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!

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

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

Recent Blog Posts

LANL Plans to Address Possibly Exploding Drums Shipped to Texas in 2014

Waste Control Specialists near Andrews TX
Aerial View of Waste Control Specialists (WCS) on the TX/NM state line

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has given itself a Categorical Exclusion (CX) under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the removal, relocation, and examination of transuranic (TRU) waste drums at Waste Control Specialists (WCS). These drums are similar to the ones that forced WIPP to close in 2014. LANL officials decided that formal environmental assessments, with public input, of the movement of the possibly exploding waste drums are not needed.

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New & Updated

Say NO to nuclear war!

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, IPPNW, and other Nobel Peace Prize Laureates are asking Avaaz and all citizens around the world to join this historic call to reject war and nuclear weapons — when it’s huge, it will be delivered to the Russian Federation and NATO:

Stop President Biden’s atrocious request: an $813 billion Pentagon budget!


Tell Congress to say NO!

President Biden has requested an additional $31 billion to increase the Pentagon budget from this year’s already excessive level of $782 billion.   But this money should be spent on YOUR needs!

The Ukraine war has been used as an excuse for this outrageous Pentagon budget — which is 12 times more than Russia’s military spending.   The Pentagon, which spends more than the next 11 countries combined, can easily afford to arm Ukraine and send more troops to Europe (though we oppose these steps) without additional funding.

The rapid increases in the Pentagon budget are making us less safe, even as war rages in Ukraine. They will only raise tensions with Russia and China, prepare for a superpower conflict, and put innocent people at risk.

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Nuclear fears in US amid Russia-Ukraine war, says a new poll

Close to half of Americans say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned about that, according to the new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Russian President Vladimir Putin placed his country’s nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the Feb. 24 invasion.

BY BEN FOX and HANNAH FINGERHUT | March 28, 2022 APNEWS apnews.com

Americans fear being drawn in

Russia’s war on Ukraine has most Americans at least somewhat worried that the U.S. will be drawn directly into the conflict. Now a new poll says there is also anxiety among Americans that they could be targeted with nuclear weapons.

Nearly 50% ‘very concerned’

Close to half of Americans in the poll say they are very concerned that Russia would directly target the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and an additional 3 in 10 are somewhat concerned about that.

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Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety: “Nuclear Watch New Mexico Settlement Moves Cleanup at LANL Forward”

This week Nuclear Watch New Mexico announced the successful settlement of its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) about its slow cleanup of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  After a six-year court battle, the settlement requires DOE to re-establish a monitoring station on the Rio Grande in order to protect the Buckman Direct Diversion Project, which provides about 40 percent of the drinking water for Santa Fe residents.  The monitoring station was destroyed in 2013 during a major flood event.  https://bddproject.org/  

The settlement also includes the cleanup of 158 corrugated metal culverts containing cemented radioactive liquid waste buried at the Area G dump; a feasibility study for the excavation of a waste pit, also at Area G; and the investigation, characterization and, if necessary, clean up of 290 specific dumps scattered across the LANL site.

To read the press release with a link to the Settlement Agreement:

NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

What to know about the threat of nuclear war

“Special alert is the Russian military’s highest level of alert. So Putin’s statement is serious. But it should also be noted that Russia, France, the United Kingdom and of course, the United States maintain almost 2,000 nuclear warheads on various states of high alert.

By Paige Sutherland  & Meghna Chakrabarti| March 14, 2022 wbur.org

A Soviet-era top secret object Duga, an over-the-horizon radar system once used as part of the Soviet missile defense early-warning radar network, seen behind a radioactivity sign in Chernobyl, Ukraine, on Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)
A Soviet-era top secret object Duga, an over-the-horizon radar system once used as part of the Soviet missile defense early-warning radar network, seen behind a radioactivity sign in Chernobyl, Ukraine, on Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

On January 3rd of this year, the world’s five largest nuclear powers, including Russia, issued the following joint statement:

A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

But, one month later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

It’s a move that alarmed the world, and seems to fly in the face of that statement, which also says:

“Nuclear weapons — for as long as they continue to exist — should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.”

