Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities; mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs; greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex; and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

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

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

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

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Follow the Money!

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

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

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

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

Waste Lands: America’s Forgotten Nuclear Legacy

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

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

Witness to the Cold War in the Desert: Terry Tempest Williams on Emmet Gowin’s unflinching photos of the Nevada Test Site

“Then what is the answer?” the poet Robinson Jeffers asked.

—Not to be deluded by dreams.

To know great civilizations have broken down into violence, and their tyrants come, many times before.

When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.

To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted and not wish for evil; and not be duped.

To know this, and know however ugly the parts appear the whole remains beautiful.

PHOTO ESSAY June 5, 2022 From the print edition, High Country News hcn.org

Emmet Gowin is an artist who bears witness to wholeness in beauty and violence. He understands that one cannot exist without the other. The middle ground of wisdom is found in the making of his prints, shimmering acts of awe that reveal themselves through the spectrum of black-and-white photography. We are born and we die through violent, perfect moments of birth and death. What we create through our species’ collective imagination — be it a blessing or a curse, an explosion of glory or a nightmare revisited — is in the eye of the one who beholds a vision. Gowin holds a vision of transcendence. What can be seen can be understood and in time, perhaps, reimagined. The gods within us are both creators and destroyers. The atomic bombs “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” that America dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, ended World War II. But war still resides in each nuclear warhead stockpiled in the U.S., some 3,750 nuclear warheads as of 2020, plus approximately 2,000 retired warheads awaiting dismantlement, according to the U.S. Department of State. Imagine, in 1967, during the peak of the Cold War, 31,255 nuclear warheads scattered throughout the countryside. Today, they are stockpiled in 11 states and five foreign countries. 

Study Finds Radioactivity Migrated from Contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory During Woolsey Fire

Congressional and Local Elected Officials Release Letters to CalEPA Complaining that the SSFL Soil Cleanup, Which Was to Have Been Completed by 2017, Hasn’t Even Begun

 psr-la.org

A peer-reviewed study, just published by the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, found that radioactive contamination from the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) migrated offsite during the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which began at SSFL. The study calls into question widely distrusted claims by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and its toxics department that no contamination was released.

SSFL is a former nuclear and rocket-engine testing facility located in the hills above the Simi and San Fernando valleys. Decades of accidents, spills, and releases – including a partial nuclear meltdown – resulted in extensive radioactive and chemical contamination that still has not been cleaned up.

The Twisted Myth that Nuclear Weapons Make Us Safer

“Mutually Assured Destruction” has been the MO of the world’s nuclear powers for decades. If Russia points a giant nuclear warhead toward the U.S., we would gear up to point an even more massive missile their way, and then, in theory, Russia shrugs its shoulders and says, “Eh, not worth it.” They would be completely “deterred” from advancing a nuclear attack based on the reality that doing this would mean the entire country, continent, and ultimately, the entire world, would become obliterated as we know it; the cost and the risk greatly outweigh any benefit. According to this thesis, the existence of nuclear weapons makes the cost of war seem frighteningly high and thus “discourage[s] states from starting any wars that might lead to the use of such weapons” (Kenneth Waltz, “The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May Better,”) The idea that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer is a widely used as a framing for why we need nukes at all, with one specific reason being framing that nuclear weapons can still be the equalizer against superior conventional forces.

The official NATO website was updated as recently as a few days ago (May 17, 2022), and reads in its header, “NATO is committed to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, it will remain a nuclear alliance (emphasis my own).” What happens to the theories of “Deterrence” and “Mutually Assured Destruction” when we take a closer look? What is the possibility for NATO ever disbanding because a nuclear alliance is no longer needed? If all of the over 12,000 nuclear warheads in the world somehow magically disappear, would we be better off? Or would these theories prove correct, and would World War III start imminently with conventional weapons (or sticks and stones, as the saying goes)?

A recent (May 23, 2022) headline reads, “‘Destroy whole UK in two minutes!’ Russia MP threatens nuclear strike in on-air outburst” with a summary below, “A RUSSIAN MP has boasted during a TV interview that a nuclear strike could “destroy the whole UK in two minutes” amid mounting hostility between London and Moscow.”

This article certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for the theory that nuclear weapons make conventional war safer. On the contrary, Putin has been able to escalate war with Ukraine because of Russia’s massive nuclear arsenal, not despite it. Although the risk of this conflict actually going nuclear is low, the question is undeniably raised (again, for most, for the first time since the 19050s and ’60s) if future wars could escalate beyond the nuclear threshold.

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Nuclear weapons spending to get boost in NM

“I’m old enough that I grew up as a child during the Cold War. We are back in a new nuclear arms race,” said Jay Coghlan, the executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “And I personally find it disgusting that, some 30 years after the end of the Cold War, we’re back in, arguably, an even more dangerous nuclear arms race than the first one.”

“We’re in a very deep and dangerous situation,” he said. “We’re back in a dangerous nuclear arms race in which the United States plays a very prominent role, not by any means the only role but a very prominent role.”--

By , Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal June 2, 2022 | abqjournal.com

Fueled by nuclear weapons programs and new plutonium pits, the Department of Energy’s budget for New Mexico is primed to explode.

The department is planning to spend a whopping $9.4 billion in New Mexico in the 2023 fiscal year, surpassing the entire state government budget.

The figure is included in the president’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1. The DOE spent about $8 billion in New Mexico in the 2022 fiscal year.

More than $1.3 billion will be spent on five nuclear weapons programs being worked on by the state’s national laboratories, according to DOE budget documents. That includes the initial phases of the first new nuclear warhead in more than 30 years.

