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

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Current Activities

New Mexicans Attend the Compliance Review of the United States by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE
Runs 8/15/14 through 8/22/14

(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:

*  New Mexicans Attend the Compliance Review of the United States by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva

This week delegations from around the world and New Mexico presented to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination on Racial Discrimination (CERD) during their review of treaty compliance by the United States.  The CERD is an 18-member UN Treaty body that monitors compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  Over 175 State Parties ratified the Treaty.  The U.S. ratified it in 1994 and is bound by all provisions of the Treaty.  The Committee received alternative information from New Mexicans, including representatives from the South West Organizing Project (SWOP), http://www.swop.net/, and the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE), http://masecoalition.org/, which directly challenged the U.S. assessment of its compliance.

In June 2013, the U.S. submitted a compliance report to the CERD.  In June of this year, Albuquerque-based SWOP, and MASE, a network of organizations based in the Grants uranium belt, submitted alternative or shadow reports to the Committee.

The MASE shadow report addressed uranium mining and milling wastes that, after more than 30 years, still have not been remediated in Milan, Church Rock, and throughout northwestern New Mexico.  The unremediated wastes keep contaminating the air, land and water, while at the same time the U.S. government and state governments continue to permit new uranium mines.  The impacts from both historic waste and new mining fall primarily on Indigenous communities.

The SWOP report outlines the unequal implementation and enforcement of air pollution laws in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County by local regulatory agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Local laws effectively segregate low-income and minority populations into neighborhoods that face high pollution and high health risks.  For example, community efforts to sample the air in the San Jose neighborhood revealed that concentrations of the volatile organic compound chlorobenzene are 10 times higher than concentrations typically found in urban ambient air and are above the reference concentrations of the EPA.  Chlorobenzene is a solvent and long-term exposure of humans affects the central nervous system.  In the Mountain View neighborhood, there are more cases of lung, bladder, and brain cancer and leukemia than statistically expected.  These neighborhoods do not have adequate means to seek redress from their unequal treatment under the current interpretation of federal environmental and civil rights laws.

After the review process, CERD will publish its Concluding Observations, which include recommendations for actions the U.S. should take to fulfill its commitment under the treaty to eliminate racial discrimination in its policies and practices.  The CERD Concluding Observations along with the Alternative Reports are available online: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cerd/.

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

 

DOE Secretary Moniz to Visit New Mexico Early Next Week

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 8/8/14 through 8/15/14

(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 Secretary Moniz to Visit New Mexico Early Next Week

On Monday, Ernest Moniz, the Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, will be in New Mexico to meet with elected officials and regulators, make opening remarks at a public meeting about energy in Santa Fe and hold a public town hall in Carlsbad about the fire and radiation release that occurred in February at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). On Tuesday, he will visit WIPP. http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/recovery.html

On Monday, August 11th, Secretary Moniz will attend a Quadrennial Energy Review meeting in Santa Fe. The Quadrennial Energy Review, which was launched by the Obama administration in January, is a broad effort to provide recommendations about the key infrastructure needed for the transmission, distribution and storage of energy. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Senator Martin Heinrich will participate in the meeting, which will focus on tribal, state and local issues. It will take place at the New Mexico State Personnel Office, located at 2600 Cerrillos Road, in Santa Fe, beginning at 9 am.  http://energy.gov/articles/secretary-moniz-announces-travel-chicago-north-dakota-new-mexico-quadrennial-energy-review

Also on Monday, Secretary Moniz will host a town hall meeting at the Leo Sweet Community Center, located at 1302 Mission Avenue, in Carlsbad, beginning at 6:30 pm. The town hall will be livestreamed at new.livestream.com/rrv  The focus will be on the recovery efforts at WIPP following the truck fire on February 5th and the radiation release on February 14th. Plutonium and americium was detected in air filters located one-half mile away from the WIPP exhaust shaft. Twenty-two workers were exposed to the radiation.

Photographs have shown a waste drum from Los Alamos National Laboratory released radioactivity in the WIPP underground. Further investigations will take place in the coming weeks to try to determine if other containers also are breached. The cause of the release is still not known, so whether additional releases might occur in the future also is unknown.

DOE is developing a plan to detail what activities it will undertake in order to decontaminate the underground and resume waste disposal operations. The plan also is supposed to provide cost estimates and schedules for those activities. The plan has not been made public, but may be a subject of discussion during Secretary Moniz’s visit.