On Point: Russia, and the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal. Where are the weapons, how are they controlled and what could trigger a launch?

FULL/ORIGINAL ARTICLE

THE INTERCEPT: “CONGRESS IS ALREADY BLOWING A KEY CHANCE TO REFORM NUCLEAR WEAPONS POLICY”

The national security establishment and its corporate allies dominate Congress’s new nuclear weapons commission.

“While the world draws closer to nuclear war than it has in decades, perhaps ever, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has given lawmakers a unique opportunity to scrutinize the massive nuclear modernization effort currently underway in the U.S. — the largest since the Cold War. But last week, when Congress announced most of its appointees to a new commission designed to do just that, it was business as usual. A former senator-turned-defense contractor lobbyist and a senior executive for BP were among the picks.”

By | March 24, 2022 THE INTERCEPT theintercept.com

SPEAKING TO CNN on Tuesday, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterated a well-known tenet of Russian military doctrine: The country could resort to the use of nuclear weapons if it perceives an “existential threat.” Russian Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy made a similar comment to Sky News, saying that nuclear war could be a possible outcome if the country is “provoked” or “attacked” by NATO. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby called Peskov’s comments to CNN “dangerous,” saying: “It’s not the way a responsible nuclear power should act” — begging the question of whether there is such a thing as a “responsible” nuclear power.

Biden Nominee to Lead Civilian Nuclear Weapons Office Gets His Hearing; Supports Review of Warhead Trigger Program

Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tri-Valley CAREs and Savannah River Site Watch are in the process of suing for a programmatic environmental impact statement to be completed on plutonium “pit” (warhead trigger) production. 

By Dan Leone | | March 22, 2022 DEFENSE DAILY defensedaily.com

In a confirmation hearing Tuesday morning, the Biden administration’s nominee to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) weapons programs from headquarters in Washington pledged his support for the agency’s program of record and agreed to review the agency’s plan to produce new plutonium pits if confirmed.

The nominee, Marvin Adams, a professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M University, testified alongside three other witnesses before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Adams appeared before the committee about 10 weeks after the Biden administration sent his nomination to the Senate. The White House announced its intent to nominate Adams in mid-December.

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NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Nuclear Watch New Mexico is announcing successful settlement of a lawsuit it brought against the Department of Energy (DOE) over its slow cleanup of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The watchdogs’ lawsuit alleged violations of a 2005 Consent Order, which was a site-wide cleanup agreement between the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and DOE to address radioactive and toxic wastes at the Lab. NMED has since sued DOE to terminate a revised 2016 Consent Order issued under the Martinez Administration that is far weaker than the original 2005 Order.

After a six-year court battle, NukeWatch’s settlement agreement requires DOE to:

  1. Reestablish a surface water flow monitoring station near where the Los Alamos Canyon meets the Rio Grande. This is critical because the Canyon has long been a known pathway for plutonium contaminants to migrate as far as 20 miles south to Cochiti Lake, a popular recreational area. The Buckman Direct Diversion Project (BDDP), three miles south of the Canyon, supplies drinking water directly out of the river to the City and County of Santa Fe. The original monitoring station warned the BDDP to close its intake gates as a precaution during stormwater events and allowed characterization of the radioactive contaminants in the stormwater flows.” However, it was destroyed during a 2013 flood and DOE had refused to reinstall it ever since, despite repeated BDDP requests. Meanwhile, during that same period of time, funding doubled for LANL’s nuclear weapons research and production programs that caused the radioactive and toxic pollution to begin with.

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The Smaller Bombs That Could Turn Ukraine Into a Nuclear War Zone

“Mr. Putin might fire a [nuclear] weapon at an uninhabited area instead of at troops…It feels horrible to talk about these things, but we have to consider that this is becoming a possibility.” — Ulrich Kühn, a nuclear expert at the University of Hamburg and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


“Putin is using nuclear deterrence to have his way in Ukraine. His nuclear weapons keep the West from intervening.” — Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University who recently profiled the less powerful armaments (so-called tactical nuclear weapons that can be launched on mobile short-range ballistic missile systems).

