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

United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty: Practical Provisions for States Parties and Observer States

This is the last of our four-part series about the United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.  Friday, January 22nd, 2021 is the historic day when the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty enters into force and establishes in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons that may lead to a reduction in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  The purpose of the Treaty is, in part, to outlaw the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/ and  https://www.icanw.org/here_are_five_examples_of_the_type_of_activities_that_will_be_illegal_under_international_law_on_22_january_2021

The Treaty was approved in July 2017 by 122 Nation States.  On October 24th, 2020, Honduras was the fiftieth Nation State to sign and ratify it, which meant the Treaty would enter into force ninety days later, on January 22nd.

In previous weeks we discussed the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons http://nuclearactive.org/the-united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-to-enter-into-force-in-january/ , Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation http://nuclearactive.org/the-united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-article-6-victim-assistance-and-environmental-remediation/, and International Cooperation http://nuclearactive.org/united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-article-7-international-cooperation-and-assistance/ .  Today we look at Treaty provisions for three practical issues: the costs, the goal of universality, and the duration of membership and the means for withdraw.

Article 9, on Costs, says that costs of meetings shall be borne by States Parties.  Costs for the required verification measures, for the destruction of nuclear weapons and for the elimination of nuclear-weapons programs, including “the elimination or conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities” will be borne by the applicable States Parties.

Article 12, titled Universality, asks each State Party to encourage States not party to the Treaty to sign, ratify and accept it, with the goal of universal adherence of all States.

Finally, Article 17 considers the duration of membership.  Paragraph One says, “This Treaty shall be of unlimited duration,” while Paragraphs Two and Three provide for orderly withdrawal if a State Party “decides that extraordinary events … have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country.”

Joni Arends, of CCNS, says, “The Treaty makes it possible for Americans to get out from under the heavy thumb of the nuclear weapons industry.  We celebrate the Treaty’s entry into force and all the people who’ve worked toward this historical moment.  We will continue our work to ensure the United States of America steps up, signs and ratifies the Treaty.”

This concludes our four-part series on the United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.  To celebrate the Treaty’s entry into force locally, please join us at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road at noon on Friday, January 22nd to hold bright yellow banners declaring nuclear weapons are now illegal.

At 1 pm, people will travel from there to Ashley Pond in Los Alamos to extend the celebration.  Join us there.

For more information and resources, please visit:  Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance https://orepa.org/nuclear-ban-treaty-entry-into-force-resources/, Nukewatch (Wisconsin) https://nukewatchinfo.org/long-sought-anti-war-landmark-treaty-prohibiting-nuclear-weapons-becomes-law/, Nuclear Resister http://www.nukeresister.org/,  and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons https://www.icanw.org/ .


Did You Know about these Resources to Celebrate the Entry into Force of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty? 

 

CCNS, with Veterans for Peace and others, will be on the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road on Friday, January 22nd from noon to 1 pm with our banners declaring nuclear weapons are now illegal.  At 1 pm we’ll be journeying to Ashley Pond in Los Alamos.  Please plan to join us in the celebrations that so many of us have been working for decades to achieve!  CCNS is grateful for each and every one of you!!!

And here’s a list of other resources, opportunities to sign-on statements, and livestream events:

 

DOE Breaks its Promises to New Mexico Part I

DOE plans to dump the Nation’s nuclear weapons’ waste at WIPP 
The Department of Energy (DOE) will soon publish a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to allow disposal of 34 metric tons of so-called “surplus plutonium” at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. (Surplus plutonium is pure or diluted, pure plutonium.)

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has stated that WIPP’s legal capacity would be exceeded by bringing that surplus plutonium to WIPP. This would break the social contract between DOE and New Mexico—promises the State wanted before agreeing to accept WIPP. The NAS had concerns about the violation of this social contract as well as about other obstacles to bringing so much surplus plutonium to WIPP.

The social contract is based on these three promises:

  • To accept no more than 6.2 million cubic feet of waste
  • To take only transuranic waste, not pure or somewhat diluted, plutonium (Plutonium is a transuranic element—a man-made element that is heavier than uranium.)
  • To build other repositories so New Mexico would not be the sole state burdened with the permanent disposal of all of the nation’s nuclear weapons’ waste

DOE’s planned changes break all of these promises.

Even U.S. Senator, Pete Domenici, a strong proponent of WIPP from its beginning, never wanted surplus plutonium waste to be buried at WIPP. In 2002 he said, “I want to ensure that high level … wastes can never be simply diluted in order to comply with criteria for WIPP disposal … [Such dilution] raises serious questions about our adherence to the same international controls on weapon-related materials that we expect other nations to follow.” Yet this is exactly what DOE is doing now in 2021.

