Current Activities

Say “No” to More Nuclear Weapons; Comments due August 12th

Thank you to everyone who submitted comments to the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) for plans to manufacture plutonium triggers, or pits, for nuclear weapons at the Savannah River Site.  Public comments are now needed on those plans, plus plans for a 50 percent increase in pit manufacturing at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by 2030.  These plans were revealed in the 2008 Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, also known as the “Bombplex,” and they are back.  Comments are due on Monday, August 12th to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov. A sample public comment letter is available on Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s website at https://nukewatch.org/

Overall, NNSA plans to quadruple production from 20 to 80 pits per year.  NNSA plans to produce at least 30 pits at LANL and 50 pits at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Expanded plutonium pit production is a crucial part of the $1.7 trillion “modernization” plan to completely rebuild the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile; its supporting research and production complex; and the missiles, submarines, and bombers to deliver nuclear weapons.  Together, the modernization plan is fueling a new global nuclear arms race that is more dangerous than any time since the height of the Cold War.

Expanded pit production, costing an estimated $43 billion over thirty years, is not needed.  More than 15,000 existing pits are already stored at NNSA’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, while independent experts have found that pits last more than a century.

No pit production is scheduled to maintain the safety and reliability of the existing nuclear weapons stockpile.  Instead, NNSA plans to produce heavily modified pits for speculative new-design nuclear weapons. This could degrade confidence in stockpile reliability since new pits cannot be full-scale tested because of an international testing moratorium.  In the extreme, it could even prompt the U.S. to resume nuclear weapons testing, which would have severe international proliferation consequences.

To meet public review requirements under the federal NEPA, NNSA completed a Supplement Analysis to determine whether existing nation-wide programmatic public review of pit production should be supplemented. NNSA has already decided no.

It is time to tell NNSA that a new programmatic environmental impact statement is required.  Please email your comments to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov by August 12, 2019, or as soon thereafter as possible.  Please customize your comments before emailing, as that is more effective.

NNSA did not respond adequately to public comments submitted in 2008.  If you submitted comments then, please attach them to your new comments.

To learn more about plutonium pit production, check out Nuclear Watch New Mexico’s fact sheet at https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/PitProductionFactSheet.pdf

To learn about what is happening with the Bombplex at LANL’s “sister” lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California, go to the Tri-Valley CAREs [Communities Against a Radioactive Environment] website at http://www.trivalleycares.org/


 

1.    Monday, August 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, CCNS is hosting a public information meeting about the “fake” discharge permit for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  The state permit will not go into effect until there is a discharge.  But LANL has not discharged since November 2011, and has no plans to do so.  The permit cannot be enforced because it will not go into effect.

Soon, because of defects in the public notice, the New Mexico Environment Department’s draft permit will be re-noticed for public comments.  As a result, the public hearing will be delayed until November or later.

CCNS has argued for over a decade that the facility should be regulated by the federal and state hazardous waste laws and regulations because it treats and stores hazardous waste.  The hazardous waste laws and regulations are more protective than the NM Water Quality Act.  Join us for this important public information meeting at the Santa Fe Downtown Library!  Learn how you can get involved!

2.    Rev. John Dear wrote in Common Dreams about the August 3rd gathering in Los Alamos to call for nuclear abolition. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/06/ongoing-call-nuclear-abolition-los-alamos  Planning is on-going for the 75th commemoration events in 2020.  To get involved, please email ccns@nuclearactive.org.

3.   Thursday, August 29th from 11 to 1 pm, the Cold War Patriots are hosting a public meeting for DOE/NNSA/LANL/Sandia/WIPP workers and former workers about how to navigate the complex EEOICPA and RECA government programs at St. John’s Methodist Church in Santa Fe.  https://coldwarpatriots.org/

4.    Thursday, September 26th is the United Nations’ International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.  Let’s organize commemoration events in New Mexico.  https://www.un.org/en/events/nuclearweaponelimination/

 

Where Are the Rocky Flats Special Grand Jury Documents?

Thirty years after a special grand jury was empaneled to look into possible environmental crimes committed at the Department of Energy’s Rocky Flats Plant, 60 to 65 sealed boxes of their documents are missing.  Many people living near the plant, as well as downwind and downstream, believe the contents may provide critical information about the buried plutonium wastes and help to resolve conflicts about access to the site, expansion of housing developments nearer to the site, and a proposal to build a by-pass road along the fence line.

In January, attorney Pat Mellen asked the federal court to unseal the boxes and make them public.  Last month, the federal Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed that they could not locate the boxes in their office, or in the Federal Records Center where closed cases are stored.

