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

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New & Updated

Feds agree to LANL waste cleanup and repairs to settle lawsuit

Federal officials would agree only to study the possibility of clearing out waste from the Area G pit and wouldn’t commit to following through, said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director.

“Ideally, the transuranic nuclear waste would go to WIPP, and the low-level radioactive materials would be buried in a landfill with liners and a leachate collection system. Capping and covering the on-site pit is problematic because it’s unlined and could allow toxins to leach into the groundwater,”

 | March 23, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory will do extensive waste cleanup and fix a long-broken monitoring system for polluted runoff to comply with a settlement of a watchdog’s lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Watch New Mexico agreed to a settlement in federal court last week to end six years of litigation for what the watchdog group characterized as neglect of longtime issues.

“It’s now a legal obligation on the part of DOE,” said Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch’s executive director. “I do expect DOE will be cooperative in this.”

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Say NO to nuclear war!

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

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


Tell Congress to say NO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Americans fear being drawn in

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

Nearly 50% ‘very concerned’

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

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

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

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

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

NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

What to know about the threat of nuclear war

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

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

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

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

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

But, one month later, Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

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

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

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

FULL/ORIGINAL ARTICLE

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

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

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

By | March 24, 2022 THE INTERCEPT theintercept.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NukeWatch Lawsuit Settlement Speeds Up Cleanup at Los Alamos Lab

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

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

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

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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

Opinion: Too many ‘downwinders’ are still suffering

“We are sponsoring a bill that would make sure the government’s responsibility to those who were harmed by nuclear testing does not get swept under the rug.”

By deseret.com

On December 18, 1970, the Baneberry underground nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site released radioactivity to the atmosphere. Baneberry had a yield of ten kilotons (a kiloton is the equivalent of 1,000 tons of TNT). It was buried about 900 feet beneath the surface of Yucca Flat, near the northern boundary of the NTS. Many Utahns suffered health effects believed to have resulted from nuclear testing. U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy

Any objective study of American history brings us to the realization that there are many Americans who quietly made, and continue to make, great sacrifices for our national security. Many of these women and men willingly give of themselves to ensure that our country remains free.

Tragically, under the banner of national security the United States government exposed Americans to radioactive uranium ore and radioactive dust — subjecting them to lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses.

On July 16, we marked the 76th anniversary of the detonation of the first nuclear weapon — code-named Trinity — in the desert of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin. Three weeks after the Trinity detonation, the United States exploded the Little Boy bomb over Hiroshima and, three days later, the Fat Man bomb over Nagasaki. Six days later, Japan surrendered. In the aftermath of World War II, a nuclear arms race began that reached its zenith with over 60,000 nuclear weapons worldwide in 1986.

Many lives were lost or severely altered by the nuclear weapons program. Thankfully, the world stockpile of nuclear weapons has steadily declined since 1986 and will, hopefully, continue to do so in the future. Yet, the effects of detonating over 1,100 nuclear weapons since the Trinity test in 1945 continue to mar the lives of Americans to this day.

Through atmospheric weapons tests, as well as mining, transporting and milling of uranium ore, many Americans have been slowly killed by radiation exposure. Thousands of Utahns were infected by radiation exposure simply by living “downwind” of the federal government’s nuclear weapons testing sites. Additional Utahn miners were affected as they worked the uranium necessary for these weapons. These “downwinders” and miners and their families friends, and communities often suffered excruciating illness, loss and devastation.

In response to this malfeasance, Congress rightly enacted (and later amended in 2000) the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in 1990. This legislation was a good first step in making recompense to those who mined and hauled uranium ore and those who processed the ore at a mill. The RECA legislation also addresses those exposed to radiation downwind from nuclear test sites.

It has been more than 20 years since any meaningful reform to RECA has been made for those whose lives have been taken or irreversibly altered by our foray into the arms race. Several classifications of workers such as core drillers and ground workers have been denied justice by being excluded completely from the process.

Some diseases that should have been compensable have been excluded. Numerous geographical locations exposed to downwind radiation have been left out. Uranium miners continued to mine after the United States stopped buying uranium for its nuclear weapons programs in 1971. These so-called post-1971 workers were excluded from accessing benefits since the original RECA legislation had an arbitrary cutoff date of Dec. 31, 1971 — even though the federal government continued to regulate uranium mines long after 1971. To make matters worse, RECA is scheduled to sunset in July 2022 — potentially leaving all classifications of exposure victims without redress.

