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.

P.O. Box 31147
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87594

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

Learn more »

Our Work

Support CCNS

Help us help you. We graciously accept donations to assist our organization in protecting all living beings and the environment from the effects of radioactive and other hazardous materials now and in the future.

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


 
Current Activities

Why Government Secrecy is More Damaging to Public Health than Nuclear Fallout

Kate Brown, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology science historian, spent years going through the extensive Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster archives and interviewed hundreds, including nuclear scientists, radiation health experts, and villagers.  Her new book, Manual for Survival:  A Chernobyl Guide to the Future, lies it all out how the United Nations, international health and atomic energy organizations, among others, deceived the public about what really happened.  For example, people that should have been evacuated were not.  Clouds seeded to prevent radioactive fallout from reaching Moscow resulted in concentrated fallout in other areas.  High rates of childhood thyroid cancer were hidden.  It has been more than 30 years since the April 26, 1986 disaster.  Due to Brown’s diligent investigation, the scope of the deception has been gathered together in her book and is now known.  http://news.mit.edu/2019/chernobyl-manual-for-survival-book-0306

Robert Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, eloquently reviewed Brown’s book in piece titled Why Government Secrecy is More Damaging to Public Health than Nuclear Fallout.  Alvarez gives an overview of the harm done since 1943 by the international nuclear power and nuclear weapons industrial complex – all with impunity.  https://washingtonspectator.org/alvarez-nuclear-fallout/

He describes the nuclear reactor design flaw, discovered by the World War II Manhattan Project scientists working to build atomic bombs.  The flawed design is still found in the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor.  This reactor melted down in 1986 at Chernobyl and in 2011 at Fukushima.

Alvarez concludes, Kate Brown “makes it clear that the biggest radiological catastrophes contaminating the Earth were deliberately perpetrated in order to test nuclear weapons in the open air.”  The U.S. and Soviet Union exploded 442 of a total of 520 atmospheric nuclear weapons tests, “contaminating the Northern Hemisphere with long-lived and poisonous radioactive debris that far exceeds that of Chernobyl and all other nuclear accidents.”   

He explains, “For instance, at a secret meeting in November 1954 of the [U.S.] Atomic Energy Commission’s General Advisory Committee, experts ‘cautioned against the use of milk in heavily contaminated areas’ in the United States, following six large, recent [hydrogen or] H-bomb explosions in the Marshall Islands.  But no public warnings were given.  The six tests, which dwarfed the combined releases from Chernobyl and Fukushima, raised global background radiation levels 10 to 20 times.  Hot spots 5,000 miles away in the United States showed radiation levels as much as 200 times greater than normal background.”

Alvarez concludes, “The painful lesson from Brown’s indispensable book [] is that when it comes to nuclear weapons and energy programs, governments, by accident or design, have been willing to send their people into harm’s way with impunity.”


1.    DOE’s Utility Shaft permit modification public meetings:  Tuesday, September 17th, from 5 to 7 pm,

at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Park Highway, Carlsbad, NM, and on Thursday, September 19th from 3 to 5 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott, 3347 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Public comments are due to the Environment Department by Wednesday, October 16th.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

2.    Friday, September 20th – comments due to DOE about the scope of the hazardous waste permit renewal application.    Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/   

3.    Monday, September 23rd – comments due to the New Mexico Environment Department about the “fake” draft groundwater discharge permit DP-1132 for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

4.    Thursday, September 26th – International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.  https://www.un.org/en/events/nuclearweaponelimination/

5.    Thursday, September 26th – Sunday, September 29th – Tewa Women United’s 23rd Gathering for Mother Earth.

6.    Saturday, October 5th – Trinity Site open.  Join the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (“Trinity Downwinders”) for a peaceful demonstration at the Stallion Gate on State Hwy. 380.    https://www.wsmr.army.mil/Trinity/Pages/Home.aspx 

7.    Wednesday, October 16th – comments due to New Mexico Environment Department about the Utility Shaft permit modification request.  See No. 1 above.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/   

 

Proposed WIPP Utility Shaft Not Needed

The Department of Energy (DOE) proposes to drill a $75 million Utility Shaft for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) when it is not needed.  DOE, and its contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC, state the new shaft can bring air into the deep geologic repository for atomic bomb wastes.  Airflow has been limited since February 2014 when an explosion in the WIPP underground contaminated a large portion of the site, requiring air to be filtered to prevent the release of radionuclides into the environment.  Since then, WIPP has been addressing the need for more filtered air.  It is building a permanent ventilation system with much larger filters to restore the airflow to pre-2014 levels, using the existing four shafts.  https://wipp.energy.gov/library/seis/DOE-EIS-0026-SA-11_Nov_2017.pdf

Despite the fact that the New Mexico Environment Department has not permitted the new shaft, last month DOE awarded a $75 million contract to construct the 30-foot in diameter shaft to a depth of 2,150 feet below ground surface.  The contract requires connecting the shaft to the existing underground drifts with new drifts that would be used for new waste disposal rooms to expand WIPP’s capacity.  https://wipp.energy.gov/wipp_news_20190821.asp

Forty years ago, Congress designated WIPP as a research and development facility for demonstrating the safe disposal of plutonium-contaminated wastes from national defense activities.  It has a limited mission regarding the types and volumes of waste and a limited lifetime.  It is not to be the only repository.