WIPP is the federal government’s only site for the permanent disposal of nuclear and hazardous waste generated by the research, development and manufacture of nuclear weapons and is located 2,150 feet below land surface in a salt formation located 26 miles east of Carlsbad.  http://www.wipp.energy.gov/index.htm

Ryan Flynn, the Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, will attend the events in Carlsbad. Flynn said he is interested in learning about how DOE will provide improved oversight of nuclear safety, emergency management and mine safety at the WIPP site.  http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information, please visit nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test Commemoration in Tularosa

 

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 8/1/14 through 8/8/14

(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:

  • Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test Commemoration in Tularosa

About 70 people attended the Fifth Annual Luminaria Lighting and Prayer Vigil in Tularosa, New Mexico, on Saturday, July 26th in commemoration of the Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test. Trinity was the site of the first experimental test of the atomic bomb on July 16, 1945, at what is now known as the White Sands Missile Range. It led to the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th of that same year.

The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, in cooperation with the Village of Tularosa, organized the public event at the Tularosa Little League Field. More than 150 luminarias were lit in memory of those who lost their lives to cancer and other radiation related illnesses directly linked to the test explosion. At least half of the people in attendance were cancer survivors and those living with cancer.

One lone luminaria was placed in the center of the field in honor of Fred Tyler, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. Tyler died earlier this year of a lung disease.

The Consortium formed in order to ensure that those exposed to the test be covered by the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which has provided compensation for other impacted communities downwind of the Nevada Test Site and the Marshall Islanders for over 20 years. New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has led the effort to introduce amendments to RECA that would include the Trinity downwinder.

Senator Udall’s Senate speech acknowledging the work of the Consortium in support of expansion of RECA was played at the event. Udall said, “The original RECA bill required years of work on the ground. My father, [Stewart Udall], helped lay the groundwork for RECA a quarter century ago through his work with radiation exposure survivors and their families, compiling stories, records and histories of victims. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium continues this critical work, and I encourage them to keep up the fight. This is a bipartisan effort and driven by simple fairness for American citizens who should have been helped, but were ignored instead.”    http://www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1719

Concerning the memorial event, Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Consortium, said, “Every time I see all the luminarias with names and learn of another person who has passed I lament. Every time I learn of another neighbor stricken with cancer I am saddened. We will keep the vigil going until the time that our Congressional Representatives are present to lament with us and we receive the recognition of our suffering that we’ve waited 69 years for.”

For more information about the work of the Consortium, please contact Tina Cordova at 505-897-6787 or tcordova@queston.net

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org or our Facebook page.

 

Navajo Grassroots Organizations Celebrate Navajo Nation Council Vote Stopping Pro-Uranium Mining Legislation

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/25/14 through 8/1/14

(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:

* Navajo Grassroots Organizations Celebrate Navajo Nation Council Vote Stopping Pro-Uranium Mining Legislation

This week the Navajo Nation Council’s Resources and Development Committee voted down a bill that would have opened up new uranium mining on lands adjacent to those of the Navajo Nation. In related action and in a vote of 18 to 3, the Navajo Nation Council approved a bill by Edmund Yazzie, a Council Delegate representing Churchrock, which provides for a more open and democratic process regarding uranium issues. The bill sets a precedent that all uranium-related bills must be heard before the full Council.

The votes fortify the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act, passed by the Navajo Nation Council in 2005, which placed a moratorium on all forms of uranium mining within Navajo Indian Country. A coalition of Navajo grassroots organizations opposed to uranium mining, called Concerned Diné Citizens, who worked together to defeat the bad legislation sponsored by former New Mexico State Senator and current Navajo Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie and supported Delegate Yazzie’s legislation securing community and ecological sovereignty.

For over two decades, Uranium Resources, Inc. (URI) has proposed to mine for uranium using an in-situ leaching methods in the Churchrock area. This proposition would contaminate the communities source of unspoiled drinking water derived from a below ground drinking water aquifer. In-situ uranium mining is similar to oil fracking, in that chemicals and large quantities of water are used to extract the uranium. In addition, radioactive radon is released into the air and heavy metals are mobilized through the leaching process.

Last year, the Churchrock Chapter passed a resolution that allowed URI to set up an in-situ leach uranium mining demonstration project on lands adjacent to the Navajo Nation in Churchrock. Over the years, there have been several attempts to limit the decision making processes around this project to fewer and fewer people. Thus, the vote on the Yazzie bill allows for more decision makers to be involved.

Uranium mining boomed in the 1950s and 1960s in the Grants uranium belt. The mines operated before the Clean Water Act was passed and before the Environmental Protection Agency was formed. Cleanup of the uranium mines and mills was required. Now, 137 of 259 of the known mines have no records of remediation, and Navajo families are living with the side effects.