The Energy Department oversees Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Calsbad. Both Sandia and Los Alamos play a role in designing and developing nuclear weapons.

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Europe must cut off Russian nuclear supply routes

“Europe must stop its cooperation with Rosatom – stop participating in joint projects, including building nuclear power plants. Stop buying nuclear fuel from Rosatom,” – Co-chairman of Ecodefense, Vladimir Slivyak

Ecodefense, Russia May 29, 2022 | Europe needs a plan in place for cutting ties with Russia’s nuclear giant Rosatom, says 2021 Right Livelihood Award winner and co-chairman of Ecodefense Vladimir Slivyak | beyondnuclearinternational.org

With the European Union tightening its sanctions against Russia, banning Russian imports of oil, gas, and coal has emerged as one powerful tool to starve the Kremlin’s war machine of funding it needs to continue its brutal aggression in Ukraine.

But one other major source of Russia’s revenue in Europe has largely remained unnoticed: Russia’s supplies of nuclear fuel and services to European nuclear power plants.

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The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability DC Days 2022: NukeWatch Visits DC

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability DC Days 2022: NukeWatch (Virtually) Visits Washington DC

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability held its annual DC Days conference virtually again this year beginning May 16, 2022. Nuclear Watch New Mexico was proud to participate in this week-long event, where we discussed issues related to nuclear waste and nuclear weapons modernization under the Biden Administration, especially regarding expanded plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Lab and at the Savannah River Site, and the generational problem of nuclear waste storage in the United States.
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To Prevent Nuclear Annihilation, Resume Negotiations Immediately

The war in Ukraine shows the urgency of nuclear arms control
“It is either the end of nuclear weapons, or the end of us,” wrote 16 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in an open letter in March that has since been signed by more than a million people.

BY SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN EDITORS | scientificamerican.com

“Bomb versus Metropolis” Principal Investigator/Project: Analog Conversion Project

Decades after the end of the cold war and mere months after the U.S., Russia and other members of the United Nations Security Council agreed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the specter of nuclear apocalypse again looms over humankind.

Western powers contemplating intervention in the war in Ukraine “must know that Russia will respond immediately, and the consequences will be such as you have never seen in your entire history,” President Vladimir Putin warned in a not so veiled threat of nuclear retaliation on February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Days later he raised the alert levels of Russian nuclear forces.

Energy secretary: We must find a solution for nuclear waste

“People feel, you know, this was not the deal when these [nuclear power] plants were built.”

BY AP NEWS | apnews.com

WATERFORD, Conn. (AP) — It is critical to find a solution for storing the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Friday during a visit to a nuclear power plant in Connecticut.

Granholm was invited to tour Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford by Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, the local congressional member. They are both working to change how spent nuclear fuel is stored nationwide to solve a decadeslong stalemate.

Spent fuel that was meant to be stored temporarily at current and former nuclear plant sites nationwide is piling up. Some of it dates to the 1980s.

Local 12 Investigation tracks down source of Russian radioactive shipments to Ohio

“Around PORTS, plutonium, and plutonium isotopes, which are far more dangerous than uranium, are now being picked up government air monitors. An independent study by Dr. Michael Ketterer at Northern Arizona University confirmed plutonium isotopes were found in river sediment and in dust collected from homes surrounding the Southern Ohio facility.

When Nadezda learned that information, she was stunned to learn America would accept anything from Mayak…”

BY DUANE POHLMAN WKRC | local12.com

MAYAK AND THE CLOSED CITY

With a simple phrase typed in the search bar of Google Earth, a massive nuclear complex in Russia’s Ural Mountains comes into full view.

From the beginning, the Mayak Production Association – or simply, “Mayak,” played a critical role in providing plutonium for the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.

For more than four decades it was on the front lines of the atomic efforts in Russia, while very little was known about this once-secret facility.

Nadezda Kutepova grew up in the shadow of Mayak in Ozersk, a city as secret as the plant itself.

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New Mexico: Work for Peace, Not Nuclear Weapons

 “Let’s try to imagine what $9.4 billion could do for New Mexicans in one year: hire hundreds of new teachers, help protect us against increasing wildfire threats, secure precious water resources, provide medical care for the poor, and clean up contamination from past nuclear weapons production. Instead, it is going to nuclear weapons forever, even as the chances of potential nuclear war are increasing and we already have global overkill many times over.”

New Mexico: Work for Peace Not Nuclear Weapons

BY “MY VIEW” SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | santafenewmexiacn.com

I was stunned to read in a recent article (“LANL would get over $1B bump in proposed budget,” April 20) that Los Alamos National Lab would get more than a $1 billion increase in its proposed budget, ensuring the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2023 spending in the Land of Enchantment would exceed New Mexico’s entire state budget by nearly a billion dollars ($9.4 billion vs. $8.5 billion).

Out of that, over 70 percent would go for programs that seek to indefinitely preserve existing nuclear weapons and build new plutonium “pit” bomb cores for new-design nuclear weapons. Further, much of the remaining money supports those nuclear weapons programs, such as $450 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the dump for future radioactive wastes from expanded pit production.

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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

One dead, three injured after gas leak at Spanish nuclear plant

A fault in the plant’s fire prevention system caused the gas leak, which was not linked to any radioactive material, the regional fire service posted on Twitter.

Reuters

MADRID, Nov 24 (Reuters) – One person has died and three have been taken to hospital after a carbon dioxide leak at the Asco nuclear power plant in the Spanish region of Catalonia, local emergency services said on Wednesday.

Shortly afterwards, the fire service said it was preparing to leave the site after checking over the extractor fans with the plant’s staff and ensuring the systems were working properly.

The three people taken to hospital suffered light injuries from carbon dioxide inhalation, emergency services said.

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

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