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.

107 Cienega Street
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501

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

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Current Activities

Free Livestreaming of Campaign Nonviolence National Conference in Santa Fe and Peace and Disarmament Vigils in Los Alamos

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/31/15 through 8/7/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Free Livestreaming of Campaign Nonviolence National Conference in Santa Fe and Peace and Disarmament Vigils in Los Alamos

Pace e Bene, the organizers of the sold-out Campaign Nonviolence National Conference in Santa Fe, is providing free livestreaming of the conference and the two peace and disarmament vigils in Los Alamos at http://livestream.com/streamingnm/cnnc. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6th and August 9th, 1945, respectively, Pace e Bene is hosting four days of events.

Beginning on Thursday, August 6th with a peace and disarmament vigil in Los Alamos to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, participants will gather at Ashley Pond at 2 pm. After receiving instructions and a blessing from Father John Dear, participants will carry sackcloths, or burlaps sacks, and ashes and walk mindfully on Trinity Drive towards Los Alamos National Laboratory. Around 2:30 pm, participants will pour ashes on the ground, put on sackcloths, and sit in silence for 30 minutes. Afterwards, participants will walk back to Ashley Pond for reflection, music and speakers.

On Friday, August 7th, from 9 to 4 pm, a nonviolence training session will be held in the Hilton Hotel Ballroom in Santa Fe.

On Friday at 7 pm, the Campaign Nonviolence National Conference will begin with a keynote speech about mobilizing the nation for the times we’re in by Rev. Jim Lawson, a civil rights leader and one of Martin Luther King’s key strategists.

On Saturday, August 8th, from 9 am to 9 pm, the conference will take place at the Hilton. Speakers include Erica Chenoweth, author of “Why Civil Resistance Works;” Ken Butigan and Kit Evans Ford will present about the Campaign Nonviolence National Week of Action starting on September 20th; and Roshi Joan Halifax will lead a silent Zen sitting meditation. Panel discussions include working to end war, poverty and environmental destruction, building a new culture of peace and nonviolence, and Los Alamos nuclear weapons. Local panelists include Sister Joan Brown, Marian Naranjo, Beata Tsosie-Peña, Bud Ryan and Jay Coghlan.

On Sunday, August 9th, beginning at 11 am, there will be a commemoration of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki and presentation of the 2015 U.S. Peace Memorial Award at Ashley Pond. Three buses will leave from the Hilton Hotel at 9:30 am. Another sackcloth and ashes ceremony will take place. After returning to Ashley Pond, a presentation of the U.S. Peace Memorial will occur. The Memorial honors the millions of thoughtful and committed Americans who have dedicated their lives to peace or taken a stand against war in general or a specific U.S. war.

For more information, please visit paceebene.org

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information, please visit nuclearactive.org and our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trinity Downwinders on PBS NewsHour TONIGHT!

TONIGHT, Tuesday, July 28th, on the PBS NewsHour there will be a story about the Trinity Downwinders. The program is broadcast live from 6:00 – 7:00pm Eastern time and can be seen on the NewsHour’s live stream at that time (pbs.org/newshour), and it will be available after that on the web site.

 

Pace e Bene Hosting Campaign Nonviolence Conference in Santa Fe and Peace and Disarmament Vigils in Los Alamos August 6th through 9th

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 7/24/15 through 7/31/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Pace e Bene Hosting Campaign Nonviolence Conference in Santa Fe and Peace and Disarmament Vigils in Los Alamos August 6th through 9th

To commemorate the 70 years since the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on August 6th and August 9th, respectively, Pace e Bene is hosting a four-day Campaign Nonviolence conference in Santa Fe from Thursday, August 6th to Sunday, August 9th and organizing two peace and disarmament vigils in Los Alamos on Thursday, August 6th and Sunday, August 9th.

The conference is sold out, but free livestreaming will be available at http://paceebene.org/.