 

What Can I do?

Click here for a short & simple sample comment email

Click here for a longer, more detailed sample comment email

Click here for a WIPP timeline and summary of WIPP history

 

  • Tell your senators, representatives, and the Governor to oppose DOE’s proposal to bring 34 metric tons or more of diluted surplus plutonium to WIPP.

 

  • Also ask for a more inclusive public process, especially for those who need information in Spanish or other languages, and for those who have poor or no online access.

 

 

 

 

Donate by credit card through our GoFundMe page

Donate by check to
Southwest Research and Information Center
P.O. Box 4524
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-4524
Make the check out to SRIC and put Stop Forever WIPP in the memo line

Stop Forever WIPP is a coalition opposing the expansion of WIPP and is a project of SRIC, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.

 

United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Article 7: International Cooperation and Assistance

This is the third of a four-part series about the United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.  Friday, January 22, 2021 is the historic day when the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty enters into force and establishes in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons that may lead the United States of America to reduce and ultimately eliminate its nuclear arsenal.  The purpose of the Treaty is, in part, to outlaw the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use … of nuclear weapons.  https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/ and  https://www.icanw.org/here_are_five_examples_of_the_type_of_activities_that_will_be_illegal_under_international_law_on_22_january_2021

The United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty was approved in July 2017 by 122 nation states.  On October 24, 2020, Honduras was the 50th nation-state to sign and ratify the Treaty, which meant the Treaty would enter into force ninety days later, on January 22.

The Treaty is composed of 20 official Articles.  Last week we reviewed Article 6 about Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation.  http://nuclearactive.org/the-united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-article-6-victim-assistance-and-environmental-remediation/  This week, we summarize and present the six paragraphs of Article 7 on International Cooperation and Assistance.

Paragraph One asserts that the States will cooperate with each other to facilitate the implementation of the Treaty.

Paragraph Two says, “Each State Party shall have the right to seek and receive assistance, where feasible, from other States Parties. “

The third and fourth paragraphs detail specific types of assistance.

Paragraph Three says, “Each State that is in a position to do so shall provide technical, material and financial assistance to States Parties affected by nuclear-weapons use or testing.”

Paragraph Four says, “Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the victims of the use or testing of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

In Paragraph Five are listed the names of some organizations that may provide assistance.  The list makes clear the United Nations’ intention to encourage cooperation between civil society and government to reach the goals of the Treaty.  The organizations include the International Committee of the Red Cross https://www.icrc.org/en/war-and-law/weapons , the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies https://media.ifrc.org/ifrc , or national Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies https://www.ifrc.org/en/what-we-do/disaster-management/responding/disaster-response-system/dr-tools-and-systems/red-cross-red-crescent-national-societies/ .

Finally, Paragraph Six of Article 7 affirms that, “a State Party that has used or tested nuclear weapons or any other nuclear explosive devices shall have a responsibility to provide adequate assistance to affected States Parties, for the purpose of victim assistance and environmental remediation.“

Next week, we’ll look at the general articles about the costs, universality, and duration of the Treaty; and how signatories may withdraw from the Treaty.  We’ll also inform you of some of the upcoming local celebrations for the Treaty.  For more information and resources, please visit :  Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance https://orepa.org/nuclear-ban-treaty-entry-into-force-resources/ , and Nukewatch (Wisconsin) https://nukewatchinfo.org/long-sought-anti-war-landmark-treaty-prohibiting-nuclear-weapons-becomes-law/


“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what

difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the

significance of the life we lead.”     ~ Nelson Mandela

 

Noel Marquez, Southeastern New Mexico Activist

It is with a heavy heart that CCNS shares sad news about the passing of Noel Marquez on December 23, 2020 after a long illness.  Noel was a muralist, artist, husband, father, and a comrade-in-arms in the non-violent struggle and challenges with the nuclear power and nuclear weapons industry.  Noel created the beautiful mural at the top of CCNS’s Facebook page.

Surviving Noel are his wife Madelene, their 14-year old beautiful daughter Paikea (Pai), and their extended families.

Donations for Noel’s family are graciously welcomed.  Send your check to Southwest Research and Information Center, P.O. Box 4524, Albuquerque, NM  87196-4524.  Please write “Noel Family Fund” in the memo line.

