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

How are we Back Here…? Reflecting on the History of Nuclear Close Calls as Putin’s Threat Reignites Cold War Fears of Nuclear War

“Sadly, we are treading back through old historical patterns that we said that we would never permit to happen again,”

Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the United States National Security Council, in an interview with POLITICO, today, February 28, 2022: ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes

By

A nuclear “close call” is usually defined as an incident that could have led to at least one unintended, mistaken, or unauthorized nuclear detonation or missile launch.

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President Biden Should Let His Faith Guide Him Toward Nuclear Disarmament

Did you see what the Santa Fe Archbishop wrote in the very heart of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex?

With this pending Nuclear Posture Review, President Biden has the opportunity to show his moral leadership. I know he is capable. After all, much of what is needed is only to turn his own past words into new policy—and to reject today’s fearful status quo, embracing a new path that we can all live with.

Read the entire article here and see the picture.

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New & Updated

Granholm Gets Senate Grilling on Hanford, Nuclear Waste Storage

Murray and Feinstein press DOE on waste cleanup, Secretary says agency will continue to make progress

By Daniel Moore | bloomberglaw.com

The Biden administration is under-funding the biggest U.S. nuclear cleanup site and moving too slowly in finding nuclear waste storage solutions, two Democratic senators told Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at a hearing Wednesday.

“Explain to us why the department proposes major increases for nuclear weapons and naval reactors but cuts cleanup sites like Hanford,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked Granholm during a testy exchange at the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The DOE’s request of about $2.5 billion for Washington state’s Hanford Site represents a cut of $172 million from current enacted levels, Murray said. About 56 million gallons of liquid waste …

$61 million in refunds for customers in SC nuclear debacle

Four executives of the utility or the company that was building the reactors have been indicted or have pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the failure.

© AP News | bloomberglaw.com

FILE - Construction is well underway for two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. on Monday, April 9, 2012. A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power. About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)
AP FILE – Construction is well underway for two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. on Monday, April 9, 2012. A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power. About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge has approved a second round of refunds for customers of a utility that poured billions of dollars into two nuclear power plants that never produced a watt of power.

About $61 million is being set aside for Dominion Energy South Carolina after the utility sold a number of properties as part of the settlement of a class-action lawsuit by 1.1 million of its customers over the never completed plants at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Columbia.

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The W93 Warhead and Other Future New-Design Nuclear Weapons: Funding and Schedules

The W93 warhead is a proposed new-design submarine-launched nuclear weapon for the Navy. Its need is not clear given that the Navy’s W76 warhead recently completed a major “Life Extension Program” that extended its service life by at least 30 years and increased its accuracy through a new arming, fuzing and firing set. The Navy’s other sublaunched warhead, the W88, is entering a major “Alteration” which will refresh its conventional high explosives and give it a new arming, fuzing and firing set (presumably increasing its accuracy as well).

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Eventually, our nuclear luck will run out

Putin might not use nukes. But someday, someone will.
“The war in Ukraine should, if nothing else, push us to take stock of the inhuman policies that keep total destruction a perpetual option. If we can’t act now, when the risk of the worst-case scenario has become horrifyingly real, will we ever act?

BY DAVID FARIS| April 28, 2022 theweek.com

As fears of escalation in Ukraine increase with every day of Russia’s deranged invasion, the specter of nuclear war spreads over the planet. Will Russian President Vladimir Putin authorize the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons, most of which are stronger than the nightmare devices dropped on Japan in 1945? The risk of annihilation remains low at any given moment, but the longer we allow states to threaten one another with this kind of eradication, the more likely it is we’ll eventually stumble into a catastrophic nuclear event. Maybe it won’t happen this year, this war, or this century. But in the long-term, in a world with nukes, nuclear war is inevitable.

Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to be Spent on Plutonium Pit Production – NNSA Chooses Speed Over Safety, Condones Potential Lethal Radioactive Doses to Public

Santa Fe, NM – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency with the Department of Energy, is no longer pursuing a safety class active confinement system at PF-4, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium pit manufacturing facility. This is a long-running battle between the independent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) and NNSA.