The peace and disarmament vigils will take place in Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb and home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which continues to manufacture plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons. The vigils are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, August 6th from 2 to 4 pm at Ashley Pond, the annual Sack Cloth and Ashes ceremony will take place. After gathering at Ashley Pond, participants will walk on Trinity Drive towards the entrance of the national laboratory carrying peace signs. They will stop and sit in symbolic sackcloth and ashes, the oldest form of political protest, for 30 minutes. They will then return to Ashley Pond for a rally calling for nuclear disarmament.

On Sunday, August 9th from 11 am to 1 pm at Ashley Pond, the Nagasaki Day peace vigil will take place. There will be a procession through the Los Alamos townsite and a rally at Ashley Pond.

On Sunday, Veterans for Peace will provide round-trip bus transportation from the Hilton Hotel in Santa Fe to Los Alamos and back.  Buses will leave from in front of the Hilton by 9:30 am. Buses will leave Los Alamos around 1:30 pm and return to Santa Fe around 2:30 pm.

Founded in 1989 by the Franciscan Friars of California, Pace e Bene is an independent, nondenominational nonprofit organization. Its name is derived from St. Francis and St. Clare of Assisi who used the phrase in their own time as a form of greeting. Translated from the Italian, it means, “Peace and all good.” It is also a blessing, a hope, and a way of acknowledging the sacredness of those whom they encountered, as in, “May you have the fullness of well-being; may you be secure and happy; may you not want; may your dignity be respected; may the goodness in your inmost being flourish; may the world in which we live know this deep peace.”

It is in this spirit that Pace e Bene works to mainstream peacemaking that will empower people from all walks of life to prayerfully and relentlessly engage in nonviolent efforts for the well-being of all.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org and our Facebook page.

 

Commemoration of Trinity Atomic Bomb Test Will Be Held Saturday, July 18th at the Tularosa Little League Field at 8 pm

CCNS NEWS UPDATE
Runs 7/17/15 through 7/24/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

·      Commemoration of Trinity Atomic Bomb Test Will Be Held Saturday, July 18th at the Tularosa Little League Field at 8 pm

In the early morning of July 16, 1945, the U.S. government dropped the first atomic bomb from a 100-foot metal structure in the south central desert of New Mexico, called Jornada del Muerto, or Journey of Death. In the massive explosion, the radiation and toxic materials rose an estimated 70,000 feet and began to fall back to earth in what many thought was snow.  The kids played in it, the cattle and vegetable gardens were covered in it, and later that night when it rained, the water cisterns were contaminated with radioactive and toxic particles.

The innocent people of the Tularosa Basin were not informed beforehand and were not evacuated after the test, even though the exposures were at least 10,000 times higher than the safe radiation levels of the time.  Cancer rates in the Tularosa Basin are four to eight times higher than the national average.  For more information, please see Chapter 10 “The Trinity Test” of the 2010 Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment Report at http://www.lahdra.org/pubs/Final%20LAHDRA%20Report%202010.pdf

To memorialize those who have died and to honor those who are living with or who have survived cancer, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, in cooperation with the Village of Tularosa, will host the Sixth Annual Candlelight Vigil on Saturday, July 18th from 8 to 10 pm in Tularosa, New Mexico, at the Tularosa Little League Field, on La Luz Avenue, west of the Tularosa High School. Everyone is invited to attend.

Luminarias will be available for a small donation beginning at 7:30 pm.   They will be lit in memory of those who have died and those living with or who have survived cancer and other radiation-related illnesses.

In 2005, the Consortium formed to ensure that those exposed to the Trinity test receive compensation under the federal Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA). The act first passed in 1990 to provide compensation and medical care to those exposed to above ground nuclear tests in the Marshall Islands and the Nevada Test Site.  For five years, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall has introduced amendments that would include the Trinity downwinders and certain uranium miners in New Mexico.

On July 1st, Senator Udall attended a Consortium meeting in Tularosa at which eight survivors told their stories before an audience of 200. After hearing their passionate stories, Senator Udall renewed his commitment to ensure passage of the RECA amendments.

