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WE are now PODCASTING!

CCNS works for you every day by producing the CCNS News Update radio broadcast and related social media posts. And now we’ve added podcasting to that list of avenues of information available to you. We are a grassroots non-profit organization challenging the proposed expansion of WIPP and LANL’s proposed increase in plutonium pit production. These pits are triggers for nuclear weapons. We provide information, action alerts, and sample public comments you can use to easily participate in these public processes. All of this costs money. If you appreciate our work, please make a donation TODAY to support CCNS. Thank you!

 

New Mexico Environment Department Sues DOE to Terminate 2016 Consent Order for LANL

Late last week the New Mexico Environment Department filed a lawsuit against the Department of Energy to terminate the 2016 Consent Order for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  The Consent Order is an administrative tool requiring the cleanup of radioactive, hazardous and toxic wastes stored or buried at LANL.  The lawsuit is the culmination of a failed mandated dispute resolution process required by the Order.

Environment Department Secretary James Kenney said, “[W]e are seeking to terminate the 2016 Consent Order and initiate court-supervised negotiations to renegotiate clean-up terms that protect communities and their environment.”  He described the Department’s high expectations on entering into the 2016 Order, concluding that, “[A]lmost five years later, our expectations are far from met.”   2021-02-25-NMED-seeks-termination-of-LANL-2016-Consent-Order-1 

The Department’s efforts to address legacy waste began over 20 years ago, after the May 2000 Cerro Grande fire.  The fire burned over 7,000 acres across LANL facilities above the Rio Grande.  It burned the Jemez Mountains.  It crossed LANL facilities and Los Alamos homes, opening new pathways for wastes to move through the canyons toward the Rio Grande.

After its investigation, on May 2, 2002, the Department released a Determination that conditions at LANL created an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment to Health or the Environment, along with a draft Order.  http://www.nuclearactive.org/news/050802.html  The Determination provided comprehensive information about the pollutants found on the mesas and in the canyons, the burial and storage sites and the pathways for pollutants to reach the Rio Grande.

A month later, LANL filed lawsuits in both federal and state courts to challenge the Determination and Order.  The government agencies entered into a lengthy, 18-month closed-door settlement negotiation.  On March 1, 2005, a new Consent Order was signed and the public learned that during the negotiations, the Determination had been withdrawn.  NMED-REPONSE-TO-COMMENTS-ON-LANL-CONSENT-ORDER-16251 See Response to Questions 24 and 25 on p. 8 – 9.    

During the Martinez Administration, the parties re-negotiated the 2005 Order with the ineffective 2016 Order.  Preventative pollution-reporting requirements and some public notice were eliminated, among other measures that benefited LANL.  https://nuclearactive.org/nmed-signs-new-consent-order-for-lanl-follows-failed-campaign-approach-resulting-in-lanl-shipping-faulty-waste-drum-to-wipp/

Joni Arends, of CCNS, having followed the Consent Order process of the previous two negotiations and provided public comments, insists on the critical importance for the Department to update and reinstate the Imminent and Substantial Endangerment to Health or the Environment Determination.  She points out that the same or similar risks remain.

Arends also urged the Department to open up the negotiations to the public.  She says, “We are impacted by LANL’s operations everyday.  CCNS’s vision for LANL is a site that is cleaned up; where surface and ground water flow to the Rio Grande without pollution; the air is safe to breathe; and LANL honors this Place and the People’s well-being.”


  1. Every Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. JOIN US! We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

 

  1. Thursday, March 11th – Two Virtual Events Commemorating the 10th Year Since the Fukushima Disaster.

 

a) At 7 pm MST, 6 pm PST – Mothers for Peace, San Luis Obispo with a presentation by Biologist Mary Olson of the Gender and Radiation Impact Project. Mary will introduce REFERENCE GIRL.

Yuji and Beverly Findlay Kaneko, co-producers of Voices from Japan, will provide a current update on Fukushima. 

