into soil and groundwater, and avoid the hazards that excavating the waste would pose to workers and the environment. It also would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant needs more space to dispose of nuclear waste, officials say

“..A 10-year renewal of the permit itself was underway after expiring last year and Don Hancock, nuclear waste program manager at watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center said any modifications to the permit should be included in the full renewal or wait until after its approval.

He said the DOE aimed to “piecemeal” an expansion of WIPP operations and its lifetime to avoid a discussion on broadening the facility’s purpose and keeping it operational indefinitely.

The current permit called for WIPP to be closed by 2024, but officials speculated it could take as long as until 2050 to complete its mission.”

BY: Adrian Hedden Carlsbad Current-Argus

More underground space is needed to complete the mission at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to dispose of nuclear waste, contend WIPP officials during a Monday public meeting.

The U.S. Department of Energy was underway with a permit modification request (PMR) that would amend the DOE’s permit with the State of New Mexico to allow for the mining of two new panels where waste would be disposed of along with drifts connecting the panels to the rest of the underground repository.

At WIPP, transuranic (TRU) nuclear waste consisting of clothing items and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities at DOE sites across the country is disposed of via burying in an underground salt deposit.

To achieve this, panels consisting of seven rooms each are mined about 2,000 feet underground where drums of the waste are emplaced, and the salt gradually collapses to permanently entomb the waste.

But due maintenance issues and a three-year shutdown of underground operations in 2014 following an accidental radiological release, portions of three of panels were left unusable and the DOE hoped to mine new panels to finishing burying the waste.

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America’s Nuclear Waste Has Nowhere to Go and More Is Coming

Nuclear power isn’t a silver bullet for our climate problems and there’s a host of issues with constructing new plants. The biggest of which is what to do with the waste. One of the most frequently proposed long term solutions is a geologic repository, a specially designed hole in the ground with thick barriers where large amounts of toxic waste can slowly degrade over hundreds of years.

The problem is that no one can ever agree on where to build a giant and expensive hole to dump nuclear waste that will render the site unusable for generations.”

BY Matthew Gault VICE News

Outside the sleepy Maine town of Wiscasset (population 3,700), armed guards patrol a slab of concrete surrounded by a chain link fence. On the slab is 60 cement and steel canisters containing 550 tons of nuclear waste with nowhere to go according to the Bangor Daily News.

It’s a problem across the country. Nuclear power plants produce waste that’s stored on site in what’s billed as a temporary solution. After decades of promising to move the waste, the Department of Energy (DOE) hasn’t found a more permanent solution. And now, the Pentagon is moving forward with plans to increase the production of plutonium pits, a core component of nuclear weapons, which will produce more highly toxic and radioactive waste.

Nuclear power is incredibly efficient and produces little carbon. A move towards a world based on nuclear power would dramatically cut down on emissions that lead to climate change. But nuclear power produces nuclear waste, a variety of highly toxic substances that will take hundreds of years to become inert.

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Expanded Plutonium “Pit” Bomb Production Rules Over Genuine Cleanup Los Alamos Lab Plans to Make Existing Nuclear Waste Dumps Permanent Without Eliminating Threat to Groundwater

The Department of Energy (DOE) has submitted a report to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) declaring its preferred plan to “cap and cover” radioactive and toxic wastes at one of the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) oldest dumps. DOE’s $12 million cleanup-on-the-cheap plan for Material Disposal Area C will create a permanent nuclear waste dump above our regional groundwater. In contrast, DOE has asked Congress for one billion dollars for expanded plutonium “pit” bomb core production at LANL for fiscal year 2022 alone.

LANL used to falsely claim that groundwater contamination was impossible and even asked NMED for a waiver from even having to monitor for it. We now know that there is extensive groundwater contamination from hexavalent chromium (the carcinogen in the Erin Brockovich movie) and high explosives. Traces of plutonium have been detected 1,300 feet under Area C in regional groundwater monitoring wells. The dump also has a large toxic gaseous plume of industrial solvents known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which threatens nearby facilities.

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Nuclear Officials Discuss Modernization of Arsenal in Online Forum

“Officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration have said the earlier estimate of Savannah River meeting its pit production target in 2030 was unrealistic and that it could take until 2035.

