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.

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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

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

Sandia National Labs to Test Nuclear Waste Storage Containers

“[Data] is needed to confirm and guide how the industry should manage storage canisters for longer than anticipated.

‘Salt can be present in the ambient air and environment anywhere, not just near the ocean. We need to be able to plan for extended long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future – it’s a national reality,’”

BY:  | krqe.com

Sandia National Labs is testing nuclear waste storage canisters. (courtesy Randy Montoya Sandia National Labs)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Sandia National Laboratories reports that it is equipping three 22.5-ton stainless steel storage containers with heaters and instrumentation in order to simulate nuclear waste so that researchers can study their durability. According to Sandia National Labs, the three, 16.5 feet long canisters arrived in mid-November and will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time.

Researchers will also study the potential for cracks that are caused by corrosion induced by salt and stress. Sandia reports that currently, there is not an operating geologic repository in the United States to permanently dispose of spent nuclear fuel.

As a result, spent fuel is being stored at commercial nuclear power plants in storage pools and dry storage canisters.

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US nuclear warhead standoff ‘has significant implications for UK’

Kingston Reif, a nuclear analyst at the Arms Control Association, said that he would expect Joe Biden’s incoming administration to take “a critical look” at the W93 programme. It was controversial because of the weak development rationale and that “the weapon would be the first newly designed warhead to enter the US stockpile since the end of the cold war”.

BY: | theguardian.com/uk

HMS Vigilant, one of the four Trident nuclear submarines. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

Britain’s most senior defence official admitted there would be “very significant implications” for the future of the Trident nuclear deterrent if Democrats in the US Congress refused to fund a next-generation warhead.

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, said that the UK was monitoring the US standoff closely but could not say what impact a refusal to start work on the new W93 warhead would have – or how many billions it would cost.

British politicians and officials have, until now, had little to say about the long-running US row over the W93, crudely estimated to be twice as explosive as the ageing Trident warhead now used by the UK.

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Peninsula Clean Energy board rejects PG&E nuclear credits

Peninsula Clean Energy board concerned over message more nuclear power sends to public
“I don’t like the idea of the nuclear on our label because it does kind of feel like a vote for it,” PCE Board Member Jeff Aalfs, said.

BY: | smdailyjournal.com

Peninsula Clean Energy has accepted hydropower allocation credits but rejected similar ones for nuclear power from PG&E after the board expressed concern about associating with the controversial energy source but, in doing so, it will lose out of potential savings up to $10 million through 2023.

Allocations are offsetting credits given out by Pacific Gas and Electric because of the environmental benefits of hydro and nuclear powers emitting fewer greenhouse gases. Peninsula Clean Energy, or PCE, will use the hydro allocation credits to offset greenhouse gas emissions associated with system power in 2021, with plans to continue through 2023. PG&E holds the option to continue offering the credits in 2022 and 2023.
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Rouhani: ‘No negotiations’ needed to restore Iran nuclear deal

“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”

BY: Maziar Motamedi | aljazeera.com

US president-elect Joe Biden and Europe have signalled that while they wish to restore the nuclear deal, they believe it needs to be renegotiated and extended

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.

Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.

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New Aerial Photos Released of the Trio of Failed Nuclear Projects in South Carolina & Georgia: Plutonium Fuel/MOX (Proposed to be Converted into a Plutonium Bomb Plant) and the Vogtle & V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Sites

Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
https://srswatch.org/
November 30, 2020

Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.

Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Lawmakers Decide Against Nuclear Weapons Test Funding in Annual Defense Bill

Nuclear Watch New Mexico echoes the words from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in “applauding lawmakers for deciding not to authorize funds to prepare for the first U.S. nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades, an outcome UCS experts worked diligently to ensure because any move to resume explosive, underground nuclear weapons testing would undermine U.S. security.”

BY: Union of Concerned Scientists | ucsusa.org

Today, Congress released the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version had contained $10 million to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons test if the White House chose to move forward with one. The House took the opposite course, voting to prohibit funding for a nuclear test explosion in fiscal year 2021. The conference report includes neither provision.

“By refusing to give the test a green light, lawmakers are wisely avoiding the risk of an explosive nuclear test setting off a new round in the nuclear arms race,” said Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program.

A dozen premier American scientists with expertise on nuclear weapons issues sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing the resumption of explosive testing of U.S. nuclear weapons, saying it was unnecessary for technical or military reasons and that doing so would have negative security consequences for the United States.

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How I Came to Support the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons

“During my time serving in the Reagan administration, I came to realize that the only nuclear strategy we had was massive retaliation, which would have made the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost trivial.”

BY:  | justsecurity.org

A copy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo credit: ICAN

About three years ago, in November 2017, I was honored to be one of about a 100 people invited by the Vatican to an international symposium, “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” It was the first global gathering conducted after 120 nations at the United Nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

This treaty, which is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, was adopted by the U.N. on July 7, 2017, and needed 50 countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force. The purpose for the treaty was to get world leaders and citizens to consider nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal as chemical and biological weapons, whose use the U.N had previously prohibited.

