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

How Much Did the U.S. Spend on Nuclear Weapons in 2019?

According to a new report by the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, the U.S. spent $35.4 billion on nuclear weapons in 2019.  This figure includes $11.1 billion to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy, and $24.3 billion to the Department of Defense. That amount equals spending $67,352 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons.  In this time of the global COVID-19 pandemic, some question whether these taxpayers’ dollars could fund the needed masks, gloves, personal protective equipment and other equipment for medical professionals and patients, as well as for essential workers across the country.  https://www.icanw.org/global_nuclear_weapons_spending_2020

The report, entitled, “Enough is Enough:  2019 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending,” carefully reviewed the nuclear weapons budgets of nine nuclear-armed countries.  They are:  China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.  In 2019, the nine countries spent $72.9 billion on the weapons.  Together, the countries possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons and spent $138,699 every minute of 2019 on them.  This $72.9 billion represents an increase of $7.1 billion from 2018.

But these billions of dollars spent in the U.S. and the other nine nuclear-armed countries are not the total expenditures.  They pay for only the operating and development costs for nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems. They do not include the cleanup, or remediation, of the environment contaminated by the operation, use, and development of nuclear weapons, nor do they include the health care and compensation needed by the unknowing and unwilling victims harmed by the production and use of nuclear weapons.

A 2011 Global Zero cost estimate stated that “unpaid/deferred environmental and health costs, missile [defenses] assigned to defend against nuclear weapons, nuclear threat reduction and incident management” would add 50 percent more dollars.  GZ Nuclear Weapons Cost Global Study 2011 If included, in 2019, the U.S. would have spent approximately $53 billion, or $101,000 a minute.

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, the Policy and Research Coordinator for the ICAN and the primary author of the report, said, “The billions spent on nuclear weapons in 2019 didn’t save lives – it was a waste of resources needed to address real security challenges, including pandemics and climate change.”

The report concludes with a question we all need to answer:  “Will citizens and leaders choose to continue to throw away $73 billion on nuclear weapons, or will they join the majority of the world’s countries in choosing to ban these weapons of mass destruction all together?”


  1. Petition open for signatures: Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus at https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/demand-justice-for-nuclear-frontline-communities-in-covid-19-stimulus  Please share widely as we are gaining traction on this issue.  Thank you!

 

  1. Tuesday, June 9th from 5 to 7 pm – Midtown Santa Fe “Meet the Developer Series” continues. The topic has changed to Arts and InnovationThe topic Housing and Affordability has been rescheduled to June 23rd Residents may attend the meetings virtually at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKPVlxk0l-IyxAVEPs2ig0w.  The chat function will be enabled for your questions and comments.  If you would like to submit a question(s) before the meeting, email info@midtowndistrictsantafe.com.  For more information, visit https://www.santafenm.gov/midtown_site

 

  1. Thursday, June 18th – New Mexico Legislature Special Session Begins. For more information, check out Retake Our Democracy’s recent * important * Zoominar “NM State Budget Crisis, a Moral Crossroads,” with advocates from Voices for Children and Rep. Javier Martinez, Chair of the House Tax & Revenue Committee.  The best quote from the Zoominar:  “We don’t have a budget problem, we have a revenue problem.”   https://retakeourdemocracy.org/the-nm-state-budget-crisis-an-opportunity-to-diversify-our-budget-or-shred-our-education-health-social-service-systems/

 

  1. Wednesday, July 22nd – comments due to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the proposed Holtec Consolidated Interim Storage Facility for high-level radioactive waste. For more information, check out Kendra Chamberlain’s article ‘Forever deadly:’  State officials, communities scramble to fight a proposal to house high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico at https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2020/06/04/forever-deadly-state-officials-communities-scramble-to-fight-a-proposal-to-house-high-level-nuclear-waste-in-new-mexico/?mc_cid=5e8ef7b710&mc_eid=4ed398ef0c   For sample public comments, visit www.beyondnuclear.org/centralized-storage/
  2. Friday, July 31st comments due to EPA about two LANL discharge permits.EPA extended the public comment periods for 60 more days for the Individual Stormwater Permit and Industrial Wastewater (outfalls) Permit.  A virtual public meeting on the Individual Stormwater Permit will be held in July.  https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/notices-search/location/New%20Mexico   Sample public comments will be available before the deadline.

 

 

White House Contemplates Restarting Nuclear Testing to the Detriment of All

In a perverse strategy to bring Russia and China to the table to negotiate a tri-lateral agreement to limit nuclear arsenals, the White House is in on-going internal discussions about restarting nuclear weapons testing.  The last U.S. underground nuclear explosive test was in 1992, at what was then called the Nevada Test Site.  Between 1945 and 1992, radioactive and toxic fallout from its 1,000-plus atmospheric and underground tests fell across New Mexico and across other states.  See “Under the Cloud:  The Decades of Nuclear Testing,” by Richard L. Miller.

In 1996, the U.S. signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an international agreement to ban all nuclear explosives tests.  It provides for verification and on-site inspections.  But the U.S., along with seven other countries, failed to ratify the Treaty.  http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/031210.html

Although the Treaty has not entered into full force and for that reason the verification and inspections provisions are not in effect, only North Korea has tested.

On Saturday, May 23rd, U.S. Senator Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, wrote to the President to “oppose in the strongest possible terms a historically reckless resumption of explosive nuclear weapons testing.”  He urged the President to use “superior alternatives,“ including leading “a diplomatic effort to bring the CTBT into force, [which] would allow for the intrusive, short-notice, and on-site inspections that are the most effective way to enforce compliance.”  Senator Markey is working to introduce legislation to prohibit new nuclear testing and to bring the Treaty into force.  https://www.markey.senate.gov/news/press-releases/senator-markey-demands-trump-administration-abandon-reckless-restart-of-us-nuclear-weapons-testing

A discussion to restart nuclear weapons testing inevitably triggers those who have been harmed from cumulative overexposure to radioactive and toxic fallout.  They are called Downwinders, and there are thousands of New Mexicans who were exposed to the first nuclear weapons test on July 16, 1945, at the Trinity Site and to fallout from the Nevada Test Site.