Meanwhile, the most recent cost estimate for bringing Savannah River’s pit plant online has swelled to $11 billion from $4.6 billion.”

BY: Scott Wyland swyland@sfnewmexican.com Jul 20, 2021

A group of nuclear weapons managers agreed Tuesday that making more plutonium cores for warheads will be key to modernizing the nation’s arsenal as a deterrent against rival countries.

But during an online forum, a few of the managers who work at facilities with nuclear weapons programs also delved into a military leader’s assertion in recent months the U.S. is unable to produce a brand-new nuclear weapon, unlike Russia and China.

Peter Heussy, a defense consultant, asked the panel to interpret the comments by Adm. Charles Richard, head of U.S. Strategic Command, based on their work in the field.

“My thinking is: By policy we’re not supposed to be designing new [weapons]. We’re not being asked to do it, either,” said Mark Martinez, who oversees mission support and testing at the Nevada National Security Site.

The current focus is on life extension, Martinez said, referring to the program to replace or upgrade aging components, including the softball-sized plutonium cores — or pits — that detonate warheads.

Plans call for Los Alamos National Laboratory to produce 30 pits by 2026 and Savannah River Site in South Carolina to make 50 pits in the 2030s.

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76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building Weapons of Mass Destruction

76 Years After the First Nuclear Bomb Test, the U.S. is Still Dead Set on Building New Weapons of Mass Destruction

Last week, July 16 2021, marked the 76th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb explosion. Within another month, memorials and commemorations will be held for the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the U.S. bombed on 6 and 9 August 1945, respectively. Although it was unknown to most residents of New Mexico until after the United States’ atomic bombing of Japan, the citizens and communities in the southern region of the state were in fact the first nuclear victims.

When the U.S. Army detonated an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 at 5:29 a.m., “its thunderous roar during the rainy season knocked people from breakfast tables in Tularosa and sent others on the Mescalero Apache reservation into hiding.” (axios.com) Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico are working to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered extremely because of the experiment. Rare forms of cancer and other health problems have been discovered in those living near the site of the Trinity Test, and the vast, noxious consequences of this experiment have had lasting impact on now multiple, entire generations.

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‘Downwinders’ To Hold Candlelight Vigil In Remembrance Of Trinity Test

BY:  

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Southern New Mexicans will hold their 12th candlelight vigil in Tularosa Saturday commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Trinity Test, and remembering the suffering and deaths they believe it caused. The test was history’s first detonation of a nuclear device.

KSFR’s Dennis Carroll talks with Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, about progress she and supporters have made in their quest for acknowledgement and justice.

Latinos Still Coping with the Fallout of 1st Nuclear explosion

Russell Contreras | axios.com

The 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion. Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico this month are marking the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity Test — an experiment resulting in health problems for generations living near the site of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion.

Why it matters: Descendants of those families use the July 16 anniversary to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered rare forms of cancer ever since the explosion.

The big picture: Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders, tells Axios that the overlooked residents of southern New Mexico finally are closer to being included in the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.

  • The act is scheduled to sunset on July 15, 2022, but the Hispanic village of Tularosa and the Mescalero Apache Reservation were never included in the law to compensate Americans who lived near and suffered from nuclear testing.
  • Cordova said the Tularosa Basin Downwinders expect the U.S. Senate this year to consider a bill to extend the law and include southern New Mexico residents, in addition to Navajo uranium miners and some Idaho residents near other sites.
Tina Cordova speaking about the Trinity Test and its effects on her family.
Tina Cordova speaking about the Trinity Test and its effects on her family. Photo: Russell Contreras

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) plans on introducing a bill later this month that would extend the radiation act and include those forgotten residents, Crapo spokeswoman Melanie B. Lawhorn confirmed to Axios.

What happened: On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert, the U.S. Army detonated an atomic bomb developed through the Manhattan Project by scientists at the then-secret community of Los Alamos.

  • The bomb exploded at 5:29 a.m., and its thunderous roar during the rainy season knocked people from breakfast tables in Tularosa and sent others on the Mescalero Apache reservation into hiding.
  • The Army publicly attributed the sound to a mere ammunition explosion.
  • Residents reported black rain and burned cows that passed on radiation poisoning through milk to unsuspecting residents.
  • No one told residents of the site’s dangers, and they often picnicked there and took artifacts, including the radioactive green glass known as “trinitite.”