When asked, an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office emailed attorney Mellen, stating that he has been “attempting to reach out to former [] staff and attorneys who touched the Rocky Flats matter over the years to see whether they have any memory of where the boxes might have ended up.  That effort is ongoing, but has not yet yielded results.”

Rocky Flats is located about 16 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains.  About 70,000 plutonium pits, or the triggers for nuclear weapons, were manufactured there from 1952 to 1989 when the FBI raided Rocky Flats for violations of the Clean Air Act and federal hazardous waste laws, including illegal waste storage.

Rockwell International, the DOE contractor at the time, pled guilty to 10 environmental violations in 1992.  They paid $18.5 million in fines.

After nearly a decade, a $7 billion “cleanup” commenced.  The cleanup standards were not as protective as people in the communities had wanted.  The community’s standards addressed the long-term impacts of plutonium to human health and the environment.

After “cleanup,” most of the Rocky Flats site was transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and became a wildlife refuge where school children go on field trips.  Nevertheless, seven school boards, including Denver and Boulder, will not take their students on field trips to the refuge.

Further, subdivisions are being built closer to the site.  As a result, the occurrences of rare childhood cancers are growing in those neighborhoods.

Attorney Pat Mellen is representing seven organizations.  http://patmellenlaw.com/ They are:  the Alliance of Nuclear Workers Advocacy Groups https://www.eecap.org/ANWAG_News.htm ; Candelas Glows/Rocky Flats Glows https://candelasglows.com/ ; Environmental Information Network https://archives.colorado.edu/repositories/2/resources/622 ; Rocky Flats Downwinders http://rockyflatsdownwinders.com/ ; Rocky Flats Neighborhood Association http://www.rockyflatsneighbors.com/about.html ; Rocky Flats Right to Know https://www.rockyflatsrighttoknow.org/ ; and the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center https://www.rmpjc.org/.

LeRoy Moore, Ph.D., and founder of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, said, “”I thought I’d seen the worst, but losing more that 60 cartons of evidence from the 1989 FBI raid beats all.”

This week the groups asked the court to unseal the yet-to-be-found documents within thirty days.


The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) released a draft ground water discharge permit (DP-1132) for LANL’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Technical Area 50.  See page 5 of this public notice:   https://cloud.env.nm.gov/water/resources/_translator.php/3wdGf2YvWP7JR8htsQErkMxbvE56mnoqDRp2BQAIXXbigeEtSCEhgT9cBlqLEUu1Bu05rtzHpSvgDBYBZ/UkvNj1xm6YWbE032FsQ+I0sXXv1czn8rKsfXGEget28K6+1ZKKfKD2Ec4=.pdf 

It processes low-level and transuranic (plutonium) contaminated water from nuclear weapons operations at the Plutonium Facility and related facilities.  This is a key facility for DOE/NNSA plans to expand plutonium pit production at LANL (known as “Bombplex II”).

Since 2013, CCNS and other groups have argued that it is illegal for NMED to issue a ground water discharge permit for this facility.  To obtain a permit, the NM Water Quality Act and regulations require a facility to discharge water contaminants.  Since November 2011, LANL has not discharged from the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.

CCNS and other groups have argued that the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility is a hazardous waste treatment and storage facility and should be regulated by the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as implemented in NM by the NM Hazardous Waste Act and regulations.  The waste storage activities are currently covered by the NMED hazardous waste permit for LANL.  The entire Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility must be regulated under RCRA.

Mark Your Calendars and Stay Tuned!  

*  Monday, August 19th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Santa Fe Downtown Public Library.  You are invited to the CCNS public meeting about the draft ground water discharge permit and what you can do.

*  CCNS is available to present at house parties or another event.  Please contact us about availability by email to ccns@nuclearactive.org, or by phone at (505) 986-1973.

*  Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 5 pm (MST).  Public comment are due to NMED.  Sample public comments will be available here soon.  Please stay tuned!

*  Tuesday, September 24, 2019.  NMED has scheduled a public hearing on the draft permit.  Location and time:  TBD.

Please support our critical, time-sensitive work by making a tax-deductible contribution at http://nuclearactive.org/ or mail your check to:  CCNS, P. O. Box 31147, Santa Fe, NM  87594-1147. 

 

Resist “Normalization” of Nuclear Weapons Industry in New Mexico

Leading up to the 75th year since the Trinity atomic bomb test in New Mexico and the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki next year, there are a plethora of events, activities, and dialogues taking place to “normalize” the nuclear weapons industry in New Mexico.  Knowing the details of the harm done to all living beings by the nuclear weapons industry, CCNS is resisting these attempts.  There are two events of note.  They are the Friday, August 2nd opening of the Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition in Albuquerque, and the Saturday, August 3rd Hiroshima Peace Day Commemoration in Los Alamos.