In 1990, Congress created the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), a program to provide compensation to some of Downwinders in other states, but not the New Mexico Downwinders.  LCN May 28, 2020 PLEASE REFERENCE PAGE 6 FOR “COVID-19 STRIKES NM ON THE 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE MANHATTAN PROJECT,” SUBMITTED BY BERNICE J. GUTIERREZ AND PAUL LOPEZ PINO.

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, which has been working for 15 years to include the New Mexico Downwinders in RECA, said, “It’s been 75 years since the people of New Mexico were enlisted into the service of their country as participants in the first nuclear test anyplace in the world.  The U.S. government has never recognized this or taken care of the devastating health consequences that developed as a result.  Why would we ever think that testing today would yield a different result from the government?  Who would want the testing to take place near where they live and raise their families?  This just can’t happen again.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


  1. Petition open for signatures: Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus at https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/demand-justice-for-nuclear-frontline-communities-in-covid-19-stimulus  Please share widely as we are gaining traction on this issue.  Thank you!

 

  1. Tuesday, June 2nd – Comments due to DOE/NNSA about the draft environmental impact statement about the proposed Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0541-plutonium-pit-production-savannah-river-site-aiken-south-carolina and https://srswatch.org/

 

  1. Tuesday, June 2nd – be sure to VOTE!

 

  1. Tuesday, June 9th from 5 to 7 pm – Midtown Santa Fe “Meet the Developer Series” continues. Topic:  Housing and Affordability  Residents may attend the meetings virtually at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKPVlxk0l-IyxAVEPs2ig0w.  For more information:  https://www.santafenm.gov/midtown_site

      5. Thursday, June 18th – New Mexico Legislature Special Session Begins.  For more information, check out Retake Our Democracy’s recent * important * Zoominar “NM State Budget Crisis, a Moral Crossroads,” with advocates from Voices for Children and Rep. Javier Martinez, Chair of the House Tax & Revenue Committee.  The best quote from the Zoominar:  “We don’t have a budget problem, we have a revenue problem.”   https://retakeourdemocracy.org/the-nm-state-budget-crisis-an-opportunity-to-diversify-our-budget-or-shred-our-education-health-social-service-systems/

 

NGOs Request Reinstatement of the CMRR Public Meetings

Back in 2005, a diverse group of non-governmental organizations appealed a draft air emissions permit for the construction of the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  The New Mexico Environment Department permit allowed the release of air emissions, including volatile organic compounds and hazardous and toxic air pollutants, during construction for both the Radiological Laboratory Utility and Office Building, or RLUOB, and the Super Walmart-sized CMRR Nuclear Facility.

On the last day of negotiations, the parties came to agreement.  The settlement included enhanced public participation requirements that LANL would host public meetings every six months and establish a website where the powerpoint presentations from the semi-annual meetings would be posted, along with other CMRR information.  For example, http://nuclearactive.org/news/030411.html   CMRR Settlement Agreement 9-14-2005

At the present time there is escalating taxpayer funding for upgrading the RLUOB to support expanded manufacture of plutonium triggers, or pits, for nuclear weapons, and a draft air permit is being prepared for public review and comment.  In response, seven NGOs are asking for the reinstatement of the public participation provisions and will work to ensure those provisions are included in the permit.

The historic 2005 agreement resulted in the Environment Department issuing a permit for only the RLUOB.  Specific language was included that LANL would have to apply for a permit revision prior to initiating construction for the Nuclear Facility.  The Nuclear Facility was deferred, then canceled during the Obama Administration, and in 2012, LANL stopped the public meetings.

But the NGOs argue that the CMRR Project continues as a replacement for the old 1960-era Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building and therefore the public participation requirements must resume.  They cite Congressional budget documents.  For instance, the Department of Energy (DOE) has requested $169 million for fiscal year 2021, which is a $983,000 increase over the enacted fiscal year 2020 budget.  DOE plans an additional half billion dollars through 2025 for the project.

Further, four subprojects have been created as an “alternative approach” to the Nuclear Facility.  They include equipment installation in both the RLUOB and the co-located Plutonium Facility; relocating existing equipment to make room for expanded pit production; and raising the amount of plutonium allowed in the RLUOB from 8.3 grams to over 400 grams.  The NGOs note that they “have not seen a request to the New Mexico Environment Department, nor the Environmental Protection Agency for a modified air quality permit for the proposed increase of activity.”  http://nuclearactive.org/doe-wants-50-fold-plutonium-increase-at-lanl-rad-lab/

The NGOs include CCNS, Nuclear Watch New Mexico, Tewa Women United, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, Peace Action, the Loretto Community, and the Embudo Valley Environmental Monitoring Group.   


  1. Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus petition is available to your signature at https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/demand-justice-for-nuclear-frontline-communities-in-covid-19-stimulus Please share widely as we are gaining traction on this issue.  Thank you!

 

  1. Sunday, May 24th at 3 pm – International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. https://www.peacewomen.org/node/91898    

 

  1. Tuesday, May 26thComments due to DOE/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) about the draft Supplement Analysis to evaluate the potential impacts of an earthquake accident at Y-12 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, based on updated seismic hazard information. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0387-sa-04-draft-supplement-analysis  and  https://orepa.org/new-earthquake-report-shows-risks-ten-times-as-high/

 

  1. Tuesday, June 2nd – Comments due to DOE/NNSA about the draft environmental impact statement about the proposed Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant. https://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0541-plutonium-pit-production-savannah-river-site-aiken-south-carolina and https://srswatch.org/

 

  1. Midtown Santa Fe “Meet the Developer Series” continues. Residents may attend the meetings virtually at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKPVlxk0l-IyxAVEPs2ig0w

 

            Tuesday, May 26th, from 5 – 7 pm – Education and Jobs

 

            Tuesday, June 9th, from 5 – 7 pm – Housing and Affordability

 

            For more information:  https://www.midtowndistrictsantafe.com/

 

DOE Failing To Comply with Its Social Contract with New Mexico On WIPP

The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to bring a new kind of plutonium-contaminated, or transuranic, waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  DOE would dilute up to 48.2 metric tons of surplus plutonium and dispose it at WIPP.  This waste was not included previously in the WIPP waste inventory, and there could be up to 160,000 55-gallon drums destined for WIPP.

