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

EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/12/15 through 6/19/15

(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:

            EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the Department of Energy (DOE) recertification application to demonstrate that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will not leak radiation for 10,000 years. That application was submitted six weeks after the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen, but does not mention that event. However, EPA has stated that the radiation release is an important consideration in its review.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings

The meetings will include EPA and WIPP officials and allow for questions, answers, and discussion as part of the information exchange among the government officials and the public. The Tuesday, June 16th meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements. The public can provide comments during each session.

As a result of the radiation leak, many changes will have to be made for WIPP to re-open. Among the changes are a new exhaust shaft and new underground waste disposal rooms. Neither of those major changes is mentioned in the DOE application.

Further, ignitable waste in hundreds of drums shipped to WIPP from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been identified by DOE as the source of the radiation leak, even though such waste is not allowed at WIPP. Such waste is omitted from the analysis in the DOE application.

Also not discussed in the application is how the LANL waste characterization information could have been so inadequate as to allow prohibited waste at WIPP and what changes are required.

Other issues include whether EPA has to approve WIPP’s reopening, which, given the lack of complete and accurate information in the DOE application, is unlikely to occur so that WIPP could re-open in March 2016, as is DOE’s current schedule.

Federal law and EPA’s regulations prohibit commercial and high-level waste at WIPP. DOE and EPA are being asked to explain why small quantities of commercial spent nuclear fuel have been allowed at WIPP.

According to Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, “The meetings are an important opportunity for people to tell EPA to do its job of protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.”  sric.org

EPA can take the information and public comments to raise additional questions about the DOE application. DOE must provide information at the meetings and submit much more information to EPA to address the inadequacies in their application.

 

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

 

WIPP Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/5/15 through 6/12/15

(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 Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

In a joint press release, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department announced that DOE had closed the rooms containing 420-nitrate salt bearing waste containers shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The drums are located in disposal Panels 6 and 7. On February 14, 2014, one or more LANL drums exploded in the WIPP underground releasing plutonium and americium into the environment and contaminating 22 workers on the surface. Brattice cloth, used to restrict airflow, and a chain link fence were installed near the waste containers. Ten feet of mined salt was then used as backfill and a steel bulkhead was installed. Finally, continuous air monitors were installed at the bulkheads.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said the installation was an initial closure, not a permanent closure, and would not provide full protection from a radiation release. He explained, “The bulkhead and brattice cloth should reduce what would come out, but it is not designed as a total or more permanent barrier if there is a roof fall or breach.”  sric.org

Ryan Flynn, Environment Department Secretary, told state legislators this week that a more robust permanent closure would require a modification to the hazardous waste permit. The modification process includes public comment and an opportunity for a public hearing.

DOE has stated that WIPP will be ready to accept waste again next summer. Flynn told legislators that the end of 2016 “is a little more realistic.”

In related news, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding two public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the DOE’s recertification application to demonstrate that WIPP won’t leak for 10,000 years.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings and CARD Fact Sheet CARD WIPP EPA fact sheet

The application does not mention the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen. The inadequacies of the application, whether EPA has to approve the potential reopening of WIPP and concerns about high-level waste coming to WIPP, will be among the issues discussed. Many people will be asking EPA to do its job protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) will be hosting a dinner and training on Tuesday, June 9th at 6 pm at the South West Organizing Project, 211 10th Street South West, Albuquerque.  http://cardnm.org/  Sylvianna Diaz d’Ouville, Don Hancock and Ray Garduno will give their perspectives on WIPP. Mark Doppke will facilitate. Hancock will give a power point presentation about what is happening at the facility.  Dinner will be served and donations will be accepted.  WIPP Dinner, EPA, 15 (flyer).

On Tuesday, June 16th the Carlsbad meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion among the public, EPA and WIPP officials. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements.

The public can comment during the meetings.

 

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

 

Important Joint Congressional Hearing on February 4th about Clean Water Protection Rule and Attend River Rally 2015 from May 1st to 4th at Tamaya Resort

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/30/15 through 2/6/15

(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:

  • Important Joint Congressional Hearing on February 4th about Clean Water Protection Rule and
  • Attend River Rally 2015 from May 1st to 4th at Tamaya Resort    

About 60 percent of streams and millions of acres of wetlands are not protected from pollution and destruction under the federal Clean Water Act. One in three Americans, or about 117 million people, obtains their drinking water from vulnerable streams. Hundreds of studies show that small streams and wetlands play an essential role in the health of larger downstream waterways, such as rivers and lakes, and need to be protected.