Leona Morgan, an organizer for Diné No Nukes, said, “Now the Nation’s focus can go back to the over whelming needs for clean up, health studies, and water studies. In order for these controversial issues not to play out so divisively in the future, it is imperative that all people—not just Diné people—understand the scope and permanent effects of abandoned uranium mines.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To support the work of CCNS, please make your tax-deductible contribution at http://www.nuclearactive.org.

 

Pax Christi New Mexico to Commemorate U.S. Bombing of Hiroshima on Saturday, August 2nd in Los Alamos

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/18/14 through 7/25/14

(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:

  • Pax Christi New Mexico to Commemorate U.S. Bombing of Hiroshima on Saturday, August 2nd in Los Alamos

Pax Christi New Mexico will hold its annual Hiroshima Day Commemoration on Saturday, August 2nd, 2014 from 2 pm to 4 pm in Los Alamos, New Mexico.   Near the end of World War II, on August 6th, 1945, the U.S. bombed Hiroshima, Japan with a nuclear weapon.  It has been 69 years since that event.  Pax Christi New Mexico seeks the abolition of nuclear weapons.

From 2 to 4 pm on Saturday, August 2nd, the Sackcloth and Ashes Prayer Vigil for Peace will be held at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos.  Please join Pax Christi New Mexico in the spirit of nonviolence to put on sackcloths and ashes and sit in silent meditation for 30 minutes to repent for the creation of nuclear weapons.  The sackcloth and ashes ceremony is taken from the Bible story found in the Book of Jonah.  In the story, God was angry about how the people of Nineveh were behaving and asked that they repent for their sins.  The people sat in sackcloths and on ashes and prayed for forgiveness.  God accepted their prayers and granted them peace.

Pax Christi will supply the sackcloths and ashes.  The action will end at Ashley Pond with closing remarks by Father John Dear.

Pax Christi New Mexico is a region of Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, which seeks to promote the peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, witnessing and practicing Gospel nonviolence.   They work to abolish war, poverty, violence, injustice and nuclear weapons in New Mexico and the world and welcome God’s reign of peace on earth.  http://paxchristiusa.org/tag/pax-christi-new-mexico/

Bud Ryan, of Pax Christi New Mexico, said, “We in Pax Christi New Mexico ask you to join us for our annual Hiroshima Commemoration on Saturday, August 2nd.”

He continued, “For me this has been an incredible way to say I’m sorry for being part of the collective violence we in the U.S. perpetrate on others around the world, as well as ourselves.  Afterwards we ask you to join us to hear John Dear talk about nuclear weapons and what we can do to work to abolish them.  We would hope that for all participants this becomes a lifetime pursuit, rather than just a weekend, to rid the world of nuclear weapons and to get the nine nuclear weapon States to clean up their nuclear mess.”

Please join Pax Christi New Mexico at their inspiring, moving and important event.  For more information, please call Bud Ryan at 505 264-2838 or Ellie Voutselas at 505 474-8557.

    
This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

 

Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test Commemoration Set for Saturday, July 26th

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/11/14 through 7/19/14

(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:

  • Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test Commemoration Set for Saturday, July 26th

The Fifth Annual Luminaria Lighting and Prayer Vigil will be held on Saturday, July 26th from 7 to 10 pm in Tularosa, New Mexico, in commemoration of the Trinity Site Atomic Bomb Test.  In its first experimental test, the atomic bomb was exploded near Tularosa on July 16, 1945.  This led to the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on August 6th of that same year.  July 26, 2014 Trinity Event Flyer

The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, in cooperation with the Village of Tularosa, is organizing the public event, which will take place at the Tularosa Little League Field, off La Luz Avenue.  Luminarias will be available for a small donation beginning at 7 pm.  They will be lit in memory of those who have died from cancer and other illnesses related to exposure to the atomic bomb explosion.

The Consortium formed in order to be covered by the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), which has provided other impacted communities downwind of the Nevada Test Site and for the Marshall Islanders with compensation.  New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has led the effort to introduce amendments to RECA that would include the Trinity downwinders, and others in New Mexico.

In support of the commemoration, Senator Udall recently took to the Senate floor to deliver a speech about the Consortium and the importance of their work to support amending RECA.  He said, “The original RECA bill required years of work on the ground. My father, [Stewart Udall], helped lay the groundwork for RECA a quarter century ago through his work with radiation exposure survivors and their families, compiling stories, records and histories of victims. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium continues this critical work, and I encourage them to keep up the fight.  This is a bipartisan effort and driven by simple fairness for American citizens who should have been helped, but were ignored instead.  …  It would also help post-1971 uranium workers to be eligible for compensation, and would fund a critical public health study of those who live and work in uranium development communities.”  http://www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=new_media&type=videos&id=1703&#new_media_stage

Concerning the memorial event, Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Consortium, said, “This year we will hold our fifth annual candlelight vigil in Tularosa to memorialize those who have lost their lives to cancer and other diseases associated with radiation exposure and honor those who have survived or are living with cancer.  It will be a bittersweet evening because we will be missing the co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, Fred Tyler.  I know Fred would want us to keep up the fight so in his memory we carry on”.