For years, the DOE made many promises to the People of New Mexico, thus creating a “social contract.”  Some provisions of the social contract were that WIPP would accept transuranic waste only from past nuclear weapons manufacturing.  The maximum volume of such waste would not exceed 6.2 million cubic feet in the deep underground disposal facility.  WIPP would operate for 25 years and then begin closure, which could take 10 years.  Since WIPP opened in 1999, it should end waste disposal in 2024.

Nevertheless, DOE wants to expand the types of waste destined to WIPP, including the diluted surplus plutonium, and extend disposal operations until after 2080.  Much of this diluted waste is part of an international agreement with Russia to downblend plutonium for use in nuclear power plants.

The National Academies of Science, in its new report released on April 30th, entitled Review of the Department of Energy’s Plans for Disposal of Surplus Plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, raised concerns about violating the social contract as well as other obstacles to bringing so much diluted surplus plutonium waste to WIPP.  https://www.nap.edu/download/25593, pp. 8 – 9.

The report noted that U.S. Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico, a proponent of WIPP, objected to diluted surplus plutonium at WIPP.  In 2002, the Senator wrote to then DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham:  “I want to ensure that high level or weapons material wastes can never be simply diluted in order to comply with criteria for WIPP disposal ….  In fact, dilution of weapons materials, simply in order to facilitate disposal, raises serious questions about our adherence to the same international controls on weapon-related materials that we expect other nations to follow.”  https://www.nap.edu/download/25593, pp. 8, 95.

In the waning days of the Martinez Administration, the New Mexico Environment Department approved DOE’s request to change the way it calculated the volume of waste, thereby increasing WIPP’s capacity by 30 percent.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall recently expressed his concern about that waste recalculation.  Senator Udall was previously the New Mexico Attorney General and he said the volume limits “were a major reason New Mexico agreed to this mission in the first place ….”

He continued, “I am encouraging the new administration [of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham] to take a hard look at this action, and hopeful that it will pause and reconsider this last-minute change that has major ramifications for our state.”  https://www.nap.edu/download/25593, p 95.

The National Academies of Science made findings in their report.  We quote Finding 5-4 to provide more information about the social contract between the People of New Mexico and DOE and the magnitude of the changes DOE proposes:

“FINDING 5-4: By virtually any measure, the proposal to dilute 48.2 MT of surplus plutonium and dispose at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) represents a substantial technical and “social contract” change for WIPP and the State of New Mexico.

“Several other converging factors occurring in the next 5 to 8 years could further exacerbate the ability of the regulatory institutions (EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], NMED [New Mexico Environment Department]), and the State of New Mexico to consider the significance of the dilute and dispose program in its entirety. These other factors include:

“• The recent new shaft and access drift being developed are expected to lead to a request for new disposal panels to accommodate the space lost in the abandoned south end, the additional volumes of waste that are enabled by the LWA [Land Withdrawal Act] volume of record accounting change, and the SPD-TRU [surplus plutonium disposition – transuranic] volumes (6 MT [metric tons] already in the WIPP-bound inventory). It is unclear where or what new room/panel configurations might be proposed, but they will introduce new asymmetries in the repository modeling and have to be reflected in the future PAs [performance assessments] of long-term performance, EPA’s compliance recertification reviews, NMED review and approval, etc.

“• The conceptual models and software code used in the performance assessment is expected to transition from BRAGFLO [brine and gas flow modeling code] to PFLOTRAN [petascale reactive multiphase flow and multicomponents transport code], allowing greater fidelity in the PA [performance assessment] modeling and allowing a three-dimensional analysis (see Box 5-1).

BOX 5-1 New Computer Models and the Expansion of WIPP’s Underground

The currently available physical capacity in WIPP is limited by the number of panels in its original design. A Government Accountability Office report (GAO, 2017) concluded that WIPP would reach current available physical capacity by 2026 and that at least two additional panels would be needed to accommodate future TRU waste. The existing panels in the WIPP underground are nearly full, and so new panels will have to be designed and mined to accommodate future wastes.

A new mathematical modeling tool, PFLOTRAN, is under development at Sandia National Laboratories that might be integrated into a suite of other modeling tools used to assess WIPP’s regulatory performance. PFLOTRAN is needed because it is expected that there will be an asymmetry introduced when new panels are designed and located. PFLOTRAN would replace an earlier code, BRAGFLO, which relies on a symmetrical geometry of the underground.

DOE-EM [Department of Energy – Environmental Management] told the committee that:

The proposed additional panels are still at the conceptual stage and PFLOTRAN is still in development. It is unknown precisely when PFLOTRAN will be used for any compliance calculations (with or without the 34 MT) for submittal to the EPA because future funding, resources, and priorities will impact the code’s availability. The analysis that is being performed regarding the 34 MT for the NEPA process utilizes the existing performance assessment software (e.g. BRAFLO [sic]) and disposal panels.a

The DOE-EM estimates that the model verification and validation for PFLOTRAN, which will be managed by Sandia and will follow an NQA-1 Quality Assurance program that is approved and audited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is scheduled to be completed in May 2022. It is not expected that the EPA will perform any additional verification and validation of the code because they have not done so in the past. DOE-EM further stated that: “If PFLOTRAN is to be used in a compliance calculation for the March 2024 recertification, the data cutoff for that recertification would be December 31, 2022 and any inputs to that recertification would need to be completed prior to this date.” aaSee “August 28 Answers to PFLOTRAN Questions,” available by request through the National Academies’ Public Access Records Office at paro@nas.edu.

“It is unclear if this new code base will be relied on for the March 2024 or March 2029 recertification application.

“• As noted earlier, the DSP-TRU waste inventory has caused a renewed look at the potential for criticality, and the simple features, events, and processes (FEP) screening arguments used in the past are now augmented by a full criticality safety assessment, but this work has not yet received regulatory review. The initial criticality safety assessment, which has noted that abatement of criticality concerns may require boron carbide additives or load management, is in the context of the current room/panel design and evaluated for the 10,000-year regulatory compliance period.