The Safety Board has strongly recommended active confinement systems since 2004, reporting that they “will continue to function during an accident, thereby ensuring that radioactive material is captured by filters before it can be released into the environment.” [i] However, a few years ago NNSA tried to kill the messenger by seriously restricting DNFSB access to NNSA nuclear facilities across the country.

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

Santa Fe, NM – According to budget documents just released by the Department of Energy, DOE facilities in New Mexico will receive $9.4 billion in FY 2023, substantially larger than the state’s entire operating budget of $8.5 billion. Seventy-one percent ($6.7 billion) will be for core nuclear weapons research and production programs under the DOE’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). That is 40.5% of the NNSA’s total nation-wide nuclear weapons budget of $16.5 billion. It is also double that of the next closest state, since the Land of Enchantment has two of the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories (the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories). Both of these Labs are within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, whose Archbishop John Wester has echoed Pope Francis’ call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In contrast, the goal of NNSA programs in New Mexico is to indefinitely extend the service lives of existing nuclear weapons while giving them new military capabilities. This will be followed by completely new nuclear weapons that cannot be tested given the global testing moratorium. Alternatively, it could prompt the U.S. back into nuclear weapons testing, which would have serious international proliferation implications. NNSA’s claimed rationale is “deterrence” which requires only a few hundred nuclear weapons. In reality the U.S. and Russia each have thousands of ready-to-launch weapons for nuclear war-fighting that would result in global catastrophe, no longer so hypothetical since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Los Alamos Lab: More Plutonium, More Nuclear Weapons

Santa Fe, NM – On Good Friday afternoon, just before the Easter weekend, the Department of Energy (DOE) posted its “Laboratory Tables”, the best source for site specific budget information. DOE boosts funding for the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to $4.6 billion in FY 2023 (+21%), which begins October 1. With another typical $300 million in “Work for Others” (the Defense Department, FBI, CIA, etc.), LANL’s total institutional funding for FY 2023 will be approximately $4.9 billion.

Out of that, $3.6 billion is slated for core nuclear weapons research and production programs. The percentage of nuclear weapons funding at LANL has steadily grown as the Lab increasingly banks its future on plutonium “pit” bomb core production. A decade ago, nuclear weapons programs were 59% of LANL’s total institutional budget. Today it is 73%. Moreover, the remainder of Lab programs (including nonproliferation and cleanup) either directly or indirectly support nuclear weapons programs, for example through a 6% internal tax for “laboratory-directed research and development” that has historically tilted towards nuclear weapons.

LANL’s largest funding increase is for “Plutonium Modernization”, jumping 61% to $1.6 billion in FY 2023. Within that, funding to expand the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores at LANL’s aging plutonium pit production facility is increased 68% to $588 million.

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SRS WATCH: Nuclear Weapons Funding Request for DOE, Savannah River Site Takes a Huge Leap in Support of Dangerous, Enduring U.S. Plans to Fight a Full-Scale Nuclear War

SRS to Take a Larger Role in Nuclear Weapons Activities as Funding for SRS Plutonium Bomb Plant Spirals Out of Control, Increasing 189% in One Year and Nearing $1 Billion Per Year

Columbia, SC – Details of the U.S. Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons budget request for Fiscal Year 2023 were released on Friday, April 22, 2022, and a frightening picture emerges of a nation engaged in a nuclear weapons buildup emerges.  A key to DOE’s plans to make new nuclear weapons and upgrade old ones is dependent on a host of new production facilities, with the proposed Savannah River Site (SRS) Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) playing a key role in expanded reliance on nuclear weapons.

Link to SRS Watch news release, which include links to DOE’s FY23 budget justification, released on April 22, 2022:

https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/SRS-Watch-news-on-DOE-budget-April-22-2022-1.pdf

Governor Backs Citizens’ Concerns About Diluted Plutonium in Letter

[Michelle Lujan Grisham] sided with residents’ contention — which she has stated in the past — New Mexico shouldn’t be home to the nation’s sole nuclear waste storage site.

“The petitioners would like to see the DOE develop a new disposal site in a state other than New Mexico,” she wrote in the letter.

 | April 18, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

WIPP will get more space
A continuous miner operates at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham asked the Department of Energy in a letter Monday to create another nuclear waste plant outside the state. Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is asking the Department of Energy to be more open about its plans to dilute and dispose of surplus plutonium and to address concerns by New Mexico residents about the radioactive materials that would be shipped through the state multiple times.

