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

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Current Activities

DOE Requests Comments about High-Level Waste Definition

In an effort to save an estimated $40 billion in costs associated with high-level radioactive waste cleanup, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposes to change the definition of the most dangerous form of radioactive waste.  The estimated cleanup bill for DOE’s major sites, including three in New Mexico, is over $250 billion.  If the definition is changed, there will be more pressure to expand the types of waste allowed to be shipped and disposed of at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located in southeastern New Mexico.  DOE requests your concerns and opinions.  Comments are due to HLWnotice@em.doe.gov by Monday, December 10thhttps://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/10/10/2018-22002/request-for-public-comment-on-the-us-department-of-energy-interpretation-of-high-level-radioactive

Congress defined high-level waste in the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982.  DOE is proposing to create two categories of high-level waste… high-level waste and non-high-level waste.

In September 2017, the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) released a report entitled, “Waste Disposition:  A New Approach to DOE’s Waste Management Must Be Pursued,” which claims the $40 billion savings.  It does not provide any data to support its claim.  Nevertheless, the ECA presents a number of ideas about what DOE could do to expand the types of waste that could go to WIPP, including changing the definition of high-level radioactive waste.  https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55c4c892e4b0d1ec35bc5efb/t/59ce7384cd39c3b12b97f988/1506702214356/ECA+Waste+Disposition+Report.pdf

The ECA’s mission is to bring “together local government officials to share information, establish policy positions, and promote community interests to address an increasingly complex set of constituent, environmental, regulatory, and economic development needs.”  http://www.energyca.org/  In April, DOE renewed its five-year grant to ECA.  One of its tasks is to “update and publish special research reports on environmental cleanup issues.”

High-level radioactive waste is generated by reprocessing irradiated fuel rods from nuclear power plants at DOE sites, including at Hanford.  Reprocessing removed plutonium and uranium from the fuel rods, which were then reused in nuclear weapons, and generated millions of gallons of highly radioactive liquids.  The U.S. stopped reprocessing in 1988.  At Hanford, located on the Columbia River, there are 177 tanks storing 56 million gallons of radioactive sludge.  One third of those have leaked, and some are currently leaking.

Changing the definition could result in shipping and disposing of Hanford tank wastes at WIPP site under a new name.

Tom Carpenter, Executive Director of the Seattle-based Hanford Challenge, described his concerns about DOE’s proposal.  He said, “The Trump Administration wants to save billions by renaming this waste, at the cost of leaving this waste in shallow land burial.  Over time, these long-lived radionuclides will be in our food, water and air, causing cancer and mutations for generations.  Of course you can save money by not doing the cleanup.”  https://www.hanfordchallenge.org/

 

Halt WCS! Get Your Public Comments in by October 19th

Now is the time to submit your comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) about the proposed Waste Control Specialists/Interim Storage Partners/Orano project to bring 40,000 metric tons of commercial high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants located across the country to a site in west Texas, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.  If this sounds familiar, it is.  Just three months ago public comments were due to the NRC about a similar proposal by Holtec International.  Yes, southeast New Mexico and west Texas are being targeted by the nuclear industry with two proposed facilities within forty miles of one another.  Comments are due by Friday, October 19thhttps://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/13/2018-19928/interim-storage-partners-llcs-consolidated-interim-spent-fuel-storage-facility-correction

Thousands of New Mexicans have empathically stated that they do not consent to New Mexico becoming a national radioactive waste dumping ground for high-level waste.  In fact, more than 30,000 comments from people across the nation were submitted in opposition to the Holtec proposal.

Waste Control Specialists, a limited liability corporation, is asking NRC for a 40-year license to temporarily store the waste in Andrews County, Texas, with an opportunity to extend the license to 120 years.  https://www.nrc.gov/waste/spent-fuel-storage/cis/wcs/wcs-app-docs.html

Nevertheless, the federal government may never find a permanent place for the waste, with the real possibility of the proposed temporary storage site becoming a permanent site.  The NRC is asking for comments about the scope of the 766-page Waste Control Specialists environmental report, but it omits analysis of the long-term impacts of the waste being left there indefinitely. 