Kevin Kamps, of Beyond Nuclear, wrote a thoughtful memorial to Noel, which is available at:  http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2020/12/29/noel-marquez-presente.html

 

 

Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Elder

Another comrade-in-arms has passed on.  On January 2, 2021, Western Shoshone Elder Carrie Dann passed on to the Spirit World.  Elder Carrie was an activist working to protect Newe Sogobia, the Western Shoshone Nation’s homeland, from nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site and high-level radioactive waste dumping at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Elder Carrie, and her sister, Mary, worked tirelessly to defend their Indigenous rights, land and grazing rights.  Their challenge, U.S. v. Dann, went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which continued for their entire lives.  Their work was honored in many ways, including with the 1993 Right Livelihood Award.

Again, Beyond Nuclear has written a thoughtful memorial to Elder Carrie, which is available at: http://www.beyondnuclear.org/yucca-mountain/2021/1/4/western-shoshone-elder-carrie-dann-passes-on-to-the-spirit-w.html   

 

The United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty: Article 6, Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation

Last week, CCNS began a four-part series about the United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, whose entry into force three weeks from now will advance the movement toward the future elimination of nuclear weapons.  But first, a few words on the significance of the Treaty:  Friday, January 22nd, 2021 will be a historic day for nuclear weapons.  That is the date when the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty will begin to establish in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons 75 years after their development and first use.  https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/

The purpose of the Treaty is to outlaw the development, manufacture, testing, possession, transfer, acquisition, stockpiling, use or threat of use, control or receipt, stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons.  https://www.icanw.org/here_are_five_examples_of_the_type_of_activities_that_will_be_illegal_under_international_law_on_22_january_2021

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty was approved in July 2017 by 122 nation states.  The fiftieth nation state to sign and ratify the Treaty was Honduras, on October 24th of 2020, which meant the Treaty would enter into force ninety days later, on January 22nd of 2021.  As of November 1st, 2020, 84 countries have become State Parties to the Treaty.

The Treaty itself is composed of 20 official Articles.

Last week we summarized Article 4, about the elimination of nuclear weapons.  http://nuclearactive.org/the-united-nations-nuclear-weapons-ban-treaty-to-enter-into-force-in-january/

Today, we look at Article 6, which addresses essential Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation.  Each of its three paragraphs consists of a single long sentence, which we are quoting in their entirety.

Paragraph 1 of the Treaty’s Article 6 recognizes that in each nation, individuals may be suffering because of their exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons testing and use.  It says, “Each State Party shall, with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction who are affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons, in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, adequately provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance, without discrimination, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.”

Paragraph 2 recognizes that in each nation there may be degradation of the environment that needs to be corrected.  Paragraph 2 says, “Each State Party, with respect to areas under its jurisdiction or control contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, shall take necessary and appropriate measures towards the environmental remediation of areas so contaminated.”

Paragraph 3 concludes, saying, “The obligations under paragraphs 1 and 2 above shall be without prejudice to the duties and obligations of any other States under international law or bilateral agreements.”

Next week, we’ll discuss Article 7 about international cooperation and assistance.

Join the Entry Into Force (EIF) movement.  Learn more at:  International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons at https://www.icanw.org/ , Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance at https://orepa.org/, and the Nuclear Ban Treaty EIF facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/743982149793909/


Did You Know that CCNS welcomes your financial contributions?

 

*  The CARES Act, which went into effect this spring, established a new above-the-line deduction for charitable giving? Individuals may write off up to $300 ($600 for couples) in cash donations to non-governmental organizations, such as CCNS, when filing their 2020 income tax return. You can make an electronic donation at http://nuclearactive.org/ or mail your check to:  CCNS, PO Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594.

 

Did You Know?

 

*  That CCNS is in the process of appealing one of our cases to the United States Supreme Court on an issue of standing that may relate to the future success of many non-governmental organizations?  We thank you in advance for your moral support and for your financial contributions in any amount you are able to give at this time.  

Please also consider…

*   joining our amazing group of monthly contributors at http://nuclearactive.org/

*  donating mutual funds, stocks and securities

*  giving through an IRA Charitable Rollover

*  leaving an estate gift, such as a bequest, or other planned gift.

CCNS will put your donation to work right away to continue to produce and distribute the weekly CCNS News Update and Did You Know? through our social media network.

Thank you!

P.S.  If you would like to receive our end-of-year fundraising letter to learn more about our on-going activities, including our case before the U.S. Supreme Court, please email us at ccns@nuclearactive.org and we’ll send it right to you.