The new shaft is not needed for ventilation.  It is needed to expand the underground footprint for more waste.  There are currently five proposals to bring new wastes to WIPP.  They are:  Greater-Than-Class C low-level waste; elemental mercury; high-level waste in tanks at Hanford and other sites; commercial waste from West Valley, New York; and 60,000 pounds of weapons grade plutonium to create the world’s largest underground weapons grade plutonium ore body.

Once opened for disposal in 1999, WIPP was to remain open for 25 years.  According to the WIPP Permit, it is scheduled to close in 2024.  https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp-permit-page/

In its draft Five-Year Strategic Plan, DOE now proposes to keep WIPP open until 2050.  The draft Plan is a wish list for surface and underground infrastructure projects to support expanding the amount of waste disposal and operating lifetime.  Public comments are due to DOE by September 30thhttps://wipp.energy.gov/

Next week, DOE will hold two public meetings about the proposed shaft permit modification.  They will be held on Tuesday, September 17th, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Skeen-Whitlock Building in Carlsbad, and on Thursday, September 19th from 3 to 5 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott in Santa Fe.  Public comments are due to the Environment Department by October 16thhttps://wipp.energy.gov/Library/Information_Repository_A/Class_3_Permit_Modifications/19-0241_Letter_Redacted.pdf

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “People should tell NMED to not approve the permit modification request because it does not truthfully state the real purpose of the shaft, which is to expand WIPP, contrary to the requirements of the Permit and legal restrictions.”


Did You Know about these important WIPP public meetings and public comment opportunities?

1.     DOE will hold its first set of public meetings about the renewal of the ten-year New Mexico Environment Department hazardous waste permit, which expires in 2020.  They will be held on Tuesday, September 10th, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Park Highway, Carlsbad, NM, and on Thursday, September 12th from 3 to 5 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott, 3347 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Public comments are due by September 20th to infocntr@wipp.ws .   Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

2.    DOE’s Utility Shaft permit modification public meetings:  Tuesday, September 17th, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Park Highway, Carlsbad, NM, and on Thursday, September 19th from 3 to 5 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott, 3347 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Public comments are due to the Environment Department by October 16th.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

3.    September 20th – comments due to DOE about the scope of the hazardous waste permit renewal application.  See No. 1 above.    Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

4.    September 23rd – comments due to the New Mexico Environment Department about the “fake” draft groundwater discharge permit DP-1132 for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

5.    October 16th – comments due to New Mexico Environment Department about the Utility Shaft permit modification request.  See No. 2 above.  Sample public comments for you to use will be available soon at http://nuclearactive.org/

6.    Listen to the recent interview with Susan Gordon, of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, with KSFR’s MK Mendoza, about Babies Showing High Levels of Uranium Shed New Light on Largest US Uranium Spill, at https://www.ksfr.org/post/babies-showing-high-levels-uranium-shed-new-light-largest-us-uranium-spill

7.   Listen to the recent interview with Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, with Nuclear Hotseat’s Libbee HaLevy, of about Nuclear Weapons Build-Up Insanity; Los Alamos Lab so-called “Clean-Up” at http://nuclearhotseat.com/2019/09/04/nuclear-weapons-build-up-insanity-los-alamos-lab-so-called-clean-up-jay-coghlan-nukewatch-nm-nh-428/

 

Holtec Ignores New Mexico State Land Office Authority

In filings this week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Holtec International stated it “disagrees” that the New Mexico State Land Office must approve any agreements to limit or restrict continued or future mineral extraction, including oil, gas, and potash.  In this and previous filings Holtec claimed that it has “control” of the proposed site in southeast New Mexico for storing all of the irradiated, or spent, nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants, more than 90 percent of which is located in the eastern half of the country.

In this week’s filing, Holtec also states that it does not need to control the mineral resources to obtain an NRC license.

On June 19th, Stephanie Garcia Richard, New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands, wrote to Holtec expressing her concerns that the company misrepresented the authority of the Land Office over the mineral rights.  While the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance owns the surface, the State of New Mexico owns the mineral rights below ground in the highly productive Permian Basin.

Garcia Richard wrote that Holtec “entirely disregarded the State Land Office’s authority over the Site’s mineral estate” and that the state has not approved the agreement between Holtec and Intrepid Potash to limit potash mining below the site.  In a May 7, 2019 decision, the NRC judges accepted Holtec’s statement that it “controls the mineral rights at the site down to 5,000 feet.”

Fasken Oil and Ranch and the Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners filed a motion with the NRC to submit a new contention, or objection, in the license proceeding.  A basis for the new contention was the Land Commissioner’s letter to Holtec.

Fasken also challenged Holtec’s inaccurate information about the wells within a five-mile radius of the proposed site.  According to Fasken, there are 253 oil and gas wells in production with various depths between 710 and 16,000 feet deep within a five-mile radius.  Forty-five of these are recent wells and were drilled horizontally.  A drill island is present that could accommodate multiple well locations to within a quarter to a half-mile from the proposed site.

