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!

Map of “Nuclear New Mexico”

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

New Nuclear Media: Art, Films, Books & More

A September 11th Catastrophe You’ve Probably Never Heard About

In 1957, America narrowly averted a nuclear meltdown at the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado. A new book explores how close we all came to disaster.

ANDREW COHEN | theatlantic.com

An interior view of the plutonium processing facility at Rocky Flats. (Library of Congress)
An interior view of the plutonium processing facility at Rocky Flats. (Library of Congress
On September 11, 1957 a national catastrophe was unfolding, one you likely have never heard about before. At the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility near Denver, inside the plutonium processing building, a fire had started in an area designed to be fireproof. Soon it was roaring over, through, and around the carefully constricted plutonium as one Cold-War-era safety feature after another failed. The roof of the building, the building itself, were threatened. And plumes of radioactive smoke went straight up into Colorado’s late summer night air. High into the air, if you believe the witnesses.For 13 hours on the night of the 11th, into the morning the next day, the fire raged inside that building, until firefighters put it out (with water — exposing themselves, and perhaps the entire front range of Colorado, to an even greater risk of radiation). When it was over, Energy Department officials, and the Dow Chemical officials who then ran the facility, did not share the extent of the catastrophe, or the radiation danger, with local officials or the media. For years, no one really knew how bad it had been, what it meant for those exposed to the radiation, or how such a dangerous event could be prevented in the future.

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New & Updated

Scoping Comments to the National Nuclear Security Administration On the Los Alamos National Laboratory Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement

A Reduced Operations Alternative is not only a reasonable alternative but is in the actual best interests of the nation.

Such an alternative would best preserve stockpile reliability by foregoing production of new pits that may deviate from tested designs; conservatively maintain the existing, extensively tested nuclear weapons stockpile; augment and accentuate nonproliferation programs, especially the development of monitoring and verification technologies that could help underpin a future world free of nuclear weapons; and augment and accentuate cleanup programs that are truly comprehensive, permanently eliminating the threat to groundwater.

October 18, 2022

LANL SWEIS COMMENTS
NNSA Los Alamos Field Office
3747 W. Jemez Road
Los Alamos, NM 87544

Via lanlsweis@nnsa.doe.gov

Dear National Nuclear Security Administration:

Nuclear Watch New Mexico hereby submits these scoping comments on the new Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS).



Executive Summary

First, NNSA should complete a new nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement on expanded plutonium pit production. A new LANL Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement should then be “tiered” off of that document and address all of these issues outlined in these scoping comments, and in particular the site-specific impacts of expanded plutonium pit production. In the event that NNSA continues its arguably illegal behavior in not completing a new PEIS, a new draft LANL SWEIS should nevertheless analyze the issues outlined in these scoping comments, particularly expanded plutonium pit production.
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LANL SWEIS Scoping Comments due on Tuesday, October 18th - Submit TODAY!

EDIT & SUBMIT TODAY! YOUR COMMENTS COUNT!! SAMPLE COMMENTS FOR SCOPING THE LANL SWEIS: Formal Scoping Comment to the National Nuclear Security Administration on the Los Alamos Lab Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement



October xxxx, 2022
Via LANLSWEIS@nnsa.doe.gov

Dear National Nuclear Security Administration:

Pursuant to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, the following issues should be analyzed and considered within the scope of the new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The last Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) was completed in 2008 and is badly outdated. Since 2018 the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous nuclear weapons agency, has been aggressively expanding the production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons at the Lab.

