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

LANL FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Sandia FY 2021 Budget Request – VIEW

Pantex Plant FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

KCP FY 2021 Budget Chart – VIEW

Livermore Lab FY 2021 Budget Chart – Courtesy Tri-Valley CAREs – VIEW

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Click the image to view and download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

Nuclear Watch Interactive Map – U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

Recent Posts

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New & Updated

Forum addresses plutonium pit expansion at SRS

BY SARAH LEBLANC | augustachronicle.com

AIKEN — A forum regarding the Department of Energy’s proposed expanded production of plutonium pits at Savannah River Site was held Friday evening.

About 70 people gathered in the auditorium of the Aiken Municipal Building to hear speakers present information against the proposal and encourage the public to write to their representatives in opposition to the plan.

The Department of Energy has proposed to use the former Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility as the location to produce about 50 plutonium pits per year. The pits make up the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.

Tom Clements, director of Savannah River Site Watch, said the department should not rush into a new project at the MOX plant, which was shut down in October.

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Critics raise concerns over proposed atomic bomb factory near Aiken

Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

BY SAMMY FRETWELLthestate.com

The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.

But the proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.

Savannah River Site Watch, a nuclear watchdog organization that tracks SRS, held a public meeting Friday night in Aiken County to brief people on the government’s plan at SRS, a 310-square-mile complex in western South Carolina.

“We don’t think people are really aware of what is going on: that this new mission is fraught with risk that could come to SRS,’’ Savannah River Site Watch director Tom Clements told The State.

Nuclear watchdog groups from New Mexico and California joined SRS Watch for the forum in Aiken County, where many SRS workers live. Before the Friday meeting, the groups held a news conference to voice concerns. The U.S. Department of Energy plans its own forum on the proposal June 27 in North Augusta.

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Critics raise concerns over proposed atomic bomb factory near Aiken

Anti-nuclear activists fired away Friday at what they said is a dangerous and little known plan to produce deadly atomic weapons components at the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

JUNE 14, 2019 | BY SAMMY FRETWELL | thestate.com

A mixed oxide fuel factory was under construction at the Savannah River Site for years. But the project has been scrapped and the federal government is looking to convert the site into a plutonium pit factory COURTESY HIGH FLYER

The federal government has proposed a multibillion dollar plutonium pit factory that could create as many as 1,700 jobs as part of an effort to make fresh plutonium, a major ingredient in atomic bombs.

Pro-nuclear groups say the pit plant is a good replacement for the mixed oxide fuel facility, commonly known as MOX. Not only will it provide jobs, but it will help keep the United States safe, they say.

Clements and Jay Coghlan, who directs Nuclear Watch New Mexico, don’t see it that way.

“It will be a great waste of taxpayer’s money,’’ Coghlan said. “There also is a long history of chronic safety problems and environmental or waste problems associated with pit production.’’

The proposed factory is raising concerns about its risk to the environment and the public, in addition to how it would be viewed by world leaders. Critics say the government may use the pits in a new type of nuclear weapon, instead of only replenishing the existing stockpile with fresh plutonium.

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Brave Political Leadership on Disarmament?

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Foreign ministers and high-level representatives from 15 non-nuclear-armed countries gathered in Stockholm on Tuesday to discuss advancing disarmament, amidst an ever-deteriorating arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation landscape. The resulting joint statement falls far short of the creative thinking and urgency required to rebut current nuclear threats, including an impetuous U.S. President with the launch codes and an effort to dramatically increase the production of radioactive nuclear bomb cores at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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LETTER: New Mexico governor says no to high-level nuclear waste


FILE – In this Jan 7, 2019, file photo, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a news conference in Albuquerque, N.M. Lujan Grisham is opposed to plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a multibillion-dollar facility in her state to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the United States. Gov. Grisham sent a letter Friday, June 7, 2019, to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, saying the interim storage of high-level waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to residents, the environment and the region’s economy. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

mynorthwest.com June 7, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s governor said Friday she’s opposed to plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a multibillion-dollar facility in her state to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the U.S.

In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the interim storage of high-level radioactive waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to residents, the environment and the region’s economy.

She cited the ongoing oil boom in the Permian Basin, which spans parts of southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, as well as million-dollar agricultural interests that help drive the state’s economy.

Any disruption of agricultural or oil and gas activities as a result of a perceived or actual incident would be catastrophic, she said, adding that such a project could discourage future investment in the area.