Pope Francis himself was very invested in the issue. He gave the keynote address in which he condemned not only the threat of their use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons and warned that nuclear deterrence policies offered a false sense of security. He also personally thanked each of the attendees individually.

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Nuclear fiasco: SCANA ex-CEO to plead guilty to fraud, get prison, pay $5 million

Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

Cooperation agreement between South Carolina federal attorney, SC attorney general & Dominion: https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cooperation-agreement-SCGA-US-fed-attny-Dominion-filed-Nov-24-2020.pdf
Marsh, 65, who now lives in North Carolina, helped lead a two-year cover-up, from 2016 to 2018, of the serious financial trouble that was jeopardizing the success of not only the ongoing Fairfield County nuclear project but also the troubled financial health of SCANA, according to records and evidence in the case.
At the time, the now-defunct SCANA was a respected gas and electric publicly-traded utility and the only Fortune 500 company in South Carolina. It had 700,000 electric customers and 350,000 natural gas customers.
Marsh, SCANA CEO from 2011 to 2017, will need to have his guilty plea formally accepted by a U.S. District Court judge before it becomes official. Under the plea agreement, Marsh will likely face a prison term of between 18 and 36 months.Continue reading

New investigative report documents fires, violations at company treating Hanford wastes

A new investigative report released exclusively to The Seattle Times by the nonprofit watchdog group Hanford Challenge documents the fires as well as other mishaps and compliance problems that the authors say “calls into question” the safety of sending Hanford’s wastes to Perma-Fix.

BY: & Seattle Times staff reporters | seattletimes.com

1 of 11 | The Perma-Fix complex in Richland handles radioactive waste, including waste from Hanford, on a 35-acre site. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

RICHLAND, Benton County — In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.

The workers let it cool — but not long enough — before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.

A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”

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Biden expected to re-examine SC factory

“South Carolina could be left holding the plutonium bag…It’s clear that the plutonium bomb plant at SRS is being driven by contractors and boosters who stand to profit by making South Carolina ground zero for an unacceptable new nuclear arms race that endangers national security and that places our state at environmental risk.” — Tom Clements, Savannah River Site Watch

BY: SAMMY FRETWELL| thestate.com

This aerial photograph shows the abandoned mixed oxide fuel factory at SRS. The photo was taken in 2019. SC HIGH FLYER

Earlier this month, efforts to build a jobs-rich nuclear weapons component factory in South Carolina reached a milestone that boosters hoped would keep construction plans on track over the next decade.

The National Nuclear Security Administration finalized a study that said the factory would not have a major effect on the environment at the Savannah River Site, the 310-square mile weapons complex near Aiken that would house the plant.

But the Nov. 5 announcement occurred at virtually the same time Joe Biden was in the process of winning the presidency — and as Biden prepares to take office in January, questions are surfacing about the factory’s future.

President Donald Trump’s plans for the pit factory almost certainly will be reviewed by Biden to see if it’s worth continuing the effort as envisioned, say national defense experts and others who track issues at SRS.

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New & Updated

U.S. Nuclear Bomb Overseer Quits After Clash With Energy Chief

“Her resignation came after a budget dispute between the NNSA and Brouillette and other officials spilled into the open earlier this year.”

BY: and  

Lisa E Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and undersecretary of Energy for nuclear security. (CREDIT: Reuters)

The U.S. official overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile resigned Friday after clashing with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and undersecretary of Energy for nuclear security, resigned after being told by Brouillette’s office that President Donald Trump had lost faith in her ability to do her job, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Some administration officials were disappointed that she’d been pushed out, saying that she was widely viewed by those in her field as capable, the people said.

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THE CARCINOGENIC, MUTAGENIC, TERATOGENIC AND TRANSMUTATIONAL EFFECTS OF TRITIUM

“The dangers of tritium come from inhalation, ingestion, and absorption… when the radionuclide unites with carbon in the human body, plants, or animals, it becomes organically bound (OBT) and can remain in the human body for 450 to 650 days. One study found traces of tritium in the body 10 years after exposure.”

Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s Critique of Some NNSA Answers to Questions on LANL’s Planned Tritium Releases

November 4, 2020

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) proposes to vent up to 114,000 curies of radioactive tritium gas to the open atmosphere while claiming that it poses no public health and safety risks. Public outcry and congressional pressure prompted the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to host a public information virtual meeting on this issue on October 20. Due to the overwhelming turnout of some 150 interested citizens and ear-splitting technical difficulties NNSA is holding another public virtual meeting at 5:00 pm Thursday November 5.

Interested citizens can join the discussion at https://www.lanl.gov/environment/flanged-tritiumwaste-containers.shtml

If you wish to speak or ask questions you should pre-register at the same site.