© NEW YORK TIMES By William J. Broad | March 21, 2022 nytimes.com

A photo released by a Russian state-owned news agency showing an Iskander-M launch vehicle being loaded with a ballistic missile during military exercises at a Russian firing range in Ussuriysk in 2016.
A photo released by a Russian state-owned news agency showing an Iskander-M launch vehicle being loaded with a ballistic missile during military exercises at a Russian firing range in Ussuriysk in 2016.Credit…Yuri Smityuk/TASS, via Getty Images

In destructive power, the behemoths of the Cold War dwarfed the American atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. Washington’s biggest test blast was 1,000 times as large. Moscow’s was 3,000 times. On both sides, the idea was to deter strikes with threats of vast retaliation — with mutual assured destruction, or MAD. The psychological bar was so high that nuclear strikes came to be seen as unthinkable.

“Nuclear Weapons Must Be Eliminated, Not Reinforced”

STATEMENT BY MOST REVEREND JOHN C. WESTER ON WAR IN UKRAINE: “Nuclear Weapons Must Be Eliminated, Not Reinforced”

ALBUQUERQUE – Saturday, March 19, 2022 – IMMEDIATE RELEASE — Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe has made the following statement on the War in Ukraine:

We watch in horror as a brutal land war erupts, threatening all of Europe, which seems inconceivable after the end of the Cold War some thirty years ago. We pray for the safety and well-being of both Ukrainians and Russians and hope that God’s light and our own sanctified work towards justice and redemption can lead us to a lasting peace. In particular, we pray for the multitude of refugees and children who are having their lives destroyed by needless and unjustified violence. No matter what language they speak or which ruler they pledge allegiance to, may the Lord protect all of our brothers and sisters through the grace of God! This has been our intention during the novena for Ukraine that we are currently praying in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Two months ago I released my pastoral letter, “Living in the Light Of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament.”

Considering that letter and given the renewed fear of nuclear war that the Ukraine invasion has prompted, I feel compelled to address the important issue of nuclear disarmament.

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Living on the Edge 3.12.2022 – Environmental Clean Up at LANL

Joel and Xubi discuss the Ukrainian invasion in the context of nuclear weapons and strategic resource acquisition with Jay Coghan from NukeWatch.

Newly minted LOE co-host Jay Coghlan from NukeWatch New Mexico, and Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen join Xubi to discuss the environmental issues posed by the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s decades of environmental disregard for the sacred land of the San Ildefonso Pueblo and the watersheds down hill in the Rio Grande valley.
Commissioner Hansen also serves as the chair of The Buckman Direct Diversion Board which safeguards the water source for much of Santa Fe County and the City of Santa Fe Water Utility.
Recently the State Environment Department has sued the National Laboratory for  a “continuing pattern of delay and noncompliance” with the cleanup of hazardous legacy waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posing a health risk to people in surrounding communities.

Watchdog has concerns with projects at U.S. nuclear repository

“Nuclear watchdog groups have been critical of the Energy Department. They have raised concerns about the repository’s future, citing the increase in defense-related waste that will need to be disposed of when production of key components for the country’s nuclear arsenal ramps up at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.”

 | March 15, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

ALBUQUERQUE — There’s no way of knowing if cost increases and missed construction deadlines will continue at the only United States underground nuclear waste repository, according to a federal watchdog report made public Tuesday.

The Government Accountability Office outlined the concerns in its report, noting the U.S. Energy Department is not required to develop a corrective action plan for addressing the root causes of challenges at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico.

A multimillion-dollar project is underway at the underground facility to install a new ventilation system so full operations can resume after a radiation leak in 2014 forced the repository’s closure for nearly three years.