Register at:  https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYqdOutqD0sGddniE9O2P4EimnWcl_QtaSV  For more information:  https://mothersforpeace.org/

 

b) At 6 – 7:15 pm MST, 5 – 6:15 pm PST – Oregon Physicians for SocialResponsibility will host a panel discussion about the film, Remembering Fukushima, Ten Years Later, with filmmaker Hitomi Kamanaka. He will be joined by Norma Field, Ruiko Muto and Leona Morgan.

The film begins streaming on March 1st and is available until March11th. For more information about streaming the film for $8, please go to Oregon PSR:  https://www.oregonpsr.org/remembering_fukushima_ten_years_later

The film screening and panel discussion are part of the Cascadia Arts Film Festival.

 

  1. Monday, March 29th EPA granted a four-week extension of time to provide comments about LANL industrial wastewater discharge permit. CCNS is preparing comments in response to Triad National Security, LLC’s comments submitted on March 1, 2021.  Stay tuned for sample public comments you can use, as we get closer to the deadline.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no

           

 

Public Comments Needed for EPA about LANL Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened the comment period for the industrial wastewater discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) facilities, including the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no  The Clean Water Act requires a “discharge of [a] pollutant” in order for EPA to issue a permit.  This facility has not discharged for at least a decade.  A mechanical evaporator is used to treat the wastewaters.  Nevertheless, EPA says it will issue a discharge permit for it.

If a facility that handles, treats and stores hazardous waste has a Clean Water Act permit, then it is automatically exempt from regulation by the hazardous waste laws, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA.  Under this exemption, LANL can avoid meeting the more protective and stringent RCRA requirements.

For example, hazardous waste regulation requires a public permitting process for approval of new construction.  LANL has avoided this requirement.  EPA admits in its Fact Sheet that LANL has “a newly constructed main low-level [liquid] waste treatment facility, [] with an estimated operational start date in 2023.”  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no-0  There has been no public permitting process for this new facility.  Instead, LANL and the New Mexico Environment Department have been using the New Mexico Water Quality Act regulatory definition of a “discharge permit modification” to allow the design and construction of the new facility without public knowledge.   20.6.2.7.P NMAC.

In particular, this new facility was not designed to meet the seismic risk on the Pajarito Plateau, as required by RCRA.  The risk is significant.  40 CFR 264, Appendix VI to Part 264:  Political Jurisdictions in Which Compliance with § 264.18(a) Must Be Demonstrated, including Los Alamos County.  The new wastewater treatment facility is located across the street from the site of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project.  As you may recall, the proposed super Walmart-sized Nuclear Facility was canceled due to the seismic risk on the Pajarito Plateau.  https://nuclearactive.org/obama-proposes-3-billion-for-nuclear-weapons-projects-at-lanl-in-lieu-of-cmrr-nuclear-facility/

Other RCRA requirements include assurances of the engineering integrity of the tank systems where waste treatment and storage take place, and completeness of the closure plan.  These requirements are intended for review through a public process, enabling members of the public to advocate more protective levels of public health and safety assurances than provided in the Clean Water Act.

Please raise your voice in support of the New Mexico Environment Department recommendation that all discharge sites covered by the industrial wastewater permit be sampled for PFAS.

Recent LANL and New Mexico Environment Department sampling results show levels of PFAS, or “forever pollutants,” in the canyons where LANL has historically discharged industrial wastewaters.  The sampling results in the canyons covered by the EPA discharge permit show levels of PFAS contamination at 60 times and more than the recommended lifetime exposure limits.

Here are links to recent articles about PFAS in New Mexico, as well as background information and fact sheets. https://www.newmexicopbs.org/productions/groundwater-war/stories/ and https://www.sfreporter.com/news/2021/01/19/forever-pollutants/   More information about PFAS:  https://www.env.nm.gov/pfas/main/ ,  https://www.env.nm.gov/pfas/about-pfas/  ,  https://www.env.nm.gov/pfas/data/ .