If the NRC licensed either or both of the proposed sites, over 10,000 overweight rail cars on rickety tracks carrying the dangerous waste would crisscross the country.  Although the specific routes would differ, transportation risks to the proposed facilities are similar.  The further away from the proposed sites the shipping routes are similar to identical.  Links to the proposed transportation routes are available at nuclearactive.org.

Waste Control Specialists estimates there will be 45 to 60 jobs during the operating phase.  This is a small number compared to the damage that could be done to the 28,000 oil and gas industry jobs and the 6,000 dairy industry jobs if there were a leak or accident.

Like Holtec, Waste Control Specialists also states that the federal government would be responsible for paying for transportation to, and storage at, the site, which is contrary to existing federal law.

Please submit your comments to the NRC at WCS_CISF_EIS@ nrc.gov about the inadequacies of the environmental report and what should be included in the agency’s draft environmental impact statement.  An action alert and comment letter are available at http://nonuclearwasteaqui.org/

 

 

Santa Fe County Commissioners Call for Suspension of DOE Order 140.1

Citing the proximity of Santa Fe County to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Santa Fe County Commission unanimously approved a letter to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry asking him to suspend the implementation of the new DOE Order 140.1.  https://www.santafecountynm.gov/documents/agendas/packet_materials/bccpacket9-25-2018part7.pdf  The new order restricts the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, an independent federal agency, access to information, personnel, and facilities at some of the most dangerous nuclear facilities across the country, including LANL.  https://www.directives.doe.gov/news/o140.1-interface-with-the-dnfsb-news  

The order, entitled, “Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” was issued in May without opportunity for public review and comment.  Implementation at DOE’s three defense nuclear facilities in New Mexico – Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – has already been detrimental.

Congress established the Board in 1988 after numerous disclosures about worker and public health and safety issues at the nuclear weapons facilities.  Its statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy … in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”

On September 5th, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich wrote to Secretary Perry urging him to suspend the new order, hold hearings in impacted communities, and after responding to the comments received from the Board and the public, to then “reissue an order the fully complies with [the Board’s] legal authority to continue to protect workers and the community.”  https://www.abqjournal.com/1217797/senators-suspend-rule-on-nuke-safety-board-access-ex-letter-to-sec-rick-perry-notes-that-members-of-the-dnfsb-have-not-been-able-to-review-changes.html

To support the requests of Senators Udall and Heinrich and the Santa Fe County Commission, please use the sample public comment letter at nuclearactive.org to ask Secretary Perry to hold public hearings to explain the order and its implementation and receive public comments from those living in nearby communities.  f Perry DOE O 140.1 sample public comment ltr Please also email your letter to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board at hearing@dnfsb.gov  They are accepting public comments about DOE Order 140.1 until close of business on Friday, September 28, 2018.

On Tuesday the Santa Fe County Commissioners also took another step to protect our lives, land, and water from radioactive and hazardous materials.  They unanimously passed a resolution to oppose two proposals to bring all of the existing and future commercial high-level waste to southeast New Mexico and west Texas for storage.  The resolution states, “Santa Fe County does not support or consent to consolidated interim storage of radioactive waste in New Mexico or Texas, or the transportation of high-level radioactive waste on our railways or highways for the purpose of consolidated storage or permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste in New Mexico or Texas.”  Resolution 2018-103   https://www.santafecountynm.gov/documents/agendas/packet_materials/bccpacket9-25-2018part9.pdf 

The resolution is similar to recent resolutions passed in New Mexico by the Albuquerque City Council https://cabq.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3495456&GUID=DCABFA0F-F6B1-40F1-B244-54F3429F38A5&Options=ID|Text|Attachments|Other|&Search=holtec , the Bernalillo County Commission, the City of Las Cruces http://publicrecords.las-cruces.org/WebLink/DocView.aspx?id=1790249& , the Town of Lake Arthur, and the City of Jal.