“• The LWA volume of record change ostensibly translates to a greater total radionuclide inventory in WIPP (owing to the radionuclide quantity now being focused within an inner rather than outer container volume) which is intensified by the CCC/CCO [criticality control container; criticality control component/ criticality control overpack] configuration for diluted surplus plutonium (i.e., ~300 FGE [fissile gram equivalent] in 0.013 m3 instead of 0.21 m3).

“This confluence of events and changes, if approached in the traditional manner, will confound a transparent regulatory and public review of the full dilute and dispose program scope and deny the public and especially the State of New Mexico the opportunity to consider the significance of the dilute and dispose programs in their entirety.”  [Emphasis added.]  https://www.nap.edu/download/25593, pp. 95 – 96.


1. The MoveOn petition to Demand Justice for Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Stimulus is available to your signature at https://sign.moveon.org/p/radiation-relief Please share widely!

2. Sunday, May 24th at 3 pm – International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. https://www.peacewomen.org/node/91898

3. Tuesday, June 2, 2020 – the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement about the proposed Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant has been extended from May 18. For more information, go to https://srswatch.org/

4. Thursday, July 16th at 5:30 am – 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb test at Trinity test site. Event planning continues. To learn more, Google the Op-ed by two Trinity Downwinders – Bernice Gutierrez and Paul Pino, both born in Carrizozo, downwind of Trinity

5. Wednesday, July 22, 2020 – Extension of the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Holtec International’s Proposed Spent Nuclear Fuel Consolidated Storage Facility extended for an additional 60 days – from May 22, 2020. Stay tuned for more information. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2237/

 

Over 100 NGOs Support Nuclear Frontline Communities in COVID-19 Relief Funding

Today, the Navajo Nation and Indigenous communities in general are facing unique challenges in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.  One of those challenges is compromised immune systems and cancers due to exposure to aboveground atomic bomb tests in the United States and Marshall Islands and working in and living near the nuclear industry.  Recent studies show that those with cancers are up to three times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those without.  Uranium workers, including those from the Navajo Nation, have high rates of lung cancer.  A key to reducing the spread of COVID-19 is providing access to medical care to those at highest risk.

This week, 124 non-governmental organizations submitted a letter to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate seeking movement on bills that would provide assistance to nuclear frontline communities.  organizational-sign-on-letter-impacted-communities-covid-19 They urged funding for those more vulnerable to COVID-19, such as those exposed to the July 16, 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico and tests conducted between 1946 and 1958 in the Marshall Islands, those working in and living near the nuclear industry, and the approximately 6,000 Veterans who worked to cleanup the Marshall Islands between 1977 and 1980.

The NGOs asked that the proposed bipartisan amendments to the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3783 and the bipartisan Medicaid for the Compact of Free Association bill https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/16/coronavirus-uninsured-pacific-islanders-190979  be included in the next COVID-19 bill.  If passed as written, the Trinity Downwinders and the Post ’71 uranium workers would be included in RECA, and Medicaid would be provided to the Marshallees.

The exposed populations are disproportionately Indigenous, people of color, veterans, low-income, and those living in rural areas.  Many are now at greater risk from COVID-19 due to exposure to radiation and toxins in the environment; no running water; and lack of access to health care.  These factors can result in poor health conditions and weakened immune systems.

The NGOs argued that those who have sacrificed for our country’s national security, in some cases unknowingly, should not have to carry the burden of this crisis.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said, “Many of us live in fear of the virus now not only because it is highly infectious and deadly to most but because we also know we are highly susceptible to getting the virus and dying from it due to our underlying health issues as a result of being exposed to radiation.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

The NGOs are working on a petition for individuals to sign in support of the nuclear frontline communities.  More information about the petition will be available early next week.  https://allthingsnuclear.org/guest-commentary/covid-19-nuclear-weapons


  1. Saturday, May 9th – proposed bomb plant expansion comments due to the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) about the draft Supplement Analysis for Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sample public comments are available at Nuclear Watch New Mexico.  https://nukewatch.org/             
  2. Tuesday, June 2, 2020 – the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement about the proposed Savannah River Site Plutonium Bomb Plant has been extended from May 18. For more information, go to https://srswatch.org/
  3. July 22, 2020 – Extension of the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Holtec International’s Proposed Spent Nuclear Fuel Consolidated Storage Facility extended for an additional 60 days – from May 22, 2020. Stay tuned for more information.  https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2237/
  4. But, wait – there’s more: This week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released notice that it seeks public comment on the draft Environmental Report for a consolidated storage of spent nuclear fuel facility – similar to Holtec’s proposal – at Waste Control Specialists/Interim Storage Partners facility on the NM/Texas border – 35 miles east of the proposed Holtec consolidated interim storage facility.  There is a 120-day comment period – ending sometime in September 2020.  https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML20122A220
  5. It’s the 20th anniversary of the Cerro Grande fire. The Los Alamos Historical Society created an exhibit “Resilience and Regrowth.”  https://www.losalamoshistory.org/cerrogrande   While you are preparing your comments for the LANL Supplement Analysis, remember the trauma experienced when the fire burned for many days and came close to LANL’s Plutonium Facility (which is now proposed for expanded plutonium pit production) and Area G, which at the time of the fire, 40,000 containers (e.g., 55-gallon drums) of plutonium-contaminated waste were sitting in fabric tents on the mesa.  Remember how LANL officials told us the forest would fully regenerate in seven years….
 

Watchdog Group Sues to Stop New WIPP Shaft Construction

On April 24th, the New Mexico Environment Department approved construction of a new shaft at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  On April 27th, Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) appealed that approval to the New Mexico Court of Appeals.  SRIC claims that the approval is not allowed by regulations and that it prejudices the required public comment and public hearing process that must take place before the new shaft can be constructed.  200427 SRIC Notice of Appeal-2

WIPP is a Department of Energy (DOE) repository to dispose of plutonium-contaminated, or transuranic, waste from nuclear weapons production.  In 1999, the Environment Department issued a permit for WIPP to operate with four shafts and up to 10 underground waste panels.  The legal limit of 6.2 million cubic feet of waste was supposed to fit into that underground footprint.  Under the permit, all of the waste would be emplaced by 2024.

