Current Activities

Chairman Tries to Abolish the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board

In response to the Administration’s March 13, 2017 Executive Order to reorganize the executive branch of government, Sean Sullivan, chairman of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, made two proposals:  one, to eliminate the Board; and two, to reduce the workforce by 32 percent.  Since its creation by Congress in 1988, the Board has served as an independent government oversight body of the nuclear weapons complex, including the three Department of Energy (DOE) sites in New Mexico – Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  They provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the DOE Secretary.

In a June letter to John Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Sullivan, a former submarine officer, wrote that the “views expressed in this correspondence are mine alone and do not reflect the collective opinion of the [five-member] Board.”

In support of eliminating the Board and saving the federal government $31 million, Sullivan argued that the Board’s work duplicates the DOE’s internal oversight through its Office of Enterprise Assessments.  Sullivan recognized that complete elimination of the Board “might be susceptible to political blowback.”  For that reason, Sullivan also proposed a workforce reduction from 120 employees to 82.

Moving technical employees from Washington, DC to the DOE sites could save  approximately $7 million, a small percentage of the proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget for 2018.  Sullivan proposed to increase the number of field personnel at LANL to six, while adding Sandia and WIPP to their workload.

As documented by the Center for Public Integrity, the Santa Fe New Mexican, and the Albuquerque Journal, the Board has documented the many safety, security, seismic, and criticality issues at LANL and its plutonium facilities.  Manufacturing of the plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons were shut down for three years and are beginning again.  As reported by the Board, in August and September, three workers were exposed to radiation at the plutonium facility. and  It is anticipated that the Administration will request to expand production from 20 to 80 triggers per year.

In response to Sullivan’s proposals, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich introduced an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act to prevent elimination of the Board. pp. 2210 – 2011

In a written statement to the Center for Public Integrity, Udall said, “Repeated, serious safety and security lapses at the labs, including the two in New Mexico, are among the reasons for strengthening – not eliminating the outside oversight board.  These incidents have demonstrated that there is a need for a strong watchdog that does not have a direct financial or political stake in the success of the labs.” and


Action Alert! Santa Fe County Protective Resolution about LANL Chromium Plume, Safety and Security Issues, and Plans to Expand Plutonium Pit Production

Hearing:  Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 2 pm

Santa Fe County Commission Chambers at 102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe

Given the recent Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reports,[1] and articles by the Santa Fe New Mexican[2] and Center for Public Integrity[3] about the chromium and perchlorate plume below LANL; the safety and security issues; and plans to expand plutonium pit production; the proposed Resolution requests:

  • the New Mexico Environment Department strengthen the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Cleanup Consent Order to require additional characterization of legacy nuclear waste;
  • the Department of Energy to
    • request increased cleanup funding from Congress;
    • significantly increase safety training; and
    • suspend any planned expanded plutonium pit production until safety issues are resolved.


If you cannot attend, please contact your Commissioner and their Liaison at

(505) 986-6200 and urge them to support the Resolution: 

Commission Chair and District 1 Commissioner Henry

Constituent Services Liaison – Orlando Romero –

Commission Vice-Chair and District 2 Commissioner Anna

Constituent Services Liaison – Maria Rotunda –
(505) 986-6263

District 3 Commissioner Robert A. Anaya –

Constituent Services Liaison – Christopher M. Barela – – 505.986.6377

District 4 Commissioner Anna T.

Constituent Services Liaison – Tina Salazar –

District 5 Commissioner Ed Moreno –

Constituent Services Liaison – Julia Valdez –

Watch the Board of County Commissioners Meetings Live 
Meeting available on the web , Comcast Channel 28, or listen to Que Suave Radio Station AM 810

[1] Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board reports:

[2] Santa Fe New Mexican articles:


[3] Center for Public Integrity Nuclear Negligence series at


Local Anti-Nuke Group Announces Symposium to “Dismantle the Nuclear Beast”

The Nuclear Issues Study Group will hold a unique and timely symposium at the University of New Mexico in December to connect local activists with the national anti-nuclear movement.   The Nuclear Issues Study Group is an Albuquerque-based collective of students and organizers who, since 2016, have been meeting to address nuclear issues statewide.  The gathering will be held Friday, December 1st, through Sunday, December 3rd, at the Hibben Center on the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque near the corner of University and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Nuclear Issues Study Group states, “It is no secret that New Mexico has been and continues to be greatly impacted by every link of the nuclear fuel chain.  From uranium mining and enrichment, to weapons production and nuclear waste storage and disposal, New Mexico is quite literally in the ‘belly of the beast.’”