“Establishing an interim storage facility in this region would be economic malpractice,” she wrote.

Holtec International has defended its plans, citing unmet obligations by the federal government to find a permanent solution for dealing with the tons of waste building up at nuclear power plants.

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The latest episode of Ploughshares Fund’s new podcast, Press the Button, features Donté Stallworth — former NFL wide receiver and now national security wonk.

Hear his remarkable analysis of rising tensions with Iran, Trump’s flaws, and his ideas for a saner nuclear policy: https://www.ploughshares.org/pressthebutton
Listen and subscribe on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play

Halting Holtec – A Challenge for Nuclear Safety Advocates

The loading of 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel has been indefinitely halted at the San Onofre independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), operated by Southern California Edison and designed by Holtec International.

BY JAMES HEDDLEcounterpunch.org

Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fined Southern California Edison an unprecedented $116,000 for failing to report the near drop of an 54 ton canister of radioactive waste, and is delaying giving the go-ahead to further loading operations until serious questions raised by the incident have been resolved.

Critics have long been pointing out that locating a dump for tons of waste, lethal for millions of years, in a densely populated area, adjacent to I-5 and the LA-to-San Diego rail corridor, just above a popular surfing beach, in an earthquake and tsunami zone, inches above the water table, and yards from the rising sea doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense from a public safety standpoint.

The near drop incident last August, revealed by a whistleblower, has drawn further attention to the many defects in the Holtec-designed and manufactured facility.  It has been discovered that the stainless steel canisters, only five-eights inches thick, are being damaged as they are lowered into the site’s concrete silos.  Experts have warned that the scratching or gouging that is occurring makes the thin-walled canisters even more susceptible to corrosion-induced cracking in the salty sea air, risking release of their deadly contents into the environment and even of hydrogen explosions.

Furthermore, critics point out, these thin-walled canisters are welded shut and cannot be inspected, maintained, monitored or repaired.

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How Trump Could Restart the Nuclear Arms Race

Some key arms control agreements could be on the chopping block.

BY FRED KAPLANslate.com

Donald Trump Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by CUTWORLD/iStock/Getty Images Plus and Jack Hill—WPA Pool/Getty Images.

If President Donald Trump doesn’t act quickly, the nuclear arms race, which has been fairly dormant for decades, might break into a gallop.

Trump is famously hostile toward international treaties, especially those that constrain America’s actions, even if they’re actions that no one is particularly keen to take. The Iran nuclear deal, the Paris climate agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty are all commitments that Trump has ripped up for no good reason.

The scuttling of that last accord, often abbreviated as the INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev (and eliminated all U.S. and Soviet missiles having a range between 500 and 5,000 kilometers), marked the first time Trump abrogated a nuclear arms agreement between the United States and Russia, the two major nuclear powers.

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Bob Peurifoy worked at the Sandia Labs for 39 years, serving as director of nuclear weapon development and retiring as a vice president.  He was the driving force behind many safety improvements to U.S. nuclear weapons and a strong believer in conservative maintenance of the stockpile. Bob was also a strong critic of aggressive Life Extension Programs that further diverged the stockpile from its tested pedigree and wasted taxpayers’ money. As Bob’s friend and colleague Gordon Moe puts it, “Bob’s family and I hope that Bob’s wisdom and reason as reflected in the Tribute will continue to benefit humanity for many more years through its use as a reference by researchers in the field of nuclear weaponry.”
VIEW FULL TRIBUTE – PDF

Nation’s most ambitious project to clean up nuclear weapons waste has stalled at Hanford

The Energy Department’s most environmentally important and technically ambitious project to clean up Cold War nuclear weapons waste has stalled, putting at jeopardy an already long-delayed effort to protect the Columbia River in central Washington.

BY RALPH VARTABEDIAN | latimes.com

Entry sign at Hanford Site, Washington. Photograph taken by Tobin Fricke - January 2005.
Entry sign at Hanford Site, Washington.
Photograph taken by Tobin Fricke – January 2005.

In a terse letter last week, state officials said the environmental project is at risk of violating key federal court orders that established deadlines after past ones were repeatedly missed.

Two multibillion-dollar industrial facilities intended to turn highly radioactive sludge into solid glass at the Hanford nuclear site have been essentially mothballed. Construction was halted in 2012 because of design flaws and Energy Department managers have foundered in finding alternatives, according to the letter that threatens new litigation.