However, DOE now wants to bring more waste to WIPP and operate the site until at least 2080 for waste from new nuclear weapons plutonium pit production.  Consequently, DOE is proposing a new shaft and more underground waste panels that connect to the existing disposal area.

On August 15th, 2019, DOE submitted a class 3 permit modification request for the new shaft.  In response, several organizations and dozens of individuals opposed the new shaft.  The Environment Department must publish a draft permit or notice of denial for additional public comment.  Then there are negotiations among participating groups, a public hearing with technical witnesses and cross-examination, briefing, and an Environment Department Secretary decision.  In other cases, that process has taken many months to a few years.

On January 16th, 2020, DOE requested a Temporary Authorization (TA) to allow construction to start.  DOE Request for WIPP TA 1-16-20

Since 1988, TAs have not been allowed for major construction projects because “[t]he authorized activities must be completed at the end of the authorization,” which can be for no longer than 360 days.  DOE gives a roughly three-year timeframe to construct the new shaft and connecting tunnels and ready them for use.

On January 27th, 2020, SRIC wrote to the Environment Department detailing the legal deficiencies and arguing that approval of construction would severely prejudice the modification process.  sriccomm012720 TA-1

Part of SRIC’s appeal is an affidavit from Steven Zappe, the Environment Department’s WIPP Permit Writer for 17 years.  He concludes: “For several clear regulatory reasons, [the Environment Department] should not have approved the January 16, 2020 TA request to excavate Shaft #5.  Any one of the following reasons would be sufficient grounds to deny this TA request.  The combination of the [five] following reasons makes an indisputable argument for denial.”  200427 Motion to NMED Secretary to Stay TA,    Zappe affidavit signed


1. Monday, May 4th at 5 pm – Santa Fe City Council MIDTOWN DISTRICT Special Meeting. The Governing Body is scheduled to vote on entering into an agreement with the MIDTOWN Evaluation Committee’s recommended master developer finalist. www.youtube.com/user/cityofsantafe

Before Monday, May 4th at 1 pm, you are invited to submit your questions for the meeting to Info@MidtownDistrictSantaFe.com

For more information, https://www.midtowndistrictsantafe.com/ and Liz Camacho, Santa Fe Office of Economic Development at excamacho@santafenm.gov

2. TUESDAY, MAY 5TH – DEADLINE TO REQUEST AN ABSENTEE BALLOT IN NEW MEXICO. If you live in New Mexico and want to vote by absentee ballot for the June primary election, you must request an absentee ballot by May 5th. Click on this link today. It takes five minutes and you won’t have to stand in line in person to vote in June. https://portal.sos.state.nm.us/OVR/WebPages/AbsenteeApplication.aspx?type=RA

3. Thursday, May 28, 2020 – Giving Tuesday Now. CCNS would appreciate your contribution to our efforts during the pandemic. DOE is pushing its agenda at both LANL and WIPP. CCNS is doing our part to address their attempts. Feel free to call 505-986-1973 or email us at ccns@nuclearactive.org to learn more.

4. June 2, 2020 – the comment period for the draft environmental impact statement on the proposed has been extended from May 18. For more information, go to https://srswatch.org/

5. July 22, 2020 – Extension of the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Holtec International’s Proposed Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility extended for an additional 60 days – from May 22, 2020. Stay tuned for more information. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2237/

 

Nuclear Watchdogs Call on DOE to Indefinitely Extend Public Comment Deadlines, Delay Public Hearings During the Pandemic

The thirty-six member organizations of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) spoke with one voice this week in a letter sent to Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette and National Nuclear Security Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty calling for the DOE and NNSA to suspend all active comment periods and reschedule public hearings and meetings until the COVID-19 national emergency is over. 

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director of Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment (CAREs) and president of the ANA Board, wrote in the letter:  “In consideration of the extraordinary challenges facing all of us in this time, we are asking you to hit the pause button and to provide an indefinite extension of the comment periods for any and all National Environmental Policy Act processes currently underway in the [DOE] or the [NNSA].”

She continued, “It is unreasonable to ask us to forfeit our chance to participate meaningfully in a NEPA process because of the COVID-19 threat and the civil constraints it has imposed upon us.  A declaration of national emergency may be words on a page in a bureaucracy, but where we live, the emergency is real, and it is a complete and fearful disruption of our lives.”

CCNS is a member of ANA.  We have updated our petition for an indefinite extension of the comment periods for all DOE and NNSA NEPA processes.  PETITION LINK. 

The ANA letter cites an April 1st letter from the chairs of fourteen committees of the House of Representatives https://armedservices.house.gov/press-releases?ID=4E43E149-A309-42CA-A08E-97C74CA1A6ED that was followed by a letter signed by 24 Senators asking for the same consideration.  The April 8, 2020 Senate letter says:

“The American public is not only legally entitled to a meaningful opportunity to participate in these important proceedings; their participation is crucial to ensuring that agencies’ work is carried out effectively. The public is an invaluable source of expertise for agency decision-makers, and their ability to weigh in on agency decisions advances the good government goals of accountability. Yet, such meaningful participation is an impossibility for tens of millions of Americans during this pandemic emergency period. We cannot reasonably expect the public to redirect attention from protecting themselves and families to comment on federal agency rules and proceedings that while important, are not related to the crisis at hand or its response.”  4.8.20 United States Senate Letter to OMB Acting Director Vought FINAL[1]

The ANA letter continues, “It is inconceivable that the DOE or NNSA can believe continuing with time-limited comment periods or virtual public meetings conform to the spirit of public participation envisioned in NEPA or its implementing regulations.  It is unconscionable for DOE or NNSA to proceed as though ‘business as usual’ is appropriate when the President of the United States has declared a national emergency.”

