Mission

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Our mission is to protect all living beings and the environment from the effects of radioactive and other hazardous materials now and in the future.

107 Cienega Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

Telephone: (505) 986-1973
Fax: (505) 986-0997
Email: ccns@nuclearactive.org

Learn more »

Our Work

Support CCNS

Make a donation

Make a one-time contribution by using the "Donate" button:


 
Current Activities

Sandia Public Meeting about Mixed Waste Landfill on Tuesday, November 18th at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 11/14/14 through 11/21/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Sandia Public Meeting about Mixed Waste Landfill on Tuesday, November 18th at Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center

Sandia National Laboratories will be hosting a public meeting on Tuesday, November 18th from 4 to 8 pm about their plans to leave high-level radioactive waste in the Mixed Waste Landfill in unlined, shallow pits and trenches, which threaten Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. The format will include posters and Sandia staff will be there to answer questions. Written public comments will be accepted during the meeting, with the public comment period ending on Monday, December 29th. The public meeting will take place at the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, at 501 Elizabeth Southeast, located between Eubank and Juan Tabo at the corner of Southern and Elizabeth Southeast, in Albuquerque.

For decades, Sandia and the New Mexico Environment Department claimed that only low-level radioactive and chemical wastes were buried in the dump. New records uncovered by Citizen Action New Mexico clearly demonstrate that high-level radioactive waste from nuclear fuel experiments was buried in the dump.

Following the 1979 Three Mile Island commercial nuclear reactor accident in Pennsylvania, Sandia was tasked with finding out what happens to high-level nuclear fuel during meltdowns. Sandia conducted dozens of experiments on nuclear fuel from around the world in its Annular Core Research Reactor and the waste was disposed in the Mixed Waste Landfill.

The Mixed Waste Landfill is a 2.6-acre dumpsite, located in southeast Albuquerque within Kirtland Air Force Base, where Sandia is located. It contains an estimated 1,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive and mixed hazardous wastes from the reactor meltdown experiments and the research and development of nuclear weapons. Plutonium, cesium, strontium, depleted uranium, beryllium, PCBs and chlorinated solvents were disposed in plastic bags, cardboard boxes and steel drums. In 2009, a dirt cover was installed.

Recently Sandia applied to the Environment Department for a certificate saying that they have completed cleanup of the dump. The Environment Department made a preliminary determination to approve the request. The public meeting and associated public comment period is part of the administrative process to obtain the certificate.

Citizen Action encourages the public to make comments that request a public hearing; ask the Environment Department to deny the cleanup certificate; and ask the Environment Department to order Sandia to clean up and safely store the wastes in the dump.

Dave McCoy, of Citizen Action New Mexico, said, “High-level waste disposal requires a deep geologic repository that won’t leak for 10,000 years. Leaving high-level waste in the shallow Mixed Waste Landfill for future generations is nothing short of an environmental crime.”

For more information, please visit Citizen Action’s website at radfreenm.org, and Sandia’s information in the Lobo Vault at repository.unm.edu and search for the Mixed Waste Landfill.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

 

Proposed EPA Rule Supports Clean Water – Comments Due Friday, November 14th

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 11/7/14 through 11/14/14

This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Proposed EPA Rule Supports Clean Water – Comments Due November 14th

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting public comments on a proposed rule to protect clean water. Without the new rule, 90 percent of New Mexico’s rivers and streams are threatened by unregulated dumping of harmful pollutants. Because New Mexico is an arid state where less than 10 percent of the rivers and streams flow year-round and because many of the water resources are located in closed basins, New Mexico is disproportionately vulnerable to pollution. The comment period ends on Friday, November 14th. A sample comment letter for you to use is available on the Amigos Bravos website at amigosbravos.org

Since 2008, over 400,000 requests have been sent by a wide variety of groups, including farmers, environmentalist, state and local officials and members of Congress, asking the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to make the Clean Water Act easier to understand. In response, the federal agencies collaborated with all interested parties to create a new rule that clarifies existing law and ensures clean water protections for streams and wetlands.

Clean water protections for many of New Mexico’s waters have been in question for more than a decade. As a result, some waters have been opened up for industrial dumping, while others have become harder to protect. The proposed rule would clarify that tributary streams, including those that are intermittent and ephemeral, are protected.

