The National Nuclear Security Administration was told by a federal judge to prepare a new analysis of the risks of an earthquake at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where nuclear weapons parts are made. Instead, NNSA prepared a very narrow analysis of the effects of an earthquake on three buildings at Y-12. They published this Supplement Analysis in April and invited public comment.
If you want to read the Supplement Analysis, you can find it on OREPA’s website: www.orepa.org. On the right hand column, just under the UPF lawsuit heading.
Your comments should be sent by May 26 to: Ms. Terri Slack P.O. Box 2050 Oak Ridge, TN 37831 or by email to: NEPA.Comments@npo.doe.gov
Russian officials have already repeatedly warned in the past that its Eastern European neighbours’ decision to host US-made strategic systems, including components of America’s Aegis Ashore missile defence system, make them targets for Russia’s strategic nuclear response in the event of a war.
The redeployment of US nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland would be a direct violation of the Russia-NATO founding act of 1997, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
“This would be a direct violation of the Founding Act on Mutual Relations between Russia and NATO, in which NATO undertook not to place nuclear weapons in the territory of new members of the North Atlantic Alliance, either at that moment or in the future…I doubt that these mechanisms will be implemented in practical terms,” Lavrov said, speaking to reporters following a videoconference-based meeting of the Council of Baltic Sea States on Tuesday.
Earlier Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the redeployment of US nuclear weapons from Germany to Poland would serve to further damage already-strained Russia-NATO relations and escalate tensions.
“The administration will not be pursuing Yucca Mountain as a solution for nuclear waste, and I am fully supportive of the president’s decision and applaud him for taking action when so many have failed to do so,” [Mark] Menezes told Cortez Masto.
WASHINGTON — Mark Menezes, the nominee for deputy secretary of the Energy Department, on Wednesday clarified remarks he made in February, saying the Trump administration has no plans to use Yucca Mountain as a nuclear waste storage site.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., pressed Menezes during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asking for a clarification.
Raytheon’s Albuquerque operations will be transferred to other company facilities outside of New Mexico, company spokesperson Heather Uberuaga told the Journal Tuesday.
“After careful and deliberate consideration, Raytheon Technologies has chosen to close the company’s Albuquerque facility and relocate support for key capabilities and customer programs to our other facilities around the country,” Uberuaga wrote in an email.
The annual report, produced by sanctions monitors called the “Panel of Experts,” is a product of the U.N. Security Council. The purpose of the report is to offer recommendations on how to hold North Korea accountable for skirting restrictions imposed by U.N. sanctions since 2006, that are designed to curtail the nation’s nuclear weapons program.
THE Associated Press (AP) this week reported that a barrage of North Korean missiles fired from both the ground and fighter jets splashed down on the waters off the peninsular’s east coast on Tuesday. AP further reports that North Korea also launched several Sukhoi-class fighter jets that fired an unspecified number of air-to-surface missiles toward the North’s eastern waters. According to a South Korean defence official, North Korea seems to be resuming its military drills that it had scaled back due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. This, consequently, pushing back the deadlocked denuclearisation negotiations fostered by the United Nations.
Santa Fe Community College and Los Alamos National Laboratory announced last week a new collaboration to revamp the college’s machinist program.
With the campus providing the latest equipment and curriculum and the lab offering hands-on internships, community college President Becky Rowley said she hopes the first group of students can begin working toward a certificate or associate’s degree in the overhauled program this fall.
Workers at Russia’s nuclear power plants will be isolated from the general public and required to live in onsite clinics at their respective stations as nuclear authorities tighten their response to the coronavirus after a number of industry infections.
The order came Tuesday from Rosenergoatom, Russia’s nuclear utility, and specified that both primary and back up crews of nuclear technicians, who “facilitate process continuity” would now be required check in to dispensaries at their plants, where they would be provided with daily living essentials and isolated from outside contact.
Every base where legacy nuclear weapons (early-generation) were deployed (Bomber, Fighter Interceptor Squadrons (FIS), Nike Ajax, BOMARC Missile, ICBM), were maintained, or decommissioned, is potentially contaminated with highly classified 91(b) radioactive material (RAM) from the maintenance of the nuclear weapons during the replacing of the polonium-beryllium (Po-Be) TOM initiators.
The site in Eastern Washington was used during World War II and the Cold War to produce plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program. It was left massively contaminated with radioactive and hazardous chemical waste, which is being cleaned up now at a cost of about $2.5 billion a year.