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Waste Isolation Pilot Plant: Construction Challenges Highlight the Need for DOE to Address Root Causes

The new ventilation system at WIPP now estimated to take 4 more years and $200 million more dollars than original estimates.

NEW Report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office March 15, 2022 https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-22-105057

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is the nation’s only facility for disposal of certain defense-related nuclear waste. The Department of Energy (DOE) identified two root causes for cost increases and schedule delays in its project to install a new ventilation system at WIPP (see figure). The facility is currently operating at a reduced capacity because of ventilation issues in the underground waste disposal areas. The root causes DOE identified were (1) its contractor’s inexperience managing construction projects and (2) an inability to incentivize staff to work in Carlsbad. DOE also identified more specific problems with this ventilation project, and has taken corrective actions to address them. While some of these corrective actions may also help to address the root causes, the extent to which these actions will do so is unclear because DOE is not required to develop a corrective action plan for addressing the root causes and does not have a process to determine whether root causes have been sufficiently addressed. Without such a plan and process, DOE cannot ensure that root causes it identifies for cost increases and schedule delays in the WIPP ventilation project or other projects will not persist or recur.

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I’m Worried About Ukraine, but it’s Not What You Think

“In the end, it is situations like the war in Ukraine that demonstrate exactly why we need to find ways to reduce and ultimately eliminate nuclear weapons.” – Dr. Tara Drozdenko of the Union of Concerned Scientists

By Tara Drozdenko, Director, Global Security Program | March 15, 2022 allthingsnuclear.org

his intercontinental ballistic missile was launched as part of Russia’s test of its strategic forces in 2020. Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

As someone who works on nuclear weapons policy for a living, I’ve been getting questions from family and friends about the war in Ukraine and the risk of nuclear use. My colleagues are getting similar questions. Most of these questions boil down to, “Should we be worried?” or “How worried should I be?”

I think concern is a healthy response to this conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued veiled threats of nuclear use and neighboring Belarus has paved the way to host nuclear weapons on its territory. Things are tense. And if NATO countries were somehow pulled into the conflict—even by accident—there is some chance this war could turn nuclear. So far, the US and other NATO countries have been very careful that there not be any misunderstandings, including cancelling a planned test launch of a Minute Man III missile.

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Action Alerts

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Abolishing Nuclear Weapons is a Moral Imperative

View Recording of the March 9th PDA CNM Community Gathering:

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

PDA CNM welcomed Archbishop John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, and our own executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Jay Coghlan, to speak at their 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.

Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, has worked successfully against radioactive incineration at the Los Alamos National Lab, and in Clean Air Act, Freedom of Information Act and National Environmental Policy Act lawsuits against the Department of Energy. He prompted a 2006 independent study that concluded plutonium pits last at least a century, refuting the NNSA’s assertion that we “need” new-design nuclear weapons and expanded plutonium pit production.”

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

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

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Past Nuclear News

Moscow says U.S. rehearsed nuclear strike against Russia this month

“Against this backdrop, Russo-Chinese coordination is becoming a stabilising factor in world affairs,” said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

By Andrew Osborn and Phil Stewart (Reuters)

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu waits before a meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with Defence Ministry officials and representatives of the military-industrial complex enterprises at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi, Russia November 3, 2021. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON, Nov 23 (Reuters) – Russia’s defence minister on Tuesday accused U.S. bombers of rehearsing a nuclear strike on Russia from two different directions earlier this month and complained that the planes had come within 20 km (12.4 miles) of the Russian border.

But the Pentagon said its drills were announced publicly at the time and adhered to international protocols.

Moscow’s accusation comes at a time of high tension with Washington over Ukraine, with U.S. officials voicing concerns about a possible Russian attack on its southern neighbour – a suggestion the Kremlin has dismissed as false.

Moscow has in turn accused the United States, NATO and Ukraine of provocative and irresponsible behaviour, pointing to U.S. arms supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine’s use of Turkish strike drones against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, and NATO military exercises close to its borders.

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.
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