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.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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Follow the Money!

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

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

New & Updated

The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament is the Treaty PROHIBITING Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament is in Danger is the Treaty PROHIBITING Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United Nations Sergiy Kyslytsya sits with his hand on his head gazing downward at the UN General Assembly during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in New York City on August 1, 2022After a month of negotiations, the tenth review conference (RevCon) of the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluded on August 26 without a consensus final document,

A “Council of Councils” Global Memo titled, “The Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament Is in Danger” highlights the analysis of five experts on analyze the “failure after a month of negotiations of the tenth review conference (RevCon) of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) concluding on August 26 without a consensus final document, raising concerns about weakening efforts to promote nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons recently published an article along the same lines titled, “NPT Review Conference fails to address current security environment.” The final draft outcome document had already been significantly weakened throughout the negotiations, however Russia still refused to accept the final version and the conference ended without an agreement. ICAN: “Although the NPT Review Conference failed, there was a success this year in June. At the First Meeting of States Parties, TPNW states parties committed to the Vienna Action Plan, 50 concrete steps to advance disarmament, help victims of nuclear use and testing, commit to inclusion and progressive steps on gender and disarmament.”

Robin Lloyd of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom asks the leading questions, “How can the US consider signing the draft preamble while the House and Senate are finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act which calls for the modernization of our nuclear arsenal? How can our government even take part in this Conference while it is seeking funding for a renewed nuclear edifice of destruction including Modernized Strategic Delivery Systems and Refurbished Nuclear Warheads? Over the next decade, the United States plans to spend $494 billion on its nuclear forces, or about $50 billion a year, according to a 2019 Congressional Budget Office report. Trillions of dollars for submarines and bombers and buried nuclear missiles. Things they are committing to not use. Please, does this make sense?”

Faced with an unacceptable dangerous global situation, the TPNW will do what the NPT failed to: adopt a credible plan to advance disarmament, help victims of nuclear use and testing, and condemn any and all threats to use nuclear weapons.

The NPT is in crisis, but the TPNW is already starting to carry out its role of implementing the nuclear disarmament obligations of the NPT.  All other NPT states parties that have failed to make progress during the NPT Review Conference should join this work too.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped end the Cold War, has died

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who played a pivotal role in the end of the Cold War, has died at the age of 91 in Moscow.

August 30, 2022

Mr. Gorbachev's first five years in power were marked by significant, even extraordinary, accomplishments:

  • He presided over an arms agreement with the United States that eliminated for the first time an entire class of nuclear weapons, and began the withdrawal of most Soviet tactical nuclear weapons from Eastern Europe.
  • He withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan, a tacit admission that the invasion in 1979 and the nine-year occupation had been a failure.
  • While he equivocated at first, he eventually exposed the nuclear power-plant disaster at Chernobyl to public scrutiny, a display of candor unheard-of in the Soviet Union.
  • He sanctioned multiparty elections in Soviet cities, a democratic reform that in many places drove stunned Communist leaders out of office.
  • He oversaw an attack on corruption in the upper reaches of the Communist Party, a purge that removed hundreds of bureaucrats from their posts.

nytimes.com

Mikhail Gorbachev, who has died aged 91, was the most important world figure of the last quarter of the 20th century. Almost singlehandedly he brought an end to 40 years of east-west confrontation in Europe and liberated the world from the danger of nuclear conflagration.

The man who oversaw the end of the Cold War and then the end of the Soviet Union has died.

Reformist politician ended one-party communist rule and halted the global arms race

‘We’re losing our people’: COVID ravaged Indigenous tribes in New Mexico. Did uranium mining set the stage?

Today, hundreds of mines lie abandoned across New Mexico’s Indigenous lands. So do scores of eroding radioactive landfills meant to bury uranium mine waste.

By Eli Cahan, Capital & Main | August 26, 2022 usatoday.com

As a young girl, Arlene Juanico would rush to gather the laundry before the explosions started.

When the alarms sounded, Juanico would hustle to grab the clean garments off the clothesline before she was enveloped by dust clouds. But Juanico’s little legs usually couldn’t get her back to shelter in time.