 

Thwarting Public Process, Environment Department Rushes Ahead to Hearing

In a hurry to approve permits for nuclear facilities before the end of the year, the Martinez Administration is saying no to requests for more time for the public to prepare for the hearings.  The applicable regulations are specific about the amount of time needed before certain hearing processes begin.  The Administration, however, is rushing to sign off on the permits before they leave office on Monday, December 31st at midnight.

The hearings involve a groundwater discharge permit for Waste Control Specialists and a proposed 30 percent expansion of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  There are others in the queue.

For plans to expand the amount of radioactive and hazardous waste disposed of at WIPP, the public comment period ended on September 20th.   It is expected that a notice of hearing will be mailed on September 22nd, with a public hearing scheduled for October 23rd, only 31 days later, in Carlsbad.

The regulations require when there is a request for a public hearing that negotiations take place between the Environment Department, the facility, and the public to attempt to resolve the issues.  Negotiations generally cut down on the issues going to hearing.  While the Department’s practice has been to hold negotiations before a notice of hearing is mailed out, it plans to begin negotiations on Monday, September 24th.  Objection to negotiations and hearing schedule091918 final         http://nuclearactive.org/public-comment-deadline-nears-on-proposed-major-wipp-expansion/    and     https://www.env.nm.gov/hazardous-waste/wipp/, scroll down to see August 6, 2018 entries.

Another permit is for groundwater discharges from the Waste Control Specialists radioactive and hazardous waste dump, located in Texas, on the New Mexico-Texas border, just a few miles east of Eunice.

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 pm on Tuesday, October 2nd, at the Eunice Community Center.  Opportunities for public comment will be available in the evening and at times during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and possibly through Thursday.

People who need rides to the hearing are invited to arrange transportation by calling (505) 986-9284.

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping, the Alliance for Environmental Strategies, and other groups and individuals submitted extensive comments about the draft permit and requested a public hearing.  Their comments pointed out the lack of almost any monitoring or other protective provisions in the latest draft permit.

The groups also raised concerns about the gross problems with the collection of documents that are found in the administrative record and its index, which serve as the basis for the permit.  The groups found the record to be “incomplete, inconsistent, and inadequate to allow the public to fully understand and present technical testimony upon which the Secretary of the Environment will make a final determination approving or disapproving [the permit].”  https://www.env.nm.gov/gwqb/public-notice/, scroll down to “Waste Control Specialists, DP-1817.”

Because of these concerns and others, on September 17th, the groups filed a motion for a continuance of the hearing process.  Affidavit-DeborahReade_DP-1817    and      MotionforaContinuanceSept17_2018_DP-1817

The hearing officer determined that the motion would be heard at the beginning of the October 2nd hearing.

 

DOE Must Hold Hearings in New Mexico about Order 140.1

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new order restricting the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board access to some of the most dangerous nuclear facilities across the country. Its implementation at DOE’s three defense nuclear facilities in New Mexico has been detrimental.  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/white-house-hobbles-nuclear-weapons-safety-agency/?utm_source=AM+Nukes+Roundup&utm_campaign=b1f3244dc5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_07_25_12_19_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_547ee518ec-b1f3244dc5-391738229

(Courtesy of WIPP) mpetroski@abqjournal.com

As a result, CCNS launched a campaign to ensure DOE holds public hearings to explain the order and its implementation in communities near Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  We need your help – to support the campaign please, f Perry DOE O 140.1 sample public comment ltr

The order, entitled, “Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” was issued in May, without public notice and opportunity to comment.  https://www.directives.doe.gov/news/o140.1-interface-with-the-dnfsb-news

Congress established the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in 1988 after numerous, eye-opening disclosures about worker and public health and safety issues at the DOE nuclear weapons facilities.  Its statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy … in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”  https://www.dnfsb.gov/

For the past 30 years, the Board has overseen and reported about both worker safety and public health and safety issues.  The new Order limits the Board’s oversight to public health and safety.  The restriction does not allow the Board to do its work efficiently and effectively.