On August 19, 2022, NNSA finally announced its intent to prepare a new LANL SWEIS, but apparently the agency will not address expanded plutonium pit production.[1] NNSA’s legally dubious claim is that it performed the required NEPA analysis for expanded plutonium pit production in a 2008 Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the 2008 LANL SWEIS and a woefully inadequate “Supplement Analysis” of the 2008 SWEIS completed in 2020. This last document concluded that a new SWEIS was not needed, after which NNSA issued an Amended Record of Decision expanding plutonium pit production at LANL to at least 30 pits per year.[2]

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Boeing’s Weak Santa Susana Cleanup Triggers Lawsuit 

Sweetheart Deal Negotiated Behind Closed Doors Violates CEQA Mandates


PRESS RELEASEInline image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, October 6, 2022
Contact
Jeff Ruch, PEER, jruch@peer.org (510) 213-7028
Melissa Bumstead, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab Santasusanacampaign@gmail.com (818) 233-0642
Denise Duffield, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 
dduffield@psr-la.org (310) 339-9766
Lawrence Yee 
lhyee306@gmail.com 


Oakland — The Newsom administration’s backroom deal with the Boeing Co. to dramatically weaken cleanup standards at the profoundly polluted Santa Susana Field Laboratory violates the public involvement and transparency requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), charges a lawsuit filed today by community and public health groups. The suit would open the cleanup agreement to public scrutiny and force the state agencies and the Boeing Co. to justify a cleanup methodology that leaves 90% of the contamination onsite.

Filed today in Ventura County Superior Court by Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab, Physicians for Social Responsibility (LA Chapter), and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the suit would, if successful, vacate both the cleanup agreement and an accompanying promise to free Boeing from toxic stormwater discharge requirements.

“This suit does not prevent cleanup from beginning immediately but instead aims to ensure it continues until it is fully completed,” stated Pacific PEER Director Jeff Ruch, noting that under a prior Consent Order, the cleanup was supposed to have been completed back in 2017. “This lawsuit is about having this cleanup done right and well beyond the outrageous ‘rip and skip’ deal that Boeing wrangled behind closed doors.”

After repeatedly promising to enforce a 2007 legally binding cleanup agreement with Boeing, the Newsom administration secretly negotiated an 800-page agreement that “supersedes” the prior order by substantially relaxing key cleanup requirements, allowing hundreds of times higher levels of toxic chemicals than previously permitted, and leaving much of the contamination onsite.

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‘Nuclear accident’ warnings amid Russia missile strikes

By  | October 6, 2022 channel4news.com

Russia has faced weeks of military defeats in Ukraine, but today brought a reminder its military is still able to cause substantial destruction.

Overnight, and again this morning, the city of Zaporizhzhia suffered a series of missile attacks, including a direct strike on a residential apartment building.

The strikes raised concerns for the nearby nuclear power plant, leading to a warning from the International Atomic Energy Agency that an accident there is “a very clear possibility”.

NY TIMES: I’ve Studied 13 Days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This Is What I See When I Look at Putin.

By Michael DobbsThe New York Times | October 5, 2022 nytimes.com

Two nuclear-armed states on a collision course with no obvious exit ramp. An erratic Russian leader using apocalyptic language — “if you want us to all meet in hell, it’s up to you.” Showdowns at the United Nations, with each side accusing the other of essentially gambling with Armageddon. For six …

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s pit production a year behind schedule

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said the lab has a history of delays and cost overruns that predates the pandemic.

“I suspect LANL and [the federal government] are using COVID as a convenient excuse for what’s going to happen anyway,” Coghlan said. “I’m certainly not saying there was no delay for COVID, but I doubt this much.”

Coghlan said the revelation is significant because it’s the first official confirmation the Los Alamos lab is running behind schedule with its planned pit production.”

BY SCOTT WYLAND, THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN | October 5, 2022 santafenewmexican.com

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory (Jathan Campbell/Los Alamos National Laboratory )

(Tribune News Service) — Los Alamos National Laboratory’s effort to produce 30 nuclear bomb cores a year by 2026 was stalled for 13 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, calling into question whether it can make the much-touted target.

An anti-nuclear activist obtained a redacted management plan for the lab’s plutonium operations through a Freedom of Information Act Request, which describes how the production deadline is more likely to be missed because of preparatory work being delayed during a hard-hitting stretch of the pandemic.

STATEMENT: Archbishop Wester on Feast Day of St. Francis, Pray for Peace in Ukraine, Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

Today, October 4 is the feast day of St. Francis, the tireless promoter of peace and patron saint of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Pope Francis chose his name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, and three days ago, he declared:

“The course of the war in Ukraine has become so serious, devastating, and threatening as to cause great concern… [W]hat about the fact that humanity is once again faced with the atomic threat? It is absurd… It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide.”