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Consortium, said, “Please join us at the Sixth Annual Candlelight Vigil in Tularosa. It will be a peaceful opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve lost and the work ahead of us to achieve justice.”

For more information and to volunteer, please contact Tina Cordova at 505-897-6787, or tcordova@queston.net.

This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org and our Facebook page.

 

EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/12/15 through 6/19/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

            EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the Department of Energy (DOE) recertification application to demonstrate that the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) will not leak radiation for 10,000 years. That application was submitted six weeks after the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen, but does not mention that event. However, EPA has stated that the radiation release is an important consideration in its review.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings

The meetings will include EPA and WIPP officials and allow for questions, answers, and discussion as part of the information exchange among the government officials and the public. The Tuesday, June 16th meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm. On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements. The public can provide comments during each session.

As a result of the radiation leak, many changes will have to be made for WIPP to re-open. Among the changes are a new exhaust shaft and new underground waste disposal rooms. Neither of those major changes is mentioned in the DOE application.

Further, ignitable waste in hundreds of drums shipped to WIPP from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) have been identified by DOE as the source of the radiation leak, even though such waste is not allowed at WIPP. Such waste is omitted from the analysis in the DOE application.

Also not discussed in the application is how the LANL waste characterization information could have been so inadequate as to allow prohibited waste at WIPP and what changes are required.

Other issues include whether EPA has to approve WIPP’s reopening, which, given the lack of complete and accurate information in the DOE application, is unlikely to occur so that WIPP could re-open in March 2016, as is DOE’s current schedule.

Federal law and EPA’s regulations prohibit commercial and high-level waste at WIPP. DOE and EPA are being asked to explain why small quantities of commercial spent nuclear fuel have been allowed at WIPP.

According to Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, “The meetings are an important opportunity for people to tell EPA to do its job of protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.”  sric.org

EPA can take the information and public comments to raise additional questions about the DOE application. DOE must provide information at the meetings and submit much more information to EPA to address the inadequacies in their application.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org

 

WIPP Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 6/5/15 through 6/12/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

 *           WIPP Isolates 420 LANL Drums; EPA Recertification Public Meetings June 16 in Carlsbad and June 17 in Albuquerque

In a joint press release, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the New Mexico Environment Department announced that DOE had closed the rooms containing 420-nitrate salt bearing waste containers shipped from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). The drums are located in disposal Panels 6 and 7. On February 14, 2014, one or more LANL drums exploded in the WIPP underground releasing plutonium and americium into the environment and contaminating 22 workers on the surface. Brattice cloth, used to restrict airflow, and a chain link fence were installed near the waste containers. Ten feet of mined salt was then used as backfill and a steel bulkhead was installed. Finally, continuous air monitors were installed at the bulkheads.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said the installation was an initial closure, not a permanent closure, and would not provide full protection from a radiation release. He explained, “The bulkhead and brattice cloth should reduce what would come out, but it is not designed as a total or more permanent barrier if there is a roof fall or breach.”  sric.org

Ryan Flynn, Environment Department Secretary, told state legislators this week that a more robust permanent closure would require a modification to the hazardous waste permit. The modification process includes public comment and an opportunity for a public hearing.

DOE has stated that WIPP will be ready to accept waste again next summer. Flynn told legislators that the end of 2016 “is a little more realistic.”

In related news, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be holding two public meetings in Carlsbad and Albuquerque regarding the DOE’s recertification application to demonstrate that WIPP won’t leak for 10,000 years.  http://www.epa.gov/radiation/news/wipp-news.html#wippcra2014pubmeetings and CARD Fact Sheet CARD WIPP EPA fact sheet

The application does not mention the February 14, 2014 radiation leak that was never supposed to happen. The inadequacies of the application, whether EPA has to approve the potential reopening of WIPP and concerns about high-level waste coming to WIPP, will be among the issues discussed. Many people will be asking EPA to do its job protecting New Mexicans now and for generations into the future.

Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) will be hosting a dinner and training on Tuesday, June 9th at 6 pm at the South West Organizing Project, 211 10th Street South West, Albuquerque.  http://cardnm.org/  Sylvianna Diaz d’Ouville, Don Hancock and Ray Garduno will give their perspectives on WIPP. Mark Doppke will facilitate. Hancock will give a power point presentation about what is happening at the facility.  Dinner will be served and donations will be accepted.  WIPP Dinner, EPA, 15 (flyer).

On Tuesday, June 16th the Carlsbad meeting is at the Carlsbad Field Office from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

On Wednesday, June 17, the two Albuquerque sessions are at the Albuquerque Embassy Suites Hotel, at 1000 Woodward Place, Northeast. From 2:30 to 6 pm the roundtable dialogue will allow detailed technical discussion among the public, EPA and WIPP officials. The evening session from 7 to 9 pm will include time for public statements.

The public can comment during the meetings.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.

 

Important Joint Congressional Hearing on February 4th about Clean Water Protection Rule and Attend River Rally 2015 from May 1st to 4th at Tamaya Resort

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/30/15 through 2/6/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Important Joint Congressional Hearing on February 4th about Clean Water Protection Rule and
  • Attend River Rally 2015 from May 1st to 4th at Tamaya Resort    

About 60 percent of streams and millions of acres of wetlands are not protected from pollution and destruction under the federal Clean Water Act. One in three Americans, or about 117 million people, obtains their drinking water from vulnerable streams. Hundreds of studies show that small streams and wetlands play an essential role in the health of larger downstream waterways, such as rivers and lakes, and need to be protected.

The definitions of what waters are protected has been challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, with a focus on small streams and wetlands. In the court’s decisions, the protections were removed. In response, and after years of work, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers now propose to clarify the waters that need protection through a draft Clean Water Protection Rule. It needs your support.

Clean Water Act activists are concerned about the joint congressional hearing of the Senate and House Environmental Committees on Wednesday, February 4th about the proposed rule. It is rare for congress to hold a joint hearing and it is viewed as an opportunity to attack the proposed rule. Please contact your congressional members and ask them to attend. To learn more, visit http://www.rivernetwork.org/

In support of the rule, the EPA conducted a thorough review of more than 1,200 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies to learn how small streams and wetlands connect to larger, downstream water bodies. The state-of-the-science report is called, “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.”

The researchers found, among other things, that “the scientific literature clearly demonstrates that streams, regardless of their size or frequency of flow, are connected to downstream waters in ways that strongly influence their function” and “there is ample evidence illustrating that many wetlands and open waters located outside of riparian areas and floodplains provide functions that could benefit rivers, lakes, and other downstream waters, even where they lack surface water connections. Some potential benefits of these wetlands, in fact, are due to their isolation, rather than their connectivity” and “the incremental contributions of individual streams and wetlands are cumulative across entire watersheds.”

To learn more about how to protect precious water, please attend the 2015 River Rally, which will be held from Friday, May 1st through Monday, May 4th at the beautiful Tamaya Resort at Santa Ana Pueblo, south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Registration is open now at http://www.rivernetwork.org/events/river-rally-2015

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “The River Rally is one of the best conferences I have attended. It is genuinely fascinating, informative, and fun.”

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org

Update:  The Clean Water Protection Act was finalized.  To learn more, visit http://www.rivernetwork.org/clean-water-rule-finalized

 

Plutonium Experiments May Begin this Month at the National Ignition Facility

 

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/23/15 through 1/30/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

  • Plutonium Experiments May Begin this Month at the National Ignition Facility

Weaponeers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory may begin experiments using plutonium in the world’s largest and most expensive laser facility, the National Ignition Facility (NIF), at the end of this month. Longer-lived forms of plutonium-242 or 244 may be substituted for weapons-grade plutonium-239 in the poppy seed sized targets that will be focused and fired onto by 192 laser beams. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that over the next decade, they will conduct at least 100 experiments, or “shots,” where plutonium would be vaporized.