In a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, the governor cited a 1,146-signature petition her office received in which residents expressed uneasiness about the agency’s vague plans to dilute dozens of metric tons of plutonium — which partly would be done at Los Alamos National Laboratory — before disposing of it at an underground site in Carlsbad.

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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.”

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

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Past Nuclear News

Jellyfish Keep Attacking Nuclear Power Plants

Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling pipes of nuclear power plants around the world.

By Gabriel Geiger   vice.com

Jellyfish are continuing to clog the cooling intake pipes of a nuclear power plant in Scotland, which has previously prompted a temporary shutdowns of the plant.

The Torness nuclear power plant has reported concerns regarding jellyfish as far back as 2011, when it was forced to shut down for nearly a week—at an estimated cost of $1.5 million a day—because of the free-swimming marine animals.

In a short comment to Motherboard, EDF energy, which runs the Torness plant, said that “jellyfish blooms are an occasional issue for our power stations,” but also said that media reports claiming the plant had recently been taken offline because of jellyfish are “inaccurate.” “[There were] no emergency procedures this or last week related to jellyfish or otherwise,” a spokesperson said.

Like many other seaside power plants, the Torness plant uses seawater to prevent overheating. While there are measures in place to prevent aquatic life from entering the intake pipes, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, they are no match for the sheer number of jellyfish that come during so-called “jellyfish blooms.”

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Reactor at Japan’s nuclear power plant suspended over counter-terrorism demands: Reports

The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.

ANI Tokyo   devdiscourse.com

Tokyo [Japan], October 24 (ANI/Sputnik): The third reactor at Japan’s Mihama nuclear power plant was suspended by the operator, the Kansai Electric Power company, over inability to enhance counter-terrorism infrastructure in time, the Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported on Sunday.

All the required measures to strengthen security are expected to be completed in September 2022, and the reactor might resume operations in mid-October of that year, the outlet said, citing the operator.

10 Years Since Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster | © Nuclear Watch New Mexico

The reactor was restarted on June 23, 2021, after more than 40 years of work. The law limits the maximum lifespan of reactors to 40 years, but if additional requirements are met, a reactor can work more. Mihama’s third reactor was stopped for a decade after the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, which in 2011 claimed over 15,000 lives, displaced thousands of people and caused a meltdown at the power plant. (ANI/Sputnik)

U.S. nuclear envoy visits S. Korea amid N. Korea missile tension, stalled talks

The U.S. envoy for North Korea arrived in South Korea on Saturday amid stalled denuclearization talks and tension over Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

cnbc.com

Special Representative Sung Kim’s visit came days after North Korea fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), which prompted criticism from Washington and calls for a return to talks aimed at denuclearizing the North in return for U.S. sanctions relief.

Kim, after talks in Washington with South Korean and Japanese counterparts on Tuesday, urged North Korea “to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue.”

Pyongyang so far has rejected U.S. overtures, accusing the United States and South Korea of talking diplomacy while ratcheting up tensions with their own military activities.

On Thursday, the North said the United States was overreacting to its self-defensive SLBM test and questioned the sincerity of Washington’s offers of talks, warning of consequences.

Arriving in South Korea, Kim said he looks forward to having “productive follow up discussions” with his counterpart, without elaborating.

When the US Air Force Accidentally Dropped an Atomic Bomb on South Carolina

On March 11, 1958, the Gregg family was going about their business when a malfunction in a B-47 flying overhead caused the atomic bomb on board to drop on to their S.C. backyard.

By Allison McNearney | thedailybeast.com

When the U.S. Air Force Accidentally Dropped an Atomic Bomb on South CarolinaGiven the history of nuclear proliferation throughout the 20th century, it seems like a miracle that only two atomic bombs were ever deployed against the human population. And, it turns out, it really was a very lucky break.

There is one part of atomic history that hasn’t made the history books. Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. dropped several atomic bombs on unsuspecting people below, bombs that were multiple times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Rather than being acts of extreme aggression, these “broken arrows” as they became known, were pure accidents, explosive “oopsies” committed by the U.S. military against mostly U.S. citizens. In what has been hailed as either luck or very proficient engineering of safety devices, none of the nuclear components on the falling bombs actually detonated.

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