That’s when the yellow-flecked dust – emerging from detonations in the sacred mesa the Laguna tribe knows as Squirrel Mountain – would catch up to her. That’s when it would enter Juanico’s throat, burrowing deep into her lungs.

It’s the same dust she would confront when, as an adult, she worked for the Anaconda Copper Co.

And it’s the dust that would persist in her lungs, kidneys and bones. There, hidden in the dark recesses of her chest, the particles lay until one day decades later a CT scan would show Juanico and people like her why they hadn’t been able to take a full breath in decades. They’d get a similar diagnosis – idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – one mangled lung at a time.

A warning sign affixed to a barbed wire fence looms outside the Church Rock uranium mine near the Navajo community at Red Water Pond Road, about 10 miles east of Gallup, New Mexico.

As such, the dangers of one of the largest uranium mines in American history didn’t abate when the dust clouds dissipated.

NPT Review Conference fails to address current security environment

“In a year when a nuclear-armed state invaded a non-nuclear armed state, a meeting of nearly all countries in the world failed to condemn Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons in the context of its invasion, and failed to take any steps that would advance nuclear disarmament.”

After four weeks of meetings, the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference has failed. Despite the final draft outcome document being significantly weakened throughout the negotiations, Russia refused to accept the final version and the conference ended without an agreement. 

ICAN (The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) | August 27, 2022 icanw.org

The document had many problems. In a year when a nuclear-armed state invaded a non-nuclear armed state, a meeting of nearly all countries in the world failed to condemn Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons in the context of its invasion, and failed to take any steps that would advance nuclear disarmament. It has failed to address the urgency of the moment.

The Bizarre Mystery of the Only Armed Nuke America Ever Lost

The lost nuke has never been found—only the pilot’s helmet was recovered, and the government kept it secret for years.

BY MATTHEW GAULT | VICE NEWS | August 29, 2022 vice.com

U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES PHOTO

…On December 5, 1965, U.S. Navy Lt. Douglas Webster was supposed take an A-4E Skyhawk loaded with a nuclear bomb into the sky. On the USS Ticonderoga aircraft carrier, stationed in the Philippine Sea about 70 miles from Okinawa, Japan, the crew loaded the weapon onto the vehicle and Webster got into the cockpit. The crew then pushed the plane to an elevator that would bring it up to the flight deck.

The plan was for Webster to fly around, then land back on the aircraft carrier where the crew would unload the weapon. Webster never made it into the air. The Skyhawk rolled out of the elevator and the crew began to frantically wave at Webster, calling on him to hit the breaks. “According to testimony during the post-incident Board of Inquiry investigation, the pilot seemed oblivious to the whistles and was looking down,” Chief Petty Officer Delbert Mitchell, who was on the crew that loaded the bomb onto the Skyhawk, told the U.S. Naval Institute in 2019.

Navy crew desperately tried to stop the Skyhawk, but they only managed to pivot it in place as it rolled inevitably to the side of the carrier. It hit the netting on the side of the elevator, broke through it, and fell into the ocean. The nuke was armed. “We never saw Lieutenant Webster after he climbed into the cockpit or knew what efforts he might have attempted to get out of the Skyhawk, but we were stunned to witness a plane, pilot, and nuclear weapon fall into the ocean,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell and the rest of the ship looked into the ocean and watched as the Skyhawk sank into the ocean, its landing gear sticking straight up into the air. Efforts to save Webster and recover the nuclear bomb started immediately. The Navy called in other ships to aid with the search but discovered no sign of the missing nuke or plane—they only ever found Webster’s helmet.

The Navy did not talk about the incident for decades. It reported the incident to Congress a year later when the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was studying the shocking number of Broken Arrows, but the general public wouldn’t learn that America had lost an active nuke off the coast of Japan until 1989.


The US military is still missing 6 nuclear weapons that were lost decades ago

“After Robert McNamara took the post of Secretary of Defense later that year, he pointed to that incident and another nuke loss over Texas as evidence of how close the U.S. has come to accidental detonations, despite “spending millions of dollars to reduce this problem to a minimum.”