Dedicated to alternative stories of the “nuclear business” in New Mexico, the Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition examines the combined burden of nuclear by-products and waste that decays over tens of thousands of years on the People of New Mexico.  It questions the theft and decimation of sacred Indigenous lands.  It examines how involuntary radiation exposures affect future generations.  It asks about the ongoing threats from transportation, storage, and disposal of radioactive wastes.

Barbara Grothus, exhibition organizer, said, “The tired story of Profiteers of the Nuclear Business in New Mexico has worn thin.  For generations, Indigenous people and residents of their colonized lands have suffered and died for the State of Decay.  Their stories must no longer go unheard.”

The exhibition is at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory, located at 401 2nd Street Southwest, in Albuquerque.  The opening reception is on Friday, August 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.  The exhibition will be up until Friday, August 30th.    Black Hole_Atomic City (State of Decay) – Press Release-2

Also, the 16th Annual Hiroshima Peace Day Commemoration and Peace Vigil will take place on Saturday, August 3th in Los Alamos.  People will gather at Ashley Pond, in the center of town, at 2 pm.

Participants will remember the 74th anniversary of the bombings at the place where the first nuclear weapons were built and where they continue to be built.  There will be a silent procession towards Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Participants may sit in silence for 30 minutes in sackcloths, or burlap bags, and ashes, which will be provided.  Participants will walk back to Ashley Pond for discussion and reflection, led by Father John Dear, an activist and author.

He said, “We’ve been going to Los Alamos every August for sixteen years now, to pray and speak out for the abolition of nuclear weapons; but the world’s violence and war making is only worsening while we continue to waste billions of dollars on these weapons of mass destruction.”

For more information, please contact Ellie Voutselas at ellievout@gmail.com or (505) 474-8557.  August 6 Hiroshima 2019 Flyer rev3-1


CCNS is releasing this week’s Update early to encourage you to get your scoping comments in about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plans to expand plutonium pit production at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina.  They are due on Thursday, July 25th.  A sample public comment letter containing the story of the boondoggle MOX facility is available at our SRS Watch’s website at http://www.srswatch.org/ under “In the News” on the right side of the home page.

The Conservation Voters of South Carolina have set up this automatic comment submission form, in case anyone wants to go this quick route:  https://p2a.co/EKKU5yl

Key points include:

1.  DOE plans to expand plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site (SRS) to produce 80 pits (the triggers for nuclear weapons) per year. 

2.  DOE plans to prepare an environmental impact statement about its SRS proposal to produce 50 pits per year in the boondoggled MOX facility, which was never completed.  Comments are due on Thursday, July 25th.

3.  As usual, DOE is putting the cart before the horse.  The 1996 Department of Energy (DOE) nation-wide programmatic environmental impact statement on Stockpile Stewardship and Management set a plutonium pit production cap of 20 pits per year at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

4.  Because DOE is planning to expand pit production at a second site at SRS, it is necessary for DOE to supplement the 1996 programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) – before conducting an environmental impact statement process for the SRS MOX plant.

5.  Conducting a supplemental PEIS process would require DOE to hold public hearings across the country, and along the transportation routes.

 

Representative Luján Introduces Expanded RECA Amendments

The first atomic explosion, July 16, 1945, Trinity Site, New Mexico;
July 1945

On the 74th anniversary of the Trinity atomic bomb test, U.S. Congressman and Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján introduced amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to expand coverage for New Mexicans who were overexposed to radiation.  The amendments would cover the Downwinders of the July 16, 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test and those exposed to years of above ground atomic tests in Guam.  They would expand coverage for uranium workers who worked during 1971 and 1990.

Further, the amendments would provide a Congressional apology to individuals exposed to radiation in the western U.S., Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands; and extend the RECA Trust Fund from 2022, when it is scheduled to sunset, to 2045.

Assistant Speaker Luján said, “Throughout my time in Congress, I’ve fought to ensure justice for communities impacted by radiation exposure – including miners, workers, and downwinders.  Radiation exposure has taken the lives of too many and continues to hurt our communities.  I know how important this legislation is for New Mexico families that have been affected.  This legislation will extend compensation for those individuals who played a role in our national security and help make those individuals whole.”

New Mexico Congresswomen Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres Small are co-sponsors of the bill.  https://lujan.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/lujn-members-of-congress-introduce-legislation_to-expand-compensation-for-individuals–impacted-by-radiation-exposure

The legislation is needed now.  On Monday, July 15th, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published an important article, entitled, “Trinity:  ‘The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project,’” by Kathleen M. Tucker and Robert Alvarez.  They report, “Evidence collected by the New Mexico health department but ignored for some 70 years shows an unusually high rate of infant mortality in New Mexico counties downwind from the [Trinity] explosion and raises a serious question whether or not the first victims of the first atomic explosion might have been American children.”