The definitions of what waters are protected has been challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a focus on small streams and wetlands. In the court’s decisions, the protections were removed. In response, and after years of work, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now propose to clarify the waters that need protection through a draft Clean Water Protection Rule. It needs your support.

Clean Water Act activists are concerned about the joint congressional hearing of the Senate and House Environmental Committees on Wednesday, February 4th about the proposed rule. It is rare for congress to hold a joint hearing and it is viewed as an opportunity to attack the proposed rule. Please contact your congressional members and ask them to attend. To learn more, visit http://www.rivernetwork.org/

In support of the rule, the EPA conducted a thorough review of more than 1,200 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies to learn how small streams and wetlands connect to larger, downstream water bodies. The state-of-the-science report is called, “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.”

The researchers found, among other things, that “the scientific literature clearly demonstrates that streams, regardless of their size or frequency of flow, are connected to downstream waters in ways that strongly influence their function” and “there is ample evidence illustrating that many wetlands and open waters located outside of riparian areas and floodplains provide functions that could benefit rivers, lakes, and other downstream waters, even where they lack surface water connections. Some potential benefits of these wetlands, in fact, are due to their isolation, rather than their connectivity” and “the incremental contributions of individual streams and wetlands are cumulative across entire watersheds.”

To learn more about how to protect precious water, please attend the 2015 River Rally, which will be held from Friday, May 1st through Monday, May 4th at the beautiful Tamaya Resort at Santa Ana Pueblo, south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Registration is open now at http://www.rivernetwork.org/events/river-rally-2015

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “The River Rally is one of the best conferences I have attended. It is genuinely fascinating, informative, and fun.”

 

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

Update:  The Clean Water Protection Act was finalized.  To learn more, visit http://www.rivernetwork.org/clean-water-rule-finalized

 

Plutonium Experiments May Begin this Month at the National Ignition Facility

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/23/15 through 1/30/15

(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:

  • Plutonium Experiments May Begin this Month at the National Ignition Facility

Weaponeers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory may begin experiments using plutonium in the world’s largest and most expensive laser facility, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), at the end of this month. Longer-lived forms of plutonium-242 or 244 may be substituted for weapons-grade plutonium-239 in the poppy seed sized targets that will be focused and fired onto by 192 laser beams. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that over the next decade, they will conduct at least 100 experiments, or “shots,” where plutonium would be vaporized.

The classified or unclassified experiments will be conducted in the $3.5 billion laser facility, operated by the DOE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration at the Livermore Laboratory, located about 50 miles east of San Francisco.

Over the years, the NIF mission has changed. The original plans included having plutonium shots contained in a small round containment vessel to surround the experiment. The vessel would capture the radioactive debris. But due to apparent technical difficulties getting laser beams inside the small vessel, DOE jettisoned the containment vessel plan and are now planning to do experiments in the NIF target chamber without additional containment.

Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, or Tri-Valley CARES, a Livermore, California based non-governmental organization has brought attention to the NIF ever since it was first proposed over two decades ago. To learn more, please visit http://www.trivalleycares.org/

Tri-Valley CARES filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents about the experiments. In recently received documents, they uncovered many of the assumptions DOE made to escape addressing worst-case scenarios. For example, Livermore will be allowed to “splatter” the longer-lived plutonium inside the NIF without an effective means of containment by assuming the airborne radioactivity will not exceed legal limits. At the same time DOE says the experiments may “generate airborne contamination that exceeds the [legal limit].”

Further, DOE says the proposed experiments could contaminate the laser optics. One DOE report questions whether it is even possible to clean debris off the optics.

It appears they is using the same type of thinking for the NIF shots as it has for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a DOE disposal facility for plutonium-contaminated bomb waste, located near Carlsbad, New Mexico. DOE assumed that WIPP would not leak and as a result did not plan for such an event. But last February WIPP did leak and the underground was contaminated when one or more waste drums exploded. DOE anticipates that WIPP may reopen in 2016 at a cost of over $1 billion.

The proposed uncontained plutonium shots in the NIF could also leak and contaminate the laser facility. DOE will not conduct any additional environmental review before the experiments begin.