Comments are due to EPA on Monday, March 1st.  Sample public comments that you can modify for your own use are available at nuclearactive.org. EPA comment for LANL industrial discharges 2-26-21


1. Friday, Feb. 26th and Saturday, Feb. 27th from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. JOIN US!  We’ll have banners.  Please bring a sign.

 

2. Monday, March 1stcomments due to EPA about LANL industrial wastewater discharge permit. See above CCNS News Update.

 

3. Tuesday, March 2nd – comments due to DOE about the proposed Versatile Test Reactor. DOE has another plan for the same 34 Metric Tons of surplus plutonium, which is as fuel for its proposed three to six billion dollar Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory. https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/versatile-test-reactor    A short sample public comment letter that you can modify is available here.  Sample comment Versatile Test Reactor 2-4-21        

    

4. Wednesday, March 3rd at 7 pm MST – San Diego Veterans for Peace, Chapter 91 virtual Zoom presentation about the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons:  Ratification and Mobilization with Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley Communities (CARES).    For more information, go to http://trivalleycares.org/

 

WIPP 700-C townhall Feb. 25th will be rescheduled

The WIPP 700-C townhall originally scheduled for Feb. 25th will be rescheduled. This change will ensure that we meet our commitment to having relevant data publicly posted for at least a week before the town hall to provide the public an opportunity to review. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to communicating with you soon.
More information from CCNS:
WIPP 700-C fan four-hour test data from the Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring & Research Center is posted here:  https://www.cemrc.org/2021/02/11/700-c-fan-test-results/
WIPP anticipates posting its data in a week or so.  It plans a town hall in two weeks or so.
The New Mexico Environment Department virtual community engagement meeting for LANL will take place Th. Feb. 25th from 5:30 to 7 pm.  Connection information in English and Spanish available at:  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NMED/bulletins/2c0bf27 
 

EPA Reopens Comment Period for LANL Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit

At the request of Triad National Security, LLC, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reopened the comment period for the industrial wastewater discharge permit for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no  According to EPA, on November 12, 2020, Triad requested that EPA reopen the public comment period so that it could respond to the information provided by other commenters that Triad believes “to be incomplete, misleading, or technical[ly] inaccurate.”

Prior to this, on October 15, 2020, CCNS, Honor Our Pueblo Existence, and the New Mexico Acequia Association submitted a 33-page brief to EPA opposing the issuance of the discharge permit for the six LANL facilities that, in fact, no longer discharge wastewater to the environment.  https://www.epa.gov/nm/los-alamos-national-laboratory-lanl-limited-reopening-public-comment-period-npdes-permit-no-0

In a recent letter to the EPA, the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) stated that the new information they referenced in the brief comes from Department of Energy and Triad documents that support their argument that EPA is prohibited from issuing a permit for six non-discharging facilities.

While the Clean Water Act forbids the discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States, it does allow EPA to “issue a permit for a discharge of any pollutant, or combination of pollutants.”

One of the non-discharging facilities is the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility (Outfall 051).  Since November 2010, a mechanical evaporator has been used to treat the wastewaters.  Hazardous waste is handled, treated and stored at the facility.

The federal hazardous waste laws provide that, if a facility that handles, treats and stores hazardous wastes also has a Clean Water Act permit, it is exempt from hazardous waste laws.  Triad has asked EPA to issue a permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, and others, that have not discharged in order to keep the exemption and prevent regulation by the hazardous waste laws.  In 1998, LANL recognized the hazardous waste exemption was an “important consideration” when it planned to shift from discharging to evaporation.

The other five facilities as detailed in Triad’s permit application and associated documents are:

  1. Sanitary Wastewater System (SWWS) Plant (Outfall 13S), located at TA-46;
  2. Strategic Computing Complex (SCC) cooling tower (Outfall 03A027), located at TA-3;
  3. Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) cooling tower (Outfall 03A113), located at TA-53;
  4. National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) cooling tower (03A160), located at TA-35; and
  5. High Explosive Wastewater Treatment Facility (HEWTF) (Outfall 05A055), located at TA-16. “Since November of 2007, the HEWTF has used the electric evaporator and not discharged through the permitted outfall.”  H-125.