At an August 28th Board hearing in Washington, DC about the Order, Board member Joyce Connery explained the intersectionality of worker and public health and safety.  She said, “Low-level events … may impact only the workers prior to a series of failures which could ultimately lead to a release of [contaminants] off-site.  If I cannot evaluate all the layers of defense in-depth to understand where potential weaknesses exist, I cannot make a determination of adequate protection for the public.”  https://www.dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings/august-28-2018-public-hearing

After the hearing, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico wrote to the key members of the Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee requesting that language be included in the final bill requiring DOE to suspend DOE Order 140.1.  Instead, DOE must brief Congress within 30 days of passage of the final appropriations bill, which is anticipated to be on the President’s desk soon.  https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/news/press-releases/udall-heinrich-secure-provision-to-prohibit-nuclear-safety-board-staff-cuts-and-reorganization

Nevertheless, on September 5th, the Senators wrote to DOE Secretary Rick Perry urging him to suspend the new order, hold hearings in impacted communities, and after responding to the comments received from the Board and the public, to then “reissue an order the fully complies with [the Board’s] legal authority to continue to protect workers and the community.”  https://www.abqjournal.com/1217797/senators-suspend-rule-on-nuke-safety-board-access-ex-letter-to-sec-rick-perry-notes-that-members-of-the-dnfsb-have-not-been-able-to-review-changes.html

To support the Senators, please consider submitting your own letter to Secretary Perry at the.secretary@hq.doe.gov, and copy it to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board at hearing@dnfsb.gov.  Or use our sample comment letter, which may be modified.  Be sure to insert the date and your contact information.  f Perry DOE O 140.1 sample public comment ltr

 

Public Comment Deadline Nears on Proposed Major WIPP Expansion

September 20 is the deadline for public comments and request for a hearing on the proposal to expand by about 30 percent the amount of radioactive and hazardous waste allowed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). On August 6th, the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, the New Mexico Environment Department opened the public comment period on the request by the Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractor, Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP) to change the way the amount of waste has been measured for more than two decades.

The request explains that the effect of the change would reduce the amount of waste emplaced in WIPP as of December 6, 2017 by 930,000 cubic feet, from 3,238,673 cubic feet to 2,307,708 cubic feet. Nevertheless, DOE has not explained where the additional waste would be disposed since there is not space in the existing underground rooms, nor why the change is needed when WIPP is less than 60 percent filled.

WIPP is a deep geologic repository for plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste, also known as TRU waste, created by manufacturing nuclear weapons. It located 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

Because the federal WIPP Land Withdrawal Act limits the amount of waste to 6.2 million cubic feet, how to measure the amount of waste is important. Waste emplaced at WIPP has always been measured based on the volume of the container. By container volume is the way DOE has always reported to Congress how much waste is at WIPP. By container volume is how DOE contractors have been paid and received performance bonuses. By container volume is the way that the WIPP Permit and permits in other states calculate the amount of waste.

The modification request would create an additional measurement, called the “Land Withdrawal Act TRU Waste Volume of Record [which] means the volume of TRU waste inside a disposal container.”

An unstated reason for the proposed measurement is that space for more than 1,000,000 cubic feet of waste has been forfeited or lost because of bad DOE management, poor contractor performance, and inefficiencies during the past 19 years of WIPP’s operations. Because of poor planning and other inefficiencies, DOE has shipped and disposed of many empty, or dunnage, containers; has not filled containers to capacity; yet the contractors have been paid fully – and in some cases received bonus. Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, explained his concern about expanding WIPP. He said, “For the Environment Department to allow much more waste risks the health and environment for all New Mexicans.”

Public comments can be emailed to ricardo.maestas@state.nm.us by Thursday, September 20th.  Here is a sample letter for your use: WIPP Amt of Waste public comment 8-8-18

 

DOE to Submit Revised LANL Stormwater Permit to EPA

Despite submitting an application to renew the individual stormwater permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in March 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Dallas has yet to act.  As a result, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management Office announced this week at the fourteenth public meeting about the stormwater permit that they, along with their new contractor, N3B Los Alamos, would be submitting a revised application to EPA before the end of the year.