The classified or unclassified experiments will be conducted in the $3.5 billion laser facility, operated by the DOE’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration at the Livermore Laboratory, located about 50 miles east of San Francisco.

Over the years, the NIF mission has changed. The original plans included having plutonium shots contained in a small round containment vessel to surround the experiment. The vessel would capture the radioactive debris. But due to apparent technical difficulties getting laser beams inside the small vessel, DOE jettisoned the containment vessel plan and are now planning to do experiments in the NIF target chamber without additional containment.

Tri-Valley Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, or Tri-Valley CARES, a Livermore, California based non-governmental organization has brought attention to the NIF ever since it was first proposed over two decades ago. To learn more, please visit http://www.trivalleycares.org/

Tri-Valley CARES filed Freedom of Information Act requests for documents about the experiments. In recently received documents, they uncovered many of the assumptions DOE made to escape addressing worst-case scenarios. For example, Livermore will be allowed to “splatter” the longer-lived plutonium inside the NIF without an effective means of containment by assuming the airborne radioactivity will not exceed legal limits. At the same time DOE says the experiments may “generate airborne contamination that exceeds the [legal limit].”

Further, DOE says the proposed experiments could contaminate the laser optics. One DOE report questions whether it is even possible to clean debris off the optics.

It appears they is using the same type of thinking for the NIF shots as it has for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), a DOE disposal facility for plutonium-contaminated bomb waste, located near Carlsbad, New Mexico. DOE assumed that WIPP would not leak and as a result did not plan for such an event. But last February WIPP did leak and the underground was contaminated when one or more waste drums exploded. DOE anticipates that WIPP may reopen in 2016 at a cost of over $1 billion.

The proposed uncontained plutonium shots in the NIF could also leak and contaminate the laser facility. DOE will not conduct any additional environmental review before the experiments begin.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org

 

Update:  See January 28, 2015 Press Release:  “Tri-Valley CAREs & NRDC Ask Energy Secretary to Halt Plutonium “Shots” in NIF Scheduled to Begin Thursday at Livermore Lab – Groups’ Attorneys Cite Unaddressed Plutonium Exposure Risks and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Concerns.”   http://www.trivalleycares.org/new/NIF_PU_PR.pdf

 

New Tools Needed for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/16/15 through 1/23/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

* New Tools Needed for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Verification

This week, nonproliferation expert, Dr. James Doyle, released his study, “Essential Capabilities for Nuclear Security:  A National Program for Nonproliferation and Verification Technology Development,”  that supports expansion of U.S. nonproliferation programs as essential for nuclear security. Expansion includes the development and/or deployment of new and existing verification and monitoring technologies that would help make a future world free of nuclear weapons more technically and politically feasible. Doyle argues that it should be funded as a core aspect of the nation’s nuclear infrastructure modernization plan, and implemented jointly by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and Department of Defense, with guidance from the State Department, intelligence community and National Academy of Sciences.  http://nukewatch.org/importantdocs/resources/Doyle-EssentialNuclearSecurityReport.pdf

In recent years Congress cut funding for nonproliferation programs, while providing funding for modernization of the nuclear weapons complex, including large construction projects that are over-budget and behind schedule.

Doyle said, “As America allegedly reduces its reliance on nuclear weapons and hopefully further reduces the size of its stockpile, it needs new tools and new capabilities to keep weapons and materials secure and verify that other nations are complying with similar obligations. To meet these needs a new, integrated multiagency program to develop nonproliferation, verification and monitoring technologies for nuclear security should be initiated without delay.”

Doyle continued, “Nonproliferation and arms verification have for too long been considered ‘soft power’ tools of the diplomatic and arms control communities. Real nuclear security requires that we now consider these capabilities as vital elements of our national security infrastructure. They are potent ‘smart power’ tools offering unique advantages in a rapidly evolving nuclear security environment, which unfortunately includes the threat of nuclear terrorism. Aggressive verification and monitoring technologies will produce a far greater national security return on the taxpayer dollar than will exorbitant ‘modernization’ programs for an unnecessarily oversized nuclear arsenal.”