“By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted,” McNamara was quoted as saying in an article by The Guardian.”

The U.S. military had 32 nuclear accidents during the Cold War, and several nuclear weapons remain unaccounted for.

BY  | TASK AND PURPOSE | August 25, 2022 taskandpurpose.com

From car keys to glasses to rifles, everyone misplaces something important from time to time. But when you’re the U.S. government, sometimes that important thing is a superweapon that is designed to destroy cities and kill millions of people.

Over the decades, the U.S. military has had 32 nuclear accidents, also called “Broken Arrow” incidents. These incidents include accidental launches, radioactive contamination, loss of a nuclear weapon or other unexpected events involving nuclear weapons. Luckily, of those 32 accidents, there were only six U.S. nuclear weapons that could not be located or recovered, and of those six weapons, only one was capable of a nuclear detonation when it was lost.

While even one missing nuclear weapon sounds scary, it’s worth noting that the Soviet Union lost far more during the Cold War, often due to submarines sinking with a dozen or more nuclear missiles on board.

“Compared to the Soviet Union, the U.S. record is pretty impressive, given how many nuclear weapons it has operated and transported everywhere over the years,” Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists, told Task & Purpose.

palomares
Barrels of contaminated soil collected at Palomares, Spain for removal to the United States, 1966. (U.S. Air Force)

In fact, U.S. government agencies often go to great lengths to secure lost weapons. One such incident occurred on Jan. 17, 1966, when a B-52 and a KC-135 refueling tanker collided over southern Spain and scattered four B-28 thermonuclear bombs around the fishing village of Palomares. The conventional explosives for two of the bombs exploded, but the nuclear components did not detonate because they were not armed. The U.S. military sent troops to pick up the undetonated one that fell on land, clean up the radioactive pieces scattered by the two which detonated, and find the fourth which landed in the sea. The U.S. government even dispatched a submarine to find the one in the Mediterranean Sea. Called ‘Alvin,’ the small deep-ocean sub was high-tech for its time, but the crew nearly died when the sub was almost entangled in the parachute that was still attached to the bomb on the ocean floor. Meanwhile, the service members who helped find the landward bombs and clean up the wreckage also developed cancers which they say are linked to that mission 56 years ago.

Considering the extent to which the U.S. looks for lost nukes like it did in Palomares, the stories behind the five instances where recovery crews could not locate or recover weapons are extraordinary. Below is a list of those five accidents, one of which resulted in two missing nuclear weapons. Keep in mind that in all but one, the lost nuclear weapons did not include the pit or capsule that contains the components for triggering a nuclear detonation. That means we can all sleep a little easier knowing those weapons cannot blow up a city. However, the U.S. government still classifies those pit-less devices as nuclear weapons: sophisticated, expensive machines that at the time were closely-guarded tools of mass destruction. And there are many more out there from other governments like the Soviet Union which may never be found.

Nuclear waste shipments to repository near Carlsbad lagging behind goals for 2022

“So far in FY 2022, most of WIPP’s shipments came from Idaho National Laboratory to fulfill statutory agreements between the DOE and the State of Idaho.”

By Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus | August 26, 2022 currentargus.com

Nuclear waste managers in New Mexico are about 90 shipments of waste short of their goal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant for fiscal year 2022 which ends in about a month.

Records show WIPP accepted 206 shipments so far for FY 2022, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022.

During an Aug. 4 meeting before lawmakers, WIPP officials said the facility was targeting 299 shipments this year.

Transuranic (TRU) waste is shipped to WIPP near Carlsbad for permanent disposal in an underground salt deposit about 2,000 feet below the surface.

It comes from U.S. Department of Energy facilities throughout the nation, and is made up of clothing materials and equipment irradiated during nuclear activities.