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Nuclear Watch New Mexico Comments on U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement

RE: Docket ID NRC-2016-0231/Report Number NUREG-2239, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists Consolidated Interim Storage Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement

Dear U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioners and Staff,

We respectfully submit these comments in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Docket ID NRC-2016-0231) regarding Interim Storage Partner’s (ISP) application for a license to build and operate a “Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for Spent Nuclear Fuel in Andrews County, Texas” (NUREG-2239), which plans to bring at least 40,000 metric tons of spent fuel, high-level radioactive waste, from nuclear reactors around the country to west Texas. Please know that we do not consent to our region becoming a national radioactive high-level waste dumping ground or to transporting up to thousands of canisters of radioactive waste through thousands of communities. We should not have to risk the contamination of our land, aquifers, air, plants, wildlife, and livestock. We do not consent to endangering present and future generations.

Read/Download full comments HERE 

Release Of Radioactive Tritium A Bad Idea

BY DR. VIRGINIA NECOCHEA & CHARLES DE SAILLAN

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It emits beta radiation, which can be very dangerous if inhaled. Like other forms of ionizing radiation, tritium can cause cancer, genetic mutations and birth defects, and assorted other adverse health effects.

So it is not surprising that many people were dismayed when they learned that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractor at Los Alamos National Laboratory plan to release 114,000 curies of tritium gas into the atmosphere at Technical Area 54 and, possibly, at Technical Area 16. DOE has been storing this waste tritium in four steel canisters at TA-54 at the Laboratory for more than a decade. Over time, pressure has built up in the canisters, which DOE plans to relieve by venting the tritium gas into the atmosphere.

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DOE Issues Controversial Decision to Pursue a Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at Savannah River Site (SRS); Inadequate Environmental Review and Lack of Justification for Production of 50 or More “Pits” per Year to Modernize Entire Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Open to Legal Challenge

November 5, 2020

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a formal decision that it will pursue a massive Plutonium Bomb Plant (PBP) at the DOE’s Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina, in order to produce plutonium “pits,” or cores, for nuclear warheads. The provocative decision, which adds fuel to concerns about a new nuclear arms race with Russia and China, drew immediate opposition from public interest groups near DOE sites in South Carolina, New Mexico and California.

The issuance by DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the “Record of Decision” (ROD) on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on pit production at SRS, issued in late September, officially affirms the “preferred alternative” that DOE intends to produce a minimum of 50 plutonium “pits” per year by 2030 at SRS. Also on November 5, NNSA issued an “Amended Record of Decision” (AROD) to its 2008 nation-wide Complex Transformation Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement that incorporated its SRS pit-production decision.

Second Public Meeting for Controversial Tritium Releases at the Los Alamos Lab

Because of overwhelming public demand and technical problems with the first virtual public meeting, the National Nuclear Security Administration is holding a second meeting on the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s (LANL’s) controversial plan to vent up to 100,000 curies of tritium gas. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, used to boost the explosive power of nuclear weapons. Most vented tritium will condense into water vapor which can then be readily ingested by living organisms, including humans. Fetuses are particularly at risk.

LANL’s nuclear weapons budget has doubled over the last decade to $2.9 billion in fiscal year 2021. But funding for so-called cleanup has remained flat at around $220 million, or 8% that of nuclear weapons. In fact, LANL plans to “cap and cover” some 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes, leaving them permanently buried in unlined pits above our groundwater, some three miles uphill from the Rio Grande, and call it cleaned up. To add to this, the Lab now plans to dose the public by venting excess tritium.

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Subcontractor sues WIPP for $32 million in canceled work

Critical Applications’ ventilation project was tied to a radiation leak in 2014 that often is recalled as the “kitty litter” incident.

BY:  | santafenewmexican.com

A subcontractor is suing the company that operates the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Southern New Mexico, claiming $32 million for what it says was gross mismanagement of a major construction project at the nuclear waste disposal site.

In a federal lawsuit, Texas-based Critical Applications Alliance LLC, which was hired to build a ventilation system at WIPP, says Nuclear Waste Partnership was such a disorganized project manager that it caused repeated delays and cost overruns, resulting in multiple breaches of contract.

The subcontractor also complains WIPP managers abruptly canceled its $135 million contract in August with no explanation and without paying millions owed.

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Political strategist & lobbyist each plead guilty in federal public corruption racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million

United States Attorney David M. DeVillers

Southern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 THURSDAY, OCT. 29, 2020

JUSTICE.GOV/USAO-SDOH

CINCINNATI – A longtime campaign and political strategist for Ohio House Representative Larry Householder and a lobbyist hired by an energy company to funnel money to Householder’s enterprise each pleaded guilty in federal court today.

Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, and Juan Cespedes, 41, of Columbus, each pleaded guilty to participating in a racketeering conspiracy involving more than $60 million paid to a 501(c)(4) entity to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

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Column: Yes, Santa Susana is a ‘landmark’ — as a historic environmental disaster

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site is “one of the most toxic sites in the United States by any kind of definition,” Jared Blumenfeld, head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, told me. “It demands a full cleanup.”

BY: MICHAEL HILTZIK 

The Santa Susana Field Laboratory site, shown in a 2000 photo, is one of the most challenging cleanup jobs in the state, possibly the country.(Boeing)

One thing is certainly true about NASA’s curious effort to place 2,850 acres above the Simi Valley on the National Register of Historic Places: The parcel is certainly a landmark.