One of primary goals of the symposium is to make information about nuclearism accessible and to get more people, especially students, young people, and people of color, involved in resisting the nuclear beast.  The Symposium will highlight some key threats to New Mexico, including Albuquerque’s best-kept secret, the Mixed Waste Landfill at Sandia National Laboratory, and the proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in the southeastern part of the state for high-level radioactive waste from all of the nuclear reactors across the country.  The weekend will include presentations, panel discussions, and information tables, plus poetry, art, film, and music.

Graham Unverzagt, a member of the Study Group and an UNM graduate says, “New Mexico has a long history of nuclear colonialism that has never been addressed, and I think it’s time that the nuclear movement be centered around those who have been impacted the most.  Growing up in Grants, New Mexico, you are always taught about the boom times during uranium mining, but living there, you can see the lasting effect it’s had on the landscape and the people, economically and physically.”

Klee Benally of Navajo Nation

Musicians, including Eileen & the In-Betweens, Sina Soul, Walatowa Massive plus DJ Jezmundo, will perform along with poets, Whisper and Celestino Crow.  A virtual reality installation by Klee Benally will take center stage highlighting how art is an essential element of every movement.

Speakers will include Verna Teller, former Pueblo of Isleta governor and current tribal council member; Diane D’Arrigo, from Nuclear Information and Resource Service, based in Washington, D.C.; and Leona Morgan, cofounder of Diné No Nukes and the Study Group.  They will share their stories, their work, and how we can take action to protect our health, environment and communities.

The full program will be posted soon at  You can also “Like Us” on Facebook:  Check out our Facebook event page:


$1.2 Trillion 30-Year Plan for Nuclear Arsenal Maintenance and Modernization

This week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a $1.2 trillion estimate for the maintenance and modernization of the nuclear weapons complex over the next 30 years.  Unfortunately, the report, entitled, “Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046,” did not take inflation into account.  If inflation is included, the price tag would exceed $1.5 trillion.

The report summary begins with these statements, “To continue to field a nuclear force roughly the same size as it is today, the United States plans to modernize virtually every element of that force over the coming decades.  The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the most recent detailed plans for nuclear forces, which were incorporated in the Obama Administration’s 2017 budget request, would cost $1.2 trillion in 2017 dollars over the 2017 [to] 2046 period:  more than $800 billion to operate and sustain (that is, incrementally upgrade) nuclear forces and about $400 billion to modernize them.”

The report continues, “That planned nuclear modernization would boost the total costs of nuclear forces over 30 years by roughly 50 percent over what they would be to only operate and sustain fielded forces, CBO estimates. During the peak years of modernization, annual costs of nuclear forces would be roughly double the current amount. That increase would occur at a time when total defense spending may be constrained by long-term fiscal pressures, and nuclear forces would have to compete with other defense priorities for funding.”

Modernization includes rebuilding the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons production complex with new and upgraded manufacturing plants for non-nuclear, highly enriched uranium and plutonium components.  Upgraded and expanded plutonium operations would be part of the mix at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility and Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.

Other modernization projects include the Life Extension Programs to refurbish existing nuclear warheads; and manufacturing new intercontinental ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, heavy bombers, and submarines, all to deliver rebuilt nuclear weapons.

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, responded to the report, saying, “The American public is being sold a bill of goods in so-called nuclear weapons modernization, which will fleece the taxpayer, enrich the usual giant defense contractors, and ultimately degrade national security.  Inevitably this won’t be the last major price increase, when the taxpayer’s money could be better invested in universal health care, natural disaster recovery, and cleanup of the Cold War legacy wastes.  Nuclear weapons programs should be cut while relying on proven methods to maintain our stockpile as we work toward a future world free of nuclear weapons. That is what would bring us real security.”