 

The United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty to Enter into Force in January

January 22, 2021 will be a historic day for nuclear weapons.  The United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty will enter into force, establishing in international law a categorical ban on nuclear weapons 75 years after their development and first use.  https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/  

The CCNS Update will focus on the Treaty today and for the next three weeks.  We’ll explore the timeline of the development of the Treaty over the past 75 years and explain how Treaty ratification will advance the movement toward future elimination of nuclear weapons in the United States.  Each week we hope to include some language from the Treaty itself.

We begin by asking, What events needed to occur before the Treaty could enter into force?  To answer this, we use the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance fact sheet, which says, in part:  The Treaty was approved at the UN in July 2017 by 122 nation states.  According to the Treaty terms, 50 nation states had to sign and ratify it before it would enter into force.  Entry into force would automatically happen 90 days after the 50th ratification was deposited at the UN.  On October 24th, 2020, Honduras became the 50th nation to deposit its ratification at the UN.  As of November 1, 2020, 84 nation states had signed the Treaty.  https://orepa.org/nuclear-ban-treaty-entry-into-force-resources/

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, also known as the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, itself is composed of 20 official Articles covering ten pages.  Today we’ll summarize the six paragraphs of Article 4, entitled, “Towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Paragraph 1 outlines a procedure for nations that at one time had nuclear weapons.  They “shall cooperate with the competent international authority … for the purpose of verifying the irreversible elimination of its nuclear-weapon programme.”

Paragraph 2 addresses nations that possess nuclear weapons and provides for a plan to be “negotiated with the competent international authority … for approval.”

Paragraph 3 stipulates that after negotiations, a safeguards agreement will be concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency, to assure that nuclear materials will not be diverted in any way.

Paragraph 4 asks that each nation that “has any nuclear weapons … shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons, as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the … States Parties.”

Paragraph 5 provides for regular reporting.

Paragraph 6 asks the competent international authority to verify the irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons programmes.

We will continue our presentation of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty in the coming weeks.  A copy of the Treaty is available at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons website.  https://www.icanw.org/the_treaty


  1. That the CARES Act, which went into effect this spring, established a new above-the-line deduction for charitable giving? Individuals may write off up to $300 ($600 for couples) in cash donations to non-governmental organizations, such as CCNS, when filing your 2020 income tax return?  You can make an electronic donation at http://nuclearactive.org/ or mail your check to:  CCNS, PO Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594.

 

CCNS will put your donation to work right away as we continue our educational series about the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty and organizing local January 22, 2021 entry into force events.          

           

  1. Mark Your Calendar: Friday, January 22ndThe United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, or the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, goes into effect. 

 

Sign up to receive emails about the work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) at https://www.icanw.org/

 

Stay tuned for commemoration events taking place in New Mexico and around the world!  https://orepa.org/nuclear-ban-treaty-entry-into-force-resources/

 

DOE Plans to Move Tons of Surplus Plutonium to WIPP and LANL Postpones Tritium Venting

The Department of Energy (DOE) published a notice about its plans to prepare an environmental impact statement for the disposal of 34 metric tons of radioactive surplus plutonium at the deep geologic Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located in southeastern New Mexico.  DOE NOI Surplus Pu EIS FedReg 121620

DOE is proposing to dilute the plutonium before disposal at WIPP.  But in a report earlier this year, the National Academy of Sciences stated that WIPP’s legal capacity can only hold waste long ago designated for disposal from DOE sites.  Review of the Department of Energy’s Plans for Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25593/review-of-the-department-of-energys-plans-for-disposal-of-surplus-plutonium-in-the-waste-isolation-pilot-plant

Over the last 25 years, several U.S. Presidents have designated more than 62 metric tons, or about 69 tons, of plutonium as surplus.  Previously, DOE has proposed immobilizing it for disposal in a geologic repository other than WIPP and fabricating it into fuel for nuclear power plants.  Another option is to continue to store it at the Pantex Plant in Texas, or the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

DOE has also proposed building new facilities at the Savannah River Site, including a plutonium pit disassembly and conversion facility; a mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility; and a waste solidification building.  Billions of dollars have been spent, but none of those facilities is in operation.  https://srswatch.org/     

To begin a new environmental impact statement process, DOE asks the public to comment about what the scope of the statement should be.  The scope will necessarily include alternative proposals, including a no action alternative.

A virtual public meeting will be held in January.  Written scoping comments are due to DOE by February 1, 2021.  CCNS will post sample public comments on our website after the first of the year.