Thousands of Hanford workers will stay home for a second day Tuesday after the Department of Energy announced Sunday evening that the site was going into a temporary planning status to ensure the safety of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Only workers essential to the nuclear reservation’s safety and security should report to work, unless they receive a call from their supervisor saying they are needed for planning work, DOE said.
Hanford employs about 9,300 workers, plus some additional subcontractor employees.
New Mexico’s congresspeople called on the federal government to extend a public comment period for an environmental impact statement (EIS) on a proposal by Holtec International to build a nuclear waste repository in southeast New Mexico.
The letter signed by U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and U.S. Reps. Xochitl Torres Small, Ben Ray Lujan Deb Haaland (D-NM), urged the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to extend the 60-day public comment period until public hearings could be held in New Mexico.
The request followed a State ban on gatherings of more than 10 people amid a global outbreak of coronavirus that left thousands dead across the world.
“It is shocking that DOE would propose to delay projects like the cesium-strontium capsules and the 324 Building contamination, which pose such great risks to the workers and public,” said Tom Carpenter, executive director for Hanford Challenge, a watchdog and worker advocacy group.
The Department of Energy has announced priority plans for environmental cleanup nationwide and indicates a slower process for the decommissioned nuclear site in Washington state, a report said.
The focus at the Hanford Site will be to start treating waste at the $17 billion vitrification plant, but the report does not detail other work at the 580-square-mile (1,500-square-kilometer) site, the Tri-City Herald reported Tuesday.
The report does not mention moving radioactive capsules to safer storage and cleaning up a radioactive spill under one of the buildings a mile north of Richland.
“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” – Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
Republican Rep.Dan Newhouse (Wash.) accused the Trump administration of “playing politics” on Thursday with its reversal on funding for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada.
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to see this administration playing politics with something as important as completing the permanent solution to our nation’s high-level nuclear waste,” Newhouse said during a hearing on the administration’s proposed Department of Energy (DOE) budget.
“This budget is … a total waste of resources and a distraction from solving this very important issue,” he added.
President Trump announced this month that he no longer supports funding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, reversing his position on a controversial matter in a key state in November’s elections. The change was reflected in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021.
Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said during the hearing that the administration would not proceed with either licensing for Yucca Mountain or an interim storage facility.
“My understanding [is] under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act we are prohibited from starting construction on an interim facility, a federal facility,” Brouillette said.
Democrats also criticized the administration over cuts included in the budget proposal.
“The Trump Administration again proposes to cut DOE’s budget — by 8 percent overall, and by an astounding 35 percent in non-defense programs. This will limit America’s future by drastically reducing or eliminating programs critical for meeting our future energy needs and assuring our security,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, in her opening statement.
“Your budget proposes deep and arbitrary cuts that threaten progress one one of our most pressing challenges and that is climate change. We can be a leader in exporting clean energy technologies, but not under your budget request,” Kaptur added later in the hearing.
In response, Brouillette said, “Renewable technologies are becoming somewhat mature in the marketplace, so for us to focus again on these technologies that are now commercially widely available seems to us to be inappropriate.”
Trump’s budget request would reduce spending significantly at several energy and environment-related agencies, including the energy department. Trump has consistently proposed cutting funding such agencies, and Congress has routinely ignored those proposals and instead increased funding.
“Taxpayers in 2020 should not be forced to pay for a ticket back to nuclear weapons policies of the 1980s,” John Tierney, executive director of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said in a statement. Pit production funding wasn’t included in the overview. Energy Department officials said a full budget proposal would become available in the coming weeks.
“Globally, Trump’s nuclear weapons budget is fueling a new nuclear arms weapons race, particularly with a new plan for a new nuclear warhead,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of New Mexico Nuclear Watch. “It solidifies Los Alamos lab’s future as a nuclear bomb plant, especially while nonproliferation, renewable energy and cleanup programs are held flat or cut.”
President Donald Trump is proposing a 25 percent increase in nuclear weapons spending that will include developing a new warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to a preliminary 2021 budget overview released Monday.
The National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous branch of the U.S. Energy Department, would see its budget increase by 18.4 percent to $19.8 billion next fiscal year, partly to ramp up production of plutonium pits at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, says that the budget request would allocate more taxpayer dollars to the country’s nuclear weapons programs since the Cold War ended 30 years ago.
