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

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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:

Recent Blog Posts

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New & Updated

Some U.S. cities turn against first planned small-scale nuclear plant

“[Two] cities, Logan and Lehi, Utah have walked away from the project, and a third is now considering dropping its support because of risks and a lack of backers, according to officials.”

BY:  |

An artist’s rendering of NuScale Power’s small modular nuclear reactor plant. Courtesy NuScale/via REUTERS

(Reuters) – The first U.S. small-scale nuclear power project, grappling with cost overruns and delays, faces another challenge: the defection of cities that had committed to buying its power. The more than 30 members of the public power consortium Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) have until Sept. 30 to decide whether to stick with the project and devote more funds to NuScale Power LLC’s first-of-a-kind reactor.

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SC settles lawsuit over plutonium waste for record $600M

“According to a release, under the terms of the settlement, the Dept. of Energy remains obligated to remove the plutonium by 2037.”

BY: Alexx Altman-Devilbiss |

SC settles lawsuit over plutonium waste for record $600M
FILE – In this Sept. 29, 1994 file photo, a CSX Train with spent nuclear fuel passes through Florence, S.C., on its way to Savannah River Site Weapons Complex near Aiken S.C. Nevada and South Carolina are jostling for a home-field advantage of sorts in a federal court battle that could result in a metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium being stored 70 miles from Las Vegas. (Jeff Chatlosh/The Morning News via AP, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C (WPDE) — Attorney General Alan Wilson Monday announced the federal government will pay South Carolina $600 million and clean up weapons-grade plutonium to end six years of litigation.

“This settlement is the single largest settlement in South Carolina’s history. It is important to me that the people of South Carolina know of our long-term commitment to preventing South Carolina from becoming a dumping ground for nuclear waste,” said Wilson. “Additionally, the more than half a billion dollars in settlement money could not come at a better time as our state government and economy work to overcome the revenue shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a long, difficult road but I am proud of the leadership displayed by our state’s elected officials and the expertise of my legal team.”

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Vatican representative calls on U.S. to sign nuclear-test-ban treaty

“The treaty is a critically important step toward creating a world without nuclear weapons…Each of the remaining eight states should strongly back up its words in favor of peace by being the first to sign.”

BY: Cindy Wooden |

Pope Francis delivers a message about nuclear weapons at Atomic Bomb Hypocenter Park in Nagasaki, Japan, Nov. 24, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the absurdity of “pouring valuable resources into the maintenance of weapons of destruction while so many on this planet are struggling to survive,” a Vatican representative told a U.N. meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

It is impossible to make a moral case for continued nuclear weapon testing,” said Msgr. Fredrik Hansen, charge d’affaires at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

“There should never be another nuclear test explosion,” he told the online meeting Aug. 26.

The United Nations has designated Aug. 29 as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, and Msgr. Hansen used the occasion to call on China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States to ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

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Smith and Menendez Statement on the Immense Costs of Allowing the New START Treaty to Expire

Already exorbitant nuclear weapons costs will only go up if the New START treaty expires.
“Extending the New START Treaty for a full five years is clearly the right financial and national security choice. America cannot afford a costly and dangerous nuclear arms race, particularly in the middle of our current economic, political, and health crises.”

Smith: Monica Matoush // 202-226-5048
Menendez: Juan Pachon // 202-224-4130

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published a new report regarding the potential costs of expanding U.S. strategic nuclear forces if the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) Expires:

“CBO’s nonpartisan report is clear: The Trump administration’s unwillingness to continue the decades of strategic arms control by failing to extend the New START Treaty is driving the United States toward a dangerous arms race, which we cannot afford. While this report only begins to account for the costs of the Administration’s preposterous claims that we can ‘spend the adversary into oblivion,’ it is further proof of why New START is essential to U.S. and international security.

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Catholics Against Nukes: Archbishop Wester’s Hiroshima Vigil

As long as nuclear deterrence, that most unmeasured of strategies, remains, it keeps company with the prospect of use and annihilation. Coghlan, in his rebuke to the editors also penned in the Albuquerque Journal, gave an acid summation: “the US arsenal has always been about nuclear war fighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it.” Only “sheer luck has kept us from nuclear catastrophe.”

BY: Binoy Kampmark |

In what is a turn-up for the books, a senior voice of the Catholic Church made something of an impression this month that did not incite scandal, hot rage, or the commencement of an investigation. It did, however, agitate a few editors. Archbishop John C. Wester of San Fe, in speaking at the online Hiroshima Day vigil, had put up his hand to defy the validity and morality of nuclear weapons and, along with them, the idea of nuclear deterrence. One of the organisers of the event, the veteran peace activist Rev. John Dear, claimed it had “never happened before.”

Dear had a point. There has been a shift within Catholic ranks urged along by Pope Francis on that most fatuous of strategic doctrines, nuclear deterrence. Before the United Nations General Assembly in June 1982, Pope John Paul II chose to argue that nuclear “‘deterrence’ based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable.”

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New Video Shows Largest Hydrogen Bomb Ever Exploded

A Russian nuclear energy agency released formerly classified footage of the Soviet Union’s 1961 Tsar Bomba test.