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In Memoriam: Priscilla Johnson McMillan, 1928–2021

A longtime supporter and friend of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, nuclear historian Priscilla Johnson McMillan passed away at 92 on July 7, 2021.

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

“Priscilla was generous with her time and intelligence. She was astonishingly knowledgeable about Russia as it emerged from the Cold War and equally modest. She will be greatly missed,” — Kennette Benedict

A 2013 article from the Cambridge Chronicle states, “Since high school, McMillan had been active in politics and supported strengthening the United Nations in the hopes of controlling nuclear weapons.

‘It was the early post-war generation,’ she recalled. ‘We were trying to strengthen the UN so nuclear weapons wouldn’t belong to one country or another.’”

New Mexico: Number One in Nuclear Weapons and Radioactive Wastes Near Last in Citizen and Child Well-Being

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, July 2, 2021
Santa Fe, NM – According to budget documents just released by the Department of Energy, DOE facilities in New Mexico will receive $8 billion in FY 2022, nearly double that of any other state. Seventy-five percent ($6 billion) is for core nuclear weapons research and production programs under the DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration. This is 39% of the agency’s total nation-wide nuclear weapons budget of $15.5 billion, more than double the next closest state.

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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Must Reads

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink by William J. PerryWilliam J. Perry [Former Secretary of Defense]

Published by Stanford Security Studies, Nov. 2015

Perry argues that nuclear weapons now “endanger our society rather than securing it.” He is one of the founders, along with Sam Nunn, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger, of the Nuclear Security Project.

In his own words:

“This book is a selective memoir of my experiences with nuclear weapons and nuclear crises, and its purpose is to alert the public to the real and growing dangers of a nuclear catastrophe. I hope you will read this book and learn from it. But I realize that this book, even if effective, will reach only a small audience. In particular, it will reach very few of our young people. The problems I have described are going to be with us for decades, so our young people must play a key role in dealing with them.

Therefore I have undertaken to put these concepts into a form more widely accessible and available to young people. I am doing this through the William J. Perry Project, whose goal is mass education on nuclear dangers… For some years I have taught a course at Stanford about nuclear dangers, and I am now developing that course into an online course that has the potential to reach not just hundreds of students, but hundreds of thousands… The broader series of educational materials under development is called “Nuclear Weapons: 20th-Century History, 21st-Century Decisions,” or 20-21 for short. We not only want people to understand the history, but to engage in current-day issues facing the United States, such as the impending nuclear arms race and the danger of a resumption of nuclear testing.

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

 

Los Alamos: A Whistleblower’s Diary

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.

“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

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

“One cannot level one’s moral lance at every evil in the universe. There are just too many of them. But you can do something and the difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”

Daniel Berrigan – from the book “Daniel Berrigan: Essential Writings.

“It’s long past time to demystify the nuclear enterprise, to strip away the fear and trembling, and ask how many weapons are needed to do what.”

We Don’t Need a Better Nuclear Arsenal to Take on China – Fred Kaplan, SLATE News

“The point of nonviolence is to build a strong new floor beneath which we can no longer sink; a platform which stands a few feet above napalm, torture, exploitation, poison gas, A and H bombs, [and] the works. Give a man a decent place to stand.Joan Baez

“[Nuclear Weapons] aren’t just wildly expensive. They’re dangerous. Because they are designed to fire while enemy missiles are still in the air, former Defense Secretary William Perry warns that they “could trigger an accidental nuclear war.”
Mr. Perry has proposed phasing out America’s land-based nuclear weapons and relying on a safer air- and sea-based deterrent. If Mr. Biden followed Mr. Perry’s advice, he could save more than enough money to prepare vaccines for the 50 to 100 viruses most likely to cause the next pandemic.” – Let’s Cut Our Ridiculous Defense Budget

“President Ronald Reagan believed that nuclear weapons are immoral, and so he sought their complete elimination, and I agreed – and still do with deep conviction. In the end, this is a matter of profound morality.” – George P. Schultz, US Secretary of State 1982-89

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