Los Alamos Lab Suppresses Data on Negative Economic Impact on Surrounding Counties; Wealthy White Los Alamos County Asks for 3,000 Acres Seized from Hispanics and Native Americans

Santa Fe, NM – The independent newspaper Rio Grande Sun has recently reported that the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) had struck data from a study it had commissioned showing that the Lab had negative fiscal impacts on Santa Fe, Taos and Rio Arriba Counties in FY 2017. This egregious censorship has political implications since the New Mexican congressional delegation justifies and supports the planned expanded production of plutonium “pit” bomb cores for nuclear weapons as vital for the economic well-being of northern New Mexico.

The Rio Grande Sun reported that the original draft of the study stated that the Lab’s presence cost Santa Fe County $1,414,655, Taos County $809,406 and Rio Arriba County $3,215,566 in FY 2017, which was deleted from the final study. It also stated that the Lab’s fiscal impact on Los Alamos County was a positive $11.6 million from state gross receipts taxes on Lab operations. The seven counties surrounding Los Alamos County received a combined gross receipts taxes of only $6 million (without a breakdown between counties).

Los Alamos County is the 4th wealthiest county in the USA, with an annual median household income of $114,670. It is also an ethnic island of 71% non-Hispanic whites while New Mexico as a whole is 49.3% Hispanic, 11% Native American and 36.8% nonHispanic white.1 Rio Arriba County’s annual median household income is a third of Los Alamos County’s at $37,174.2

In the midst of this economic disparity and a national reckoning over racial injustice, Los Alamos Country is asking the federal National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for a transfer at no cost of over 3,000 acres seized during WW II in large part from Hispanic homesteaders with little or no compensation.3 Moreover, LANL’s entire current area was the ancestral homeland of the Puebloan people, and San Ildefonso Pueblo’s “Sacred Lands” still extend deep into the Lab’s boundaries (and contiguous to LANL’s largest dump with some 200,000 cubic yards of radioactive and toxic wastes).

“This is yet another example of the racial disparity that exists in the wake of communities like Los Alamos, established under the protective umbrella of government sanctioned white privilege. When you take something by force and don’t pay for it, that’s called stealing. So why is land stolen by the US government from the original Hispanic and Native American owners not being given back to them?…As the national reckoning over racial injustice unfolds, let us not forget how Los Alamos Lab came to be and the insult to injury that giving away land stolen from others represents.”

— Chuck Montaño, Nuclear Watch NM Steering Committee member. Mr. Montaño, born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 32 years where he investigated allegations of fraud, waste and abuse.


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