The department has stored 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge left over from the production of plutonium in 177 leaky underground tanks on a desert plateau a few miles from the Columbia River, raising concerns that the material has migrated into groundwater and eventually will reach the largest river in the West.

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Listen to the latest episode of Ploughshares Fund’s new podcast, Press the Button, featuring Eric Schlosser, filmmaker and author of several publications, including Command and Control. This is a particularly powerful episode to share. Eric is clear and compelling about the inherent risks of our deterrence strategy, the fallibility of the US nuclear command and control and the horrors from the use of just one nuclear weapon. He is one of the most compelling advocates on our issues in the country today. It’s worth a listen!

You can listen here: https://www.ploughshares.org/pressthebutton
Or – Listen and subscribe on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · Google Play

HASC Panel’s Bill Could Slow-Roll NNSA’s Planned S.C. Pit Plant

The Department of Energy would no longer have to make 80 plutonium pits a year by the end of the next decade, if legislation unveiled Monday in the Democrat-controlled House becomes law.

EXCHANGE MONITOR | June 4, 2019

The legislation, due for a vote Tuesday by House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee “would repeal the requirement for the Secretary of Energy to demonstrate the capability to produce war reserve plutonium pits at a rate sufficient to produce 80 pits per year by 2027,” according to the subcommittee’s portion of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA is the annual policy bill that sets funding limits for defense programs including those managed by the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The full House Armed Services Committee is set to vote on the entire House NDAA on June 12.

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New, More Usable Nukes for Trump? No.

Congress should use the new defense authorization bill to bar the deployment of new, dangerous, and redundant nuclear weapons.

REP. TED W. LIEU D-CALIFORNIA &  SEN. EDWARD J. MARKEY D-MASSACHUSETTS | defenseone.com

U.S. NAVY / MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 1ST CLASS JAMES KIMBER | The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.
U.S. NAVY / MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 1ST CLASS JAMES KIMBER |
The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee (SSBN 734) returns to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

The United States has the world’s most powerful military ever. It spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined and has developed many of the most destructive conventional weapons ever created to ensure that America can address any threat. Congress consistently authorizes investments in innovative technology and weaponry to protect our country and our allies. We also possess a strong nuclear deterrent.

These are insanely destructive weapons with an unparalleled ability to kill and destroy, both instantly and for years afterward from the nuclear fallout. Nuclear weapons should never, ever be used first and new nuclear weapons must not be designed to be more usable.

Yet last year, the Trump Administration came to Congress with just such a request to develop a new “low-yield” nuclear warhead for our submarine-launched ballistic missile, the Trident D5. Congress foolishly authorized the development of this warhead on a party-line vote, but there is still time to correct course.

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Could Trump Trash The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

Think of what the world would be like if Russia, the United States, China, India and Pakistan were testing nuclear weapons.

BY MICHAEL KREPONforbes.com

They are not because of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which is responsible for shutting down nuclear testing by major and regional powers for more than two decades. Walking away from the CTBT would be extraordinarily dumb and dangerous, but the Trump administration has taken a step in this direction.

The CTBT was negotiated in 1996, but it isn’t solidly in place. While Russia has signed and ratified it, Senate Republicans rejected it in 1999. China, like the United States, has signed but not ratified. There are other holdouts, including India and Pakistan. And yet none of these states has tested nuclear weapons since 1998. When a treaty is negotiated, it’s common diplomatic practice not to undercut its objectives while awaiting its entry into force. Hence the two-decades-long moratorium on testing by every nuclear-armed state except North Korea.

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Critical Events

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

Nuclear News

The Pope and the Bomb: Bishop Oscar Cantú Remarks

Bishop Oscar Cantú, Chairman, Committee on International Justice & Peace, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, at “The Pope and the Bomb: New Nuclear Dangers and Moral Dilemmas” event on September 17, 2015, with moderator E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post columnist, former Sen. Sam Nunn, NTI Co-Chairman and CEO, and Prof. Maryann Cusimano Love, Associate Professor of International Relations, The Catholic University of America.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, left, examines coatings at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.