Doyle’s latest study was written in collaboration with Nuclear Watch New Mexico and funded by the Ploughshares Fund. For more information, please visit http://www.nukewatch.org

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch, said, “The nuclear weapons establishment is planning to spend more than a trillion dollars to ‘modernize’ existing weapons, and build new missiles, subs and bombers. Meanwhile, the NNSA is cutting nonproliferation and dismantlement programs to help pay this colossal bill. This is exactly upside down. We should be making smart investments into new nonproliferation, verification and monitoring technologies that will help make a world free of nuclear weapons feasible, eliminating the threat for all time.”

While in Washington, DC this week, Doyle met with the Department of Energy officials about his whistleblower complaint regarding termination from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) after his study entitled “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” was published. LANL initially cleared his study for release, but then retroactively classified it, even though it was readily available on the Internet.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at www.http://www.nuclearactive.org.

 

WIPP Problems Highlighted in Two DOE Independent Assessments

CCNS NEWS UPDATE

Runs 1/9/15 through 1/16/15

(THEME UP AND UNDER) This is the CCNS News Update, an overview of the latest nuclear safety issues, brought to you every week by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Here is this week’s top headline:

* WIPP Problems Highlighted in Two DOE Independent Assessments  WIPP Billboard 1998 © s.westerly

Running a nuclear facility requires periodic equipment maintenance, reviews of safety systems, and extra precautions in order to protect workers, the public and the environment from releases of dangerous radioactive and chemical materials. It is imperative that owners and operators of nuclear facilities make these a priority. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Nuclear Waste Partnership, a limited liability corporation and contractor for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), an underground nuclear waste dump located 2,150 feet below the surface in a salt formation 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico.

In two internal reviews, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the owner of WIPP, found additional problems with the contractor’s work at the site when in February 2014 there was a vehicle fire in the underground and nine days later, a release of plutonium and americium, which contaminated portions of the underground and the surface, when one or more waste drums exploded.

WIPP has not received any shipments since then. It is anticipated to take years and more than $1 billion before any waste is transported for disposal. In September, DOE released a Recovery Plan to resume operations. Unfortunately, the plan is not complete, and the first opportunity for public comment will be on January 14th.   http://www.wipp.energy.gov/Special/WIPP%20Recovery%20Plan.pdf

The DOE Office of Enterprise Assessments conducted the two reviews. One review focused on operating diesel equipment, such as salt haulers and machines for installing long bolts into the ceiling, in the underground. Since February the mine has been operating with about one-seventh of the standard airflow, which may be below what is necessary to keep workers safe. The review states, “The most significant concern is that [the contractor] does not have a sound engineering approach for determining the minimum ventilation rates that will ensure safe conditions for underground workers.”

Also, the WIPP Ventilation Plan does not meet U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements. In particular, the contractor had been using non-approved diesel engines that were banned in 2001. The review states, “[t]he identified deficiencies are significant and need to be addressed before WIPP begins to use diesel engines underground.”  http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/12/f19/2014_WIPP_Recovery_Plan_for_Diesel_Equipment_-_December_2014.pdf

The other review points out how the contractor did not conduct basic equipment maintenance as required by DOE orders and the management contract.  http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/12/f19/2014_-_WIPP_Conduct_of_Maintenance_Recovery_Plan_-_December_2014.pdf

Because of the problems in 2014, DOE may not pay $8 million in performance bonuses. But the contractor was paid more than $140 million, which is $7 million more than the amount specified when the contract was awarded in 2012. Further, some of the performance measures for 2015 do not match those in the WIPP Recovery Plan, so that the contractor would receive performance bonuses even when it does not meet the milestone schedules.

 

This has been the CCNS News Update. To learn more, please visit our website at http://www.nuclearactive.org