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

Four New Mexico Count the Nuclear Weapons Money Events

In less than seven days, CCNS will join with other peace, disarmament, climate and social justice activists across New Mexico to count out one trillion dollars in one million dollar bills at four planned events in Taos, Santa Fe, Socorro, and Los Alamos as part of the global Count the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign.  One trillion dollars is the amount proposed for the U.S. nuclear weapons budget over ten years.

The campaign’s goal is to demonstrate the scale of a one trillion dollar investment and how it could be devoted to peace and humanitarian needs, rather than the threat of nuclear annihilation.  The scale will be profound in terms of time, the number of bills, the number of people counting the money by hand, and the impact of seeing people around the world counting the money.  The events will be live-streamed so people can learn what benefits this money could bring if re-directed to climate protection, just transitions, and sustainable development goals.

The campaign will begin on Thursday, October 24th and continue through Wednesday October 30th, during the United Nations’ Disarmament Week.  Volunteers are needed!  To sign up, contact CCNS at ccns@nuclearactive.org or by phone at 505 986-1973.

On Thursday, October 24th, New Mexico’s Opening Ceremony will take place in Taos from 3 to 5 pm.  It will coincide with the Opening Ceremony in New York City.  For more information and to volunteer, please contact Suzie at (575) 770-2629.

On Friday, October 25th, we will gather at the State Capitol to bring attention to two existential threats – the climate crisis and nuclear weapons.  There will be a counting event and an opportunity to present a letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

On Saturday, October 26th, we will gather in the Socorro Plaza Gazebo from 2 to 4 pm to count 2.4 billion dollars – the amount provided to Downwinders and Uranium Workers under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act since 2000.  Despite being overexposed to radiation from the first atomic test at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945, the Trinity Downwinders have never been included in the compensation program.  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/home

On Monday, October 28th, we will gather in Los Alamos from 2:30 to 4:30 pm to count 13 billion dollars, the amount proposed to modernize the nuclear weapons complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  The event will coincide with colleagues counting outside of major banking institutions invested in nuclear weapons work.  Participants will urge divestment.

For more information and to volunteer to count the money, please contact CCNS at (505) 986-1973.

To learn more about the Campaign, go to http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/count-the-money/


Did You Know about these opportunities to voice your concerns? 

1.    Monday, October 21st – Get your written comments in to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about their Field Oversight Hearing in Albuquerque about “America’s Nuclear Past:  Examining the Effects of Radiation in Indian Country.”  The written testimonies are available at https://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/field-oversight-hearing-america-s-nuclear-past-examining-effects-radiation-indian-country

Video of the hearing is available at https://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/field-oversight-hearing-america-s-nuclear-past-examining-effects-radiation-indian-country

2. Wednesday, October 23rd, LANL training for their Electronic Public Reading Room at the J. Robert Oppenheimer Study Center, Retro Room, West Jemez Road at Casa Grande, Los Alamos, NM from 4:30 to 6 pm.  Email envoutreach@lanl.gov to get answers to your questions and to register for the training.

3. Saturday, October 26th at 6 pm – the first Candlelight Vigil on the Socorro Plaza in Socorro, NM, hosted by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.   https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/home  Event flyer:Socorro Candlelight Vigil 10-26-19

4. Monday, November 4th, the Radioactive and Hazardous Materials Committee, a NM Legislature Interim Committee, will hold its final meeting of 2019 at the Roundhouse.  The agenda has not been posted, but will be available https://www.nmlegis.gov/Committee/Interim_Committee?CommitteeCode=RHMC

5. Thursday and Friday, November 14 and 15th, beginning at 9 am – the New Mexico Environment Department will hold its second hearing on the Ground Water Discharge Permit (DP-1132) for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  The hearing will take place in the historic Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos.

The first hearing was voided due to the fact that during the hearing process, the Hearing Officer applied for a job with LANL.  Under the NM regulations, she was required to disqualify herself from the proceeding – but she did not.  The public notice is available at https://www.env.nm.gov/gwqb/public-notice/#Hearings 

 

Cold War Victims: Babies in New Mexico

Babies born near to the date of the first atomic test at Trinity on July 16, 1945 and survived are lucky to be alive.  They are our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.  A recent scientific study revealed that in the months following the Trinity test the infant mortality in New Mexico rose dramatically after a ten-year decline. 

Infant mortality is reported as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births. The highest rate occurred in September, 1945.  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.

The community work done by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, also know as the Trinity Downwinders, reveals that many families did not talk about losing a baby.  Slowly, the stories are being told.  Many people have read the report and are coming forward to talk about the babies that were lost and the miscarriages that occurred in their families after the test.