In other news, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announced that it would postpone venting over 100,000 Curies of radioactive tritium from four Flanged Tritium Waste Containers, or FTWCs, until spring or summer 2021.  LANL determined to delay the venting activities because winter is approaching and because the New Mexico Environment Department has not responded to LANL’s request for temporary authorization to vent.

LANL held two virtual public meetings about the proposal with over 200 people attending.  LANL accepted questions but did not provide responses during the meeting.  Their responses are now posted on the website.  A fact sheet and powerpoint presentations are also available there.  https://lanl.gov/environment/flanged-tritium-waste-containers.shtml

At the same time, the resistance is formidable.  One influential example is the Tewa Women United petition that says the venting must be halted for the protection of vulnerable New Mexico communities.  Over 3,000 people have signed it.  https://tewawomenunited.org/2020/03/action-alert-protect-vulnerable-communities-halt-planned-tritium-release-at-lanl

LANL will continue to update its FTWC website.  They expect to schedule a virtual meeting before any venting takes place, as has been recommended.


  1. Wednesday, December 16 from 5:30 to 7:15– Semi-annual EPA Individual Stormwater Permit for LANL Public Meeting. For the draft agenda and more information, go to https://ext.em-la.doe.gov/ips/Home/PublicMeetings

 

  1. Thursday, December 24th – DOE’s response is due to the DNFSB re: Technical Report 46, Potential Energetic Chemical Reaction Events Involving Transuranic Waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/letters/potential-energetic-chemical-reaction-events-involving-transuranic-waste-los

 

  1. Tuesday, January 19th at noon – New Mexico Legislature begins 60-day session. https://nmlegis.gov/             

           

  1. Mark Your Calendar: Friday, January 22nd – The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into effect. 

 

Sign up to receive emails about the work of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) at https://www.icanw.org/

Stay tuned for commemoration events taking place in New Mexico and around the world!  http://www.nukeresister.org/2020/11/08/invitation-to-get-involved-nuclear-ban-treaty-entry-into-force-action-day-january-22/   

 

WIPP Radiation Release Briefing on Thursday, December 10th at 6 pm

The Department of Energy (DOE) is hosting a briefing on Thursday, December 10th at 6 pm Mountain Standard Time about its plans to allow the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) to release plutonium and americium from the underground mine for several years.  https://wipp.energy.gov/  The first phase, occurring on December 17th, is a 4-hour test of the contaminated 700-C ductwork and fan.  The fan is located on the surface near the exhaust shaft.

Since the February 14, 2014, radioactive release from the explosion of one or more nuclear waste drums in the underground, the airflow has been filtered to capture contamination.  Also, the number of workers and equipment allowed in the mine has been reduced.

The explosion and release has cost taxpayers more than $2 billion.  WIPP was closed for nearly three years.  A Recovery Plan was issued in 2014 to direct future waste disposal operations.

Thursday’s briefing should answer some questions, including important ones submitted by Don Hancock, Nuclear Waste Program Director, of the Albuquerque-based Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC).  http://www.sric.org/

In written comments, SRIC asks, “Why the fundamental change in how to provide underground ventilation?  The September 30, 2014 WIPP Recovery Plan was predicated on preventing further radiation releases by not using the 700 fans and restoring ventilation through a three-phase process of interim ventilation, supplemental ventilation, and permanent ventilation.  The first two phases are operating, but the permanent system, now called [the Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System, or the] SSCVS, will not meet the Fiscal Year 2021 operational date.  Why the SSCVS has failed is not discussed in the documents, nor its revised schedule and costs. The fundamental change to disperse, not contain, contamination is not justified.”

SRIC also raises concerns about the structural and maintenance status of the fan because it has not been operated for almost seven years. SRIC asks about the budgets for the proposed test and for running the fan until the permanent system begins operating two years from now.

SRIC then addresses worker issues by asking, “What amount of reduced chemical exposure to underground workers will be achieved?  The rationale does not include the range of chemical exposures received by underground workers in Fiscal Year 2020 and the expected amount to be received by underground workers when the 700-C fan operates.  How will the actual worker exposures be measured and data [be made] publicly available?”