At Los Alamos National Laboratory there are many non-perennial drainages that are not protected. For example, there are waters in the canyons that do not flow all the time, but when they do, they can flow to the Rio Grande. The rule is essential to ensure that these waters are protected and restored.

The new rule updates the definition of “waters of the U.S.” It clarifies existing laws, increases government efficiency and makes the water cleaner by better defining which rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands the Clean Water Act protects from industrial pollution, oil spills and outright destruction. Special consideration for agricultural concerns is addressed and the new rule will bring certainty and predictability to agriculture.

Smaller streams, creeks and wetlands help reduce flooding, supply drinking water and provide critical support and habitat for fish and wildlife in downstream waters. These smaller waters provide access to adventures, exploration and wildlife and they can be some of the most treasured places. The proposed rule ensures automatic protection for all streams and wetlands scientifically proven to have significant connections to downstream waters.

Rachel Conn, Projects Manager at Amigos Bravos, said, “Water is precious in New Mexico. This proposed rule will help ensure that our watersheds stay healthy and species, like the bald eagle and river otter, will once again thrive.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

NMED Approves Certificate of Cleanup for Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill

Sandia MWL Closure Public Hearings

Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!

SANDIA NATIONAL LABS AND THE NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPARTMENT HOPE YOU’LL STAY SILENT ABOUT DRINKING NUCLEAR WASTE

For more information, go to Citizen Action New Mexico at  http://www.radfreenm.org/ 

 

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 10/31/14 through 11/7/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • NMED Approves Certificate of Cleanup for Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill

The New Mexico Environment Department recently granted a preliminary determination that Sandia National Laboratories have completed all cleanup requirements for the Mixed Waste Landfill, as part of its hazardous waste permit.  According to Citizen Action New Mexico, who has actively worked for excavation of the unlined dump, the cleanup has not been completed and the determination is premature. In fact, they say, the Cold War era nuclear weapons dump should be dug up because it is leaking and threatens Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer.

The Mixed Waste Landfill is a 2.6-acre dumpsite that contains an estimated 1,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive and mixed hazardous wastes from reactor meltdown experiments and the research and development of nuclear weapons. Plutonium, americium, tritium, depleted uranium, lead, beryllium, PCBs and chlorinated solvents were disposed there. The waste lie above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer in plastic bags, cardboard boxes and steel drums. Sandia officials cannot state what is in the dump. In 2009, a dirt cover was applied to the site.

The Environment Department, in its approval letter, says that Sandia may submit an application to modify its hazardous waste permit to reflect the change. But the change subjects Sandia to provide the public with a notice of the change, along with an opportunity to provide comments and request a public hearing. Given the amount of public interest in the dump, inevitably, there would be a public hearing. Further, the Environment Department reserves its rights to require additional cleanup if it receives new information through the public comment process.

Sandia requested the change after the Environment Department approved the Long-Term Monitoring and Maintenance Plan in January. The plan describes the types of monitoring and maintenance that will be conducted, along with contingency procedures that will be implemented when the dirt cover fails and is no longer protective of human health and the environment.

That plan is now the subject of litigation brought by Citizen Action against the Environment Department.  http://www.radfreenm.org/  In May 2005, when the Environment Department approved the Final Cleanup Order, it required that every five years Sandia review whether excavation is feasible, update the fate and transport model, conduct an evaluation of pollution reaching groundwater, and make it publicly available. Sandia has not conducted the required five-year review, even though one was due in 2010. Now the Long-Term Monitoring and Maintenance Plan allows the five-year review to deferred so that the first review would take place in 2019.

Unfortunately, the combination of cleanup approval, along with further delays of the five-year review, means that pollution will continue to migrate to Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer.

For more information, please visit Citizen Action’s website at radfreenm.org.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

 

NRC and DOE Activities for High-Level Waste Disposal

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 10/24/14 through 10/31/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

* NRC and DOE Activities for High-Level Waste Disposal

On October 16th, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff released one of the five volumes of its Safety Evaluation Report for the licensing of the proposed Department of Energy (DOE) Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste repository.  http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr1949/v3/  The technical inadequacies of the site have been detailed for years by the State of Nevada, and the NRC licensing board has admitted more than 200 safety and environmental impact issues that were not addressed in the NRC staff report. The vast majority of Nevadans oppose Yucca Mountain, and DOE now states that the site should not be used. Congress has not provided the tens of millions of dollars to complete the licensing process.