The study authors, Kathleen M. Tucker and Robert Alvarez, wrote, “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.”  https://thebulletin.org/2019/07/trinity-the-most-significant-hazard-of-the-entire-manhattan-project/

Uranium was mined in northwest New Mexico for the first atomic bombs and for decades during the Cold War.  Cleanup has been very slow in coming.

Uranium is radioactive and a heavy metal.  When exposed, radiation harms the body.  The heavy metal aspects harm the kidneys.

Another recent study, the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, found that some babies are being born with high concentrations of uranium in their bodies.  https://www.indian.senate.gov/sites/default/files/10.07.19%20Dr.%20Christensen%20IHS%20Testimony%20on%20Radiation%20in%20Indian%20Country.pdf The exposures continue into the first year of life.  From a small sample size, elevated levels of uranium and arsenic have been found in five-year olds.  These levels impact learning capacities.

The study found higher concentrations of uranium in the urine of men and women in the Navajo Nation.  Those concentrations exceeded the levels found in the highest five percent of the U.S. population.

The first phase of the study was concluded in August 2018.  The study will continue in collaboration with the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) and the National Institutes of Health.

Tina Cordova, of the Trinity Downwinders, said, “It is unconscionable that our children have been so negatively affected by the nuclear industry in our state.  We should all be outraged at the information that has now come to light.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

 


Did You Know about these opportunities to get involved?

1.   Monday, October 21st – The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is keeping the record open for written public comments about their Oversight Field Hearing about “America’s Nuclear Past:  Examining the Effects of Radiation in Indian Country.”  The written testimonies are available at https://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/field-oversight-hearing-america-s-nuclear-past-examining-effects-radiation-indian-country

Video of the hearing will be available soon at https://www.indian.senate.gov/hearing/field-oversight-hearing-america-s-nuclear-past-examining-effects-radiation-indian-country

2.  Thursday, October 24th – Wednesday, October 30th – Worldwide Count the Nuclear Weapons Money.  Events are being organized in New Mexico where 40% of the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons is spent!  Let’s show the world that we support a just transition away from nuclear weapons! For more information:  http://nuclearactive.org/worldwide-count-the-nuclear-weapons-money-oct-24th-30th/
and email ccns@nuclearactive.org

3.  Saturday, October 26th at 6 pm – the first Candlelight Vigil in Socorro at the Socorro Plaza, Socorro, NM by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium. Socorro Candlelight Vigil 10-26-19

 

U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hrg on Monday in ALB

On Monday morning, October 7th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will hold a Field Oversight Hearing about the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) in Albuquerque to receive testimony from Native Americans, a Trinity Downwinder, a physician, and officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Their focus is “America’s Nuclear Past:  Examining the Effects of Radiation in Indian Country.”  The hearing will be held in the auditorium of the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, beginning at 10:30 am Mountain Standard Time.  It will be livestreamed at indian.senate.gov.  https://www.indian.senate.gov/hearings

Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is the Committee’s Vice-Chairman.  Last year, he was instrumental in facilitating a RECA hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC.  Two witnesses at that hearing will be appearing Monday.  They are The Honorable Jonathan Nez, President of the Navajo Nation, and Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium.  https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/examining-the-eligibility-requirements-for-the-radiation-exposure-compensation-program-to-ensure-all-downwinders-receive-coverage

On Monday, there will be two panels of witnesses.  The first panel will include the EPA Deputy Regional Administrator at Region 6, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, David W. Gray; the Deputy Director of the DOE’s Office of Legacy Management in Washington, DC, Peter O’Konski; and the Chief Medical Officer of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, in Window Rock, Arizona, Dr. Loretta Christensen.

The second panel will include the Chairman of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council, The Honorable Michael Chavarria, of Santa Clara Pueblo; The Honorable Jonathan Nez; a Laguna Pueblo Council Representative, Ryan Riley; an Advocate for the Navajo Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, Phil Harrison; and Tina Cordova, of Albuquerque.

RECA is a federal program, begun in 1990, that provides health care and compensation to those overexposed to radiation from uranium and above-ground atomic bomb tests.  https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca  Proposed amendments to RECA are working their way through Congress to include the Post’71 Uranium Workers and the New Mexico Downwinders exposed to fallout from the 1945 Trinity test and tests at the Nevada Test Site.  https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/947 and https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3783  The New Mexico congressional delegation is in full support of the amendments.     