In 1958, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation   recognized that growing fetuses and infants are more susceptible to ionizing radiation as it damages dividing cells.

Infant mortality in New Mexico prior to the July 16, 1945 Trinity test was declining.  Infant mortality is reported as the number of deaths per 1,000 live births.  Following the Trinity test, infant mortality dramatically increased in the counties that experienced Trinity test fallout.  The highest rate occurred in September.

In August, the infant mortality rate was 152.3 per 1,000 live births.  In September, the rate was 187.8.  In October, it fell to 123.1.  When compared to rates in 1943, 1944, 1946, 1947, and 1948, 1945 rates show a dramatic increase.  https://thebulletin.org/2019/07/trinity-the-most-significant-hazard-of-the-entire-manhattan-project/

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, said the data is “significant.”

To learn more and to get involved, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


1. Wednesday, July 17, 2019.  WetheFourth released a press release and brief to the New Mexico State Auditor about Did Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance collude with Holtec? http://www.wethefourth.org/

2. Saturday, July 20, 2019.  Two events held by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) to commemorate the 74th year since the Trinity test, the first atomic bomb test, on what is now called the White Sands Missile Range.  the events will take place in Tularosa, NM, north of Alamogordo, NM.

At 2 pm, the TBDC will host a town hall at the Tularosa Community Center, 1050 Bookout Road, to inform the public about the amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that have been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives (July 16, 2019) and the U.S. Senate (3/28/19).  There will also be an interactive birddogging training to learn some of the best ways to ask questions to elected officials and those running for office.  

At 7:30 pm at the Tularosa Little League Field, the 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil will acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the People of New Mexico after overexposure to radiation from the July 16th, 1945 Trinity Test.  the event will memorialize those that have lost their lives to cancer and honor those who are living with or who have survived cancer.  For more information and to make a contribution, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

3. Tuesday, July 23, 2019.  Comments are due to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) on the 5-Year Review of the Mixed Waste Landfill at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM.  For more information and a sample public comment letter you can use at http://nuclearactive.org/excavation-comments-needed-for-sandia-mixed-waste-landfill/ and Citizen Action New Mexico at http://www.radfreenm.org/

4. August 2 – 30, 2019 Black Hole/Atomic City (State of Decay) exhibition at the Sanitary Tortilla Factory, 401 2nd St. SW, Albuquerque.  Barbara Grothus, daughter of Edward Grothus, is the lead organizer of the project.  It is an exhibition “dedicated to alternative stories related to ‘the nuclear business’ in New Mexico since the dawn of the Anthropocene/Trinity test near Tularosa in July 1945.”  The opening reception is August 2nd from 6 to 9 pm.  http://sanitarytortillafactory.org/

 

@RepBenRayLujan’s #RECA2019 legislation

@RepBenRayLujan just introduced legislation to expand compensation for individuals exposed to radiation – a critical effort to ensure justice for the individuals, families, and communities impacted. #RECA2019

Thousands of families in New Mexico and across the country were exposed to radiation causing illness, cancer, and death in our communities. @RepBenRayLujan just introduced #RECA2019 to ensure these individuals get the compensation they need & deserve.

Radiation exposure has taken the lives of too many and continues to hurt our families – it’s time to pass @RepBenRayLujan’s #RECA2019 legislation to expand compensation for these families.

 

Excavation Comments Needed for Sandia Mixed Waste Landfill

Finally, the Five-Year Review of the Mixed Waste Landfill at Sandia National Laboratories is available for public review.  https://hwbdocuments.env.nm.gov/Sandia%20National%20Labs/2018-12-14%20MWL%205%20Year%20Report.pdf  Comments are due to the New Mexico Environment Department by 5 pm on Tuesday, July 23rd.  Public notice in English:    https://www.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MWL-5-Yr-Report-Public-Notice-2019-5-24-English.pdf and public notice in Spanish:  https://www.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MWL-5-Yr-Report-Public-Notice-2019-5-22-Spanish.pdf  A sample public comment letter, prepared by Citizen Action New Mexico, is available at MWL 5-Yr Review Comment letter 7-10-19

Citizen Action supports Sandia’s review because it recognizes the best alternative for the dump is excavation and disposal of the long-lived toxic and radioactive chemical wastes off-site.  Sandia even suggests that the Department issue an order for Sandia to proceed with a plan, called a Corrective Measures Implementation Plan, for excavation and off-site disposal.  This is very great news!  Citizen Action has been advocating for excavation for nearly two decades.  http://www.radfreenm.org/index.php/mm-mwl

The Mixed Waste Landfill is a 2.6-acre dumpsite that contains an estimated 1,500,000 cubic feet of radioactive, toxic and hazardous wastes from reactor meltdown experiments and the research and development of nuclear weapons.  We know plutonium, americium, tritium, depleted uranium, lead, beryllium, PCBs and chlorinated solvents were disposed there.  Nevertheless, Sandia officials cannot state for certain the dump’s contents.  Among community concerns is the dump’s location near to Albuquerque, Isleta Pueblo, the Sunport, and the growing urban area and children’s park of Mesa del Sol.