Other responses to the report include:

“Senator Markey:  Nuclear Modernization is a Budget Boondoggle,” at

“Overindulging in Overkill,” by Kathy Crandall Robinson, at

October 31, 2017 Letter from William J. Perry and James E. Cartwright to President Trump, at

“New CBO Report Warns of Skyrocketing Costs of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal:  Experts Call for Shift to More Cost-Effective Alternatives,” by Arms Control Association at


NMED Extends draft WCS Ground Water Discharge Permit Public Comment Period by 60 Days

NMED listened to our concerns about the discriminatory public comment process for this permit and extended the comment period by 60 days – until almost the end of the year.  During this period, CCNS will be conducting more research into the impacts of the discharge in New Mexico.

If you would like to submit public comments about the draft Waste Control Specialists (WCS) ground water discharge permit to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), please focus on the discriminatory manner in which the public comment period has been handled.

NMED granted the extension, but has not been specific about how they are going to comply with the January 2017 Resolution Agreement they signed with EPA to resolve the 2002 Title VI Civil Rights Complaint filed by Deborah Reade, CARD, WIN, CURE and two individuals.

A sample public comment letter is available for your use at

To support our work, please make a tax-deductible contribution at or mail your check to:  CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147.  Thank you!


WCS Discharge Permit Comments Due to NMED on Tuesday, October 31st

The New Mexico Environment Department issued a draft permit to Waste Control Specialists allowing for the discharge of 170,500,000 gallons per day of stormwater runoff from the radioactive and hazardous waste storage and disposal facility on the New Mexico – Texas border, five miles east of Eunice, New Mexico.  Public comments about the draft groundwater discharge permit are due to the Environment Department on Tuesday, October 31st by 5 pm.  CCNS has prepared sample public comments you can use to submit your own comments.  WCS_sample_public_comment_102617  (please feel free to use the sample letter in its entirety or copy and paste the sections that appeal to you and customize it to suit your needs)

In January 2017, the Environment Department signed a Resolution Agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to resolve a 2002 Title VI Civil Rights Complaint filed by Citizens for Alternatives to Radioactive Dumping (CARD) and two other groups about the discriminatory public process conducted for the Triassic Park hazardous waste permit.  The agreement includes steps that the Environment Department must take to provide a non-discriminatory public process for permits.  These include creating a description of the community and a plan of action to address a community’s needs and concerns, as well as providing contact information for government agency officials and local media contacts, among others.  The Resolution Agreement also includes addressing the needs of Low English Proficiency persons and providing the names of those who offer language assistance.

The Environment Department has not completed these steps for the Waste Control Specialists draft permit public process, except translating the public notice into Spanish.  It appears that a majority of residents in Eunice, the closest town to the site, identify as Hispanic and speak Spanish in the home. 

On Wednesday, October 25th, Deborah Reade and CARD, along with representatives of 11 other non-governmental organizations, wrote to the Environment Department requesting the public comment period be stopped until all steps are completed.  These include translating vital documents into Spanish and placing them in the Eunice Public Library or another community location that is open outside of working hours.  Currently, only the draft permit and some notices are on-line. and  All other relevant documents are available only during office hours at the Environment Department’s Santa Fe office – a 700-mile roundtrip for Eunice residents.  Letter-Michelle Hunter_DP-1817andDP-1132

The groups emphasized, “[I]t is irrelevant [ ] that [the Environment Department’s] plans to meet the Resolution Agreement requirements are not finalized.  The Agreement sets up the steps that [the Environment Department] needs to take to make sure they are not discriminating in the public participation process.  However, even if everything is not in place, it is still illegal to discriminate – period.  It is not okay to discriminate ‘one last time,’ [ ].”


Impending Roof Collapse at WIPP Endangers Workers

The Department of Energy (DOE) expects that a massive roof fall will occur at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) within the next couple of weeks. The collapse of the ceiling in Panel 7, Room 6 is within 200 feet of where workers are emplacing plutonium contaminated radioactive and hazardous waste., slide 11.  Nevertheless, DOE has not publicly committed to keeping workers out of the area when the ceiling falls.

In February 2014, a radiation release in the adjacent Panel 7, Room 7 contaminated a large portion of the underground salt mine, including all seven rooms in Panel 7. Since then, workers in that area must wear personal protective equipment and respirators to prevent radiation exposure. DOE officials state that equipment also can protect workers from possible increased exposures caused by the release of toxic and radioactive materials when the ceiling collapses.