The letter requests a response within seven days.  ANA NEPA Extension Ltr 2020


1.  Please contact the New Mexico congressional members to urge them to ask DOE/NNSA to indefinitely extend the public comment deadlines and delay the public hearings during the pandemic.  For more info:  http://nuclearactive.org/extend-public-comment-periods-for-nuclear-weapons-facilities-during-pandemic/

Senator Tom Udall – https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/contact/email-tom

Senator Martin Heinrich – https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact/write-martin

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (zipcodes in CD-3 only) – https://lujan.house.gov/contact/mail

Rep. Deb Haaland (zipcodes in CD-1 only) – https://haaland.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email-me

Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (zipcodes in CD-2 only) – https://torressmall.house.gov/contact/emailme

2.  Saturday, April 25, 2020 ONLINE – WORLD CONFERENCE: ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS; RESIST & REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR ECONOMIC & SOCIAL JUSTICE

9 a.m. EDT in New York/Boston/Washington, D.C.; 3 p.m. in Central Europe ; and 10 p.m. April 26th in Tokyo

REGISTRATION: https://bit.ly/abolishnuclear

In the context of the suffering and changes being wrought by the pandemic, the two- hour world conference will focus on the continuing urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons and its relationship to stanching the climate emergency and challenging injustices which have left so many people marginalized and

vulnerable. Additional sessions of the World Conference and four workshops will be for a healthier time in the future.

The conference will be held in concentric circles with up to 500 people in the conference itself with simultaneous live streaming so everyone can join by listening in. The conference will also be recorded and posted and made available on the worldconference2020.org and co-sponsors sites for continuing availability.

3.  Sunday, April 26 – 34th Commemoration of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident . Two important podcasts at http://nuclearhotseat.com/2020/04/22/chernobyl-fire-chernobyl-anniversary-kate-brown-mousseau/

4.  Monday, May 4th (tentative) – Santa Fe City Council MIDTOWN DISTRICT Special Meeting. The Governing Body is scheduled to vote on entering into an agreement with the MIDTOWN Evaluation Committee’s recommended master developer finalist.  https://www.midtowndistrictsantafe.com/ and Liz Camacho, Santa Fe Office of Economic Development at excamacho@santafenm.gov

5.  Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – Giving Tuesday Now.

6.  Around July 22, 2020 – Extension of the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Holtec International’s Proposed Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility extended for an additional 60 days – from May 22, 2020. Stay tuned for more information.  https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr2237/

 

 

Extend Public Comment Periods for Nuclear Weapons Facilities During Pandemic

CCNS has created a Change.org petition urging U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to extend the public comment periods for three Supplement Analyses for three key U.S. nuclear weapons facilities during the pandemic. Both Senators are members of key congressional committees with oversight of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)  https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/about and https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/committees .

Go to http://chng.it/nZMrHMH6F8 to sign and share widely.

Recently DOE and NNSA released Supplement Analyses for three facilities – the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0380-sa-06-draft-supplement-analysis , the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0387-sa-04-draft-supplement-analysis , and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0541-draft-environmental-impact-statement .  Each analysis is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Each is a complex technical document with multiple pages of references, including the DOE’s foundational 1996 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Stockpile Stewardship and Management Environment Impact Statement https://www.energy.gov/nepa/eis-0236-programmatic-environmental-impact-statement-stockpile-stewardship-and-management

After the Cold War, which ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, the DOE struggled with what the federal agency would become.  It came up with the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program, which would manage the nuclear weapons stockpile.  Over time, DOE proposed many projects for upgraded and new facilities across the nuclear weapons complex, which are now the subjects of the Supplement Analyses.  They are the proposed upgrades to LANL’s Plutonium Facility and the Radiological Laboratory Utility and Office Building; the construction of a Uranium Processing Facility at Oak Ridge; and modifying the unfinished Mixed Oxide Facility into a Plutonium Processing Facility at Savannah River.  These projects were proposed in the 1996 environmental statement and enhanced in a series of later environmental statements.

On April 8th, 22 U.S. Senators, including Udall and Heinrich, wrote the Office of Management and Budget requesting “all federal agencies to indefinitely extend all open or announced upcoming public comment periods ….”

The Senators recognized the public’s role in the NEPA process.  They wrote, “[t]he American public is not only legally entitled to a meaningful opportunity to participate in these important proceedings; their participation is crucial to ensuring that agencies’ work is carried out effectively.  The public is an invaluable source of expertise for agency decision-makers, and their ability to weigh in on agency decisions advances the good government goals of accountability.  Yet, such meaningful participation is an impossibility for tens of millions of Americans during this pandemic emergency period.  We cannot reasonably expect the public to redirect attention from protecting themselves and families to comment on federal agency … proceedings that while important, are not related to the crisis at hand or its response.”  4.8.20 United States Senate Letter to OMB Acting Director Vought FINAL[1]


1. We hope everyone is safe and staying home.  CCNS continues to work to expose and oppose the proposals of the nuclear weapons complex during the pandemic. Please support CCNS financially as we continue our oversight, community organizing, and providing opportunities for you to participate in these efforts.  Monthly contributions are needed.  Please sign up at http://nuclearactive.org/    

2. Wednesday, April 22nd is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!  Ah, the memories. To learn more about a digital Earth Day event near you, go to https://www.earthday.org/earth-day-2020/

3. Wednesday, April 22nd from 7 to 8:30 pm – free on Zoom – SOMOS and the Taos Environmental Film Festival present Earth Day and Global Peace, a benefit for Holy Cross Hospital. To learn more about this literary and musical evening and the Zoom address, go to https://somostaos.org/calendar/#event=38606160 and https://www.facebook.com/taoseff/

4. Please contact the New Mexico congressional members and ask them to extend the public comment period for the Draft Supplement Analysis for LANL at:

Senator Tom Udall – https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/contact/email-tom

Senator Martin Heinrich – https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact/write-martin

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (zipcodes in CD-3 only) – https://lujan.house.gov/contact/mail

Rep. Deb Haaland (zipcodes in CD-1 only) – https://haaland.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email-me

Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (zipcodes in CD-2 only) – https://torressmall.house.gov/contact/emailme

5. Saturday, April 25, 2020 ONLINE – WORLD CONFERENCE: ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS; RESIST & REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR ECONOMIC & SOCIAL JUSTICE

9 a.m. EDT in New York/Boston/Washington, D.C.