In related news, Allison M. Macfarlane, NRC Chairperson, announced that she plans to leave the Commission to become the Director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy at the George Washington University, effective January 1, 2015. She has served as chair since July 2012.

And this week DOE released an “Assessment of Disposal Options for DOE-Managed High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel.” The report looks at three options for the permanent disposal of the dangerous waste managed by DOE at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Hanford site in southeast Washington state, all located in major watersheds.

The options considered are to dispose of all the waste in one common repository; to dispose of some of DOE’s waste in a separate mined repository; and to dispose of the waste in deep boreholes. The preference is for a separate repository and for some research on deep boreholes.

DOE’s high-level waste is primarily from reprocessing of nuclear reactor fuel to extract uranium and plutonium for nuclear bombs. Its spent nuclear fuel is from nuclear production reactors and naval propulsion reactors. DOE estimates that its high-level and spent nuclear fuel waste is more than 26,000 cubic meters, which is much less volume than the commercial spent fuel that is supposed to go to Yucca Mountain or to other deep geologic disposal sites.

Nevertheless, DOE states that the alternatives considered in the report are “based on technical and programmatic considerations and do not include an evaluation of relevant regulatory and legal considerations.” They add that the report is not “a determination of the legal permissibility” for specific options. CCNS questions why DOE spent taxpayer funds to conduct such an analysis, which historically has been technically inadequate and contentious, without taking the regulatory and legal issues into consideration.

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “These recent events demonstrate that the federal agencies are again trying to determine where DOE’s dangerous high-level waste will be disposed. It’s time to get involved.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Lawsuits Gain Momentous Support

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 10/17/14 through 10/24/14

 

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

* Marshall Islands’ Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Lawsuits Gain Momentous Support

Over 70 leaders from 22 countries delivered a letter to the people and government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in support of their courageous action in April when they filed nine unprecedented lawsuits in the International Court of Justice to hold the nine nuclear-armed states accountable for flagrant violations of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and customary international law.  http://www.wagingpeace.org/nuclearzero/

In a strong show of unity and encouragement, the leaders included Nobel Peace Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mairead Maguire; letter coordinator John Hallam, of People for Nuclear Disarmament/Human Survival Project, in Australia; and many other peace and social justice leaders, such as Kathy Wanpovi Sanchez, of Tewa Women United, based in Española, New Mexico.

The letter says, “In taking this action, you, and any governments that choose to join you, are acting on behalf of all the seven billion people who now live on Earth and on behalf of the generations yet unborn who could never be born if nuclear weapons are ever used in large numbers. You are also acting on behalf of all our ancestors throughout tens of millennia who will have their intellectual, cultural and scientific achievements cancelled should humanity terminate itself through the inadvertent or deliberate use of nuclear weapons.”

Further, the leaders wrote, “Win or lose in the coming legal arguments, what you, and any who join you, will do has the deepest moral significance, going far beyond the specific interests of any country or government and beyond the usual calculations of national self-interest.”

The island nation, located in the northern Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 70,000 people who live on 24 low-lying coral atolls. From 1946 to 1958, the U.S. government used the islands for above-ground testing of 67 nuclear weapons.

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a consultant to the Marshall Islands on the legal and moral issues of the case, commented, “The Marshall Islanders are unselfishly acting for the good of all humanity. This small island nation is the true David standing up to the nine nuclear Goliaths. The Marshallese people have suffered irreparable damage from the U.S. nuclear testing program. Yet this lawsuit does not seek monetary reparations. Rather, it seeks the fulfillment of promises made for negotiations for the total elimination of nuclear weapons so that no other nation will suffer as they have. The courage of this small island nation is remarkable.”

The Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, presented the letter to Parliament on the last day of their 2014 session.