Among the points in dispute is what makes it so.

To several local Native American tribes, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, the Ventura County site’s cave drawings and rock shelters bespeak a cultural heritage dating back centuries.

The time has come for us to make sure that we hold the polluters accountable for their legacy….We will make sure the site gets cleaned up and we will exercise our legal authority in pursuit of that. – CALEPA SECRETARY JARED BLUMENFELD

To environmentalists and the site’s neighbors, it’s historic for the extent of its contamination by chemical and nuclear research performed there during the Cold War.

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‘It just goes into a black hole’ The Trump administration is burying dozens of studies detailing the promise of renewable energy, impeding a transition away from fossil fuels

“The disposal of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been a longstanding problem for Japan as it proceeds with an decades-long decommissioning project. Nearly 1.2 million tonnes of contaminated water are currently stored in huge tanks at the facility.”

BY:  This story was produced in collaboration with InvestigateWest, a nonprofit newsroom in Seattle with a focus on the environment, public health, and government accountability

It was a scorching August day at the Hoover Dam as three Trump administration officials gathered for a little celebration honoring pollution-free hydroelectricity. Inside the dam’s Spillway House Visitor Center, air conditioning thankfully kept people comfortable as the president’s appointees heaped praise on hydropower. A U.S. Department of Interior news release about the event calls hydroelectric dams such as Hoover —where the Colorado River slips between Arizona and Nevada — a “unique resource critical to America’s future, which supports the integration of other renewables like wind and solar onto the grid.”

But what went unsaid at the grip-and-grin was that one of those high-ranking officials, Dan Simmons of the U.S. Department of Energy doesn’t appear to fully support renewables. In fact, he has presided over his agency’s systematic squelching of dozens of government studies detailing its promise.

One pivotal research project, for example, quantifies hydropower’s unique potential to enhance solar and wind energy, storing up power in the form of water held back behind dams for moments when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. By the time of the Hoover Dam ceremony, Simmons’ office at the Energy Department had been sitting on that particular study for more than a year.

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A Turning Point in the Struggle Against the Bomb: the Nuclear Ban Treaty Ready to Go Into Effect

“The TPNW arrives at a time when the risks of nuclear war are rising and as the world’s major nuclear armed states are building up their nuclear weapons capabilities. It enters into force at the same time that other key agreements limiting nuclear weapons are being discarded or threatened, and as the major nuclear-armed states are failing to meet their NPT nuclear-disarmament obligations…The entry into force of the TPNW is a much-needed wake-up call that has the potential to stimulate further action on disarmament and take us closer to a world without nuclear weapons.”

BY:  

IMAGE: The final negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in New York, concluding July 2017. (Courtesy United Nations Photo)

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) marks a turning point in the long history of the effort to reduce nuclear risks and to eventually eliminate the 13,000 nuclear weapons that remain today, 90 percent of which are held by the United States and Russia. On Oct. 24, Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the treaty, triggering its entry into force 90 days later, on Jan. 22, 2021.

That date will mark the first time since the invention of the atomic bomb that nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and stationing of another country’s nuclear weapons on a state party’s national territory are all expressly prohibited in a global treaty. The TPNW’s entry into force will arrive almost exactly 75 years after the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA’s) adoption, on Jan. 24, 1946, of its very first resolution, Resolution 1 (I), which was to establish a commission to ensure “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”

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Japan rejects nuclear ban treaty; survivors to keep pushing

“Atomic bomb survivors, who have long worked to achieve the treaty, renewed their call for Japan to become a signatory. Terumi Tanaka, a survivor of the Aug. 9, 1945, Nagasaki bombing who has long campaigned for a nuclear weapons ban, said he has not given up hope.”

BY:  

Members of Atomic Bomb survivors groups gather, holding a banner calling for Japanese government to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, with the Atomic Bomb Dome in background, in Hiroshima, western Japan, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. The United Nations confirmed Saturday that 50 countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, paving the way for its entry into force in 90 days. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO – Japan said Monday it will not sign a U.N. treaty that bans nuclear weapons and does not welcome its entry into force next year, rejecting the wishes of atomic bomb survivors in Japan who are urging the government to join and work for a nuclear-free world.

The United Nations confirmed Saturday that 50 countries have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, paving the way for its entry into force in 90 days.

The announcement was hailed by anti-nuclear activists, but the treaty has been strongly opposed by the United States and other major nuclear powers.

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Critical Events

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

Environment Department files complaint against U.S. Department of Energy to speed clean-up of legacy waste, terminate 2016 Consent Order at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Non-compliance with 2016 Consent Order causing unacceptable delays, threatening public health and the environment

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

Nuclear News

Anti-nuclear protests at Kings Bay

“Our mission is to stop the arms race…it’s a security risk and phenomenally expensive. This has become a business model and it’s deadly.” – Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South

thebrunswicknews.com

Anti-nuclear protesters hold signs near the entrance to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay on the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Gordon Jackson/The Brunswick News

ST. MARYS / Organizers of an annual protest against nuclear weapons at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay expected a large crowd to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, to help hasten the end of World War II.