The Permian Basin is one of the world’s most productive regions for oil and gas exploration and extraction.  Fasken is challenging Holtec’s license application because of the financial hit the industry could take should there be an accident along the truck and rail transportation routes and/or at the site.

Holtec has not directly responded to the Land Commissioner’s letter, and still wants to transport the dangerous waste across the country to New Mexico, even though the Governor, many local governments, and many New Mexicans oppose the project.

 

Chronology of documents referenced in the Update:

May 7, 2019 – NRC Decision that Holtec “controls the mineral rights at the site down to 5,000 feet” –  https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1912/ML19127A026.pdf at p. 107.

June 7, 2019 – Michelle Lujan Grisham, NM Governor, letter to DOE Secretary Rick Perry and NRC Chairperson Kristine Svinicki – http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/NM-Governor-Holtec-Ltr-060719.pdf

June 19, 2019  – Stephanie Garcia Richard, NM Commissioner of Public Lands, to Holtec  http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/6.19.19-NM-SLO-Letter-to-Krishna-P.-Singh.pdf

August 1, 2019 – Fasken Oil and Ranch and Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners Motion for Leave to File a New Contention – Fasken+Land+Commission+contention mineral rts 8-1-19

August 26, 2019 – Holtec International’s Answer Opposing Fasken’s Late-Filed Motion for Leave to File a New Contention – Holtec Answer to Fasken Oil 8-26-19

August 26, 2019 – NRC Staff Answer in Opposition to Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd. and Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners’ Motion to File a New Contention – NRC Answer to Fasken Oil 8-26-19

 

August 28, 2019 analysis provided by Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear Radioactive Waste Specialist, and links to proposed transportation routes, maps, and Congressional districts below.

Holtec International is poised to acquire the numerous atomic reactors, and their on-site high-level radioactive wastes, from various current owners — although competitors, such as NorthStar (affiliated with Waste Control Specialists), as well as EnergySolutions of Utah (which has undertaken the largest decommissioning in U.S. history, at Zion, IL on the Great Lakes shore), are still in the competition. If and when various atomic reactors shut down for good, one of these companies will likely take over the site(s) during the decommissioning stage, including the high-level radioactive waste management.

Holtec would send high-level radioactive wastes to New Mexico for “interim” storage, while NorthStar would send them to WCS, Texas — just 39 miles east from Holtec, NM. Outbound transport routes would be the same for much of the country — including the potential for barge shipments on surface waters, or heavy haul truck shipments, Legal Weight Truck shipments, and/or rail shipments on land, in most states, scores of major urban areas, and the vast majority of U.S. congressional districts.

For maps and documentation of the numbers of barge shipments that could travel numerous surface waters across the U.S. (the Great Lakes, rivers, and sea coasts), as well as what the risks of a sinking are, see:

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/waste-transportation/2017/6/29/potential-barge-routes-on-us-surface-waters-to-ship-high-lev.html

https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/factsheets/mibargefactsheet92804.pdf

See this map for truck and train routes nationwide: http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/ymroutes17.png

See this document, for transport routes by road and/or rail in 44 states: http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/States_Affected.pdf

See this document for a close ups of shipping routes in 20 major urban areas: http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Cities_Affected.pdf

See page 4-5 of 19 in this document for numbers of shipments (rail, truck, and total) in various states: http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2017/pdf/Congressional_Districts_Affected.pdf

Note:  All of these linked documents above are in the context of 70,000 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel being shipped to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Holtec NM would hold 173,600 MT, while WCS, TX would hold another 40,000 MT, for a grand total of 213,600 MT. Thus, a significantly larger number of shipments could pass through many to most states, if reactors continue generating high-level radioactive waste, and ship them to the Southwest, than is even accounted for under the 70,000 MT Yucca dump scheme. In the same document linked just above, beginning at page 7 of 19 on the PDF counter, a listing of the 370 U.S. congressional districts that would be crossed by road and/or rail shipments is documented.

Unfortunately, both WCS/ISP and Holtec/ELEA have included very little transport-related information in their application documents, leaving the public largely in the dark regarding routing, shipment numbers, as well as related risks.


 

Did You Know there are many opportunities in September to provide your views, concerns and comments and to participate in community events.

CCNS is working to provide you with sample public comments to get you started, that you can modify to your voice, and get them in.