For more information and opportunities to volunteer, please contact Tina Cordova at 505-897-6787.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org or our Facebook page.

 

LANL Stormwater Meeting on Tuesday, July 8th and 35th Red Water Pond Road Community Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration on Saturday, July 19th

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/4/14 through 7/11/14

(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 Stormwater Meeting on Tuesday, July 8th and 35th Red Water Pond Road Community Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration on Saturday, July 19th

As required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will hold a public meeting about its Individual Stormwater Permit on Tuesday, July 8th, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Cities of Gold Conference Center, located at 10 Cities of Gold Road, in Pojoaque.  http://www.lanl.gov/community-environment/environmental-stewardship/protection/compliance/individual-permit-stormwater/index.php

The meeting will begin with a poster session about the individual stormwater permit, which regulates over 400 sites that have the potential to release contaminants when stormwater runs on or runs the polluted sites created by industrial activities.  LANL will discuss the mitigation measures it has taken for flood events, the rain gage network located in the canyons that flow to the Rio Grande, and its recent application to EPA to renew the permit.

Then the Youth Council Initiative Project of the Communities for Clean Water will present about the work they are doing.  The Youth Council began meeting at the beginning of the year to learn about LANL and the stormwater issues.  Recently, they toured LANL and will report on their experiences.  The Communities for Clean Water is a network of community groups from Taos to the South Valley of Albuquerque along the Rio Grande, that includes CCNS.  The Communities for Clean Water  have been instrumental in addressing storwmwater issues at LANL.

 

On Saturday, July 19th, the Red Water Pond Road Community Association will be hosting its Sixth Annual North East Church Rock Environmental Awareness Conference from 7 am to 3 pm, located 12 miles north of Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566.  The public is cordially invited to attend.  It will include the 65th commemoration of the North East Church Rock Tailing Spill, which occurred on July 16th, 1979.  On that day, an earthen uranium tailings dam at the United Nuclear Corporation Church Rock Uranium Mill failed, spilling 93 million gallons of liquid toxic waste into the Rio Puerco in New Mexico, which eventually flowed downstream into Arizona.  The spill contributed to the long-term contamination already present in the watershed from the release of untreated or poorly treated uranium mine water into the Rio Puerco.

The organizers ask you to join them “to heal our Dine’ and Mother Earth.  We believe we need to support one another and cherish our families and communities, just as our elders have.  By working together, with our combined intelligence and wisdom we can address this legacy to provide a life of balance and harmony for our people and future generations.”

For more information, please contact Edith Hood at 505 717-5731.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold New Resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/27/14 through 7/4/14

(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:

*  U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Bold New Resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forums 

On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), the national non-partisan association of America’s cities with populations over 30,000, unanimously adopted a sweeping new resolution Calling for Constructive Good Faith U.S. Participation in International Nuclear Disarmament Forumsat its 82nd annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. According to USCM President Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento, California, “These resolutions, once adopted, become official USCM policy.”

Recalling that “August 6 and 9, 2015 will mark the 70th anniversaries of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more that 210,000 people by the end of 1945,” the resolution notes that “the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands continue to suffer from the health and environmental impacts of 67 above-ground nuclear weapons test explosions conducted by the U.S. in their islands between 1946 and 1958….”

On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed “landmark” cases in the International Court of Justice against the U.S. and the eight other nuclear-armed nations, claiming that they have failed to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and customary international law to pursue negotiations for the global elimination of nuclear weapons, and filed a companion case in U.S. Federal District Court. In its resolution, the Conference “commends the Republic of the Marshall Islands for calling to the world’s attention the failure of the nine nuclear-armed states to comply with their international obligations to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons, and calls on the U.S. to respond constructively and in good faith to the lawsuits brought by the RMI.”

The U.S. Conference of Mayors also “calls on the President and Congress to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.”

The resolution states that “according to the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend more than $700 billion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons systems,” and that “this money is desperately needed to address basic human needs such as housing, food security, education, healthcare, public safety, education and environmental protection.”

The Conference all proclaims September 26th as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and asks the cities “to support activities to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination.”