 

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

 

Update:  See January 28, 2015 Press Release:  “Tri-Valley CAREs & NRDC Ask Energy Secretary to Halt Plutonium “Shots” in NIF Scheduled to Begin Thursday at Livermore Lab – Groups’ Attorneys Cite Unaddressed Plutonium Exposure Risks and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Concerns.”   http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/NIF_PU_PR.pdf

 

New Tools Needed for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/16/15 through 1/23/15

(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 Tools Needed for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification

This week, nonproliferation expert, Dr. James Doyle, released his study, “Essential Capabilities for Nuclear Security:  A National Program for Nonproliferation and Verification Technology Development,”  that supports expansion of U.S. nonproliferation programs as essential for nuclear security. Expansion includes the development and/or deployment of new and existing verification and monitoring technologies that would help make a future world free of nuclear weapons more technically and politically feasible. Doyle argues that it should be funded as a core aspect of the nation’s nuclear infrastructure modernization plan, and implemented jointly by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Department of Defense, with guidance from the State Department, intelligence community and National Academy of Sciences.  http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Doyle-EssentialNuclearSecurityReport.pdf

In recent years Congress cut funding for nonproliferation programs, while providing funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex, including large construction projects that are over-budget and behind schedule.

Doyle said, “As America allegedly reduces its reliance on nuclear weapons and hopefully further reduces the size of its stockpile, it needs new tools and new capabilities to keep weapons and materials secure and verify that other nations are complying with similar obligations. To meet these needs a new, integrated multiagency program to develop nonproliferation, verification and monitoring technologies for nuclear security should be initiated without delay.”

Doyle continued, “Nonproliferation and arms verification have for too long been considered ‘soft power’ tools of the diplomatic and arms control communities. Real nuclear security requires that we now consider these capabilities as vital elements of our national security infrastructure. They are potent ‘smart power’ tools offering unique advantages in a rapidly evolving nuclear security environment, which unfortunately includes the threat of nuclear terrorism. Aggressive verification and monitoring technologies will produce a far greater national security return on the taxpayer dollar than will exorbitant ‘modernization’ programs for an unnecessarily oversized nuclear arsenal.”

Doyle’s latest study was written in collaboration with Nuclear Watch New Mexico and funded by the Ploughshares Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.nukewatch.org

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch, said, “The nuclear weapons establishment is planning to spend more than a trillion dollars to ‘modernize’ existing weapons, and build new missiles, subs and bombers. Meanwhile, the NNSA is cutting nonproliferation and dismantlement programs to help pay this colossal bill. This is exactly upside down. We should be making smart investments into new nonproliferation, verification and monitoring technologies that will help make a world free of nuclear weapons feasible, eliminating the threat for all time.”

While in Washington, DC this week, Doyle met with the Department of Energy officials about his whistleblower complaint regarding termination from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) after his study entitled “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” was published. LANL initially cleared his study for release, but then retroactively classified it, even though it was readily available on the Internet.

 

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

 

WIPP Problems Highlighted in Two DOE Independent Assessments

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/9/15 through 1/16/15

(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 Problems Highlighted in Two DOE Independent Assessments  WIPP Billboard 1998 © s.westerly

Running a nuclear facility requires periodic equipment maintenance, reviews of safety systems, and extra precautions in order to protect workers, the public and the environment from releases of dangerous radioactive and chemical materials. It is imperative that owners and operators of nuclear facilities make these a priority. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Nuclear Waste Partnership, a limited liability corporation and contractor for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), an underground nuclear waste dump located 2,150 feet below the surface in a salt formation 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

In two internal reviews, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the owner of WIPP, found additional problems with the contractor’s work at the site when in February 2014 there was a vehicle fire in the underground and nine days later, a release of plutonium and americium, which contaminated portions of the underground and the surface, when one or more waste drums exploded.

WIPP has not received any shipments since then. It is anticipated to take years and more than $1 billion before any waste is transported for disposal. In September, DOE released a Recovery Plan to resume operations. Unfortunately, the plan is not complete, and the first opportunity for public comment will be on January 14th.   http://www.wipp.energy.gov/Special/WIPP%20Recovery%20Plan.pdf

The DOE Office of Enterprise Assessments conducted the two reviews. One review focused on operating diesel equipment, such as salt haulers and machines for installing long bolts into the ceiling, in the underground. Since February the mine has been operating with about one-seventh of the standard airflow, which may be below what is necessary to keep workers safe. The review states, “The most significant concern is that [the contractor] does not have a sound engineering approach for determining the minimum ventilation rates that will ensure safe conditions for underground workers.”