1.    First, Monday, September 3rd – Enjoy Labor Day!  We’ve earned it!
If you are looking for something to read –
here’s Tri-Valley CARES analysis of the National Defense Authorization Act:  When the House & Senate Differ on Policy and Spending, You Can Make the Difference  NDAA Nuclear Weapons Blog Updated 8 26

2.    Thursday, September 19th, from 3 to 5 pm about the proposed new shaft for WIPP.

3.    Friday, September 20th – General Strike for the climate emergency by YUCCA (Youth United for Climate Crisis Action) in Santa Fe.     https://www.youthunited4climatecrisisaction.org/

4.    Friday, September 20th:  the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing changes to the definitions of transuranic and greater-than-class C wastes.  https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-15434.pdf 

5.    Monday, September 23rd:  comments are due to the NM Environment Department about groundwater discharge permit 1132 – the “fake” permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  A DP-1132 fact sheet in English and Spanish is available at:   https://www.env.nm.gov/gwqb/pps/

6.    Thursday, September 26th – International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – is anyone inspired to organize/coordinate an event in New Mexico?  https://www.un.org/en/events/nuclearweaponelimination/

7.    Monday, September 30th – public comments due about the Five-Year Strategic Plan for WIPP.  https://www.wipp.energy.gov/

 

Public Should Comment on New “WIPP Forever” Strategic Plan

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is the nation’s first geologic disposal site for radioactive and hazardous waste.  https://wipp.energy.gov/  But WIPP should not be the only repository.  For decades, federal laws and state agreements and permits have established a limited mission for both the amount of waste allowed and how long the site can operate.  Other repositories are necessary since the nation has no plans to stop production of nuclear weapons that generate the plutonium waste. Other repositories also are required for commercial spent fuel and military high-level wastes.

In recent years, officials with the Department of Energy (DOE) have discussed various ideas to keep WIPP open for at least 50 years – twice as long as the original schedule – and to expand the types and amounts of waste.  One reason for the “WIPP Forever” plan is to avoid telling Congress and the public that it is time to develop other repositories – since no state is asking for those dump sites.

DOE announced the upcoming release of a Draft Five-Year Strategic Plan and public comment meetings in Santa Fe on Monday, August 26th from 3 to 5 pm at the Hotel Santa Fe, and in Carlsbad on Wednesday, August 28th from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at the Skeen-Whitlock Building.  While WIPP officials acknowledge that more informed public comment happens if the draft plan is released several days in advance, the document may not be available until just before the Santa Fe meeting.

Thus, what exactly is in the five-year plan is uncertain.  But it likely will presume that WIPP continues to operate until at least 2050 and the amount of waste totals at least thirty percent more than the legal limit of 175,564 cubic meters.  It will certainly include adding at least one new shaft and numerous underground disposal rooms beyond those ever included in past designs.  That additional space is for plutonium-contaminated waste previously designated for WIPP that doesn’t fit because of the underground contamination that makes some areas of the underground unusable.  The Plan also could include tons of weapons-grade plutonium and high-level waste that has always been prohibited by federal law and the state permit.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “Whatever the specifics of the WIPP Strategic Plan, the public can tell DOE that we do not agree with operating WIPP forever.  People can also tell State officials to enforce the legal limits on the amount and types of waste and set a closing date so that DOE and Congress know that it’s time to plan for either long-term storage at generator sites or new repositories in other states.”  http://www.sric.org/


Did You Know about these important public meetings?

1.   Thursday, August 22, 2019 from 4 to 5 pm – Joni Arends will be interviewed by Xubi Wilson on KSFR-FM 101.1 “Living on the Edge” show.  She will discuss New Mexico, the nuclear weapons industry, and the sacrifices that are continuing to be extolled from the People by that industry everyday and in every way.

2.   Thursday, August 22, 2019 from 5:30 to 7 pm – LANL’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) public meeting about The Environmental Management Cleanup Forum:  Legacy Waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, at the Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Avenue, Santa Fe.
EM Cleanup Forum Save the Dates_08022019

3.    Friday, August 23, 2019 from 9 am to 4:30 pm – New Mexico Interim Radioactive and Hazardous Committee meeting at the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos, Wallace Hall, 4000 University Drive, Los Alamos.  Presenters include:  James C. Kenney, Secretary of the NM Environment Department (NMED); Kelly Beierschmitt, Deputy Director of Operations, LANL; and Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen about DOE Order 140.1 with Jonathan Plaue, with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.  Topics include:  the 2016 NMED Order on Consent for LANL, and the chromium and co-located perchlorate plume.  https://www.nmlegis.gov/Committee/Interim_Committee?CommitteeCode=RHMC

4.  Monday, August 26, 2019 from 3 to 5 pm – WIPP draft Five-Year Strategic Plan at the Hotel Santa Fe, 1601 Paseo de Peralta, Santa Fe, NM.  Unfortunately, at posting time, the draft plan is not available for review prior to the meeting.

5.   Wednesday, August 28, 2019 from 10:30 – 12:30 – WIPP draft Five-Year Strategic Plan at the Skeen-Whitlock Building, 4021 National Park Highway, Carlsbad, NM.

6.    Thursday, August 29th from 11 to 1 pm – Cold War Patriots are hosting a meeting for DOE/NNSA/LANL/Sandia/WIPP workers and former workers about how to navigate the complex EEOICPA and RECA government programs at St. John’s Methodist Church in Santa Fe.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/

 

CCNS August 19th Meeting about “Fake” LANL Discharge Permit

On Monday evening, August 19th, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety (CCNS) will host a public meeting about the “fake” groundwater discharge permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). 