To read the letter in its entirety, go to wagingpeace.org. To learn more about the unprecedented litigation, visit nuclearzero.org.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

South Carolina Court of Appeals Upholds Sierra Club Challenge to Barnwell Nuclear Waste Operations

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 10/10/14 through 10/17/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • South Carolina Court of Appeals Upholds Sierra Club Challenge to Barnwell Nuclear Waste Operations

At the end of the month, the owners of the Barnwell nuclear waste disposal site and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control must present their remedial plan to the South Carolina Court of Appeals for preventing radioactive tritium from seeping into groundwater and migrating away from the dump site.

The tritium levels in some of the monitoring wells located over one-half mile from the site are well above the Safe Drinking Water Act limits of 20,000 picocuries per liter. Despite the overwhelming evidence of migrating pollutants, Barnwell and the Department allowed rainwater to travel through unlined waste disposal trenches, some since operations began 43-years ago.

The Sierra Club challenged that practice first in 2004 when the operating license for Barnwell was up for renewal. The group challenged the inadequate design and operating practices of dumping nuclear waste in shallow unlined pits left open to rainfall. ChemNuclear and the Department promised that the dump would remain secure for hundreds of years. Despite the promises, it took a mere 20 years for the radioactive plume to reach the nearby Mary’s Branch Creek, which flows into the Savannah River.

The Club’s lawyers, Jimmy Chandler of the South Carolina Law Project, Amy Armstrong, of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, Midlands lawyer, Bob Guild, and the Club’s nuclear expert “exposed the lax practices and cover-ups by industry as well as the complacency of [the Department] in failing to correct the glaring deficiencies which allowed the contamination to continue.” The Club appealed the 2005 Administrative Law Court’s decision to re-license the site and urged covering the open burial sites.

Susan Corbett, the Club’s chapter chair, said, “Every nuclear waste site in this country has leaked and most are still leaking. It’s very difficult, using the shallow land burial method, to keep nuclear waste from getting into the groundwater. This is not benign or short-lived material. It includes highly radioactive nuclear power plant component wastes that include uranium and plutonium which may well follow the tritium into the groundwater in years to come.”

ChemNuclear is owned by Energy Solutions, a Utah-based nuclear waste disposal corporation. Energy Solutions is also the contractor who proposed to add organic kitty litter to the Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear waste as a form of waste treatment. At least one of the treated waste drums exploded at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in February, resulting in its closure.

Corbett added, “We can’t trust corporations or even our own government agencies to protect us. We as citizens have to be vigilant and make sure the rules are actually being followed and the best practices are being practiced.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

DOE Inspector General Releases Report about Failure of Waste Procedures Resulting in Indefinite WIPP Shut Down

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 10/3/14 through 10/10/14

 (THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • DOE Inspector General Releases Report about Failure of Waste Procedures Resulting in Indefinite WIPP Shut Down

In a hard-hitting special inquiry report, the Inspector General of the Department of Energy (DOE) cites major flaws in the procedures used by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to develop, approve and change its waste characterization requirements that led to the indefinite shut down of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) on February 14th, following the explosion of at least one waste drum from LANL. http://energy.gov/ig/downloads/management-alert-doeig-0922  It contained plutonium and other radionuclides, which were detected one-half mile from the facility.

Written procedures are the foundation for operating nuclear facilities. There are procedures about how to develop them, about how they are approved, and how they may be changed. Failure of DOE and its LANL and WIPP contractors to follow the fundamental procedures can result in accidents that shut down key facilities, such as WIPP. The Inspector General also cites the failure of management to properly oversee the written procedural process.

The report says, “Of particular concern, not all waste management procedures at LANL were properly vetted through the established procedure revision process nor did they conform to established environmental requirements.” The environmental requirements include compliance with the hazardous waste permits issued by the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) for LANL and WIPP. The permits contain extensive requirements for understanding the characteristics of the waste through documentation and testing before it may be shipped off-site. If the waste will not meet the shipment requirements, LANL is allowed to treat the waste, if it follows permit requirements. The critical requirement is that all the treatment must be compatible with the waste in order to avoid resulting chemical reactions, such as the explosion at WIPP.