The waste lie above Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer in plastic bags, cardboard boxes and steel drums.  In 2009, a dirt cover, which was approved by the Department, was installed. 

Citizen Action states the, “existing dirt cover installed above the wastes cannot protect the public and Albuquerque’s drinking water aquifer from the long-lived radionuclides and toxic chemicals.”

In May 2005, the Environment Department Secretary issued a Final Order about the dump, which required that every five years Sandia review whether excavation is feasible, provide an update of the fate and transport model, conduct an evaluation of pollution reaching groundwater, and make it publicly available.    https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/SNL/MWL/Final_Decision/Final_Order_(05-26-2005).pdf  But 2010 came and went without the first five-year review being submitted.

In January 2014, the Department approved a Long-term Monitoring and Maintenance Plan, which they claimed started the clock for the five-year review.  So here we are, almost a decade later with the opportunity to review and provide public comments about the dump.  https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/documents/SNL-12-007_1-8-2014_LTMMP_Approval.pdf and Response to Comments https://www.env.nm.gov/HWB/documents/SNL_MWL_LTMMP_Response_to_Comments_1-8-2014.pdf

Dave McCoy, Director of Citizen Action New Mexico, encourages you to submit your comments in support of excavation.  He said, “”The public has been in favor of the Environment Department issuing a clean up order for decades.  New Mexico should not be burdened with the human, environmental and financial costs for the nation’s nuclear weapons program and irresponsible waste disposal.”

For more information, please visit Citizen Action’s website at http://www.radfreenm.org/


Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory

1.    CCNS has good news to report!  The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) heard the concerns of the community, retired and current LANL employees, CCNS and others about the need for the NMED Department of Energy (DOE) Oversight Bureau to remain in Los Alamos.  On Monday evening, July 8th,

James Kenney, NMED Secretary, announced that the Oversight Bureau will remain in the Los Alamos area as they have been situated for nearly 30 years.  There are several excellent news stories about the meeting.  Check them out!

Federally funded bureau hits brakes on plan to move to Santa Fe, by Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican.  Read the article HERE

NMED won’t move LANL Oversight Bureau office from Los Alamos, by Kendra Chamberlain, New Mexico Political Report.   http://nmpoliticalreport.com/category/environment/

2.    Saturday, July 20th, beginning at 7:30 pm at the Tularosa Little League Field, the 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil, hosted by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, will acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the People of New Mexico from the July 16th, 1945 Trinity Test.  For more information and to make a contribution, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/       2019 TBDC Candlelight Vigil

3.  Nick Maxwell, of WeTheFourth, filmed this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission Midland, TX public hearing about the proposed plan to bring 40,000 tons of the nation’s most deadly nuclear reactor waste to Andrews County, Texas – on the NM/TX border.  https://nukehearing.net/  The applicant, Interim Storage Partners, is a joint venture between Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists (WCS), that formed after WCS, the original applicant for interim storage of high-level waste, filed bankruptcy and was acquired by J.F. Lehman & Co. Concerned citizens including elected officials, clergy, oil industry executives, parents and others oppose the proposal.  The waste, which would be stored above ground in dry casks, consists of irradiated fuel rods from nuclear reactors, which would be transported across the country, posing risks from accidents, leaks and sabotage. Exposure to unshielded high-level radioactive waste is lethal in minutes.  For more information, go to Beyond Nuclear at www.beyondnuclear.org

4.  If you appreciate receiving the Update and information about the latest nuclear safety issues, events and action alerts, seriously consider signing up to provide a monthly contribution to CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/  Thank you!

 

NMED Hosts First Quarterly Outreach Meeting in Los Alamos

On Monday, July 8th, the New Mexico Environment Department will host its first quarterly public meeting in Los Alamos, from 5:30 to 7 pm, in the Pajarito Room of the Fuller Lodge, located at 2132 Central Avenue.  The primary topic will be “the mission and work of the Environment Department’s Department of Energy Oversight Bureau, as well as a discussion on a proposed move of the Bureau’s Los Alamos Field Office to Santa Fe.  Please plan to attend this important meeting to support the Oversight Bureau remaining in Los Alamos.  https://www.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/062819-LANL-public-meeting.pdf

A little over 30 years, after findings of radioactive, toxic, and hazardous contamination in established communities where the Department of Energy (DOE) located its nuclear weapons facilities, the Secretary announced a 10-point initiative to improve its accountability to environmental protection, public health, and safety.  DOE provided funding for states, such as New Mexico, to establish oversight programs that would monitor the air, surface water, ground water, and soils for contamination and report their findings to the public.