On November 3, 2016, a significant portion of the ceiling in Panel 7, Room 4 collapsed, causing workers to be evacuated from the underground.  In a report released on December 1, 2016, the Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) wrote that underground workers had expressed significant concerns about the safety of Panel 7 a week before the ceiling fall occurred.

MSHA has prohibited entry into Room 6 since September 13, 2016, because of dangerous conditions in the room. On December 22, 2016, DOE informed the New Mexico Environment Department that Room 6 has six pieces of radioactively contaminated equipment that contain an estimated 581 gallons of hydraulic fluid, engine oil, brake fluid, coolant, and battery acid. DOE also stated, “the risks to workers associated with entering Room 6 to drain fluids and remove batteries far outweigh the risk associated with abandoning the equipment in its present state.”

On January 13, 2017, the Department concurred to leave the contaminated equipment in place. On January 31, 2017, DOE sent the Department a nine-page analysis of the Panel 7, Room 6 roof collapse possibly causing a fire of the combustible liquids and batteries. The analysis concluded that while the roof fall would occur, a fire is “extremely unlikely,” and that waste being emplaced nearby would not be affected.

Don Hancock, of Southwest Research and Information Center, said, “There is no reason that workers should be in Panel 7 when the ceiling collapses in Room 6. The collapse could cause a fire or release additional radioactivity from the floors and walls where waste is being emplaced. Quickly evacuating workers when the collapse occurs could result in injuries. If safety is the number one priority, DOE should prohibit workers from being in Panel 7 until the effects of the roof fall can be fully examined.”


International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Awarded 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

Last Friday, the Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”  ICAN is a civil society leader for achieving the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a legally binding, multilateral treaty prohibiting the development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, stockpiling and the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons.  It provides a clear path to a world without nuclear weapons and is rooted in international humanitarian law, the United Nations Charter, and humanitarian principles.

On July 7, 2017, the Treaty was adopted by 122 nations of the United Nations, or nearly two-thirds of the nations of the world.  When the Treaty was open for signature on September 20, 2017, three nations signed and their governments had already ratified it.  In total, 53 nations have signed the treaty, which will enter into force when 50 nations have both signed and ratified it.

ICAN is a coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations in 101 countries. By harnessing the power of the people, they have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity.

The Nobel Committee recognized the decades of campaigning against nuclear weapons from the first nuclear weapon test in New Mexico at the Trinity Site on July 16, 1945, to the bombings of civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, to the thousands of nuclear weapons tests around the world.

ICAN said, “This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.”

As the leaders of the United States and North Korea continue to hurl verbal insults about possible nuclear war, there is heighten awareness that the world needs a mechanism to eliminate nuclear weapons.  The Nobel Committee called upon the nuclear-armed states, including the United States and North Korea, to initiate serious negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons.

In their statement, ICAN stated, “This is a time of great global tension, when fiery rhetoric could all too easily lead us, inexorably, to unspeakable horror.  The spectre of nuclear conflict looms large once more.  If ever there were a moment for nations to declare their unequivocal opposition to nuclear weapons, that moment is now.”


CCNS Appeals EPA Denial to Terminate LANL Outfall from Clean Water Act Permit

Outfall No. 051 at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is a discharge pipe connected to a key facility, the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The Clean Water Act only regulates facilities that actually discharge pollutants.  After November 2010, the Facility became a zero-liquid-discharge system, meaning the discharge pipe would no longer be used.  Since then LANL has been using a Mechanical Evaporator System to evaporate treated water into the air, and nothing has been discharged through the Outfall.   Nevertheless, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) still includes Outfall 051 in the permit that it issues to LANL.

This has a serious impact.  The Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility manages a lot of hazardous waste, and the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act would normally regulate it with prescribed public review and comment.  But, under an EPA rule, called the Wastewater Treatment Unit exemption, if LANL is regulated under a Clean Water Act permit, Outfall 051 and the Facility are exempt from the Hazardous Waste Act.