Five people ended up standing outside a base gate Thursday holding signs with anti-nuclear weapons messages.

Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic compelled many who were planning to attend to stay home for health concerns. But Carroll said her trip from Atlanta to join others with concerns about nuclear weapons Thursday was worth the time.

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Pending Energy Spending Bill Mixed Bag for INL

“We all know major change takes time, and we know that it is difficult to turn this ship, but we are doing it in our time…We can and must do better than refight a tired old battle on Yucca Mountain.” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio

By: | postregister.com

Idaho National Laboratory

The Energy and Water appropriations bill Congress is expected to take up next week represents a mixed bag for Idaho National Laboratory, with spending on some priorities kept flat and slight increases for others.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted along party lines earlier this month, with the Democrats in favor and the Republicans opposed, to advance the bill. At $49.6 billion in the regular budget, it represents a $1.26 billion increase over this year’s spending, according to a committee reporting summarizing the bill. However, on top of this it also includes an additional $23.5 billion in emergency one-time funding meant to bolster various clean energy projects and aid in recovery from the coronavirus pandemic that has led to pushback from Republicans. It and six other spending bills are expected to be considered by the full House this week, according to a news release from the committee.

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Novel gas-capture approach advances nuclear fuel management

“If one day we want to treat the spent fuels, which in the U.S. are currently stored in pools and dry casks at the nuclear power plant sites, we need to handle the volatile radionuclides.” explains Ju Li, MIT’s Battelle Energy Alliance Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and professor of materials science and engineering. “Physisorption of krypton and xenon is a good approach, and we were very happy to collaborate with this large team on the MOF approach.”

By: PETER DUNN, MIT | phys.org

Separation of 85Kr from spent nuclear fuel by a highly selective metal organic framework. Credit: Mike Gipple/NETL

Nuclear energy provides about 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply, and over half of its carbon-free generating capacity.

Operations of commercial nuclear reactors produce small quantities of spent fuel, which in some countries is reprocessed to extract materials that can be recycled as fuel in other reactors. Key to the improvement of the economics of this fuel cycle is the capture of gaseous radioactive products of fission such as 85krypton.

Therefore, developing efficient technology to capture and secure 85krypton from the mix of effluent gasses would represent a significant improvement in the management of used nuclear fuels. One promising avenue is the adsorption of gasses into an advanced type of soft crystalline material, metal organic frameworks (MOFs), which have extremely high porosity and enormous internal surface area and can incorporate a vast array of organic and inorganic components.

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Inhofe, Reed Praise Senate Passage of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021

The United States Senate today passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, 86-14.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 PRESS RELEASE: https://www.armed-services.senate.gov/press-releases/inhofe-reed-praise-senate-passage-of-national-defense-authorization-act-of-fiscal-year-2021

Excerpt below from pages 416-417 includes review of transferring plutonium oxide production from Los Alamos to SRS, despite the fact that SRS already stores 11.5 MT of plutonium that South Carolina wants out of the state, and no more plutonium to come in until the current stockpile is gone.

Responsibility for Los Alamos Plutonium Facility 4 and Technical Area 55
Plutonium Facility 4 (PF–4) at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area 55 is the primary plutonium handling facility within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). PF–4 is currently undergoing major modifications to produce war reserve plutonium pits, with a production goal of 30 pits per year by 2026.Continue reading

DOE Targets End to US Reliance on Russian Nuclear Fuel, Revived Domestic Capability

“Industry and NGO representatives did not agree with Brouillette’s assertions regarding U.S. reliance on Russian nuclear fuel.
“Brouillette overstated the U.S. commercial nuclear industry’s dependence of Russian uranium ore, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Utility Dive. “Most of it comes from Australia and Canada,” he said. Industry sources put the amount coming from Russia at 20%.”

By: | utilitydive.com

Dive Brief:

  • The Department of Energy is working to end U.S. reliance on Russia for nuclear fuel, Secretary Dan Brouillette told members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy last week.
  • The department’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group wants American-sourced uranium and plans to begin processing U.S. uranium into high-grade fuel at a DOE facility in Portsmouth, Ohio, as early as next year, Brouillette said. The high-grade fuel is particularly important for new and smaller commercial reactors that DOE considers critical to grid stability as renewables replace aging fossil fuel power plants, he said.
  • Brouillette also said the government has been able to blunt cyber attacks on the U.S. power grid “from places like Russia” and is working to ban Chinese-made grid equipment it believes could contain spyware, he told the subcommittee.

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Global Zero Mourns the Loss of Dr. Bruce Blair

June 20, 2020
Source:
Global Zero

“We are saddened to announce that Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder of Global Zero and President of its Board of Directors, died unexpectedly on Sunday, July 19, following a sudden illness.

Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero, released the following statement on behalf of the organization regarding the recent passing of Dr. Blair:

“I am heartbroken at the sudden loss of my colleague, mentor, and dear friend, Bruce Blair.