The 10 Worst Things About Lockheed Martin’s Alleged Lobbying Fraud

Note that five of the ten “Worst Things” directly involve New Mexico’s ex-Congresswoman Heather Wilson. (read more)

Nukewatch’s Jay Coghlan adds these remarks in regard to Heather Wilson:

Ex-Congresswoman Heather Wilson was appointed by John Boehner to be on the Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise. In December 2014 the Panel came out with its long awaited report, “A New Foundation for the Nuclear Enterprise”, which benefited the contractors. For example, it argued for diminished federal oversight over contractors, which flies in the face of reality (e.g., constant cost overruns, WIPP, Y-12 security incident, etc., etc.)

Perhaps most alarmingly, the Panel recommended that congressional oversight be strengthened by having the DOE Secretary report to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Armed Services Committees, and to the House Energy and Commerce and Armed Services Committees. This would likely have the opposite effect, as it seems to preclude the traditional jurisdiction of the House and Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittees, which have provided key oversight in the past, and have often cut certain nuclear weapons programs.

I publicly called on Heather Wilson to resign from that Panel because of her conflict-of-interests. She did not. To add insult to injury, the co-chair of the Panel is Norm Augustine, ex-CEO of Lockheed Martin. LM’s tentacles are very widespread.

  • Lockheed Martin had $32 billion in federal contracts in 2014 (classified projects unknown). (ref) and (API)
  • This included $28 million for IRS data management. (ref)
  • In the nuclear weapons complex, in addition to Sandia Labs it runs the combined Y12-Pantex nuclear weapons production contract ($2 billion requested in FY 2016) with Bechtel, as Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC.
  • Between 2008 and 2015 Lockheed Martin had 169,345 contracts with the US government, worth $293 billion. (ref)

See more at Charles Tiefer’s outstanding article at Forbes

Watchdogs Denounce Slap on Wrist for Illegal Lobbying Activities By the World’s Biggest Defense Contractor- and Demand Real Accountability by Barring Lockheed Martin From Future Sandia Labs Contract

Nuclear Watch New Mexico denounces the $4.7 million settlement agreement as a slap on the wrist for the world’s biggest defense contractor. Lockheed Martin clearly broke the law by engaging in illegal lobbying activities to extend its Sandia contract without competition, and engaged in deep and systemic corruption, including paying Congresswoman Heather Wilson $10,000 a month starting the day after she left office for so-called consulting services that had no written work requirements. There should be criminal prosecutions for clear violations of federal anti-lobbying laws, and Lockheed Marin should be barred from future competition for the Sandia Labs contract, expected next year.

View full press release (PDF)
View Department of Justice’s settlement agreement (PDF)
View Rep. Heather Wilson’s contract and invoices pursuant to our FOIA request (PDF)

More on the New Nuclear Cruise Missile

Russia is Proving Why Nuclear-Tipped Cruise Missiles Are a Very Bad Idea

“Those four cruise missiles that crashed in Iran could’ve been carrying nuclear warheads- which is why the US should ban them, not renew them.”

…inherently ambiguous… can add major risks to a crisis… In 2007, six nuclear-armed cruise missiles were mistakenly loaded onto a B-52 bomber and flown across the United States. Because nuclear-armed cruise missiles are virtually indistinguishable from conventional ones, the error went undetected for 36 hours..”

-Tom Collina and William Saetren, Ploughshares Fund. 

Jan. 13: Just How New is the New, Nuclear-armed Cruise Missile?

“Deploying the planned new nuclear-armed cruise missile will actually make the United States less secure. Known as the Long-Range Standoff Weapon, or LRSO, it will be significantly more capable than the existing nuclear-armed air-launched cruise missile (ALCM). And for just that reason, by demonstrating that the United States sees this weapon as a valuable military tool, it will undermine higher priority U.S. security goals. Specifically, pursuing the LRSO ignores the reality that nuclear weapons are no longer a security asset for the United States, but a liability that should be constrained.” Stephen Young, Sr. Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists 

Dec. 15: Eight Senate Democrats, including three members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to terminate the Air Force’s plans for its next-generation air-launched cruise missile. Read More

LRSO: The Nuclear Cruise Missile Mission

“It seems clear from many of these statements that the LRSO is not merely a retaliatory capability but very much seen as an offensive nuclear strike weapon that is intended for use in the early phases of a conflict even before long-range ballistic missiles are used.” – Analysis by FAS/Hans Kristensen

Freeze The Arms Race

New York City, 1982: One Million Rally for Nuclear Freeze

On June 12, 1982, one-million concerned citizens gathered in Central Park in New York in an unprecedented call for “the United States and the Soviet Union . . . to adopt a mutual freeze on the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons.” A few months later, Freeze referenda were on the ballots in 9 states and dozens of major cities. Across the nation some 18 million Americans voted on the Freeze in the fall of 1982, with some 10.7 million, or 60 percent, voting in favor.

As Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said years later:

“It was the closest our country has ever come to a national plebiscite on nuclear arms control. Within a very brief time the freeze had taken education at the grassroots and translated it into political muscle at the ballot box, delivering to the White House a resounding vote of no confidence in its nuclear buildup.”

Nuclear Media

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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

September 17 War Hawk Down: A deep dive with into the firing of John Bolton, his record of failure, and how his core beliefs and worldview are deeply indicative of the way that Washington thinks about national security.

Special Guest: Trita Parsi. “In The Silo” explores at Chain Reaction, our annual fundraising gala. This year featured a tribute to Lew Butler, the founding Chair of the Board of Directors. News summary with Mary Kaszynski, Joe Cirincione, and Michelle Dover. Joe answers a question from Ben in Scotland.

Listen, Subscribe and Share on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · YouTube · Google Play · Sticher
Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

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A terrifying new animation shows how 1 ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon could trigger a US-Russia war that kills 34 million people in 5 hours

European Leadership Network Group Statement on Nuclear Arms Control

Ahead of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, over 100 members of the European Leadership Network’s network of political, diplomatic and military figures call on leaders at UNGA to address rising nuclear risk, and renew commitments to international nuclear diplomacy and arms control.

The full statement and list of signatories is reproduced in English below, and is also available in French, German, Italian, and Russian************

As world leaders prepare to meet this month at the United Nations in New York, we call on them to take urgent steps to reduce the risks of nuclear confrontation. We join a growing number of international leaders in raising the alarm over new nuclear dangers.

Last month we witnessed the end of the landmark US-Russia Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Today, there are grave doubts over the future of the only remaining agreement that limits and regulates Washington and Moscow’s strategic nuclear weapons, the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). And new challenges confront the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Stability is eroding and risks are rising. North Korea has grown its nuclear weapon stockpile, tests missiles, and continues to feel threatened. The fate of inter-Korean and US-DPRK dialogue remains uncertain. Tensions are flaring between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan. And, following Washington’s unilateral breach and resumed sanctions, Iran may walk away from the nuclear deal that constrains its ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Moreover, new military technologies threaten to destabilise global and regional nuclear confrontations. These technologies are rapidly evolving and entirely uncontrolled.

The risks of nuclear accident, misjudgement or miscalculation have not been higher since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Complacency should not be an option. It is not only European security at stake.

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Lack Of Safety And Health Priorities Continue To Plague Los Alamos Beryllium Program

A new assessment finds that Department of Energy (DOE) is not conducting effective oversight of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) beryllium program, or of safety and health programs in general. In addition, DOE is not maintaining sufficient technical capability and knowledge of site and contractor activities to make informed decisions about hazards and risks. DOE indicated the lack of sufficient safety and health resources has presented a challenge to achieving effective oversight in this area.

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Trump fires John Bolton

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump abruptly announced in a tweet Tuesday that he has asked national security adviser John Bolton to resign, noting that he “strongly disagreed with many” of Bolton’s suggestions “as did others in the administration.”

September 10 Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists joins Joe Cirincione to discuss Chinese and Russian nuclear modernization plans, and the state of nuclear arsenals around the world.

Leon Ratz joins Early Warning to discuss Iran’s latest announcement about its nuclear program, Russia’s plans to produce new weapons, and Congress’s return to Washington. Joe Cirincione and Michelle Dover answer a question from Gerrard on how citizens can influence their leaders to support nuclear weapons prohibition.

Listen, Subscribe and Share on iTunes · Spotify · SoundCloud · YouTube · Google Play · Sticher
Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

Radioactive Barges Are Killing the Vibe on This Russian Beach After Deadly Missile Blast

A pair of pontoon barges suspected of being doused in radioactivity during a deadly nuclear missile accident in Russia washed up on a local beach three weeks ago, where they’ve reportedly been leaking radiation into the sea and sand ever since.