The briefing was announced on December 8th.  Since the public had inadequate time to prepare, SRIC requested another interactive public meeting with more advance notice and more detailed materials before the 4-hour test occurs. sriccomm 700C120720


  1. Wednesday, December 16 from 5:30 to 7:15– Semi-annual EPA Individual Stormwater Permit for LANL Public Meeting. For the draft agenda and more information, go to https://ext.em-la.doe.gov/ips/Home/PublicMeetings

 

  1. Thursday, December 24th – DOE’s response is due to the DNFSB re: Technical Report 46, Potential Energetic Chemical Reaction Events Involving Transuranic Waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory, https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/letters/potential-energetic-chemical-reaction-events-involving-transuranic-waste-los

 

  1. Tuesday, January 19th at noon – New Mexico Legislature begins 60-day session. https://nmlegis.gov/             
 

Community Groups Oppose the Next WIPP Radiation Release

It’s all about the airflow in the underground mine at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) because of the contamination from the February 2014 radiation release.   Since that time, the three main fans that ventilated the underground by pulling air through the mine have been shut down because the filters to remove contaminants were not designed for so much airflow.  WIPP is proposing a test restart this month of one of those fans, which will release plutonium and americium to the environment.  No report has been made available for public review and comment about the amount of contamination that could be released and the costs and benefits of potentially running the fan continuously in the future.  https://wipp.energy.gov/

On Wednesday, Southwest Research and Information Center http://www.sric.org/ , Nuclear Watch New Mexico https://nukewatch.org/ , and CCNS http://nuclearactive.org/ wrote a letter to U.S. Senators Tom Udall https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/ and Martin Heinrich https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/ about this urgent matter of worker and public health and safety.  The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) wrote that they oppose this plan “which is dangerous for the workers and the public.”  They noted the Department of Energy “has made no public documentation available to justify the test and future use of the fan.”  Udall-Heinrich 700c letterfinal

That documentation, which has been promised for more than three months to the NGOs, has not been made available. That documentation has also been promised to the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the New Mexico Environment Department.

Since 2014, airflow is filtered to remove contaminants, which has reduced the number of workers and equipment allowed in the mine. In an effort to restore the previous number of workers and equipment, WIPP is proposing to test the 700-C fan, which is located on the surface near the exhaust shaft.  The air released during the test would not be filtered.

WIPP asked the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) to conduct an independent assessment of the plan.  http://www.cresp.org/   CRESP’s report has not been publicly released, but it was summarized in a June 5, 2020 Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board monthly report.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/reports/monthly-site-reports/wipp-monthly-ending-may-2020

According to the Board’s report, CRESP concluded that some radioactivity would be released.  CRESP recommended that WIPP provide a report to the public with an estimate of the amount of radioactivity that could be released; assurance that the necessary personal protective equipment is available; establishment of clear limits for  when to stop the test; and plans for the careful inspection of the ductwork, hardware and control systems before the proposed testing begins.

The three NGOs also recommended to Senators Udall and Heinrich that the report include the number of workers that would be allowed in both the underground and on the surface during the test, the plans for independent real-time monitoring, and a cost-benefit study.

As of press time, we are awaiting a response from the Senators’ offices and WIPP.


  1. Monday, December 7th from 4 pm to 6:45 pm MST – Public Comments from New Mexicans, Texans, and those residing along the transportation routes from Vermont Yankee to proposed consolidated interim storage facilities (CISF) by Holtec, Int’l and Interim Storage Partners/Waste Control Specialists. Meeting of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel:  a top agenda item will be whether the full panel should reconsider its 2015 endorsement in favor of the proposed CISF facilities in NM and TX.  To attend:  12-7-2020 VT NDCAP Meeting

 

  1. Wednesday, December 9th at 1 pm MST – White Mesa Uranium Mill National Virtual Town Hall. “Located just three miles from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s White Mesa community and one mile from Bears Ears National Monument, the White Mesa Uranium Mill was originally designed to run for 15 years before being closed and cleaned up.”  It’s still operating 40 years later.  Hear about the nuclear fuel cycle, impacts to Indigenous communities, and what you can do to help stop the ongoing harm by closing and cleaning up the mill. Advance registration required:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwufuGtqD8sG9MnxjrQ5sGnjbFarg5b2Zk0

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/203391351307164

Listen to the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) latest Wild Utah podcast about the White Mesa issues and the National Town Hall.  https://suwa.org/wild-utah-podcast-episode-19-indigenous-justice-at-white-mesa-utah/

 

  1. Wednesday, December 9th from 4:30 – 6 pm MST – virtual LANL training for its Electronic Public Reading Room as required by the NM Environment Department hazardous waste permit for LANL, Section 1.10. For more information:  envoutreach@lanl.gov or call 505-667-3792.