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ACTION ALERTS

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Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9

Interfaith Panel Discussion on the 77th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th Progressive Democrats of America Central New Mexico Community Gathering:

PDA CNM Community Gathering - March 9, 2022 - Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, spoke at PDA CNM's March 9, 2022 monthly gathering: “[Archbishop Wester's] courage in speaking out against the proliferation of nuclear weapons inspires us at PDACNM to follow his example and continue the fight against this peril, especially given the threat of a possible imminent war between two nuclear powers.”

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New Nuclear Media: Recent Books, Art, Film & More

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Past Nuclear News

Explainer: Will Germany’s next government ditch U.S. nuclear bombs?

“Germany can, of course, decide whether there will be nuclear weapons in (its) country, but the alternative is that we easily end up with nuclear weapons in other countries in Europe, also to the east of Germany,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

BERLIN, Nov 22 (Reuters) archivemd.com

A stockpile of munitions stored in a secured facility at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 6, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Devin Nothstine)
NATO allies will be scouring the policies of Germany’s next federal government for one crucial detail: Will Berlin remain part of NATO’s nuclear sharing agreement?
Or will it drop out and ask the United States to remove its nuclear bombs from German soil?
While such a move might be popular among some Germans, it would reveal a rift within NATO at a time when the alliance’s relations with Russia are at their lowest since the end of the Cold War.
WHAT IS NATO’S NUCLEAR SHARING?
As part of NATO’s deterrence, the United States has deployed nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey – all NATO allies that do not have their own nuclear weapons. In the case of a conflict, the air forces of these countries are meant to carry the American nuclear bombs.
WHAT EXACTLY IS GERMANY’S ROLE?
Around 20 U.S. nuclear bombs are estimated to be stored at the German air base of Buechel, in a remote area of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The base is also home to a squadron of Tornado fighter jets belonging to the German air force, the only German jets fitted to carry the nuclear bombs.

Federal inspection of Pilgrim plant finds only ‘minor’ violations

A federal inspection of the decommissioned Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth that began in July and stretched through September found “no violations of more than minor significance,” the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

By Colin A. Young, State House News Service PATRIOT LEDGER NEWS patriotledger.com

alt="Dry casks holding spent fuel assemblies are shown outside the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station before its May 2019 shutdown. Owner Holtec International has reached an agreement with the state to ensure safe decommissioning of the plant and cleanup of the site."
Dry casks holding spent fuel assemblies are shown outside the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station before its May 2019 shutdown. Owner Holtec International has reached an agreement with the state to ensure safe decommissioning of the plant and cleanup of the site. Cape Cod Times File Photo

The inspection included “an evaluation of the safety screening, safety review, onsite management review, engineering change processes, the fire protection program, maintenance program, and the available results for site radiological and non-radiological characterization,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. The agency also conducted “a review and observation of the independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) dry cask activities.”

Inspectors visited Pilgrim at least five times during the announced quarterly inspection to observe Holtec Decommissioning International’s activities “as they relate to safety and compliance with the commission’s rules and regulations” and the conditions of the company’s license.

“Based on the results of this inspection, no violations of more than minor significance were identified,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission wrote in the inspection report.

The Plymouth nuclear plant, which employed about 600 people and had been generating about 680 megawatts of electricity per year since coming online in 1972, permanently ceased operations May 31, 2019.

Holtec has estimated that it can complete decommissioning work by the end of 2027.

UN experts review plans for release of Fukushima plant water

The plan has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea.

courthousenews.com

Cranes over the Fukushima Daiichi plant in February 2016. UN experts review plans for release of Fukushima plant water
The Pacific Ocean looks over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

TOKYO (AP) — A team from the U.N. nuclear agency arrived in Japan on Monday to assess preparations for the release into the ocean of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

The six experts on the team from the International Atomic Energy Agency are to meet with Japanese officials and visit the Fukushima Daiichi plant to discuss technical details of the planned release, Japanese officials said.

The government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, announced plans in April to start gradually releasing the treated radioactive water in the spring of 2023 to allow for the removal of hundreds of storage tanks to make room for facilities needed for the destroyed plant’s decommissioning.

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Wake up call on nuclear waste! Meet the National Radioactive Waste Coalition!