3 p.m. in Central Europe

10 p.m. April 26th in Tokyo

REGISTRATION: https://bit.ly/abolishnuclear

In the context of the suffering and changes being wrought by the pandemic, the two- hour world conference will focus on the continuing urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons and its relationship to stanching the climate emergency and challenging injustices which have left so many people marginalized and vulnerable. Additional sessions of the World Conference and four workshops will be for a healthier time in the future.

To accommodate people across the world the conference will be held at 9 a.m. New York/Boston time (3 p.m. in Europe, 10 p.m. in East Asia) with simultaneous interpretation. The conference will be held in concentric circles with up to 500 people in the conference itself with simultaneous live streaming so everyone can join by listening in. The conference will also be recorded and posted and made available on the worldconference2020.org and co-sponsors sites for continuing availability.

Speakers include:
• Sharon Burrows (ITUC, Australia)
• Reiner Braun (IPB, Germany)
• Joseph Gerson (AFSC/CPDCS/IPB, USA)
• Emad Kiyaei (IDG Group, Iran)
• Hiroshi Takakusaki (Gensuikyo, Japan)
• Rev. Liz Theoharis (Poor People’s Campaign, USA)
• Dr. Carlos Umana (IPPNW, Costa Rica)
• Wada Masako (Japan Confederation of A- & H- Bomb Sufferers Organizations, Japan)

Invitations pending to United Nations Office for Disarmament, the Sunrise Movement, and Marshall Islands

For more information:  JGerson80@gmail.com

 

 

More Time Needed to Comment about Proposed Expanded Plutonium Pit Production at LANL

What is the federal government thinking?  During the global pandemic caused by a highly infectious novel virus, the Department of Energy (DOE), National Nuclear Security Administration, and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are requesting public comments about their plans to expand the number of plutonium pits, or triggers, for nuclear weapons fabricated at LANL.  This week DOE agreed to a 15-day extension of time to provide public comments.  The new deadline is Saturday, May 9th.  https://www.energy.gov/nnsa/nnsa-nepa-reading-room

CCNS demands that DOE suspend the comment period until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.  The pandemic challenges the physical and mental health of the public, the social fabric of communities, the financial health of businesses, and the viability of government institutions, including DOE.  CCNS urges you to contact your elected officials to request suspension of the comment period until the pandemic is over.

Senator Tom Udall – https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/contact/email-tom

Senator Martin Heinrich – https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact/write-martin

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (zipcodes in CD-3 only) – https://lujan.house.gov/contact/mail

Rep. Deb Haaland (zipcodes in CD-1 only) – https://haaland.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email-me

Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (zipcodes in CD-2 only) – https://torressmall.house.gov/contact/emailme

In a preliminary review of the Draft Supplement Analysis of the 2008 Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operation of Los Alamos National Laboratory for Plutonium Operations, we found many references to documents going back 24 years, to 1996.  There are seven pages of references, comprising 77 individual technical documents and multi-volume documents, numbering thousands of pages, all supporting the draft.  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/doeeis-0380-sa-06-draft-supplement-analysis

Many of the documents were created by DOE as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.  These documents are “tiered” off of each other – demonstrating a confused maze of lengthy documents, all beginning with the 1996 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Stockpile Stewardship and Management Environment Impact Statement.  https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/FR-1996-12-26/96-32759  In previous comments about DOE’s expansion plans, CCNS requested DOE provide schematics to show how the documents are related to and tiered off of each other, but that was not done.

Some documents describe a proposal using two sites – LANL and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina – for fabrication of a range of pits from 20 to 450 per year.

The current document states there will be more transportation of materials and parts between LANL and the Savannah River Site, including plutonium and beryllium.  Page 18.  More radioactive, toxic and hazardous waste will be generated.  Pages 52-55.  New buildings and parking lots are needed for an estimated 400 new employees.  Page 17 and 15.

The seismic danger is underplayed.  Page 36-40.  Compare LANL’s 2014 approximate peak ground acceleration (PGA) of 0.31 g [“A gravitational force of 1 g is equal to the conventional value of gravitational acceleration on Earth’s surface (9.8 meters per second per second) footnote 14 on Page 37] with the Honor Our Pueblo Existence, CCNS and Robert H. Gilkeson, Independent Registered Geologist, August 20, 2013 comments to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The recently completed and the planned future structural upgrades to the LANL PF-4 are deficient because they are based on the far too low ground motions of approximately 0.5g (1 g is the force of gravity at land surface). DOE Standard 1020-2012 requires the structural upgrades to the LANL PF-4 to survive the much larger ground motions of 1.68 g from a Seismic Design Category-5 (SDC-5) earthquake.  Page 2.

A huge amount of time will be needed to generate informed public comments.  Reviewing 24 years’ worth of dense documents in and of itself would take many weeks.  Further, the comment period overlaps with comment periods for the federal industrial waste water permit for the LANL outfalls, the federal individual stormwater permit for LANL, and the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Holtec facility to hold spent plutonium fuel rods.


1. We hope everyone is safe and staying home. CCNS continues to work to expose and oppose the proposals of the nuclear industry during the pandemic.  Please support CCNS financially as we continue our oversight. Many thanks!  http://nuclearactive.org/    

2. Please contact the New Mexico congressional members and ask them to suspend the public comment period for the Draft Supplement Analysis at:

Senator Tom Udall – https://www.tomudall.senate.gov/contact/email-tom

Senator Martin Heinrich – https://www.heinrich.senate.gov/contact/write-martin

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (zipcodes in CD-3 only) – https://lujan.house.gov/contact/mail

Rep. Deb Haaland (zipcodes in CD-1 only) – https://haaland.house.gov/zip-code-lookup?form=/contact/email-me

Rep. Xochitl Torres-Small (zipcodes in CD-2 only) – https://torressmall.house.gov/contact/emailme

3. The Stop the New Nuclear Arms Race, scheduled for May 22 -25 at Maryville College in Maryville, TN, has been canceled due to the closure of Maryville College due to the pandemic.