“15 years ago, Bruce brought together an unprecedented international community of leaders and visionaries to build a new kind of movement to persuade governments to come to their senses and set aside the most catastrophic weapons on the planet. A veteran nuclear launch officer and unrivaled expert in command and control, Bruce understood — perhaps better than any single person alive — the urgency, enormity, and complexity of the nuclear threat. He built the Global Zero movement from the ground up and devoted all of his energy to making the world safer and better for all people.

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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

Rouhani: ‘No negotiations’ needed to restore Iran nuclear deal

“President Rouhani says Iran will return to its commitments that were part of the deal if other signatories do the same.”

BY: Maziar Motamedi | aljazeera.com

US president-elect Joe Biden and Europe have signalled that while they wish to restore the nuclear deal, they believe it needs to be renegotiated and extended

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s nuclear deal can be restored without negotiations despite recent escalations following the assassination of a top nuclear scientist, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has told world powers.

Rouhani said United States President Donald Trump “scribbled on a piece of paper” in May 2018, unilaterally withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

“The next person can put up a nice piece of paper and sign it and it just needs a signature, we’ll be back where we were. It takes no time and needs no negotiations,” Rouhani said in a televised cabinet speech on Wednesday.

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New Aerial Photos Released of the Trio of Failed Nuclear Projects in South Carolina & Georgia: Plutonium Fuel/MOX (Proposed to be Converted into a Plutonium Bomb Plant) and the Vogtle & V.C. Summer Nuclear Reactor Construction Sites

Savannah River Site Watch
Columbia, South Carolina
https://srswatch.org/
November 30, 2020

Columbia, SC (aka new Nuclear Ground Zero) — Dramatic aerial photos of the massive nuclear construction projects in South Carolina and Georgia have been released by the public interest organization Savannah River Site Watch. The photos of the three failed projects, two of which have been formally terminated, were taken by a local anonymous pilot who goes by the nom de avion High Flyer.

Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
Photo Courtesy of High Flyer © 2020
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Lawmakers Decide Against Nuclear Weapons Test Funding in Annual Defense Bill

Nuclear Watch New Mexico echoes the words from The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in “applauding lawmakers for deciding not to authorize funds to prepare for the first U.S. nuclear weapons test in nearly three decades, an outcome UCS experts worked diligently to ensure because any move to resume explosive, underground nuclear weapons testing would undermine U.S. security.”

BY: Union of Concerned Scientists | ucsusa.org

Today, Congress released the conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Senate version had contained $10 million to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons test if the White House chose to move forward with one. The House took the opposite course, voting to prohibit funding for a nuclear test explosion in fiscal year 2021. The conference report includes neither provision.

“By refusing to give the test a green light, lawmakers are wisely avoiding the risk of an explosive nuclear test setting off a new round in the nuclear arms race,” said Dr. Laura Grego, senior scientist in the UCS Global Security Program.

A dozen premier American scientists with expertise on nuclear weapons issues sent a letter to Congress strongly opposing the resumption of explosive testing of U.S. nuclear weapons, saying it was unnecessary for technical or military reasons and that doing so would have negative security consequences for the United States.

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How I Came to Support the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons

“During my time serving in the Reagan administration, I came to realize that the only nuclear strategy we had was massive retaliation, which would have made the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost trivial.”

BY:  | justsecurity.org

A copy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Photo credit: ICAN

About three years ago, in November 2017, I was honored to be one of about a 100 people invited by the Vatican to an international symposium, “Prospects for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons and for Integral Disarmament.” It was the first global gathering conducted after 120 nations at the United Nations approved the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

This treaty, which is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, was adopted by the U.N. on July 7, 2017, and needed 50 countries to ratify it in order for it to come into force. The purpose for the treaty was to get world leaders and citizens to consider nuclear weapons as immoral and illegal as chemical and biological weapons, whose use the U.N had previously prohibited.

Pope Francis himself was very invested in the issue. He gave the keynote address in which he condemned not only the threat of their use, but also the possession of nuclear weapons and warned that nuclear deterrence policies offered a false sense of security. He also personally thanked each of the attendees individually.

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Nuclear fiasco: SCANA ex-CEO to plead guilty to fraud, get prison, pay $5 million

Former SCANA CEO Kevin Marsh has agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy fraud charges, go to prison for at least 18 months and forfeit $5 million in connection with SCANA’s $10 billion nuclear fiasco, according to papers filed in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina.