We are honored to represent some of these “downwinders” and their family members and want them to know their suffering — and the sacrifices they made for our nation — are not forgotten.

That is why we are pleased to be the lead Republican members of the House of Representatives on the “RECA Amendments Act of 2021,” legislation that will reauthorize RECA for those still suffering the consequences of nuclear testing.

The tragic consequences of the nuclear arms race cannot be swept under the rug of history. We urge our colleagues in Congress to support the “RECA Amendments Act of 2021.” Our country must act now to address the injustices of those who have been forgotten by their own government.

Rep. Burgess Owens represents Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Rep. Chris Stewart represents Utah’s 2nd Congressional District.

NRDC: Legislation Offers Path Forward on Nuclear Waste

“This legislation could end years of debate and acrimony and help determine a path forward for disposing of nuclear waste. Placing nuclear waste under bedrock environmental laws could ensure strong repository standards, while giving states the power to approve what is sequestered within their borders.”

– Kit Kennedy, managing director for the Climate and Clean Energy program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

NRDC  nrdc.org

WASHINGTON – Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) introduced legislation today that could end a 60-year impasse over our nation’s nuclear waste.

The bill would establish a task force to consider removing exemptions for radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel from our bedrock environmental laws. Doing so would allow for geologic repositories for nuclear waste that have strong environmental protections and the consent of state leaders and local residents.

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A Little Radiation Is Not Good For You

“…between 1977 and 1990, scientists tripled their estimate of the damage inflicted by a given dose of radiation. A 1992 study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that nuclear weapons production workers exposed to small doses were four to eight times more likely to contract cancer than previously estimated…even the very lowest background levels of radiation exposure are harmful to health and have statistically significant negative effects on DNA.”
Photograph Source: Joi Ito – CC BY 2.0

In a rare pushback against the radioactive pollution industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — well known as a rubber stamp for the nuclear lobby — has flatly rejected an attempt to further weaken the agency’s radiation exposure regulations.

After six years of deliberation, the NRC’s three commissioners, two Democrats and one Republican, voted unanimously to reject formal petitions submitted in February 2015 urging the agency to adopt a cost-cutting scheme known as “hormesis” which claims that “a little radiation is good for you.” The September 16 decision by the NRC says this “threshold theory posits that “there is some threshold dose below which there is either no radiation-related health detriment or a radiation-related health benefit that outweighs any detriment.”

The order then rebukes this concept, finding the petitioners “fail to present an adequate basis supporting the request,” and “Convincing evidence has not yet demonstrated the existence of a threshold below which there would be no … effects from exposure to low radiation doses.”

The basis for hormesis had been explicitly rejected ten years earlier, the NRC pointed out, by the National Academy of Sciences in its 2005 report “Biologic Effects of Ionizing Radiation, 7th Ed” or BEIR-VII. The National Research Council summed up its book-length BEIR-7 report saying, “the smallest dose has the potential to cause a small increase in risk to humans.”

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Kildee Introduces Bipartisan Resolution Opposing Proposed Canadian Permanent Nuclear Storage Site Near Great Lakes

Resolution Asks Biden Administration to Work with Canada to Prevent New Permanent Storage of Nuclear Waste in the Great Lakes Basin

By Devlin Barrett and Martin Weil | September 16, 2021 Press Release dankildee.house.gov

SAGINAW—Standing on the banks of the Saginaw River, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today announced the introduction of a bipartisan resolution opposing Canada’s new plan to build a permanent nuclear waste storage site in the Great Lakes Basin.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a non-profit established by the Canadian government, has unveiled new plans to build a facility that would permanently store more than 50,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in South Bruce, Ontario, located within the Great Lakes Basin. High-level nuclear waste is the most dangerous form of nuclear waste and remains hazardous for tens of thousands of years.

An accident involving radioactive waste near the Great Lakes would have catastrophic and long-term consequences for the health of Michigan, the Great Lakes region and all of the U.S. and Canada.

The U.S. and Canada have historically worked together to prevent the permanent storage of nuclear waste in their shared water basins.

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