Hazardous waste regulation requires a public permitting process for approval of new construction, assessment of compliance with safety standards for seismic risk, assurances of the engineering integrity of the tank systems where treatment and storage takes place, and completeness of the closure planning.  These requirements would be instituted through a public process, enabling members of the public to advocate for more protective levels of public health and safety assurances than provided in the Clean Water Act.

The NGOs are requesting EPA grant an additional comment period for response to Triad’s second submittal.

As of now, the public comment period ends on Sunday, February 28th.  Stay tuned to nuclearactive.org where sample public comments you can use will be posted soon.


1. Friday, Feb. 19th and Saturday, Feb. 20th from noon to 1 pm – Protest LANL signing a 10-year lease (for the former Descartes building) to establish itself in Santa Fe at the corner of Guadalupe and W. Alameda. We’ll have banners, bring a sign.

 

2. Wednesday, Feb. 24th at 11 to noon – Bulletin for the Atomic Scientist virtual program about “Why is America getting a new $100 billion nuclear weapon?” To register:  https://info.thebulletin.org/NewNuclearWeapon

 

3. Thursday, February 25th from 5:30 to 7 pm: NMED Community Engagement Meeting re:  NMED’s work at LANL.  For details and links, scroll down to February 11, 2021 press release in English and Spanish.  https://www.env.nm.gov/news-releases/    

 

4. Thursday, February 25th at 6:30 pm: WIPP Town Hall 700-C Fan Test Results.  Please click HERE to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from WIPP containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.  Test results will be available on the 700-C restart webpage before the meeting.        

 

5. Friday and Saturday February 26 & 27: 26th Annual Tulane Environmental Law & Policy Summit, a zoomed event.  Environmental Justice is the theme.  The event is free and open to the public.  CCNS Board Member, Myrriah Gomez, Ph.D., will moderate a distinguished panel about Recent Publications on Environmental Injustice.  For more information:  https://tulaneenvironmentallawsummit.com/

 

Love New Mexico DON’T WASTE IT! Stop Forever WIPP

Love New Mexico

DON’T WASTE IT!

Stop Forever WIPP

 

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2021

The 7th Anniversary of the Explosion at WIPP

Seven years ago on Valentine’s Day, underground at WIPP, one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste, packaged and shipped by LANL, exploded, releasing radiation below and above ground.

Please send a valentine to

our Governor

NM Environment Department Secretary James Kenney

and to our Federal Congressional Delegation

 

Let them know that you remain concerned
about safety and security at WIPP
and
Ask them to STOP plans to expand WIPP
Urge them to publicly support the closure of WIPP in 2024 after 25 years of operations as promised by the DOE,and as required by the NM Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Permit for WIPP.
Write your own text or copy this text into your email

LOVE NEW MEXICO

Don’t waste it!
STOP FOREVER WIPP

February 14 – Valentine’s Day
The 7th Anniversary of the Explosion at WIPP
  • Safety and security at WIPP remains a concern.
  • Please stop the plans to expand WIPP and keep waste coming for many decades.
  • Keep the promises for limits on WIPP.
  • Require other disposal sites.

  • Support the closure of WIPP in 2024 as required by the
    New Mexico Environment Department’s WIPP Permit

 

 

Click on the picture to read the WIPP History & Timeline

 

Forward this Valentine to your Family and Friends
and post it on your Facebook page.

Ask them to send it out and love New Mexico too!