Tina Cordova, said, “I’m honored that Senator Udall and his staff thought of me to testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs about the issues that plague the Downwind communities of New Mexico.  In 2020 we will reach the 75th anniversary of the nuclear test at Trinity that forever changed our world and set a history of suffering in place for the people of New Mexico.  It is time for the people of New Mexico to stand together and demand that our government grants the justice that generations have cried out for.” https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


1.    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 

2.    Monday, October 7th – U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Field Hearing – see today’s Update.

3.    Thursday, October 24th – Wednesday, October 30th – Worldwide Count the Nuclear Weapons Money.  Let’s organize events in New Mexico where 40% of the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons is spent!  Let’s show the world that we support a just transition away from nuclear weapons!  For more information:  http://nuclearactive.org/worldwide-count-the-nuclear-weapons-money-oct-24th-30th/

4.  Saturday, October 26th at 6 pm – the first Candlelight Vigil in Socorro at the Socorro Plaza, Socorro, NM. Socorro Candlelight Vigil 10-26-19

 

Court Vacates Uranium Processing Facility Key Decisions

Judge Pamela Reeves, Chief United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, declared the Department of Energy (DOE), and its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in violation of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and vacated key decisions regarding NNSA’s enriched uranium operations at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  http://orepa.org/

Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, noted, “With this ruling the NNSA no longer has any legal authority to continue construction of the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant.”

Reeves’ 104-page well researched ruling declares “the 2016 Supplement Analysis, the 2016 Amended Record of Decision (ROD), the 2018 Supplement Analysis…are vacated.”  The 2016 Amended ROD was prepared by NNSA to “reflect its decision to implement a revised approach for meeting enriched uranium requirements, by upgrading existing [enriched uranium] processing buildings and constructing a new Uranium Processing Facility.”  2016 Y-12 Amended ROD

The 2016 Amended ROD was the first formal statement of NNSA’s plan to separate its single-structure “big box” Uranium Processing Facility design into multiple buildings and to continue using two out-of-compliance facilities for enriched uranium operations for at least twenty more years.

Reeves ruled on a lawsuit brought by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance http://orepa.org/ , Nuclear Watch New Mexico https://nukewatch.org/ , the Natural Resources Defense Council https://nukewatch.org/ , and several individual plaintiffs challenging the federal government’s environmental analysis for its nuclear weapons operations in Oak Ridge.  Nick Lawton, of the public interest law firm Eubanks & Associates, LLC, represented the plaintiffs.  https://www.eubankslegal.com/

After reviewing the decision, Lawton said, “In holding the NNSA accountable for its failure to seriously consider new information on seismic hazards, the court recognized the seriousness of this case. We are pleased that the court is requiring the agency to prepare a new, more specific consideration of earthquake risks, and we encourage the agency to come into compliance with NEPA by fully disclosing these serious risks and by properly involving the public in any ongoing decision-making process.”

Reeves rejected two of the plaintiff’s claims but validated their argument that new earthquake data, published in 2014, must be considered in NNSA’s environmental analysis.

Dismissing one of the government’s arguments—that its analysis of potential seismic impacts was sufficient—Reeves wrote, “Y-12 is located in a populous and quickly growing part of the country. Within the range of possible NEPA cases that might come through this courthouse, the Court is hard-pressed to imagine a more dramatic hypothetical than this, where it must contemplate what might occur if a major earthquake struck a nuclear weapons manufacturing facility located in a major population center.”

The court ruling also points out the crucial role the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board plays in monitoring safety issues at Y-12 and across the nuclear weapons complex.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/  Since last year, the DOE has worked to reduce the Safety Board’s access to some nuclear facilities, even issuing a revised Order to limit the information available to the Board and restricting whom the Board can and cannot speak to directly.

Hutchinson noted, “The court relied, as we did, on the excellent work of the Safety Board in coming to an understanding of the issues surrounding the safety of the old buildings in Oak Ridge.  We urge the Department of Energy to abandon its efforts to constrain the oversight powers of the Board. The Board has always been scrupulous about adhering to its limited mandate, and it has also been a window into the world of DOE. This case shows why we need that transparency—it’s the last line of accountability we have left.”  http://nuclearactive.org/livestreamed-nuclear-safety-board-hearing-on-february-21st-in-albuquerque/

The decision may also have serious ramifications for NNSA’s efforts to expand nuclear weapons production at other sites, including Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Jay Coghlan, director of co-plaintiff Nuclear Watch New Mexico, commented, “Uranium and plutonium components manufacturing are two sides of the same coin of expanding nuclear weapons production for a new global arms race. The Department of Energy should take this court ruling against its Uranium Processing Facility as a warning that it must also comply with [NEPA] requirements while ill-advisedly expanding the production of plutonium pits, the radioactive cores of nuclear weapons.”


