Nuke Watch Logo 5k

volume 1, issue 1


Economic Information
Los Alamos National Laboratory Information
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Proposed Modern Pit Facility
Fact Sheets and Documents
Watch Dog Newsletter
Congress Watch
To Do Items
Important Documents on the Nuclear Weapons Complex
Mailing List
General Info

newsletter of nuclear watch new mexico
volume 1, issue 1
may 2000

Ready, Fire, Aim!

   Together, the United States and Russia have 10,000 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert pointed at each other.  As recently as 1995, the Russians mistook a research satellite for an incoming missile.  The Russian counterattack was averted, but within only minutes of launch.  Despite the recent Russian approval of START II (to reduce the number of warheads) and the CTBT (to eliminate explosive nuclear weapons testing) both nations still maintain a policy of immediate deployment.

    The effort to create delay in nuclear launch is called de-alerting.   A national campaign which promotes bilateral agreements for de-alerting, called Back from the Brink, has produced a 12-minute video outlining the problem and offering solutions, which include more time between alert and launch, relaxing hair-trigger launch on warning systems, new technologies for detection and communications, and even physical removal of weapons from delivery systems.

The Russians Are Coming!

   Nuclear Watch is sponsoring an evening at St. John's College in Santa Fe to screen the Back from the Brink video and to facilitate a discussion on de-alerting.  We are fortunate enough to have four nuclear safety activists from Russia who will participate in this forum.  They'll tell us about the increasing difficulty of speaking out in Russia, serious environmental problems they face from nuclear weapons production, and their ideas on de-alerting.  Please join us at this special event!

Big, big thanks to our terrific interns, St. John's College students Colin King and Rob Booher.

Our Very Own Hole In The Ground

   We've got a hole in southeast New Mexico called WIPP, we're putting nuclear waste into it, and most folks know there are rules for what can go in and what can't.  Our state Environment Department (NMED) is the regulator charged with ensuring that the federal Department of Energy follows the rules.   Now, just six months after the public was part of a process that produced the permit defining the rules for WIPP, DOE has pressured NMED into changing those rules, this time without public input.  NMED has decided to reverse its position on limiting the mixed waste to be put into the old, collapsing rooms of WIPP's Panel I, and this is being called a Class I modification -- a designation for correcting typographical errors, not for introducing substantive changes.

    Other changes proposed by NMED do allow for public input.  A hearing will be held on those changes, but most regulators expect low turnout.  Why should the public care?  Because of where these changes are headed.  If we look up from the immediate details and scan the horizon, we can see the intended trajectory.  As one oversight official said recently: "If Yucca Mountain doesn't get approved for high-level waste in 2001, there will be a short list of alternatives.  WIPP will be numbers one and two on that list."

    If the public wakes up in 2001, it will be too late.   The rules will have been quietly changed and nuclear power plant fuel rods will be on their way to WIPP.  New Mexicans were promised, not so long ago, that this could never happen.

    If we don't attend the hearings, we won't know what's in the works.  Soon, all changes will be called Class I modifications, and there won't be any hearings.  We need to show we're paying attention.

    Friends and neighbors, activism isn't difficult.   A little knowledge makes it easier.  A fact sheet on the hearings will be available after May 12 from activist organizations and at: Ark Books, the Marketplace, the downtown public library, etc.  Read the fact sheet, join us at the hearings, and bring a friend.

WIPP Hearings (again) (no, really)
When:    May 18, 2-5 p.m.; 6:30-9 p.m.
Where:    Santa Fe Hilton, 100 Sandoval St.

WHAT TO DO! (this month)

  • Come to the de-alerting forum at St. John's College on 5 / 17

  • Attend the WIPP hearings at the Hilton on 5 / 18

  • Write a letter to the editor of any publication you choose, about one of these events and why people still care about these issues.

Tell Them How You Feel!

Sen. Jeff Bingaman
tel: 202-224-5521 or 505-988-6647
fax: 202-224-2852 or 505-992-8435
web page:

Sen. Pete Domenici
tel: 202-224-6621 or 505-988-6511
fax: 202-228-0900
web page:

Rep. Heather Wilson
tel: 202-225-4975 or 505-766-2538
fax: 202-225-4975
web page:

Rep. Joe Skeen
tel: 202-225-2365 or 505-527-1771
fax: 202-225-9599
web page:

Rep. Tom Udall
tel: 202-225-6190 or 505-984-8950
fax: 202-226-1331

Nuclear Watch of New Mexico

551 W. Cordova Rd. #808
Santa Fe, NM 87505

505.989.7342 - phone
505.989.7352 - fax