To read the resolution, please go to Western States Legal Foundation at http://www.wslfweb.org.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

U.S. Senate and House Support Recovery Funding for WIPP

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/20/14 through 6/27/14

(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:

*  U.S. Senate and House Support Recovery Funding for WIPP

This week members of a U.S. Senate subcommittee appropriated $220 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and added $102 million to try to get the nuclear bomb waste facility back up and running.  The House Appropriations Committee also provided additional funding for WIPP, but did so by cutting cleanup at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), another Department of Energy (DOE) facility located in New Mexico.  House and Senate negotiators eventually must agree on funding amounts that could take effect on October 1, 2014.

The additional recovery funding was approved without DOE providing a cleanup plan and schedule.  New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, a member of both the Senate Appropriations subcommittee and committee, was frustrated that DOE had not provided an updated cost estimate.  He said, “I still need that so I can make my best case for an increase in funding.  There’s still a feeling that we haven’t received a detailed recovery plan so we’re going to keep pushing for the [DOE] and the Secretary [Ernest Moniz] to provide that.”  http://www.tomudall.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1695

The Senate subcommittee also funded nuclear weapons work at LANL that will continue to generate transuranic waste, destined for the now-closed WIPP.  The Senate appropriated $35.7 million for upgrades to the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Radiological Laboratory and $3.8 million for the design of a new CMRR modular approach.  The funding fully supports the Life Extension Program for the B61 nuclear weapon at LANL and Sandia. DOE defines the life extension program as one “to repair/replace components of nuclear weapons to ensure the ability to meet military requirements,” so that “a weapon can safely and reliably remain in the stockpile without having to be replaced or removed.”  Both programs will create plutonium-contaminated nuclear and hazardous waste that, with the closure of WIPP, has no place to go.

In 2011, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez approved a Framework Agreement with DOE and LANL to prioritize the removal of transuranic waste to WIPP by June 30, 2014.  http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/documents/LANL_Framework_Agreement.pdf  Due to the WIPP closure, that project has been put on hold.

The Framework Agreement also prioritized monitoring storm water that flows from LANL to the Rio Grande, and monitoring groundwater that includes the chromium plume that is directly west of Santa Fe’s drinking water wells.

The LANL cleanup work is now in jeopardy because the House cut $45 million and that funding would go towards WIPP recovery.

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “Congress always finds funding for nuclear weapons work at LANL.  When will cleanup that will protect our precious water from the mess that began over 70 years ago be the priority?”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.

 

House Subcommittee Approves an Additional $120 Million for WIPP Recovery and Cleanup Efforts

 

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE
Runs 6/13/14 through 6/20/14

(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:

*  House Subcommittee Approves an Additional $120 Million for WIPP Recovery and Cleanup Efforts

Members of a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee appropriated $220 million for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), matching the Obama Administration request, and added $120 million in order to try to get the nuclear bomb waste facility back up and running.  The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee allowed the Department of Energy (DOE) to offset the additional funding for Fiscal Year 2015 with cuts to some DOE pension funds.  Details about how the money may be spent should be available in a few weeks.  If approved by both the House and Senate, the funding would be available on October 1st.

Last week, New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich wrote to President Obama requesting additional funding “to restore full operations at WIPP.”

Don Hancock, Nuclear Waste Director of Southwest Research and Information Center, commented that DOE does not know how much it will cost to reopen WIPP and asked whether additional funds will be needed in the future, since the cleanup process could be ongoing for several years.  http://sric.org/

Because the explosion and release were never supposed to happen, no cleanup standard has been established.  Further, it is unknown what type of cleanup would be needed to meet such a standard because cleanup of a salt mine contaminated with nuclear bomb waste has never been done before.

In related news, WIPP workers dressed in full protective equipment began replacing the contaminated High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters from one of two large ventilation filter banks located on the surface.  The workers went through training to learn how to remove the filters contaminated with plutonium and americium.  The filters are being sprayed with a fixative to hold the contamination during filter removal.  It is estimated that it will take anywhere from four to eight weeks to complete the operation.  During the change out, no one will be allowed to go into the underground mine.

Both filter banks have been operating since the February 14th radiation release.  During the filter change, ventilated air from the underground will only be going through one filter bank.  It is unknown whether the ventilation changes will result in an increase or decrease in the amount of contamination that will leave the underground.  If it increases, the workers may have problems changing the filters.  Every effort is being made to protect the workers.

On Thursday, June 19th, the City of Carlsbad and DOE will co-host a public meeting about the WIPP recovery activities at 5:30 pm at the Carlsbad City Council Chambers.  The meetings are now being held on the first and third Thursdays of the month and are live-streamed at http://new.livestream.com/rrv/ 

 

This has been the CCNS News Update.  For more information, please visit http://www.nuclearactive.org and like us on Facebook.