CCNS will discuss how this Facility is key to plans to expand the manufacture of the plutonium pits, or the triggers, for nuclear weapons by 50 percent – from 20 pits to 30 pits per year.  We’ll discuss what was old, is new again – including the reintroduction of plans from the Bush II administration to build a bridge across the Rio Grande from Santa Fe to Ancho Canyon.  We’ll talk about how the collective “we” defeated those plans.  We’ll encourage you to get involved and have concrete suggestions about how.  Monday’s meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Santa Fe’s Downtown Library at 145 Washington Avenue.  http://santafelibrary.org/  It’s free.  Please join us.

The groundwater discharge permit is “fake” because the New Mexico Water Quality Act requires a permit for “the discharge of any water contaminant.”  LANL has not discharged any water or contaminant through the discharge pipe, called Outfall 051, since November 2010.  Without a discharge, the New Mexico Environment Department has no basis to issue the discharge permit.

LANL has no plans to discharge.  In fact, in 1998, LANL stated its plans to eliminate liquid discharges from the Facility by rebuilding it to become a “zero liquid discharge” facility.  That goal was accomplished nearly nine years ago with the elimination of any discharges.

Further, under the law, the permit does not go into effect until there is a discharge.  The Environment Department issued the permit last August, but it did not go into effect because there has been no discharge.  As a result, the Environment Department does not have any enforcement power over the permit.

For these reasons and others, including that hazardous waste is stored and treated in the Facility; the correct regulatory structure is the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act and the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  The hazardous waste laws and regulations are more protective of human health and the environment.  They require more public participation and provide opportunities to request a public hearing about the permit, and for proposed modifications to the permit.

Since the fall of 2013, the Communities for Clean Water (CCW), of which CCNS is a founding member, has challenged the regulation of the Facility by the Water Quality Act.  CCW has argued for regulation by the Hazardous Waste Act, which will not result in a “fake” permit.

Please join us on Monday evening for an interesting and lively discussion.

For background on this Update, please go to previous Updates at:

March 23, 2018 – http://nuclearactive.org/ccw-files-motion-to-dismiss-draft-lanl-discharge-permit/

April 13, 2018 – http://nuclearactive.org/public-comments-needed-for-lanl-groundwater-discharge-permit-for-zero-liquid-discharge/

April 5, 2019 – http://nuclearactive.org/ccw-asks-wqcc-to-remand-lanl-permit-to-nmed-secretary/

June 6, 2019 – http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/190606-CCW-Petition-for-Mandamus-2019-06-06.pdf

June 21, 2019 – http://nuclearactive.org/wqcc-remands-lanl-discharge-permit-back-to-nmed/


1. Monday, August 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Santa Fe Library (Downtown) at 145 Washington, CCNS is hosting a public information meeting about the “fake” discharge permit for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The state permit will not go into effect until there is a discharge.  But LANL has not discharged since November 2010, and has no plans to do so.  The permit cannot be enforced because it will not go into effect.

Soon, because of defects in the public notice, the New Mexico Environment Department’s draft permit will be re-noticed for public comments.  As a result, the public hearing will be delayed until November or later.

CCNS has argued for over a decade that the facility should be regulated by the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations because it treats and stores hazardous waste.  The hazardous waste laws and regulations are more protective and offer more opportunities for public participation than the NM Water Quality Act.  Join us for this important and lively discussion at the Santa Fe Downtown Library!  Learn how you can get involved!

2. Thursday, August 22, 2019 from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Avenue, Santa Fe by LANL’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office (EM-LA) about The Environmental Management Cleanup Forum:  Legacy Waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  EM Cleanup Forum Save the Dates_08022019

3. Thursday, August 29th from 11 to 1 pm, the Cold War Patriots are hosting a public meeting for DOE/NNSA/LANL/Sandia/WIPP workers and former workers about how to navigate the complex EEOICPA and RECA government programs at St. John’s Methodist Church in Santa Fe.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/

 

Say “No” to More Nuclear Weapons; Comments due August 12th

Thank you to everyone who submitted comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for plans to manufacture plutonium triggers, or pits, for nuclear weapons at the Savannah River Site.  Public comments are now needed on those plans, plus plans for a 50 percent increase in pit manufacturing at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by 2030.  These plans were revealed in the 2008 Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, also known as the “Bombplex,” and they are back.  Comments are due on Monday, August 12th to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov. A sample public comment letter is available on Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s website at https://nukewatch.org/

Overall, NNSA plans to quadruple production from 20 to 80 pits per year.  NNSA plans to produce at least 30 pits at LANL and 50 pits at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Expanded plutonium pit production is a crucial part of the $1.7 trillion “modernization” plan to completely rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile; its supporting research and production complex; and the missiles, submarines, and bombers to deliver nuclear weapons.  Together, the modernization plan is fueling a new global nuclear arms race that is more dangerous than any time since the height of the Cold War.

Expanded pit production, costing an estimated $43 billion over thirty years, is not needed.  More than 15,000 existing pits are already stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, while independent experts have found that pits last more than a century.

No pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile.  Instead, NNSA plans to produce heavily modified pits for speculative new-design nuclear weapons. This could degrade confidence in stockpile reliability since new pits cannot be full-scale tested because of an international testing moratorium.  In the extreme, it could even prompt the U.S. to resume nuclear weapons testing, which would have severe international proliferation consequences.

To meet public review requirements under the federal NEPA, NNSA completed a Supplement Analysis to determine whether existing nation-wide programmatic public review of pit production should be supplemented. NNSA has already decided no.

It is time to tell NNSA that a new programmatic environmental impact statement is required.  Please email your comments to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov by August 12, 2019, or as soon thereafter as possible.  Please customize your comments before emailing, as that is more effective.

NNSA did not respond adequately to public comments submitted in 2008.  If you submitted comments then, please attach them to your new comments.

To learn more about plutonium pit production, check out Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s fact sheet at https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PitProductionFactSheet.pdf

To learn about what is happening with the Bombplex at LANL’s “sister” lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California, go to the Tri-Valley CAREs [Communities Against a Radioactive Environment] website at http://www.trivalleycares.org/


 

1.    Monday, August 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, CCNS is hosting a public information meeting about the “fake” discharge permit for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The state permit will not go into effect until there is a discharge.  But LANL has not discharged since November 2011, and has no plans to do so.  The permit cannot be enforced because it will not go into effect.

Soon, because of defects in the public notice, the New Mexico Environment Department’s draft permit will be re-noticed for public comments.  As a result, the public hearing will be delayed until November or later.

CCNS has argued for over a decade that the facility should be regulated by the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations because it treats and stores hazardous waste.  The hazardous waste laws and regulations are more protective than the NM Water Quality Act.  Join us for this important public information meeting at the Santa Fe Downtown Library!  Learn how you can get involved!

2.    Rev. John Dear wrote in Common Dreams about the August 3rd gathering in Los Alamos to call for nuclear abolition. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/06/ongoing-call-nuclear-abolition-los-alamos  Planning is on-going for the 75th commemoration events in 2020.  To get involved, please email ccns@nuclearactive.org.

3.   Thursday, August 29th from 11 to 1 pm, the Cold War Patriots are hosting a public meeting for DOE/NNSA/LANL/Sandia/WIPP workers and former workers about how to navigate the complex EEOICPA and RECA government programs at St. John’s Methodist Church in Santa Fe.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/

4.    Thursday, September 26th is the United Nations’ International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.  Let’s organize commemoration events in New Mexico.  https://www.un.org/en/events/nuclearweaponelimination/

 

Where Are the Rocky Flats Special Grand Jury Documents?

Thirty years after a special grand jury was empaneled to look into possible environmental crimes committed at the Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant, 60 to 65 sealed boxes of their documents are missing.  Many people living near the plant, as well as downwind and downstream, believe the contents may provide critical information about the buried plutonium wastes and help to resolve conflicts about access to the site, expansion of housing developments nearer to the site, and a proposal to build a by-pass road along the fence line.

In January, attorney Pat Mellen asked the federal court to unseal the boxes and make them public.  Last month, the federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that they could not locate the boxes in their office, or in the Federal Records Center where closed cases are stored.

When asked, an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office emailed attorney Mellen, stating that he has been “attempting to reach out to former [] staff and attorneys who touched the Rocky Flats matter over the years to see whether they have any memory of where the boxes might have ended up.  That effort is ongoing, but has not yet yielded results.”

Rocky Flats is located about 16 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  About 70,000 plutonium pits, or the triggers for nuclear weapons, were manufactured there from 1952 to 1989 when the FBI raided Rocky Flats for violations of the Clean Air Act and federal hazardous waste laws, including illegal waste storage.

Rockwell International, the DOE contractor at the time, pled guilty to 10 environmental violations in 1992.  They paid $18.5 million in fines.

After nearly a decade, a $7 billion “cleanup” commenced.  The cleanup standards were not as protective as people in the communities had wanted.  The community’s standards addressed the long-term impacts of plutonium to human health and the environment.

After “cleanup,” most of the Rocky Flats site was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and became a wildlife refuge where school children go on field trips.  Nevertheless, seven school boards, including Denver and Boulder, will not take their students on field trips to the refuge.

Further, subdivisions are being built closer to the site.  As a result, the occurrences of rare childhood cancers are growing in those neighborhoods.

Attorney Pat Mellen is representing seven organizations.  http://patmellenlaw.com/ They are:  the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups https://www.eecap.org/ANWAG_News.htm ; Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows https://candelasglows.com/ ; Environmental Information Network https://archives.colorado.edu/repositories/2/resources/622 ; Rocky Flats Downwinders http://rockyflatsdownwinders.com/ ; Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association http://www.rockyflatsneighbors.com/about.html ; Rocky Flats Right to Know https://www.rockyflatsrighttoknow.org/ ; and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center https://www.rmpjc.org/.

LeRoy Moore, Ph.D., and founder of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, said, “”I thought I’d seen the worst, but losing more that 60 cartons of evidence from the 1989 FBI raid beats all.”

This week the groups asked the court to unseal the yet-to-be-found documents within thirty days.