“Globally Trump’s nuclear weapons budget is fueling a new nuclear arms race,” he said in a statement. “It solidifies Los Alamos Lab’s future as a nuclear bomb plant, while nonproliferation, renewable energy and cleanup programs are held flat or cut.”
SANTA FE, N.M. — The National Nuclear Security Administration would get $19.8 billion under President Trump’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 — a 20% increase from this year’s budget — about half of which would go toward supporting the U.S.’s nuclear weapons programs.
According to a Department of Energy fact sheet distributed on Monday, $9.5 billion of NNSA’s budget would be put toward efforts to “sustain and modernize the U.S. nuclear stockpile.” Of that, $4.3 billion is earmarked for stockpile management and $2.5 billion is for production modernization to support production capabilities for nuclear weapons. That includes funds for equipment, facilities and personnel “to reestablish the Nation’s ability to produce (plutonium) pits.”
Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy are hoping to ramp up shipments of nuclear waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad to about 17 per week by 2023. The facility is currently accepting about 10 per week. To meet the goal of increasing shipments, Acting Manager of the DOE’s Carlsbad Field Office Greg Sosson said numerous ongoing infrastructure upgrades at the facility were needed.
“Infrastructure ages. We understand we have a lot more waste stream we’re going to tackle,” Sosson said. “These are really good projects to make sure WIPP is sustainable in the future so we can perform our important mission.”
Sosson, at Monday’s annual WIPP Legislative Breakfast in Santa Fe, said officials plan on WIPP accepting up to 350 shipments of transuranic nuclear waste in the next year from numerous DOE facilities, including 80 from Los Alamos National Laboratory and 195 from Idaho National Laboratory.
But to continue to accept waste at an increasing pace, Sosson said the facility must solve its airflow problem.
According to media reports, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semiautonomous nuclear weapons agency within the Department of Energy (DOE), has persuaded President Trump to increase its weapons budget by more than 20% in one year. NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty has claimed that a failure to give her agency that huge increase would amount to “unilateral disarmament” despite the U.S. having thousands of nuclear warheads ready to launch on a moment’s notice.
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a 33-year-old network of groups from communities downwind and downstream of U.S. nuclear weapons sites, strongly opposes this unnecessary and dangerous spending that promotes a new global nuclear arms race. In addition, Trump’s FY 2021 budget request is expected to cut or hold flat cleanup, nonproliferation, dismantlement and renewable energy programs that meet real national needs to pay for more unneeded nuclear weapons. To compound all this, DOE’s nuclear weapons and environmental management programs have been on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk List” for project mismanagement and waste of taxpayers’ dollars for 27 consecutive years.
Multiple sources indicate the FY2021 budget request from the Trump Administration will seek a dramatic increase in funding for nuclear weapons—an unprecedented leap of 20% over current spending levels, bringing the total for The National Nuclear Security Administration to $20 billion. Reportedly, the increase is earmarked principally for modernization programs for warhead design and plutonium pit manufacturing facilities.
The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability released a letter to Congressional leadership calling for a hard look at the budget request when it arrives, scheduled for February 10, and encouraging House and Senate members to reject the increase as unjustified and unwise.
The contractor that’s been in charge of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s operations for the past year lost track of 250 barrels of waste, while the company heading the legacy cleanup mislabeled and improperly stored waste containers and took months to remedy some infractions, according to the state’s yearly report on hazardous waste permit violations.
Triad National Security LLC, a consortium of nonprofits that runs the lab’s daily operations, had 19 violations of its permit from the New Mexico Environment Department. Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos, also known as N3B, which is managing a 10-year cleanup of waste generated at the lab, was cited 29 times. Triad’s most notable violation was shipping 250 barrels of mostly mixed waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad without tracking them. Mixed waste contains low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials. Inspectors found records still listed the waste at the national lab.
Mislabeled containers should be taken seriously because they can cause incidents if the contents aren’t identified, said Scott Kovac, research and operations director for Nuclear Watch New Mexico.
Lab personnel didn’t update the shipping data because they were waiting for WIPP to acknowledge it had received the waste, lab spokesman Matt Nerzig said in an emailed statement. “There was no risk to public health or safety and the inventory is now correct,” Nerzig said, adding that shipping updates now will be done when waste leaves the lab. But a watchdog group said failing to track such a high volume of waste is an egregious error that falls in line with the lab’s long history of serious missteps.