LANL Electronic Public Reading Room and the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Electronic Public Reading Room can be accessed at http://eprr.lanl.gov.

The handbook for the Triad EPRR can be accessed at: https://www.lanl.gov/environment/public-reading-room.php

WebEx Link: https://lanl-us.webex.com/lanlus/j.php?MTID=md7d124bec1218bd3639955cbf5421a52
Meeting No.: 133 546 9742
Video address: 1335469742@lanl-us.webex.com
PIN: EPRR
Call In No.: 1-415-655-0002
Call Access No.: 133 546 9742

 

Enough is Enough! LANL Must Comply With the Law

On Thursday, November 19th, CCNS filed a Petition for Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of a Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals unpublished decision that declared CCNS did not have standing to challenge a Clean Water Act permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  The Tenth Circuit’s decision is in conflict with U.S. Supreme Court decisions and with decisions throughout the Courts of Appeals.  200423 CA10 decision

Standing is a legal principle to ensure that the entity bringing a lawsuit is the one who has or will suffer the injury.  In our case, meeting the standard means asserting that our experience of the Rio Grande valley is diminished by our fear of the Rio Grande becoming contaminated by LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The Facility is not regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which governs hazardous waste from cradle to grave.

The Tenth Circuit referred to the standing principle, but then added the requirement that CCNS needed to show that contaminants from the Facility actually reach the Rio Grande – eight miles away.  In settled law on standing, CCNS members would only need to show that their use and enjoyment of the valley is diminished by their fear that the Facility is not properly regulated

The Facility handles, treats, and stores hazardous waste. Therefore it must comply with the federal RCRA law, as implemented by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act.

RCRA provides an exemption for facilities that hold a federal Clean Water Act permit.  The Clean Water Act requires a discharge in order for a permit to be issued. LANL stopped discharging treated industrial waters from the Facility’s Outfall 051 a decade ago this month.  Yet LANL has applied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to renew the permit, even though it no longer discharges.  http://nuclearactive.org/comments-needed-for-lanl-industrial-wastewater-discharge-permit/

CCNS argues that because Outfall 051 no longer discharges, it cannot have a Clean Water Act permit and must have a hazardous waste permit—one that would cover the tank systems that handle, treat and store the liquid wastes and would reduce the risks to people in the valley.

CCNS asks why a small non-governmental organization must spend its resources to require a federal regulator and a nuclear weapons facility to comply with the law.  This is happening at a time when the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is raising ongoing concerns about how LANL handles, treats, and stores transuranic, or plutonium-contaminated, waste, such as there is at the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  DNFSB Los Alamos Week Ending October 30 2020, http://nuclearactive.org/at-lanl-four-waste-drums-discovered-containing-potentially-incompatible-chemicals/ , http://nuclearactive.org/ccns-asks-why-lanls-area-g-waste-handling-lacks-proper-safety-documents/  , https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/letters/potential-energetic-chemical-reaction-events-involving-transuranic-waste-los

Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., represents CCNS.  http://lindsaylovejoy.com/


 

1.December 1st – Giving Tuesday – Please support the production and distribution of the weekly CCNS News Update and this Did You Know? Thank you!

As alternatives,

  • join our amazing group of monthly contributors at http://nuclearactive.org/
  • give mutual funds, stocks and securities
  • give through an IRA Charitable Rollover
  • leave an estate gift, such as a bequest, or other planned gift

Contact CCNS for more information at ccns@nuclearactive.org or (505) 986-1973.

 

2. December 2nd and 3rd 10:30 am – 3 pm MST – virtual U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meeting “to review information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) non-site-specific geologic disposal research and development (R&D) program.”  https://www.nwtrb.gov/

 

3.Wednesday, December 9th from 4:30 – 6 pm MST – virtual LANL training for its Electronic Public Reading Room as required by the NM Environment Department hazardous waste permit for LANL, Section 1.10. For more information:  envoutreach@lanl.gov or call 505-667-3792.

LANL Electronic Public Reading Room and the Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Electronic Public Reading Room can be accessed at http://eprr.lanl.gov.