The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released a draft ground water discharge permit (DP-1132) for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Technical Area 50.  See page 5 of this public notice:   https://cloud.env.nm.gov/water/resources/_translator.php/3wdGf2YvWP7JR8htsQErkMxbvE56mnoqDRp2BQAIXXbigeEtSCEhgT9cBlqLEUu1Bu05rtzHpSvgDBYBZ/UkvNj1xm6YWbE032FsQ+I0sXXv1czn8rKsfXGEget28K6+1ZKKfKD2Ec4=.pdf 

It processes low-level and transuranic (plutonium) contaminated water from nuclear weapons operations at the Plutonium Facility and related facilities.  This is a key facility for DOE/NNSA plans to expand plutonium pit production at LANL (known as “Bombplex II”).

Since 2013, CCNS and other groups have argued that it is illegal for NMED to issue a ground water discharge permit for this facility.  To obtain a permit, the NM Water Quality Act and regulations require a facility to discharge water contaminants.  Since November 2011, LANL has not discharged from the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.

CCNS and other groups have argued that the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility is a hazardous waste treatment and storage facility and should be regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as implemented in NM by the NM Hazardous Waste Act and regulations.  The waste storage activities are currently covered by the NMED hazardous waste permit for LANL.  The entire Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility must be regulated under RCRA.

Mark Your Calendars and Stay Tuned!  

*  Monday, August 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Santa Fe Downtown Public Library.  You are invited to the CCNS public meeting about the draft ground water discharge permit and what you can do.

*  CCNS is available to present at house parties or another event.  Please contact us about availability by email to ccns@nuclearactive.org, or by phone at (505) 986-1973.

*  Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 5 pm (MST).  Public comment are due to NMED.  Sample public comments will be available here soon.  Please stay tuned!

*  Tuesday, September 24, 2019.  NMED has scheduled a public hearing on the draft permit.  Location and time:  TBD.

Please support our critical, time-sensitive work by making a tax-deductible contribution at http://nuclearactive.org/ or mail your check to:  CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147. 

 

Resist “Normalization” of Nuclear Weapons Industry in New Mexico

Leading up to the 75th year since the Trinity atomic bomb test in New Mexico and the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki next year, there are a plethora of events, activities, and dialogues taking place to “normalize” the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico.  Knowing the details of the harm done to all living beings by the nuclear weapons industry, CCNS is resisting these attempts.  There are two events of note.  They are the Friday, August 2nd opening of the Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition in Albuquerque, and the Saturday, August 3rd Hiroshima Peace Day Commemoration in Los Alamos.

Dedicated to alternative stories of the “nuclear business” in New Mexico, the Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition examines the combined burden of nuclear by-products and waste that decays over tens of thousands of years on the People of New Mexico.  It questions the theft and decimation of sacred Indigenous lands.  It examines how involuntary radiation exposures affect future generations.  It asks about the ongoing threats from transportation, storage, and disposal of radioactive wastes.

Barbara Grothus, exhibition organizer, said, “The tired story of Profiteers of the Nuclear Business in New Mexico has worn thin.  For generations, Indigenous people and residents of their colonized lands have suffered and died for the State of Decay.  Their stories must no longer go unheard.”

The exhibition is at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory, located at 401 2nd Street Southwest, in Albuquerque.  The opening reception is on Friday, August 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.  The exhibition will be up until Friday, August 30th.    Black Hole_Atomic City (State of Decay) – Press Release-2

Also, the 16th Annual Hiroshima Peace Day Commemoration and Peace Vigil will take place on Saturday, August 3th in Los Alamos.  People will gather at Ashley Pond, in the center of town, at 2 pm.

Participants will remember the 74th anniversary of the bombings at the place where the first nuclear weapons were built and where they continue to be built.  There will be a silent procession towards Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Participants may sit in silence for 30 minutes in sackcloths, or burlap bags, and ashes, which will be provided.  Participants will walk back to Ashley Pond for discussion and reflection, led by Father John Dear, an activist and author.

He said, “We’ve been going to Los Alamos every August for sixteen years now, to pray and speak out for the abolition of nuclear weapons; but the world’s violence and war making is only worsening while we continue to waste billions of dollars on these weapons of mass destruction.”

For more information, please contact Ellie Voutselas at ellievout@gmail.com or (505) 474-8557.  August 6 Hiroshima 2019 Flyer rev3-1


CCNS is releasing this week’s Update early to encourage you to get your scoping comments in about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plans to expand plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.  They are due on Thursday, July 25th.  A sample public comment letter containing the story of the boondoggle MOX facility is available at our SRS Watch’s website at http://www.srswatch.org/ under “In the News” on the right side of the home page.

The Conservation Voters of South Carolina have set up this automatic comment submission form, in case anyone wants to go this quick route:  https://p2a.co/EKKU5yl

Key points include:

1.  DOE plans to expand plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site (SRS) to produce 80 pits (the triggers for nuclear weapons) per year. 

2.  DOE plans to prepare an environmental impact statement about its SRS proposal to produce 50 pits per year in the boondoggled MOX facility, which was never completed.  Comments are due on Thursday, July 25th.