Stormwater is rain and snowmelt.  At LANL, stormwater can flow over hundreds of dumps that contain radioactive, hazardous and toxic pollutants and move the contaminants through the canyons towards the Rio Grande.

Because LANL was discharging stormwater without a permit, in February 2008, the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) filed a successful Clean Water Act citizens’ lawsuit against DOE for stormwater violations at LANL.  The settlement requires LANL to hold the semi-annual meetings, as well as establish a dedicated website for the permit https://www.lanl.gov/environment/protection/compliance/individual-permit-stormwater/index.php among other things.  http://ccwnewmexico.org/ and http://ccwnewmexico.org/victories/

The original permit was issued on November 1st, 2010, and expired on March 31st, 2014.  DOE and LANL, as co-permittees, submitted a renewal application on March 27th, 2014.  Nearly one year later, EPA issues a draft permit for public review and comment and the co-permittees, CCW, and the public submitted comments.  Then the co-permittees and CCW, along with the New Mexico Environment Department and EPA, met to resolve the many issues raised by the EPA’s draft permit.  Many days were spent in successful negotiations over the finer technical points in the permit.  Nevertheless, issuance of the renewal permit has been pending for three and one-half years.

During this time, the co-permittees completed a sampling implementation plan process with the Environment Department by visiting the 400 monitoring sites under the permit.  In some cases, they moved the monitoring location to better capture the pollution.  They also installed remote telemetry units on 125 sampling units located in the canyons that use radio signals to indicate that a sample has been collected, thus saving time and resources.

In 2006, CCW formally organized after several community organizations joined forces to address water contamination at LANL.  CCW Council members include Amigos Bravos; CCNS; Honor Our Pueblo Existence, or HOPE; the New Mexico Acequia Association; the Partnership for Earth Spirituality; and Tewa Women United.  CCW brings together these separate organizations to have a collective and powerful impact on protecting and restoring water quality downstream and downwind from LANL.  http://ccwnewmexico.org/history/

The co-permittees will hold meetings with CCW and the Environment Department to discuss the revised permit application before submission to EPA.


On Saturday, September 1st, the Regeneration Fest:  Youth Water Protectors Gathering will take place from 11 am to 3:30 pm at the Española Healing Food Oasis, 720 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park Road, Española, NM.  Families are welcome!  This gathering is focused for middle schoolers, and young adults in their 20s – but younger and older people may also join this important and fun day! The event is hosted by Communities for Clean Water (CCW), Tewa Women United, CCNS, and others as part of the series of events and conversations intended to increase public awareness, education, and empowerment around the issue of the hexavalent chromium plume that has been found in the watershed.   All events are designed to prepare our communities for the New Mexico Environment Department public hearing that is scheduled for November 7 and 8, 2018 in Los Alamos.  Sept1YouthWaterProtectorsEvent_flyer

 

Udall & Heinrich come out swinging against DNFSB restrictions

Read the letter here – Udall-Heinrich Defense Nuclear Safety Board – Reorganization and DOE Order 140.1 – to A…

 

ANA Opposes New DOE Order

Citing success stories vital to protecting worker and public health and safety by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Safety Board or Board) at Department of Energy (DOE) facilities across the country, the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) is opposing DOE’s restrictions on the Safety Board’s access to facilities, personnel, and information.  As part of a continuing effort to undermine the 30-year old oversight Board, in May, DOE released a new Order 140.1 about the Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board that contradicts not only the Safety Board’s statutory requirements, but DOE’s.  DOE O 140.1 Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

Watchdog groups from across the nuclear weapons complex are pushing back at the DOE’s efforts to evade its statutory duty.  http://www.ananuclear.org/  The law clearly states, “The Secretary of Energy shall fully cooperate with the Board and provide the Board with ready access to such facilities, personnel, and information as the Board considers necessary to carry out its responsibilities [ ].”  The new Order is another attempt to restrict the Safety Board’s work to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy to inform the Secretary [ ] in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”  42 U.S.C. § 2286c(a).  https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/2286c