4. Saturday, April 25, 2020 ONLINE – WORLD CONFERENCE: ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS; RESIST & REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE, FOR ECONOMIC & SOCIAL JUSTICE

April 25, 2020 9 a.m. New York/Boston/Washington, D.C.
9 a.m. EDT, 3 p.m. Central Europe, 10 p.m. April 26 Tokyo

Register at:  bit.ly/abolishnuclear

In the context of the suffering and changes being wrought by the pandemic, the two- hour world conference will focus on the continuing urgent need to abolish nuclear weapons and its relationship to stanching the climate emergency and challenging injustices which have left so many people marginalized and vulnerable. Additional sessions of the World Conference and four workshops will be for a healthier time in the future.

To accommodate people across the world the conference will be held at 9 a.m. New York/Boston time (3 p.m. in Europe, 10 p.m. in East Asia) with simultaneous interpretation. The conference will be held in concentric circles with up to 500 people in the conference itself with simultaneous live streaming so everyone can join by listening in. The conference will also be recorded and posted and made available on the worldconference2020.org and co-sponsors sites for continuing availability.

Speakers include:
• Sharon Burrows (ITUC, Australia)
• Reiner Braun (IPB, Germany)
• Joseph Gerson (AFSC/CPDCS/IPB, USA)
• Emad Kiyaei (IDG Group, Iran)
• Hiroshi Takakusaki (Gensuikyo, Japan)
• Rev. Liz Theoharis (Poor People’s Campaign, USA)
• Dr. Carlos Umana (IPPNW, Costa Rica)
• Wada Masako (Japan Confederation of A- & H- Bomb Sufferers Organizations, Japan)

Invitations pending to United Nations Office for Disarmament, the Sunrise Movement, and Marshall Islands

REGISTRATION: https://bit.ly/abolishnuclear

For more information: check out the Facebook site World Conference 2020 – Moving Online or write: JGerson80@gmail.com

 

LANL Postpones Tritium Releases Due to Global Pandemic

Together, a growing community effort and global pandemic have stopped the proposed venting of four containers of radioactive tritium stored at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)’s Technical Area 54 Area G dump for now.  http://nuclearactive.org/lanl-plans-to-release-twice-the-amount-of-tritium-allowed/

On Wednesday, April 1st, the Department of Energy (DOE) notified the New Mexico Environment Department by email that it will postpone its plans to vent the four containers.  It wrote:  “Venting of the [Flanged Tritium Waste Containers] (FTWCs) is postponed indefinitely due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Upon resumption of normal operations, we will coordinate with [the Environment Department] and [the Environmental Protection Agency] to ensure the necessary regulatory authorizations are received.  At a future date, we will be venting each drum in a carefully controlled process to limit its release.”

Importantly, DOE stated, “Presently, the FTWCs are stored in a safe and compliant manner at TA-54 and do not represent a risk to the public or the environment. We will continue to keep [the Environment Department] apprised of the schedule[d] planning activities and will work with you on a path forward for the temporary authorization request ….”

On March 30th, a press release from the All Pueblo Council of Governors stated that LANL did not provide a prior notice of opportunity for tribal consultation about the venting.  Jemez Pueblo Governor David Toledo, said,“April is one the most active times of the year for our Pueblo communities practicing traditional and cultural responsibilities outside, and it’s also one of the windiest.  On top of that, because of school closures more of our younger generations are outside.  Releasing even small amounts of radioactive materials is unacceptable as many Pueblo borders are located within 5-miles of LANL and the prevailing winds are directed toward the Pueblos. For LANL to continue with their undertaking is a painful reminder our Pueblos’ history of health impacts associated with the radioactive exposure by the labs, during a time when our communities deserve to feel safe and focus on their health.”  https://www.apcg.org/uncategorized/pueblos-concerned-about-los-alamos-national-laboratories-planned-release-of-radioactive-vapors/?fbclid=IwAR0h-aoTtDGSk9a2QSEuPFG1qfihzhc5JuITswVBFk0Ku66xh8aG7-J9ygs

Earlier, on March 28th, Tewa Women United launched a Change.org petition titled, “Protect Vulnerable New Mexico Communities:  Halt Radioactive Tritium Release from LANL.”  https://www.change.org/p/protect-vulnerable-nm-communities-halt-radioactive-tritium-release-from-lanl  The effort garnered 1,200 signatures within its first 48 hours.  The petition, currently with 2,175 signatures, remains open until Saturday, April 4th.

On March 30th, Tewa Women United and Honor Our Pueblo Existence (HOPE) sent a letter to the members of Congress for their district, the EPA, and the Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Bureau, with information and a link to the Change.org petition.

CCNS and Citizen Action prepared a technical sign-on letter to the Environment Department and EPA.  Twenty-three individuals and ten non-governmental organizations signed on.  Taosenos for Peaceful and Sustainable Futures encouraged petition signatures and sign-ons to the technical letter.  LANL Tritium Venting wo Sign-on info 4-2-20

Beata Tsosie, of Tewa Women United, said, “We still want these releases halted completely, a public process, government to government consultation with Pueblos, and no increase in future LANL production.”


  1. CCNS appreciates the individuals and non-governmental organizations that stepped forward to oppose the proposed LANL trititum release(s).  We’ll have more work to do, but together we are making a difference!
  2. We hope everyone is safe and staying home. CCNS continues to work to expose the proposals the nuclear industry is trying to push during this time of distraction during the pandemic.  Please support CCNS financially as we continue our oversight.  Thank you.  http://nuclearactive.org/    
  3. August 5 – 9 – The Veterans for Peace Annual Convention has transformed from an in-person meeting in Albuquerque to an on-line event with programs and workshops. https://nam11.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.veteransforpeace.org%2F2020-annual-convention&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cfbc208f03b5a48fcfaa908d7d80568b5%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637215390069666845&sdata=SIXlSE%2BLmkM45bo2VJdK9Wu%2Bvfm9heH3CBmz%2B4l8Q58%3D&reserved=0