LANL has struggled to keep this exemption.  In a 1998 report about converting the Facility to a zero-liquid-discharge system, LANL acknowledged that if it stopped discharging through Outfall 051, it could lose the exemption, and the “[L]oss of this exemption would mean that the [Facility] would be required to meet additional [hazardous waste] regulatory guidelines regarding waste treatment practices.  … The [Facility] would need to manage the [pollutants] in the waste stream and so have much better knowledge of, and control over, waste discharged to it for treatment.”  It also acknowledged that citizen oversight would increase under the hazardous waste regulations.

Now, in 2017, the Facility has had a zero-liquid-discharge system for over six years.  Even so, EPA has issued a Clean Water Act permit for Outfall 051, thereby continuing its exemption from Hazardous Waste Act regulation.  EPA claims it did so because LANL said it might someday need to discharge pollutants.  But LANL has not used the Outfall for more than six years. 

In June 2016, CCNS, through its attorneys, Jon Block with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Lindsay A. Lovejoy, requested EPA to terminate Outfall 051 from the permit.  In August 2017, EPA denied CCNS’s request.  In response, in September, CCNS appealed the denial to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, DC.  The entire appeal can be viewed in the following encapsulation of PDFs here: CCNS FILING WITH EAB 20170914 Or you can view individual documents by clicking on the following links:

CCNSCoverletterClerkEAB20170914     CCNSPetition20170914     CCNSRequestPetitionExhibitList     Exhibit01     Exhibit02     Exhibit03     Exhibit04     Exhibit05     Exhibit06     Exhibit07     Exhibit08     Exhibit09     Exhibit10     Exhibit11     Exhibit12

Joni Arends, of CCNS, said, “LANL has been hiding behind the wastewater treatment unit exemption for over six years.  EPA should terminate Outfall 051 from the Clean Water Act permit so that the State of New Mexico can take on the regulation of this hazardous waste facility.”


Two Peaceful Trinity Test Demonstrations on Saturday, October 7th at White Sands Missile Range Entrances

Please join the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium for a peaceful demonstration to bring attention to the health issues resulting from overexposure to radiation following the Trinity atomic bomb test on July 16, 1946.  On Saturday, October 7th, the Consortium will gather at two of the entrances to the White Sands Missile Range when the U.S. Army opens the Trinity Site for people from around the world to visit the radioactively contaminated site.

Beginning at 7:45 am, the Consortium will gather at the Tularosa Gate, located on the Tulie Gate Road, west of the Tularosa High School, for a one-hour peaceful demonstration.

Beginning at 9 am, the Consortium will gather at the Stallion Range Station on Highway 380, 12 miles east of San Antonio, for a three-hour peaceful demonstration.  Please bring your own water, chair, hat, and a poster or sign.

On July 16, 1945, just before dawn, the U.S. government conducted the first test explosion of a plutonium bomb at the Trinity Site.  Without warning, the 40,000 people living in the immediate vicinity were engulfed in a radioactive cloud that continued to rain down radioactive particles for days, weeks and months.  The government packed their bags, turned their backs and walked away.  For 72 years it has taken no responsibility for the health repercussions to those exposed.

The Consortium will provide information about their Health Impact Assessment that documents the harm done to those living downwind of the Trinity Site and their efforts to ensure that the Trinity Downwinders are included in the proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA).  In 1990, Congress passed RECA to provide medical care and compensation to those living downwind of the Nevada Test Site, another location used for testing nuclear weapons aboveground.  RECA was amended in 2000.  The Trinity Downwinders have never been included, even though over $2.2 billion has been paid in claims.,

The Consortium has documented the harm in its Health Impact Assessment, entitled, “Unknowing, Unwilling and Uncompensated:  The Effects of the Trinity Test on New Mexicans and the Potential Benefits of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendment.”

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Consortium, said, “Seventy-two years have passed.  Now is the time for the U.S. Government to recognize those who were unknowing, unwilling, uncompensated, innocent participants in the world’s largest science experiment, who have been suffering in silence ever since the bomb was detonated.  Our organization is revealing the rest of the story and the People are being made aware of the complete legacy of Trinity.”

For more information, please contact Tina Cordova at 505-897-6787 or by email to  For information about the Tulie Gate gathering, please contact Kathy Tyler at 575-585-2896.  For information about the Stallion Range Gate gathering, please contact Louisa Lopez at 575-835-8146.  TBDC Trinity Site Protest Fall 2017