  1. Thursday, September 26th – Sunday, September 29th – Tewa Women United’s 23rd Gathering for Mother Earth.  http://tewawomenunited.org/2019-gathering-for-mother-earth-schedule-and-information/
  2.  Monday, September 30th – Comments due about the “WIPP Forever” Strategic Plan.  Sample public comments you can use are available at http://nuclearactive.org/
    Strategic Plan individual letter 091719
  3. Monday, September 30th Community Meeting from 6 to 8 pm at the Loma Colorado Library, 755 Loma Colorado Blvd NE, in Rio Rancho, about the brine wells and infrastructure in Rio West and Rio Rancho – West Mesa. The sites have been contaminated and there are health and safety issues. The radioactivity is caused by Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, called NORM. The Common Ground Community Trust will give a presentation about the contamination issue, the infrastructure of new roads, and what residents will be facing in the future. There are potential impacts to the ABQ Basin. This is a call to action! http://commongroundrising.org/ For more information, email info@commongroundrising.org
  4. 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 
  5. Thursday, October 24th – Wednesday, October 30th – Worldwide Count the Nuclear Weapons Money.  Let’s organize some events in New Mexico! For more information:  http://nuclearactive.org/worldwide-count-the-nuclear-weapons-money-oct-24th-30th/
 

Worldwide Count the Nuclear Weapons Money Oct. 24th – 30th

People around the world will be counting out one trillion dollars – the amount of money planned to be spent on modernizing the nuclear weapons of nine countries over the next ten years – with artist-created one million dollar bills.  People will be counting the bills while governments will be meeting at the United Nations for the United Nations Disarmament Week and the United Nations General Assembly, from Thursday, October 24 through Wednesday, October 30, 2019.  Mark your calendar!  You can help!

This week, Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, released a video message supporting the Count the Nuclear Weapons Money campaign of the Basel Peace Office.  http://www.baselpeaceoffice.org/  In 1973, Pink Floyd released the hit song, “Money,” about the seductive and corrosive power of money.

In the video message, Waters holds up a mock one million dollar note and says we have a choice:  “We can either spend this million bucks on this – MAD, mutually assured destruction.  Or on this:  kids, our future, the planet, education, equality.”  http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/news/roger-waters-pink-floyd-nuclear-money-from-evil-to-good/

Waters also calls on individuals to “join the hundreds of organizations and millions of people around the world who are participating in the Count the Nuclear Weapons Money action this October,” and “after the counting talk with your mates and work and write to your congress[people] to urge them to take action as well.”

The campaign’s goal is to demonstrate the scale of a one trillion dollar investment and how it could be devoted to peace and humanitarian needs, rather than the threat of nuclear annihilation.  The scale will be profound in terms of time, the number of bills, the number of people counting the money by hand, and the impact of seeing people around the world counting the money.  The event will be live-streamed so that anyone in the world can follow the counting and learn what benefits this money could bring if re-directed to economics, social, and environmental needs.

Artists from many countries are designing the one million dollar currency notes.

People will be counting the money by hand at a rate of one hundred million dollars per minute in one million dollar bills.  They will be doing this in front of the United Nations and at other publicly visible places in New York City.  It will take seven days and nights.

You can help by joining a team of two to count for half an hour or more.  The teams will include people of all ages, nations, and backgrounds, including artists, activists, politicians, United Nations officials, diplomats, religious leaders, refugees, moms, dads, children, sportspeople, and others.  http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/take-action/

To learn more, go to http://www.nuclearweaponsmoney.org/count-the-money/

 


  1. Friday, September 20th – Youth United for Climate Crisis Action at the Roundhouse from 11:15 – 1:30 pm.  There are activities in Albuquerque as well.  For more information, go to:  https://www.earthcarenm.org/
  2. Friday, September 20th – comments due to DOE about the scope of the hazardous waste permit renewal application.  CCNS submitted comments that you can use to create your own.  f CCNS WIPP permit renewal comments 9-19-19
  3. Monday, September 23rd by 5 pm MST – 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.  NMED is issuing the wrong permit.  They should be issuing a Hazardous Waste Permit, not a Groundwater Discharge Permit.  Sample public comments for you to use are available at f Sample DP-1132 Public Comment 9-19-19
  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.  http://tewawomenunited.org/2019-gathering-for-mother-earth-schedule-and-information/
  6. Monday, September 30th – Comments due about the “WIPP Forever” Strategic Plan.  Sample public comments you can uses are available at Strategic Plan individual letter 091719
  7. 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 
 

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/