This October is the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, about which then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said humanity survived only by luck. Sixty years later, we are facing the most serious nuclear threats since then.

Pope Francis has called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, declaring they can no longer be justified even by the deterrence strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction.

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Biden Thinks Non-Nuclear Threats Will Stop Putin. His Military Doesn’t

“We’re in uncharted territory,” says a senior intelligence officer. “Threatening to respond forcefully and creating catastrophic consequences for Russia [without] suggesting nuclear war: Is that strong enough to deter Putin? And is it really clear? I’m not so sure.”

BY , NEWSWEEK | September 30, 2022 newsweek.com

The United States would “respond forcefully” to any Russian nuclear strike, President Biden said—but there’s a divide between his administration and some of his military advisers over the role of American nuclear weapons and the most effective way to deter Vladimir Putin, knowledgeable sources tell Newsweek.

“It’s the closest we’ve been to the use of nuclear weapons in over 50 years,” says one civilian working at the Omaha, Nebraska-based Strategic Command. “But I’m not so sure that we are communicating the right thing to deter Putin.”

ACTION ALERTS

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Interfaith Panel Discussion on Nuclear Disarmament - August 9

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Posts Related to: NUCLEAR SAFETY

Congress Introduces Legislation to Expand Compensation for Radiation Exposure

Luján, Members of Congress Introduce Legislation to Expand Compensation for Individuals Impacted by Radiation Exposure

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation while working in and living near uranium mines or downwind from nuclear weapon test sites.
Tens of thousands of individuals, including miners, transporters, and other employees who worked directly in uranium mines, along with communities located near test sites for nuclear weapons, were exposed during the mid-1900s to dangerous radiation that has left communities struggling from cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses.

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Billion-dollar LANL building has plumbing problem

BY MARK OSWALD / JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Saturday, June 1st, 2019 at 12:05am Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – A building at Los Alamos National Laboratory with a price pegged at more than $1 billion apparently has some bad plumbing.

A federal safety oversight board recently reported that the operations staff at the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building found a leak in the building’s radioactive liquid waste system.

Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, a frequent LANL critic who called attention to the recent safety board report, said the plumbing problem is symptomatic of the lab’s history of safety issues, which has included using the wrong kind of cat litter as a desiccant when packing a radioactive waste drum. A reaction in the drum caused it to breach in 2014 and contaminate the nation’s nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad.

Read the complete article here

Editorial: LANL leaders must make safety the lab’s top mission

Falling short of the bare minimum in the eyes of the DOE is a far cry from where the public expects or needs LANL to be.

The Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board has a great editorial except for this part – 

Because LANL is home to some of the best and brightest in the nuclear industry. It is the home of the Manhattan Project. And its future is important not only to the prosperity of our state, but also to our national security.

Forum on June 14 in Aiken, SC on Expanded Production of Plutonium “Pits” for Nuclear Weapons

Forum on June 14 in Aiken, SC on Expanded Production of Plutonium “Pits” – for Nuclear Weapons – to Give Voice to Concerns in Face of DOE’s Failure to Engage and Inform the Public about the Risky Proposal

Columbia, SC– The controversial proposal by the U.S. Department of Energy to expand production of plutonium “pits”- the core of all nuclear weapons – will be the subject of a public forum in Aiken, South Carolina on Friday, June 14, 2019.  The event is free and open to all members of the public.

In response to DOE’s lack of public engagement about the proposal and its potential environmental and health impacts, three public interest groups that work on DOE and nuclear weapons issues have taken the initiative on the matter. The questionable proposal by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration is to expand pit production at the Savannah River Site into the shuttered MOX plant – a totally new and unproven mission for SRS – and at the Los Alamos National Lab to 80 or more pits per year.  Such pit production for new and “refurbished” nuclear weapons may help stimulate a new nuclear arms race. The vague proposal is far from finalized and is unauthorized and unfunded by Congress.

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