In New Mexico, the Oversight Bureau is located within the Environment Department and monitors the three DOE sites in New Mexico.  For nearly 30 years, an oversight office has been located in Los Alamos, the location of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Similarly, an oversight office has been located at or near Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.  The oversight office for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is currently located in Carlsbad, 26 miles west.  https://www.env.nm.gov/doeob/doe-ob-history/

About a year ago, some quietly began planning to move the Los Alamos Oversight Bureau to Santa Fe.  After the public found out about such plans, they objected.  Nearly 70 percent of the Oversight Bureau’s work is done in the field.  It would be a waste of time and energy for the majority of the staff, who live in Los Alamos, to travel from Los Alamos to Santa Fe, only to have to turn around and go back to Los Alamos to do their monitoring work.

As a result of the proposed change, nearly half of the Oversight Bureau staff expressed concerns about remaining in their jobs.  Any reduction in staff results in the loss of essential institutional knowledge and history of LANL operations.

In response, the Environment Department’s Secretary, James Kenney, said “We have heard from employees, community members and stakeholders on this proposed move and look forward to continuing this dialogue on July 8.  Through state procurement processes, we are actively working toward finding a location in Los Alamos County for our staff that allows us to accomplish our mission.”

Future quarterly meetings will address other community concerns.


1) Beginning on Wednesday, July 10th, and continuing as needed, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a hearing on the Waste Control Specialists/Interim Storage Partners application to store 40,000 tons of the nation’s deadly nuclear reactor spent fuel rods, at the Midland County Courthouse, 500 N. Lorraine Street, Midland, TX, at 9 am. Opposition organizers are asking that you wear red.  The public will not have the opportunity to speak.  Nevertheless, your presence will make a difference.  For more information, please call or text David Rosen at (432) 634-6081.  Flyer for NRC WCS 7-10-19 Hearing

2) On Saturday, July 13th, from 7 am to 3 pm, the Red Water Pond Road Community will host its 40th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill.  http://swuraniumimpacts.org/

 

3) On Saturday, July 20th, at 7:30 pm, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will host its 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil at the Tularosa Little League field to commemorate the 1945 Trinity test and acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the people of New Mexico.  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

 

4) August 3, 2019, the 16th Annual Hiroshima Peace Day, Commemoration, and Peace Vigil will take place at Ashley Pond in downtown Los Alamos. 

 

July Atomic Commemoration Events in New Mexico

July 16th is an historic day for public health and environmental disasters in New Mexico.  On July 16, 1945, the U.S. government tested the first atomic bomb, called the Gadget, on the grounds of the White Sands Missile Range.  The Gadget held 13 pounds of plutonium, of which only three pounds fissioned.  The remaining 10 pounds disbursed as the mushroom cloud came down in the rainstorms that followed the blast.  The contaminated ash fell on open water sources, fields ready for harvest, gardens, workers, and animals.

Thirty-four years later, on July 16, 1979, the largest uranium tailings spill in the U.S. occurred at the North East Church Rock Uranium Tailings site.  An earthen dam, operated by United Nuclear Corporation, holding liquid uranium waste, broke.  It released 1,100 million tons of solid radioactive mill waste and more than 90 million gallons of acidic and radioactive liquids into the Rio Puerco.  The contaminated waters flowed downstream through Gallup, and across nine Navajo chapters, contaminating at least 80 miles of the river and its banks.

On Saturday, July 13th, from 7 am to 3 pm, the Red Water Pond Road Community will host its 40th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill, at a location 12 miles north of the Red Rock State Park on State Highway 566, near Church Rock.  At 7 am there will be a walk to the spill site to offer healing prayers and educational events.

Edith Hood, a resident of the Red Water Pond Road Community, said, “Let us come together again and share these issues and concerns, collaborate and strategize, to push cleanup of these contaminated environments among our Dine people, to restore, preserve and protect our Mother Earth.”

On Sunday, July 14th, a Nuclear National Film Showing will take place in Gallup from noon to 4 pm.  40th Uranium Tailings Spill Commemoration 19 Flyer

For more information, please visit http://swuraniumimpacts.org/

On Saturday, July 20th, beginning at 7:30 pm, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will host its 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil to commemorate the harm experienced from the 1945 Trinity test.  It will be held at the Tularosa Little League Field, located west of the Tularosa High School.