At the same time, a majority of the four-member Safety Board voted to reform the way it performs its work by establishing an Executive Director of Operations, re-structuring its headquarters staff, and increasing the number of Resident Inspectors at DOE nuclear security sites.  DNFSB Major Reform rev

U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico have raised concerns.  They said, “[I]n light of the administration’s posture toward the [Board} and its attempts to undermine the board, Congress, stakeholders, and the public need much more information about such a drastic reorganization proposal.  [ ]  We are seeking a meeting to discuss our concerns with Acting Chairman Hamilton in the near future.”

On Wednesday, Acting Chairman Bruce Hamilton wrote to Senator Heinrich, stating that the “final proposal was uniquely mine.” 08.22.18 Letter to Senator Heinrich

In the midst of controversy, the Safety Board is seeking information from DOE and some Board staff at a public hearing on Tuesday, August 28th from 9 am to 12:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time in Washington, DC.  It will be live streamed.  Various DOE officials will testify.  ANA and other members of the public will be able to comment.  The hearing record will remain open until September 28th.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings/august-28-2018-public-hearing

ANA also is requesting DOE hold public hearings at Los Alamos, Sandia, and WIPP in New Mexico and at other sites subject to Safety Board oversight to explain to workers and the public why the new Order is necessary.  Based on public and Safety Board comments, DOE should revise or revoke the Order.

 

DNFSB Public Hearing about DOE Interface on August 28th

 In response to the Administration’s Regulatory Reform Agenda, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently issued a new order limiting the way it interacts with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (the Board).  The new order restricts the Board’s access to information, defense nuclear facilities, and personnel.  INTERFACE_WITH_THE_DEFENSE_NUCLEAR_FACILITIES_SAFETY_BOARD  As a result, the Board is seeking information from DOE and has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday, August 28th from 9 am to 12:30 pm Eastern Daylight Time.  It will be live streamed.  Public comment is invited and pre-registration to speak is open until August 21sthttps://www.dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings/august-28-2018-public-hearing

After numerous disclosures about releases and discharges from DOE defense nuclear facilities impacting public health and safety, in 1988, Congress created the Board.  Its statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy to inform the Secretary, in the role of the Secretary as operator and regulator of the defense nuclear facilities of the Department of Energy, in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”

The Board does not have regulatory power.  Even so, since its inception, the Board and its staff, including the Resident Inspectors located at DOE nuclear facilities around the country, have provided continuing oversight of complex, high-hazard operations involving nuclear weapons; remediation of nuclear wastes and legacy facilities; design and construction of new DOE defense nuclear facilities; as well as review of DOE safety standards.

The Board’s hearing record will remain open until September 28th.  For more information, please see the August 10, 2018 Federal Register notice.  Federal Register Notice

Following the hearing, a sample public comment letter will be available for you to use at http://nuclearactive.org/ .

On Wednesday, August 15th, the Acting Board Chairman Bruce Hamilton announced a major transformation of the Board’s staff, including a nearly doubling of the number of Resident Inspectors located at DOE sites.  Currently, two Resident Inspectors are at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – the only DOE facility producing plutonium triggers, or plutonium pits, for nuclear weapons.  DNFSB Major Reform 081518

Four Resident Inspectors at LANL is a welcome development because of the many on-going and unresolved nuclear safety issues.  In a July 23rd letter to the new National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator, Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, the Board described one, stating that “the Plutonium Facility continues to operate with confinement ventilation and fire suppression systems that are not qualified to survive certain seismic accident scenarios.” 2018-100-028, NA-1 Welcome Letter ARCHIVE  These are serious nuclear safety deficiencies that DOE and LANL have not resolved.

Limiting access to information, facilities and personnel, as proposed by the new DOE Order, will hamper the Board’s important oversight work to keep DOE, Congress, the public, and the media informed about the DOE failures to keep the public safe.