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

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider CCNS Petition for Certiorari about EPA Discharge Permit for LANL

Another step on a twisted journey will take place on Friday, February 26th, when the U.S. Supreme Court will consider CCNS’s Petition for Certiorari in a case challenging the issuance of a Clean Water Act discharge permit for a critical Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) facility.  https://www.supremecourt.gov/search.aspx?filename=/docket/docketfiles/html/public/20-717.html  In an unpublished decision, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decided erroneously that CCNS did not have standing to challenge the permit.  CCNS v. EPA (RLWTF) 200423 CA10 decision  For that reason, CCNS filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court for review of the Tenth Circuit’s decision.

The critical LANL facility is the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, or RLWTF.  It has operated since 1963.  It treats radioactive and hazardous liquid wastes from key plutonium and tritium facilities across the LANL site.  It discharged treated liquid wastewater into Effluent Canyon, which flowed into the upper reach of Mortandad Canyon and soaked into the ground.

But in November 2010, those discharges ended because LANL began to exclusively use an evaporator system to treat the liquids and release them as vapors into the air.

For a facility to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, a discharge of a pollutant into the environment is required.  In an effort to prevent dual regulation by both the Clean Water Act and federal hazardous waste laws, if a facility has a Clean Water Act permit, it is granted an exemption from the hazardous waste laws.  But because the RLWTF no longer discharges, it is no longer eligible for a Clean Water Act permit and must be regulated by the hazardous waste laws.  But EPA did issue the permit.  As a result, neither the Clean Water Act nor the hazardous waste laws regulate the RLWTF to the detriment of the People.

CCNS members submitted affidavits to the Tenth Circuit stating our fears that the lack of proper hazardous waste regulation means that we are deterred from visiting riparian areas near and downgradient from the RLWTF in the Rio Grande watershed.

The Tenth Circuit ruled that persons who live in and use lands downgradient from the RLWTF, and whose use and enjoyment of those areas are diminished by its noncompliance lack standing to question the unlicensed operations.  The court added that CCNS must prove that the pollutants had reached the Rio Grande, a requirement not found in existing standing criteria.  The Tenth Circuit’s decision is inconsistent with other decisions within the federal circuits.  Thus, our appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

Please make a tax-deductible contribution to CCNS to support these efforts to hold the federal government accountable to enforce the laws.


  1. Valentine’s Day – Sunday, February 14th: Seventh anniversary of the explosion in the WIPP underground of one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste packaged and shipped by LANL.  Please contact Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham https://www.governor.state.nm.us/contact-the-governor/ , New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney james.kenney@state.nm.us , and your congressional members and tell them:

LOVE NEW MEXICO

Don’t waste it!

STOP FOREVER WIPP

 

 ~Safety and security at WIPP remains a concern.

~Please stop the plans to expand WIPP and keep waste coming for many decades.

~Keep the promises for limits on WIPP.

~Require other disposal sites.

 

~Support the closure of WIPP in 2024 as required by the New Mexico Environment Department’s WIPP Permit

 

  1. Monday, February 15 at 10 am MST (Albuquerque) and 10 am CST (Mexico City) – Virtual Celebration with OPANAL (Organismo para la Proscripcion de Armas Nucleares en la America Latina y el Caribe) in the commemoration of the 54th anniversary of the Treaty of Tlatelolco.

Crash course for those unfamiliar with OPANAL and/or Tlatelolco (pronunced tuh-laa-tuh-laal-kuh):  The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean – known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco – is the legal instrument signed and ratified by all 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It prohibits: the testing, use, manufacture, production or acquisition by any means whatsoever of any nuclear weapons, directly or indirectly, within said region. The Treaty of Tlatelolco delineates its Zone of Application (Article 4); it creates and sets the structure, powers, and activities for the Agency (OPANAL) which oversees compliance with the obligations of the Contracting Parties (Articles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 22, and 23); it establishes a Control System, under OPANAL, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (Articles 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16).

To learn more:  http://www.opanal.org/en/the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons-in-latin-america/

 

  1. Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor with uranium and plutonium fuel, draft environmental impact statement.  Sample public comments are available at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

  1. Thursday, February 18th: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.

 

  1. Thursday, February 25th at 6:30 pm: WIPP Town Hall 700-C Fan Test Results. Please click HERE to register. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email from WIPP containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.  Test results will be available on the 700-C restart webpage before the meeting.
 