The Downwinders will memorialize loved ones who have lost their lives to cancer and honor those who are living with or who have survived cancer by lighting luminarias with individual names written on the paper bags.

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the organization, said, “It’s difficult to grasp that we’ve been doing this for ten years now. Our list of deceased loved ones continues to grow.  We’ll light more than 800 luminarias this year, I’m certain.”

There will be a town hall meeting at the Tularosa Community Center at 2 pm.

TBDC Candlelight Vigil flyer 2019

For more information, please visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


1.  CCNS understands that the New Mexico Environment Department public meeting about its Oversight Bureau at LANL will be held on Monday, July 8, 2019, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Fuller Lodge in Los Alamos.  More information will be available soon at https://www.env.nm.gov/  

2.  Beginning on Wednesday, July 10th, and continuing as needed, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a hearing on the Waste Control Specialists/Interim Storage Partners application to store 40,000 tons of the nation’s deadly nuclear reactor spent fuel rods, at the Midland County Courthouse, 500 N. Lorraine Street, Midland, TX, at 9 am.

Opposition organizers are asking that you wear red.  The public will not have the opportunity to speak.  Nevertheless, your presence will make a difference.  For more information, please call or text David Rosen at (432) 634-6081.  Flyer for NRC WCS 7-10-19 Hearing

3.  The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a semi-autonomous silo within the Department of Energy, released its draft Supplemental Analysis (SA) for expanded plutonium pit production at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site (SRS) for public review and comment.  “NNSA is preparing the SA to determine whether, prior to proceeding with the action to produce plutonium pits at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030, the existing Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement [also known as “The 2006 Bombplex Proposal”] should be supplemented, a new environmental impact statement prepared, or no further National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis is required.”  Comments are due no later than August 12, 2019 to NEPA-SRS@srs.gov.

The draft Bombplex Supplemental Analysis is available here: https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/eis-0236-s4-sa-02-draft-supplement-analysis

The People defeated this proposal in the late ’00s – Let’s Do It Again!!!  Stay tuned for more information and sample public comments you can use.

 

WQCC Remands LANL Discharge Permit Back to NMED

Citing the need for a “clean, unbiased decision without the appearance of impropriety,” the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission voted on Tuesday to reverse their decisions denying the motion of Communities for Clean Water to send the groundwater discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) back to the New Mexico Environment Department.  If this sounds confusing, it is.  Let us explain.

Since the fall of 2013, Communities for Clean Water (CCW) has been working with the Environment Department on a draft groundwater discharge permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at LANL.  It is called Discharge Permit 1132, or DP-1132.

An overriding issue is the fact that the Environment Department cannot issue a discharge permit for this facility.  Because it handles hazardous waste, the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, and not the New Mexico Water Quality Act, must regulate it.  The hazardous waste laws and regulations are more protective of human health and the environment than the Water Quality Act, which exempts hazardous waste facilities from dual regulation.

As a result, before the April 2018, public hearing in Los Alamos about the discharge permit, CCW filed a motion to dismiss the proceeding.  Without explanation, the hearing officer ruled against CCW.  In post-hearing filings, CCW again argued for dismissal.  The hearing officer again, without explanation, ruled against CCW.

During this time, the hearing officer applied for a job with the Department of Energy at LANL.  Under the law, the hearing officer should have disqualified herself because she had a conflict of interest.  But she did not notify the parties to the hearing that she had applied for the job.  And she ruled on motions and submitted her report recommending permit approval to the Environment Department Secretary.  In late August, the Secretary approved the discharge permit.  In September, the hearing officer received a job offer from LANL and accepted the position.

In January, CCW learned that the hearing officer was working at LANL.  CCW filed a motion with the Commission to vacate the Secretary’s decision because of the appearance of impropriety of the hearing officer.  At both their April and May meetings, the Commission ruled against CCW and agreed their review of the permit.

In June, CCW filed a writ of mandamus with the New Mexico Supreme Court to require the Commission “to vacate decisions by the [ ] hearing officer who was disqualified to act and the [ ] Secretary’s decision based upon the invalid rulings and recommendations of that disqualified hearing officer.”  190606 CCW Petition for Mandamus 2019-06-06 The Supreme Court filed an Order request a response from the Commission.  It is due on or before July 2, 2019.  190614 DP-1132 37717 Order Requesting Response

At Tuesday’s special meeting where the Commission reconsidered its previous decisions, it also ordered the Environment Department to appoint a new hearing officer and to schedule a new hearing.

CCW is represented by Lindsay A. Lovejoy, Jr., http://lindsaylovejoy.com/ and Jon Block, of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center.  https://nmelc.org/


1.    The New Mexico Environment Department public meeting about the Oversight Bureau will most likely take place the week of July 8th.  CCNS has been pushing for a Pojoaque or Espanola meeting location, but has received resistance that the meeting should take place in Los Alamos, “the most affected community.”

Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory

Ha!  Please contact the Environment Department Secretary at (505) 827-2855, or James.Kenney@state.nm.us.

2.    By coincidence, N3B, LANL’s Legacy Cleanup contractor, scheduled The Environmental Management Cleanup Forum:  Legacy Waste at Los Alamos National Laboratory public meeting for June 26, 2019 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at Fuller Lodge, 2132 Central Avenue, Los Alamos, NM – the week the Environment Department wanted to have the Oversight Bureau meeting.

3.    Holtec Update:  Did you see the recent letters of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s letter and Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard expressing their opposition/concern about the proposed Holtec consolidated interim storage facility for 120,000 metric tons of highly radioactive waste in southeast New Mexico from nuclear power plants across the country.  If not, they are available here.  NM Governor Holtec Ltr 060719  and  6.19.19 NM SLO Letter to Krishna P. Singh

4.    If you appreciate receiving the Update and information about the latest events and action alerts, please seriously consider signing up to provide a monthly contribution to CCNS at http://nuclearactive.org/  Thank you!

 

DOE NEPA Docs for Expanded Pit Production Won’t Be Enough

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that it would prepare National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents to cover their plans to expand the manufacture of plutonium triggers, or pits, for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the Savannah River Site.  DOE said it would conduct a full NEPA environmental impact statement process for its plans to refurbish the Mixed Oxide, or MOX, Fuel Fabrication Facility for pit production in South Carolina.  But DOE is not going to do the same for LANL.  They plan to supplement existing environmental impact

statements, which were written over a decade ago.  https://www.energy.gov/nepa/downloads/eis-0541-notice-intent

NEPA is the “basic national charter for protection of the environment.”  It requires federal agencies to take a “hard look” at potential environment impacts and alternatives to their proposals and involve the public “at the earliest possible time to ensure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values.”  NEPA requires public review and comment about the scope of the statement; the draft statement and possible public hearing; and the final statement, with an opportunity to file a lawsuit.  DOE will hold a public scoping meeting on June 27th in Aiken, South Carolina.  https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/06/f63/noi-eis-0541-srs-pit-production-2019-06-10.pdf

No similar effort was announced for LANL, even though DOE plans to expand the number of plutonium pits manufactured annually from 20 to 30 – a 50 percent increase.  DOE stated it would prepare a supplemental analysis to the Final Complex Transformation Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, also known as “the Bombplex.”  While not providing details, DOE stated it would prepare “site-specific documentation.”

Los Alamos National Laboratory. At the time of the 2013 shutdown, after numerous internal warnings about the consequences of its mismanagement, Los Alamos had only ‘a single junior qualified criticality safety engineer’ still in place, according to the February NNSA technical bulletin. Courtesy Los Alamos National Laboratory

CCNS believes a new Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement for LANL is also needed before any expansion is considered.  The last LANL statement was completed in 2008.  Since then there have been many changes at LANL.  For instance:  the four-year shutdown of pit production due to severe nuclear safety deficiencies; the 2011 Las Conchas fire; the drought; the spread of the chromium and perchlorate plumes in Mortandad Canyon; and the growing number of countries that have signed and ratified the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Jay Coghlan, Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, said, “The Los Alamos Lab has a long track record of nuclear safety problems that must be resolved before expanded plutonium pit production is even considered.  The government’s claimed need for expanded production needs to be critically examined for its environmental impacts, costs and potentially adverse national security impacts.  NNSA’s unrealistic and unnecessary plan for expanded plutonium pit production will accelerate the growing nuclear arms race. Concerned citizens should demand clear answers from the government through the public comment process we have just won.”  https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Final-news-release-NOI-on-pits-June-10-2019.pdf


…about these Upcoming 2019 and 2020 Events?

  1. On Saturday, July 13th, from 7 am to 3 pm, the Red Water Pond Road Community will host its 40th annual commemoration of the 1979 Uranium Tailings Spill.  http://swuraniumimpacts.org/  
  2. On Saturday, July 20th, at 7:30 pm, the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will host its 10th Annual Candlelight Vigil at the Tularosa Little League field to commemorate the 1945 Trinity test and acknowledge the negative health effects suffered by the people of New Mexico.  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/    
  3.  August 3, 2019, the 16th Annual Hiroshima Peace Day, Commemoration, and Peace Vigil will take place at Ashley Pond in downtown Los Alamos. 
  4. Mark your calendar for the 75th Anniversaries of the Trinity, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki atomic bombings events in New Mexico from August 5 – 9, 2020.  In addition, the