3.  As usual, DOE is putting the cart before the horse.  The 1996 Department of Energy (DOE) nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement on Stockpile Stewardship and Management set a plutonium pit production cap of 20 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

4.  Because DOE is planning to expand pit production at a second site at SRS, it is necessary for DOE to supplement the 1996 programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) – before conducting an environmental impact statement process for the SRS MOX plant.

5.  Conducting a supplemental PEIS process would require DOE to hold public hearings across the country, and along the transportation routes.

 

Representative Luján Introduces Expanded RECA Amendments

The first atomic explosion, July 16, 1945, Trinity Site, New Mexico;
July 1945

On the 74th anniversary of the Trinity atomic bomb test, U.S. Congressman and Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján introduced amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to expand coverage for New Mexicans who were overexposed to radiation.  The amendments would cover the Downwinders of the July 16, 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test and those exposed to years of above ground atomic tests in Guam.  They would expand coverage for uranium workers who worked during 1971 and 1990.

Further, the amendments would provide a Congressional apology to individuals exposed to radiation in the western U.S., Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands; and extend the RECA Trust Fund from 2022, when it is scheduled to sunset, to 2045.

Assistant Speaker Luján said, “Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve fought to ensure justice for communities impacted by radiation exposure – including miners, workers, and downwinders.  Radiation exposure has taken the lives of too many and continues to hurt our communities.  I know how important this legislation is for New Mexico families that have been affected.  This legislation will extend compensation for those individuals who played a role in our national security and help make those individuals whole.”

New Mexico Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres Small are co-sponsors of the bill.  https://lujan.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/lujn-members-of-congress-introduce-legislation_to-expand-compensation-for-individuals–impacted-by-radiation-exposure

The legislation is needed now.  On Monday, July 15th, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an important article, entitled, “Trinity:  ‘The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project,’” by Kathleen M. Tucker and Robert Alvarez.  They report, “Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the [Trinity] explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children.”

In 1958, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation   recognized that growing fetuses and infants are more susceptible to ionizing radiation as it damages dividing cells.

Infant mortality in New Mexico prior to the July 16, 1945 Trinity test was declining.  Infant mortality is reported as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births.  Following the Trinity test, infant mortality dramatically increased in the counties that experienced Trinity test fallout.  The highest rate occurred in September.

In August, the infant mortality rate was 152.3 per 1,000 live births.  In September, the rate was 187.8.  In October, it fell to 123.1.  When compared to rates in 1943, 1944, 1946, 1947, and 1948, 1945 rates show a dramatic increase.  https://thebulletin.org/2019/07/trinity-the-most-significant-hazard-of-the-entire-manhattan-project/

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said the data is “significant.”

To learn more and to get involved, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


1. Wednesday, July 17, 2019.  WetheFourth released a press release and brief to the New Mexico State Auditor about Did Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance collude with Holtec? http://www.wethefourth.org/

2. Saturday, July 20, 2019.  Two events held by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) to commemorate the 74th year since the Trinity test, the first atomic bomb test, on what is now called the White Sands Missile Range.  the events will take place in Tularosa, NM, north of Alamogordo, NM.

At 2 pm, the TBDC will host a town hall at the Tularosa Community Center, 1050 Bookout Road, to inform the public about the amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (July 16, 2019) and the U.S. Senate (3/28/19).  There will also be an interactive birddogging training to learn some of the best ways to ask questions to elected officials and those running for office.  

At 7:30 pm at the Tularosa Little League Field, the 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil will acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the People of New Mexico after overexposure to radiation from the July 16th, 1945 Trinity Test.  the event will memorialize those that have lost their lives to cancer and honor those who are living with or who have survived cancer.  For more information and to make a contribution, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

3. Tuesday, July 23, 2019.  Comments are due to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on the 5-Year Review of the Mixed Waste Landfill at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM.  For more information and a sample public comment letter you can use at http://nuclearactive.org/excavation-comments-needed-for-sandia-mixed-waste-landfill/ and Citizen Action New Mexico at http://www.radfreenm.org/

4. August 2 – 30, 2019 Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory, 401 2nd St. SW, Albuquerque.  Barbara Grothus, daughter of Edward Grothus, is the lead organizer of the project.  It is an exhibition “dedicated to alternative stories related to ‘the nuclear business’ in New Mexico since the dawn of the Anthropocene/Trinity test near Tularosa in July 1945.”  The opening reception is August 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.  http://sanitarytortillafactory.org/

 

@RepBenRayLujan’s #RECA2019 legislation

@RepBenRayLujan just introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation – a critical effort to ensure justice for the individuals, families, and communities impacted. #RECA2019

Thousands of families in New Mexico and across the country were exposed to radiation causing illness, cancer, and death in our communities. @RepBenRayLujan just introduced #RECA2019 to ensure these individuals get the compensation they need & deserve.

Radiation exposure has taken the lives of too many and continues to hurt our families – it’s time to pass @RepBenRayLujan’s #RECA2019 legislation to expand compensation for these families.