Cooperation agreement between South Carolina federal attorney, SC attorney general & Dominion: https://srswatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cooperation-agreement-SCGA-US-fed-attny-Dominion-filed-Nov-24-2020.pdf
Marsh, 65, who now lives in North Carolina, helped lead a two-year cover-up, from 2016 to 2018, of the serious financial trouble that was jeopardizing the success of not only the ongoing Fairfield County nuclear project but also the troubled financial health of SCANA, according to records and evidence in the case.
At the time, the now-defunct SCANA was a respected gas and electric publicly-traded utility and the only Fortune 500 company in South Carolina. It had 700,000 electric customers and 350,000 natural gas customers.
Marsh, SCANA CEO from 2011 to 2017, will need to have his guilty plea formally accepted by a U.S. District Court judge before it becomes official. Under the plea agreement, Marsh will likely face a prison term of between 18 and 36 months.Continue reading

New investigative report documents fires, violations at company treating Hanford wastes

A new investigative report released exclusively to The Seattle Times by the nonprofit watchdog group Hanford Challenge documents the fires as well as other mishaps and compliance problems that the authors say “calls into question” the safety of sending Hanford’s wastes to Perma-Fix.

BY: & Seattle Times staff reporters | seattletimes.com

1 of 11 | The Perma-Fix complex in Richland handles radioactive waste, including waste from Hanford, on a 35-acre site. (Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times)

RICHLAND, Benton County — In May 2019, workers at the Perma-Fix Northwest plant pulled a hunk of radioactive waste from a powerful kiln heated to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to ensconce the material in glass for eventual burial.

The workers let it cool — but not long enough — before setting it on a pallet. The residual heat caused the wood to burn. A crew from the plant sprayed chemicals on the fire before Richland firefighters arrived to finish that job.

A Washington Department of Ecology inspector in a report noted that a fire alarm system was not operating that month and that the incident “could have been catastrophic.”

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Biden expected to re-examine SC factory

“South Carolina could be left holding the plutonium bag…It’s clear that the plutonium bomb plant at SRS is being driven by contractors and boosters who stand to profit by making South Carolina ground zero for an unacceptable new nuclear arms race that endangers national security and that places our state at environmental risk.” — Tom Clements, Savannah River Site Watch

BY: SAMMY FRETWELL| thestate.com

This aerial photograph shows the abandoned mixed oxide fuel factory at SRS. The photo was taken in 2019. SC HIGH FLYER

Earlier this month, efforts to build a jobs-rich nuclear weapons component factory in South Carolina reached a milestone that boosters hoped would keep construction plans on track over the next decade.

The National Nuclear Security Administration finalized a study that said the factory would not have a major effect on the environment at the Savannah River Site, the 310-square mile weapons complex near Aiken that would house the plant.

But the Nov. 5 announcement occurred at virtually the same time Joe Biden was in the process of winning the presidency — and as Biden prepares to take office in January, questions are surfacing about the factory’s future.

President Donald Trump’s plans for the pit factory almost certainly will be reviewed by Biden to see if it’s worth continuing the effort as envisioned, say national defense experts and others who track issues at SRS.

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WIPP: New Mexico regulators halt utility shaft project, cite COVID-19, planning problems

“Given the current high incidence rate at the WIPP facility, including a reported death of an employee, the circumstances of which are currently unknown, it is clear that the Permittees are unable to successfully mitigate COVID-19 risk to protect human health while conducting the activities under the scope of this Request,” the letter said.

BY: Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.| currentargus.com

Underground waste shaft station at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant

Construction of a $100 million utility shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant could be halted after the New Mexico Environment Department denied a request to extend state authorization to build the shaft, citing missed deadlines in the planning of the project and the continued spread in COVID-19 cases at the facility.

The shaft, part of an almost $300 million rebuild of WIPP’s ventilation system, along with a series of fans and filter buildings known as the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS), was intended to improve airflow in the WIPP underground and allow for waste emplacement and mining to occur simultaneously along with future expansions of the nuclear waste repository.

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In Georgia Senate runoffs, the focus — and the fire — is on Raphael Warnock

BY: Cleve R. Wootson Jr. | washingtonpost.com


MARIETTA, Ga. — There were dozens of Jon Ossoff signs at the rally outside the Cobb County Civic Center, but the touring campaign bus, the bulk of the applause and the final words belonged to the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who used them to boost two Democratic Senate campaigns.

“Georgia is positioned to do a marvelous thing,” Warnock told the crowd. “Send a young Jewish man, the son of immigrants, who sat at the feet of Congressman John Lewis, and a kid who grew up in the public-housing projects of Savannah, Georgia, the pastor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, to the United States Senate at the same time.”

Two weeks into the extraordinary runoff races that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, Warnock and Ossoff have combined their efforts to try to win Georgia’s pair of Senate seats. Their names are stacked together on yard signs; they’ve called each other “brother” at joint campaign appearances. But it is Warnock who is animating the Democratic base — and the Republican opposition.

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Flight tests to show B61-12 will work on Air Force’s newest fighter jet

Sandia Labs News Releases | sandia.gov

An F-35A Lightning II opens its bomb bay doors and drops a mock B61-12 at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range. Media can download test flight footage here. (Photo courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories) Click the thumbnail for a larger image.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mock B61-12’s strike in the dusty Nevada desert successfully completed the first in a series of flight tests with the U.S. Air Force’s newest fighter jet, demonstrating the bomb’s first release from an internal bomb bay at greater than the speed of sound.