“The fact that LANL has mischaracterized, misplaced, mis-inventoried — or whatever — 250 barrels of waste is pretty astounding,” said Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We see mistakes being made by a new contractor. So definitely, all of this is cause for concern.”
“If DOE and LANL continue to treat the public with disdain, it is going to be a long and difficult permitting process. All in all, this first meeting was disappointing and unproductive.” — Joni Arends, of CCNS
This week the renewal of the New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) began in a very controlled public meeting at the Cities of Gold in Pojoaque. There was no presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) or its contractor, Triad National Security, LLC, about their plans to renew the application. If the public had questions, they were instructed to write them on a half-sheet comment and question card. There was no explanation about if and how those comments and questions would be answered.
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CCNS has prepared a pre-emptive sample public comment letter you can use to express what needs to be included in LANL’s permit application, including proposals to install confined burn and detonation facilities, and coming into compliance with the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations dealing with tank systems (that are used to treat liquid hazardous and radioactive waste) and seismic requirements. The last surface rupture on the Pajarito Plateau fault system was 1,400 years ago – thus requiring additional LANL submittals and NMED review. LANL_Permit_Renewal_App_public_comment_120519 The current ten-year LANL permit expires in late December 2020. Under the regulations, the permit application is due to the Environment Department 180 days before the permit expires, or in late June 2020. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/lanl-permit/ The hazardous waste permit renewal application for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is on the same timeline. https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/CCNS and others have made numerous requests to both LANL and WIPP management to submit their applications in the spring of 2020 to give additional opportunity for the public to review both. At the meeting, CCNS asked when LANL would submit its application. A LANL staff member said they could not disclose the date.
Calling the National Nuclear Security Administration's latest Record of Decision (Federal Register, October 4, 2019) for the Continued Operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex , "an obvious attempt by the government to deliberately circumvent this Court's ruling," the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, the Natural Resources Defense Council and four individual co-plaintiffs today filed a Motion to Enforce the judgment handed down in federal court in September by Chief United States District Judge Pamela Reeves.
"Within hours of the Judge's September ruling, NNSA told reporters that it would keep right on doing what it was doing, including building the UPF bomb plant. Then they published the new Record of Decision which is a direct challenge to the Court—it says they have decided they will comply with the Court's order at some uncertain date in the future, and in the meantime, it's business as usual. We went to court in the first place, because 'business as usual' was violating the law." — OREPA coordinator Ralph Hutchison
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry plans to leave his position at the end of the year, President Trump confirmed to reporters Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump praised Perry and said he already has a replacement in mind.
“Rick has done a fantastic job,” Trump said. ” But it was time.”
Trump said that Perry’s resignation didn’t come as a surprise and that he has considered leaving for six months because “he’s got some very big plans.”
Perry, 69, is one of Trump’s original Cabinet members and recently has emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry of Trump.
“There’s enough high-level nuclear waste awaiting disposal in the U.S. to fill a football field 65 feet (20 meters) deep. Few states want to house it within their borders.”
“The public defines ‘safe’ as zero risk…the technical community defines ‘safe’ as complying with regulatory standards.” – Robert Halstead, head of the Agency for Nuclear Projects, is currently fighting plutonium shipments to Nevada and spent nuclear fuel transfers to the proposed Yucca Mountain dump.
The plutonium core for the first atomic weapon detonated in 1945 was taken from Los Alamos National Laboratory to a test site in the New Mexico desert in the backseat of a U.S. Army sedan.
Officials put other bomb parts inside a metal container, packed it into a wooden crate and secured it in the steel bed of a truck under a tarp, the U.S. Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration says in a historical account.
Grainy black-and-white photos show special agents and armed military police accompanying the shipment nearly 75 years ago.
“Nuclear materials transportation has evolved since then,” the department posted online last year.
Today, radioactive shipments are hauled in double-walled steel containers inside specialized trailers that undergo extensive testing and are tracked by GPS and real-time apps.
But whether shipping technology has evolved enough to be deemed safe depends on whom you ask.
The U.S. Department of Energy in 2016 drafted a list of 17 projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory and in the surrounding town to clean up soil and groundwater that remained contaminated decades after the Manhattan Project and Cold War nuclear weapons work.
At the time, more than $2 billion had been spent in a decade on environmental cleanup projects. The Department of Energy estimated it would cost another $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion to finish the job — and up to 25 more years.
The work is far from complete.
Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said cleanup costs have been “woefully underestimated,” and that an updated cost analysis is overdue.