The report examines how LANL and its contractors changed the waste characterization procedures to allow for the use of organic, or carbon-based, kitty litter and liquid acid neutralizers, which were not compatible with the nitrate wastes. The nitrate wastes are created by on-going LANL plutonium operations.

In a related report released this week, DOE says that it plans to reopen WIPP in March 2016.  http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/recovery.html  But there is uncertainty about whether this is a realistic timeline, especially since the cause of the release is not known, which is necessary to prevent further accidents. The WIPP underground is now contaminated with plutonium, but the new DOE plan says it will not be decontaminated. A new air ventilation system is required.

Joni Arends, of CCNS, says, “Now is the time to call for suspension of plutonium operations at LANL. Everyday new waste is created that is destined for WIPP. It remains unknown whether WIPP could ever re-open. Contact your congressional members and let them know your concerns.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

National Cancer Institute in New Mexico to Interview People Living at the Time of the 1945 Trinity Test

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 9/26/14 through 10/3/14

 

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • National Cancer Institute in New Mexico to Interview People Living at the Time of the 1945 Trinity Test

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) scientists are in New Mexico this week to interview a small group of Elders who were living at the time of the July 16th, 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test. These interviews are part of the Pilot Study, Phase One, of the NCI Trinity Study. http://dceg.cancer.gov/research/how-we-study/exposure-assessment/trinity The investigators will ask the Elders about the diet and life ways of the time, which could reveal ways that people were exposed to the fallout plume. The second phase will include the NCI scientists talking with focus groups, composed of those living under the fallout plume. A map of the plume is available at sacredtrustnm.org.

NCI is a division within the federal Health and Human Services Department. http://www.cancer.gov/ It is conducting the study to determine the cancer risks to the entire population living in New Mexico at the time. Because there is a lack of documentation about diets and ways of life of land-based Peoples in the 1940s, estimates of the radiation exposure cannot yet be made.

In 2007, then-Senator Jeff Bingaman wrote the Health and Human Services Department asking it for a range of the number of cancers that would be expected as a result of exposure to the radioactive fallout. He also asked for an estimate of the cancers that would occur naturally in the local New Mexico communities. Bingaman DHHS 10-30-07 HHS response Feb 21 2008 The interviews and focus group responses will assist in answering those questions.

Over the past year, Las Mujeres Hablan, a network of women led community organizations in New Mexico, has provided their time and expertise on a pro bono basis to inform and educate the NCI Trinity Study Team about community history, culture and experience in relationship to the Trinity test.

Las Mujeres Hablan members actively participated in the work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the ten-year Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment Project (LAHDRA). lahdra.org  Because the Trinity atomic weapon was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the final LAHDRA report included an entire chapter about it. The report emphasized that approximately 4.8 kilograms, or over 10.5 pounds, of plutonium-239 did not fission. Because the detonation took place on a 50-foot tower, and not in the atmosphere, the plutonium more directly contacted the environment.  Las Mujeres Hablan has a special interest to make sure the unfissioned plutonium is addressed because the internal exposure to plutonium may be significant, especially for individuals exposed to heavy fallout and re-suspended dust particles.

To learn more about the study, please contact Silvia Salazar, the NCI Audience Research and Informatics Laboratory Manager at the Analytics and Audience Research Branch, at (240) 276-6631.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

 

LANL Plutonium Facility Is Priority Concern for DNFSB

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 9/19/14 through 9/26/14

 

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • LANL Plutonium Facility Is Priority Concern for DNFSB

Citing its priority concerns across the nuclear weapons complex in a recent letter to the Department of Energy (DOE), the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board once again raised the vulnerability of the Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to a collapse and fire resulting from an earthquake.  In November 2012, LANL estimated that such an event could release radioactive materials to the public located off-site at a level of approximately 940 rems.  http://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/Board%20Activities/Reports/Site%20Rep%20Weekly%20Reports/Los%20Alamos%20National%20Laboratory/2013/wr_20130201_65.pdf  One rem is a large dose of radiation and exposure to 100 rems or more over a short amount of time can cause acute radiation syndrome and death.

DOE then proposed plans to mitigate the impacts of a possible catastrophic release, but has run into some yet-to-be-resolved problems. The mitigation measures could reduce the off-site exposures by 30 to 60 percent, but that would still mean a release of between 376 rems and 658 rems, which are still above DOE’s own 25 rem limit. Plutonium operations at the facility have been halted and portions restarted.