The flight test of the B61-12 with the F-35A Lightning II this summer was the first ever at Sandia National Laboratories’ Tonopah Test Range featuring the fighter jet. It was also the first of a testing series that will conclude with full-weapon systems demonstrations designed to increase confidence the bomb will always work when needed and never under any other circumstances.

“We’re showing the B61-12’s larger compatibility and broader versatility for the country’s nuclear deterrent, and we’re doing it in the world of COVID-19,” said Steven Samuels, a manager with Sandia’s B61-12 Systems Team. “We’re not slowing down. We’re still moving forward with the B61-12 compatibility activities on different platforms.”

In partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force, Sandia completed a B61-12 full-weapon system demonstration with the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet in March, and another in July with the Air Force’s B-2 Spirit bomber.

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‘Devastating’: Top Pentagon leadership gutted as fears rise over national security

“Trio of resignations follow defense secretary’s firing.

BY: LARA SELIGMAN and DANIEL LIPPMAN | politico.com

The Pentagon | Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

The firing of Defense Secretary Mark Esper kicked off a rapid-fire series of high-level departures at the Pentagon on Tuesday, setting off alarms on Capitol Hill that the White House was installing loyalists to carry out President Donald Trump’s wishes during an already tense transition.

In quick succession, top officials overseeing policy, intelligence and the defense secretary’s staff all had resigned by the end of the day Tuesday, replaced by political operatives who are fiercely loyal to Trump and have trafficked in “deep state” conspiracy theories.

Fears continue to swirl over what these newly installed leaders will do as Trump fights the results of last week’s election, and after he has shown he is willing to use troops to solve political problems.

Tuesday’s exodus led one top Democrat to accuse the administration of gutting the Pentagon in a way that could be “devastating” for national security.

“It is hard to overstate just how dangerous high-level turnover at the Department of Defense is during a period of presidential transition,” said House Armed Services Chair Adam Smith. “If this is the beginning of a trend — the President either firing or forcing out national security professionals in order to replace them with people perceived as more loyal to him — then the next 70 days will be precarious at best and downright dangerous at worst.”

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NNSA Administrator Fired While on Leave; Energy Secretary Tracked Her for Months

“After Brouillette and Gordon-Hagerty feuded last winter over the size of the NNSA’s budget — a contest that broke in Gordon-Hagerty’s favor when President Donald Trump requested roughly $20 billion as she recommended, instead of the $17.5 billion Brouillette preferred — Trump’s second secretary of energy tightened his grip over the NNSA in ways that his predecessor, Rick Perry had not.”

BY: EXCHANGEMONITOR

Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette kept close tabs on then-National Nuclear Security Administration boss Lisa Gordon-Hagerty for months, sending chaperones to her meetings with Congress and monitoring her personal calendar before abruptly demanding her resignation last week, a source told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing.

It was a dramatic end to a year of strife between the two, who clashed over the size of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) budget and provided the Washington nuclear policy establishment with the latest experimental data about exactly how much autonomy the NNSA and its nuclear weapons programs have from the broader DOE’s nuclear-cleanup and energy programs.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott objects to nuclear waste facility proposed in Permian Basin

“The proposed ISP facility imperils America’s energy security because it would be a prime target for attacks by terrorists, saboteurs, and other enemies,” read [Gov. Abbott’s] letter. “Spent nuclear fuel is currently scattered across the country at various reactor sites and storage installations.”

BY: Adrian Hedden | Carlsbad Current-Argus

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continued to voice his disapproval against nuclear waste storage in the Permian Basin region in a letter last week to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) opposing such a project in Andrews, Texas.

Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture between Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, was formed in 2018 to request the NRC resume evaluation of an application submitted originally in 2016 to build a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) that would hold spent nuclear fuel rods temporarily at the surface while a permanent repository is developed.

Abbott has been a frequent critic of the concept of a CISF and of siting such a facility in the Permian Basin, writing a letter to President Donald Trump in September to oppose CISFs in both Texas and New Mexico.

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Quotes

“The Pacific was victimized in the past as we all know by the scores of nuclear weapons tests above ground, on the ground and underwater in the Marshalls. The consequences of these have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas,”

– United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres

Congress Directs Repairs to Nuclear Waste ‘Coffin’ Left Over from Atomic Bomb Tests

Congress has taken notice of the otherworldly concrete dome on a spit of coral in the central Pacific that serves as a massive radioactive trash can for doomsday weapons waste.

ARTICLE BY: RICHARD SISK | military.com

“Today’s NDAA is far from our vision for a just, peaceful, and democratic foreign policy. Its failures not only underscore how critical it is that we continue building progressive grassroots movements for a better foreign policy — it calls into question the defense authorization process altogether.”

NDAA a Blank Check for Trump’s Reckless Foreign Policy

Over 35 organizations representing a diverse set of issue areas — strengthening diplomacy, protecting migrants and refugees, preventing wars of choice, reducing the risk of nuclear catastrophe, combating corruption, promoting human rights and sound environmental policies, and standing up for democratic values — released the following statement regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report.