BY GREG WALTERS | vice.com

They landed near the mouth of the Verkhovka river, and have been sitting there with no official warning signs beyond a dirty red shirt stretched between two wooden poles, according local Russian media.​

Radiation measurements as high as eight times normal background levels were taken on Aug. 31 from a distance of 150 meters, while earlier tests soon after the pontoons arrived peaked as high as 38 times normal, the outlet said. Those levels are still well short of life-threatening, but measurements closer to the barges haven’t been made.

“No idiots could be found to check the levels on the pontoons themselves without protection,” the local TV presenter deadpanned during a broadcast Monday.

One of the two barges washed up at the mouth of the Verkhovka River a day after the explosion, on Aug. 9. The other was left there by tugboats four days later, Belomorkanal reported.

A PAIR OF PONTOON BARGES LANDED ON A RUSSIAN BEACH THREE WEEKS AGO, AND HAVE BEEN SITTING THERE WITH NO OFFICIAL WARNING SIGNS BEYOND A DIRTY RED SHIRT STRETCHED BETWEEN TWO WOODEN POLES, ACCORDING TO A REPORT ON LOCAL TELEVISION STATION BELOMORKANAL. CREDIT: YOUTUBE

Readings taken on Saturday, Aug. 31 measured from 70 to 186 microroentgen per hour. Earlier measurements in August peaked at 750 microroentgen per hour. Normal local background levels in the area are closer to 20 microroentgen per hour, according to Greenpeace.

There’s not enough data yet to know what the levels are like on the barges themselves.

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The U.S. should carefully and prudently maintain its nuclear weapons stockpile

Defense News reports that “Nuclear gravity bomb and warhead upgrades face new delays” because of new components used in so-called Life Extension Programs (LEPs) to prolong the service lives of existing nuclear weapons. These programs also give existing nuclear weapons new military capabilities. For example, see How US nuclear force modernization is undermining strategic stability: The burst-height compensating super-fuze

The point of this blog is to raise the question of whether these Life Extension Programs really enhance U.S. national security while maintaining the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile. In fact, perhaps the crux issue is prudent and conservative maintenance of the stockpile versus increasingly aggressive LEPs.

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Nuclear Weapons Build-Up Insanity, Los Alamos Lab so-called “Clean-Up” – Jay Coghlan, Nukewatch NM – NH #428

Nuclear weapons – a reminder of what they look like and what they can do.

LISTEN HERE:

Nuclear weapons – their design, engineering, chances for implementation – that’s the topic we explore with Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nukewatch NM. Jay goes over the division of responsibility for nuclear weapons of mass destruction between Los Alamos National Laboratory(LANL), Sandia Laboratory, and California’s Lawrence Livermore Lab. He then rips into Department of Energy for the lies and “theatre” surrounding claims of a “more-than-halfway-completed” so-called “clean-up” of LANL that ignores the vast majority of radioactive contamination… and ultimately is funding the new nuclear arms race.

9 LANL waste containers denied shipment to WIPP

Barrels filled with transuranic waste fail inspection, remain at lab’s Plutonium Facility

BY TRIS DEROMA | lamonitor.com

DNSFB reports: https://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/document/18696/Los%20Alamos%20Week%20Ending%20July%2026%202019.pdf

Nine containers full of transuranic waste are stuck at the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility after the Carlsbad Waste Isolation Pilot Plant refused to take them in back in July.

The containers, which hold waste items such as gloves, tools and other items that have come into contact with radiological materials, were scheduled to be shipped to WIPP during the week of July 26.

The Department of Energy’s contractor N3B that operates WIPP inspected the drums at LANL prior to the shipping date and determined that the drums contained materials that could combust.

N3B Spokesman Todd Nelson said that there was never a chance the containers would have made it to WIPP in the condition they were in.

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September 3 Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, joins Joe Cirincione to discuss increasing tensions in the Middle East and the effects of Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign toward Iran.

Michelle Dover hosts Early Warning with Joe Cirincione and Tom Collina on the anniversary of the USSR’s first nuclear test. Michelle Dover and Joe Cirincione answer a question from Patrick about who in the US government is taking current nuclear weapons risks seriously.

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Also available on ploughshares.org/pressthebutton

Proposed New Exhaust at WIPP Designed to Release Radiation

19 seconds – the amount of time airborne radiological contamination could be released before the safety dampers close. This assumes that all other components work perfectly.

A recent report from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) explains the DNFSB’s calculations on the proposed new (estimated at nearly $300 million) safety significant confinement ventilation system (SSCVS).

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What If We Have A Nuclear War?

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