BY:  |

A still image from a 30-minute, previously secret documentary on the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated. Credit: Rosatom

Hydrogen bombs — the world’s deadliest weapons — have no theoretical size limit. The more fuel, the bigger the explosion. When the United States in 1952 detonated the world’s first, its destructive force was 700 times as great as that of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

And in the darkest days of the Cold War, the Soviets and the Americans didn’t only compete to build the most weapons. They each sought at times to build the biggest bomb of all.

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Don’t Preach Nuclear Arms to Archbishop

“That $2 trillion nuclear weapons modernization will do nothing to protect us against the global pandemic impacting Americans now. Further, the Sandia and Los Alamos labs may actually degrade national security with planned new nuclear weapons designs that can’t be tested because of the global testing moratorium. Or worse yet, this may prompt the U.S. back into testing, throwing more gas on the fire of the new nuclear arms race.”

Monday, August 24th, 2020 at 12:02am

In response to (the Aug. 13) editorial “Archbishop’s nuclear weapons view needs a homily on reality,” I was one of the speakers at the 75th anniversary commemoration of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, organized by Fr. John Dear, at which Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester eloquently spoke. The editorial declared “neither Wester nor Dear appear to accept the premise there is any deterrent benefit to the nuclear arsenal.”

To the contrary, the Journal perpetuates the delusion that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is just for deterrence, a premise fed to American taxpayers since the beginning of the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. arsenal has always been about nuclear warfighting, starting with the simple fact that we were the first to use it. This continues to this day, as the Pentagon made clear in a 2013 nuclear policy declaration: “The new guidance requires the United States to maintain significant counterforce capabilities against potential adversaries. The new guidance does not rely on a ‘counter-value’ or ‘minimum deterrence’ strategy.”

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NOTE: This study has notable implications since the New Mexico congressional delegation touts expanded nuclear weapons programs as an economic engine for northern New Mexico.

Study: Neighboring counties lose money due to LANL

BY: Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — A study conducted by University of New Mexico researchers found that Los Alamos National Laboratory has a negative economic impact on nearby communities, despite employing many people in the area.

Of the seven counties included in the study, governments in six of them were found to be losing money due to LANL’s impact, with the exception of Los Alamos. Those counties include Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Taos and Mora.

The study, conducted by UNM’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, found Los Alamos County gained $13 million from economic activity created by the lab, while all other counties lost an average of $1.25 million.

Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties, home to 40% of the Lab’s employees, had the largest losses, at more than $2 million.

In a Friday presentation of the findings to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities, Bureau Director Jeff Mitchell said his team calculated how much revenue LANL employees produce for an area versus what it costs a local government to provide services for them.

The study, Mitchell said, found that LANL and its employees tend to spend their money in only a few places.

Thirty-eight percent of the Lab’s spending actually goes to Bernalillo County, with another 42% staying within Los Alamos County, according to the study.


Trump Administration Sends Mixed Signals on Nuclear Weapons Budgeting

“A Senate-passed proposal would grant the Nuclear Weapons Council new authority to edit NNSA’s budget request after the Energy Department crafts it and before the request is submitted to the White House budget office.”

BY: &

WASHINGTON ― Defense hawks in Congress are pushing a contentious plan to give the Pentagon a stronger hand in crafting nuclear weapons budgets, but the Trump administration has been sending mixed messaging over recent weeks about whether the change is needed.

The Senate-passed version of the annual defense policy bill would give the Pentagon-led Nuclear Weapons Council a say in the budget development of the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy that’s responsible for the stockpile’s safety, security, and effectiveness.

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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

The Poisonous Legacy of Portsmouth’s Gaseous Diffusion Plant

The plant was erected in Pike County, Ohio during the cold war to enrich uranium. Then people started getting sick. Now, they’re stuck cleaning up the mess.

By: Kevin Williams |

Vina Colley, a slight woman with a bob of thick blond hair, climbs into her white Ford Explorer. Her thirteen-year-old Maltese, Hercules jumps onto her lap, wedging comfortably between her legs and the steering wheel, and stays put as she navigates the steep ridges and plunging hollows of Pike County, Ohio. Colley is seventy-four, and, for nearly forty years, she’s been fighting the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, known locally as “The A-Plant” or PORTS. Her home library holds scores of totes filled with neatly labeled documents, a paper trail that exposes what she sees as Portsmouth’s darkest and most egregious secrets.

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WIPP gets millions in COVID-19 relief funding, operations contract extended for one year

“Are WIPP workers getting infected at the site and taking it back into the communities?” Don Hancock said. “WIPP is clearly not always a safe place, but we don’t know if WIPP is a place where workers get infected or if infected workers brought it to WIPP.”

BY:  |

In August and September, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant received about $3.8 million per month of federal COVID-19 funding as the U.S. Department of Energy elected to renew the facility’s primary contractor for one year despite an option to keep Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) at the helm of the nuclear waste repository until 2022.

NWP spokesman Donavan Mager said the site received $3.816 million in August and $3.803 in September and that the funding was designated to “support operations” although he did not elaborate on how, specifically, the public money was to be spent.

Per the latest reports from WIPP, 39 workers had contracted COVID-19 as the pandemic appeared to pose a resurgence in New Mexico in recent weeks.

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