The handbook for the Triad EPRR can be accessed at:
https://www.lanl.gov/environment/public-reading-room.php

WebEx Link: https://lanl-us.webex.com/lanlus/j.php?MTID=md7d124bec1218bd3639955cbf5421a52
Meeting No.: 133 546 9742
Video address: 1335469742@lanl-us.webex.com
PIN: EPRR
Call In No.: 1-415-655-0002
Call Access No.: 133 546 9742

 

CCNS Asks Why LANL’s Area G Waste Handling Lacks Proper Safety Documents

On Wednesday, Chris Roscetti, the Technical Director for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, raised more red flags about the fact that Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) handles, treats and stores radioactive and hazardous waste without the proper paperwork in place.  He was speaking during a virtual meeting of the Northern New Mexico Citizens’ Advisory Board.   Chris Rosetti Bio – Bio  and  PowerPoint in PDF form – DNSFBpowerpoint

Some paperwork has remained unresolved for years.  For example, since at least 2016, LANL does not have compliant safety documents for nuclear facilities, such as the Area G dump.  These documents, called documented safety analysis, serve to identify and analyze the hazards associated with the work.  Nuclear facilities are required to respond to the analyses in ways that will protect workers, the public and the environment.  Some elements of safety documents include fire protection calculations, computer modeling for the dispersion of contaminants, and analyses of the efficiency of the operating controls to prevent releases.  The Area G safety documents have languished since 2016 – even though LANL continues to handle, treat, and store plutonium-contaminated and hazardous waste there.

Roscetti said there are about 3,100 drums containing radioactive and hazardous waste sitting above ground at Area G.  These wastes are destined for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), but need to be treated or repackaged before shipment.

In fiscal year 2020, LANL sent 54 shipments to WIPP.  Most of these shipments were newly-generated waste from the fabrication of the triggers for nuclear weapons, or plutonium pits.  Each shipment to WIPP can hold 42 55-gallon steel drums.

Based on the current shipping rate, if all 3,100 above-ground drums were sent to WIPP at a maximum of 42 drums per shipment, it would take about 18 months.  But the amount of radioactivity in each drum dictates how many drums make up each shipment.   In the meantime, newly generated waste would be shipped into Area G.

In recent virtual meetings, LANL officials have been announced its plans to begin retrieving thousands of buried containers at Area G.  Those drums would most likely need to be repackaged before shipment to WIPP.  But again, the safety documents have not been developed and approved.  Safety documents address not only the repackaging and shipping operations, but also the delicate retrieval operations.  There is evidence that some drums have corroded.

CCNS asks why LANL is allowed to continue to operate Area G when safety basis documents have not been properly updated – in the case of Area G, nearly five years.

For more information about the issues discussed in this Update:

CCNS News Update, dated November 13, 2020 – http://nuclearactive.org/at-lanl-four-waste-drums-discovered-containing-potentially-incompatible-chemicals/

Government Accountability Office – Report to Congressional Committees – Nuclear Safety Report “DOE and Safety Board Should Collaborate to Develop a Written Agreement to Enhance Oversight,” GAO-21-141, dated October 29, 2020 – https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-21-141

Memorandum of Understanding between U.S. DOE and DNFSB Working Group Charter, dated October 21, 2020 – https://www.dnfsb.gov/board-activities/board-member-testimonies-speeches-and-other-public-statements/memorandum

Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Recommendation about proposed changes to DOE about the federal Nuclear Safety Requirements, 10 CFR 830, dated February 21, 2020 – https://www.dnfsb.gov/board-activities/recommendations/10-cfr-830-nuclear-safety-requirements


To begin, the new shaft at WIPP has been stopped!!!  On November 18, 2020, the New Mexico Environment Department denied the DOE/Nuclear Waste Partnership’s request for an extension of the temporary authorization allowing the excavation of a new shaft.  2020-11-18-RPD_HWB_WIPP_TA_Reissuance_Response_(Final)-1

THANK YOU to everyone who submitted public comments opposing the new shaft!  Together we are making a difference!

 

  1. THIS EVENING!!! Thursday, November 19th from 5:30 – 6:45 pm –

    Community Focused Conversation about Uranium Contamination in New Mexico.  Speakers include:  Manny Pino, Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment (LACSE); June L. Lorenzo, LACSE; Laura Watchempino, Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE); Terry Keyanna, Red Water Pond Road Community Association; and Larry King, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM).  Hosted by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.

 

            To register, please click on this link:

https://nmelc-ej-series-uranium.eventbrite.com

If for any reason you are unable to access the zoom,

you can also watch live on our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/NMELC

 

  1. December 1st – Giving Tuesday – Please include CCNS in your giving to support the weekly CCNS News Update and the social media network through which we distribute the Update and this Did You Know?  Thank you!

 

3. December 2nd and 3rd  10:30 am – 3 pm MST – virtual U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meeting “to review information on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) non-site-specific geologic disposal research and development (R&D) program.”  https://www.nwtrb.gov/