Kevin Roark, a LANL spokesperson, said, “Progress has been made over the summer toward resuming activities in [the Plutonium Facility] and we continue to work on resuming the remaining activities as quickly and safely as possible.”

In addition, the Board recently released a report about emergency preparedness and response of the DOE’s nuclear weapons complex.  http://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/Board%20Activities/Recommendations/rec_2014-1_25051_0.pdf   They state that emergency preparedness and response “is the last line of defense to prevent public and worker exposure to hazardous materials.”

And the DOE Inspector General recently released a report entitled, “The Readiness of the Department’s Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center,” about emergency preparedness.  http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/08/f18/S13IS012%20FRMAC%20Final%20Report%2008282014_1.pdf

The Board cites problems that are similar to those experienced during the May 2000 Cerro Grande fire at LANL when DOE emergency response personnel left about half of the portable air monitors on the tarmac in Nevada. They never went back to get them, and as a result, many areas under the enormous smoke plume were not monitored. Further, DOE did not monitor the smoke plume even though it was one of its emergency response requirements to send radiation monitors up in planes. These are a few examples of the types of systematic problems encountered in February at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) when two events occurred involving a fire and radiation release.

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “There are so deficiencies in the DOE’s emergency response capabilities, equipment maintenance and replacement, and training that must be addressed now. In order to operate facilities handling plutonium, all emergency response capabilities must be in tiptop condition. Congress must provide priority emergency preparedness funding to DOE before funding any expansion of nuclear weapons production. What is national security if we can’t protect ourselves from potential catastrophic events at facilities designed to protect national security?”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at http:// www.nuclearactive.org.

 

WIPP Recovery Information to be Released Next Week

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 9/12/14 through 9/19/14

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

* WIPP Recovery Information to be Released Next Week

Information about the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recovery plans will be released next week at a New Mexico Legislative Committee Meeting on Tuesday, September 16th and at the WIPP Town Hall on Thursday, September 18th, both of which will be held in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It is anticipated recovery would take at least two years following the February 14th release of plutonium and americium from at least one waste container shipped by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that exploded in the underground dump for nuclear bomb waste.

On Tuesday, September 16th, the interim Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee of the New Mexico Legislature will meet at the Western Commerce Bank Community Room, located at 3010 National Parks Highway in Carlsbad, from 10 am to 5 pm.  http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/committee_detail.aspx?CommitteeCode=RHMC  In the morning, presentations will be made by Dana Bryson, the Department of Energy (DOE) Carlsbad Field Office Deputy Manager, about the status of WIPP, and by Terry Wallace, the LANL Principal Associate Director for Global Security, about the status of LANL.

In the afternoon, presentations will be made by Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, about the environmental response; by Russell Hardy, Director of the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center, New Mexico State University, about the WIPP monitoring; and by Ryan Flynn, Secretary of the state Environment Department, and their consultant, Dr. Ines Triay, about the Environment Department response. Dr. Triay is the former manager of WIPP.

In recent weeks Environment Department Secretary Flynn has expressed frustration with DOE because they have not provided all of the requested information. As a regulator of WIPP and LANL, the Environment Department can impose fines and penalties on both sites. Flynn said that DOE has been muzzling scientists who possess critical information.

On Thursday, September 18th at 5:30 pm MST, the DOE will discuss its WIPP recovery activities, but not release the Recovery Plan, during the bimonthly town hall meeting at the Carlsbad City Hall. It will be webcast at http://new.livestream.com/rrv

The Recovery Plan has been under review by DOE Headquarters for months. Some recovery activities have already taken place, including radiological surveys of the mine floor and putting the waste hoist back into service. Recently, workers began preparations to resume maintenance work on the rock bolts used to hold the ceiling in place, but first they are doing maintenance on the equipment needed to do the work.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “The WIPP underground cannot be completely decontaminated. The Recovery Plan should describe what DOE deems acceptable levels of cleanup and worker exposure. It should also provide realistic costs and schedules for the proposed activities and be subject to public review.”  http://www.sric.org

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org.