Also, the WIPP Ventilation Plan does not meet U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements. In particular, the contractor had been using non-approved diesel engines that were banned in 2001. The review states, “[t]he identified deficiencies are significant and need to be addressed before WIPP begins to use diesel engines underground.”  http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/12/f19/2014_WIPP_Recovery_Plan_for_Diesel_Equipment_-_December_2014.pdf

The other review points out how the contractor did not conduct basic equipment maintenance as required by DOE orders and the management contract.  http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/12/f19/2014_-_WIPP_Conduct_of_Maintenance_Recovery_Plan_-_December_2014.pdf

Because of the problems in 2014, DOE may not pay $8 million in performance bonuses. But the contractor was paid more than $140 million, which is $7 million more than the amount specified when the contract was awarded in 2012. Further, some of the performance measures for 2015 do not match those in the WIPP Recovery Plan, so that the contractor would receive performance bonuses even when it does not meet the milestone schedules.

 

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

 

DOE Considers a Ten-Fold Increase of Plutonium in CMRR Rad Lab at LANL

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/2/15 through 1/9/15

(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 Considers a Ten-Fold Increase of Plutonium in CMRR Rad Lab at LANL

After having successfully given itself permission to more than quadruple the amount of weapons-grade plutonium allowed in the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building (RLUOB), the Department of Energy, through its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration, recently asked Los Alamos National Laboratory to conduct an analysis to determine if the RLUOB could hold up to 400 grams of plutonium-239.  In a memo written in late October, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, Don Cooke, requested LANL to investigate whether it would be possible to increase the amount of plutonium from 38.6 grams to 400 grams, a more than ten fold increase. Cook expects LANL to complete the review by mid-March, 2015.  http://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/Board%20Activities/Reports/Site%20Rep%20Weekly%20Reports/Los%20Alamos%20National%20Laboratory/2014/wr_20141024_65.pdf

There are many concerns about the NNSA proposal.  One is the lack of a public process for review and comment of the proposal.  The last time the public reviewed the amount of plutonium allowed in the RLUOB was during the 2011 environmental impact statement process for the CMRR Project.  NNSA proposed to increase the production of the plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons in the CMRR from 20 to 50 to 80 per year.  And this was after President Obama announced in Prague his plan to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  In 2012 President Obama put the proposed Super Walmart sized CMRR Nuclear Facility on hold for five-years, essentially canceling the construction.

NNSA stated in the draft environmental statement that it would limit the amount  of plutonium in the RLUOB to 8.4 grams and would focus on characterizing and analyzing the plutonium used in the weapons.

After the environmental statement was finalized, the federal agency then gave itself permission to quadruple the amount to 38.6 grams – all without a public process as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Another concern is that the RLUOB is categorized in DOE speak as a “radiological facility,” which limits the amount of nuclear materials allowed.  Cook asked LANL to analyze whether the RLUOB could be considered a Hazard Category 3 Nuclear Facility.  Classification as a Hazard Category 3 means that computer modeling has shown that a radiation release from the facilty would have “significant localized consequences.”  The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board has raised concerns about a release from plutonium operations at LANL impacting downwind and downstream communities from a seismic event.  They have not been resolved.  http://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/Board%20Activities/Recommendations/rec_2009-2_32.pdf

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “CCNS has prepared sample comments for you to use to NNSA to express your concerns about the proposed ten-fold increase in the amount of plutonium allowed in the RLUOB.  Please go to our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org

 

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

 

Global Zero Recruiting for 2015 Action Corps

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 12/26/14 through 1/2/15

(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:

Global Zero Recruiting for 2015 Action Corps

Global Zero, an international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, says it is “fueled by the creativity and passion of young people,” who are “the world’s first post-Cold War generation who understand that nuclear weapons have no place in the 21st century.”  They are recruiting young people for their Action Corps, which is a year-long organizing program.  Their slogan is “Make History,” with the hashtag “Zero by 2030.”  http://www.globalzero.org

Their brochure describes the program as, “Starting in early 2015, Global Zero will bring together 50 of the country’s top volunteer advocates for the inaugural class of Global Zero Action Corps.  During their one-year service, Action Corps leaders will mobilize their peers, lead creative campaigns and apply real pressure on policymakers to eliminate all nuclear weapons, everywhere.  Equipped with unparalleled access to training, resources and movement leaders, the Action Corps will be on the front lines of the fight for a better, safer future.

“Action Corps leaders will also have the opportunity to travel to New York City with Global Zero this spring for three days of high-level training and action – alongside some of the world’s most prominent leaders in the field of international security.

“We have two alternatives:  live in a world where nuclear weapons will be used or demand a world without them.  The choice is ours.  Join the fight today.”

Global Zero has grown from its initial documentary film to an organization with 300 eminent leaders and nearly a half a million citizens around the world.  It has a step-by-step plan to eliminate nuclear weapons that has been endorsed by political leaders and leading newspapers.  The “Financial Times” said that the Global Zero plan “has shown the direction to be travelled:  the world’s leaders must now start moving.”

The early application deadline is February 1, 2015, with a final deadline of March 1, 2015.  Preference will be given to applicants who apply prior to February 1, 2015.  If you have questions, please contact Lilly Daigle, the U.S. Field Organizer at Global Zero at field@globalzero.org.

This has been the CCNS News Update.  Please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org for more information and to make a tax-deductible contribution.

 

Public Comments Due January 5 about Leaving High-Level Radioactive and Chemical Waste at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 12/19/14 through 12/26/14

(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:

  • Public Comments Due January 5 about Leaving High-Level Radioactive and Chemical Waste at Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill

Public comments are needed about the plans of Sandia National Laboratories to leave high-level radioactive and chemical waste in the Mixed Waste Landfill in unlined, shallow pits and trenches, which threaten Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer. Sandia submitted a request to the New Mexico Environment Department saying that they have completed cleanup at the Mixed Waste Landfill and asked for the hazardous waste permit to be modified. On October 8, 2014 the Environment Department made a preliminary determination that the cleanup was complete and issued a Certificate of Completion. Citizen Action New Mexico has prepared sample public comments for you to use. Comments are due to Sandia on Monday, January 5, 2015 to nnsa.sandia@nnsa.doe.gov.

Sandia’s Mixed Waste Landfill is a 2.6-acre dumpsite, located in southeast Albuquerque within the Kirtland Air Force Base. Dumping began in 1959 and ended in 1988. 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 and placed in the unlined dump. Groundwater is located about 400 feet below the dump. Evidence of groundwater contamination has been found. In 2009, a dirt cover was installed.

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. Some of the waste canisters can explode because they contain metallic sodium.

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.

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 excavate the dump and safely store the wastes away from the aquifer.

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. Please also sign the Change.org petition.”

For more information, please visit Citizen Action’s website at http://www.radfreenm.org/, and Sandia’s information in the Lobo Vault at http://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 http://www.nuclearactive.org

 

Pope Francis Calls for a World Without Nuclear Weapons at Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

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

 

(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:

  • Pope Francis Calls for A World Without Nuclear Weapons at Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons

Amongst a growing number of participants at the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Pope Francis clarified the Catholic Church’s position for nuclear disarmament. In a message read by Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, apostolic nuncio and permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, the pope said, “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states. The youth of today and tomorrow deserve far more….  Peace must be built on justice, socio-economic development, freedom, respect for fundamental human rights, the participation of all in public affairs and the building of trust between peoples.” He concluded his message with an affirmation that “a world without nuclear weapons is truly possible.”

In a press conference, Archbishop Tomasi expanded on the concept of deterrence, saying, “During the ‘80s, especially during the cold war, the use of deterrence was accepted as a condition for avoiding worst results, but not as a value in itself.” He explained that deterrence is no longer justified because of the risk of accident or the weapons falling into the wrong hands. He said, “So we go back to the principal that the possession and use of atomic weapons is not at all acceptable.”

In a document released to the conference, entitled “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition,” the Catholic Church joined other international organizations calling for a re-examination of the policy of deterrence, questioning whether it is a “stable basis for peace” and noting that it is like a feudal tenant’s sworn loyalty to a lord, or “a kind of religion” in its own right.  http://www.news.va/en/news/message-of-the-holy-father-on-the-occasion-of-the

On December 6th and 7th, before the formal conference, a civil society conference attended by over 600 people from around the world, was facilitated by I-CAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. On December 8th and 9th, the government of Austria hosted the third Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear War. During the November 2014 United Nations General Assembly, 180 nations endorsed the Vienna conferences.

For the first time, the U.S. sent a representative to the conference.

The nine weapons states, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, are modernizing or expanding their nuclear weapons arsenals and systems. It is estimated that the U.S. will spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years. This week the U.S. Senate and House passed an Omnibus bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. It included over $8.2 billion for weapons activities.

The fourth Conference on the Humanitarian Impact on Nuclear Weapons is being planned.

 

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