Newsbytes about WIPP and LANL

This week’s Update will provide short highlights of a recent victory and information about Department of Energy (DOE) plans either to bring more than 34 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico or to use the plutonium in a proposed test reactor.  These plans are open for public review and comment.  And finally, DOE tested the 700-C fan at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).

First, the victory:  On Tuesday, January 26th, the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution requiring a new site-wide environmental impact statement, or SWEIS, for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) before any proposed expansion of plutonium pit production there.  Plutonium pits are the triggers for nuclear weapons.  The last LANL SWEIS was completed in 2008.

Commissioners Anna Hansen and Anna Hamilton brought the resolution forward.  SF Co. BCC LANL SWEIS Resolution No. 2021-011

Although public comments were due on Monday, February 1st, about the scope of an upcoming environmental impact statement for DOE’s plans to bring 34 Metric Tons of surplus plutonium to WIPP, DOE has extended the comment period to Thursday, February 18thhttps://www.energy.gov/nepa/doeeis-0549-surplus-plutonium-disposition-program    Sample public comment letters you can use are available here.  f one-pager Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21     f long Surplus Pu Scoping EIS comments 1-8-21

At the same time, DOE has another plan for the same 34 Metric Tons of surplus plutonium, which is as fuel for its proposed three to six billion dollar Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory.

DOE claims that it needs the test reactor for experimentation, but no support of that claim is found in the draft environmental impact statement.  Normally, uranium is used as fuel.  DOE wants to use both uranium and plutonium as fuel, which would increase the risk of operating such a reactor.  The fuel would be fabricated at either the Idaho National Laboratory or at the Savannah River Site.

This operation would generate waste, which DOE wants to ship to WIPP.  Public comments are due to DOE by Tuesday, February 16th.  https://www.energy.gov/ne/nuclear-reactor-technologies/versatile-test-reactor

A short sample public comment letter that you can use is available here.  Sample comment Versatile Test Reactor 2-4-21 

Finally, over this past weekend, DOE conducted a four-hour test of the aboveground 700-C fan at WIPP to determine what amount of radioactive particles would be released. The fan was shut off on February 14, 2014 when one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste exploded in the deep geologic disposal facility.  DOE claims that using the fan increases airflow in the underground.  But releasing contamination endangers workers on the surface.  The $300 million New Filter Building that would bring uncontaminated airflow is delayed by contractor errors.  Test results from the air sampling will be available soon.  DOE will host a virtual public meeting to discuss them in about two weeks.  https://www.energy.gov/em/articles/wipp-completes-initial-test-restarting-700-c-ventilation-fan-0


  1. Sunday, February 14, 2021: Seventh anniversary of the explosion in the WIPP underground of one or more drums of plutonium-contaminated waste packaged and shipped by LANL.  Please contact your congressional and state representatives and let them know that you remain concerned about safety and security at WIPP.  Urge them to publicly support the closure of WIPP in 2024 after 25 years of operations as promised by the DOE, and, as required by the NM Environment Department’s Hazardous Waste Permit.

 

  1. Tuesday, February 16, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the Versatile Test Reactor, a fast neutron reactor with uranium and plutonium fuel, draft environmental impact statement.  Sample public comments are available at http://nuclearactive.org/

 

  1. Thursday, February 18, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.
 

Stop Surplus Plutonium Waste from Coming to WIPP!

What’s Next?

DEADLINE – MONDAY, February 1, 2021

Stop Surplus Plutonium Waste from Coming to WIPP

 

The time is now!

NOW is the time for New Mexicans to be heard. The Department of Energy (DOE) wants to dispose 34 metric tons of so-called “surplus plutonium” at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. Accepting this pure or diluted, plutonium would violate the WIPP operating end date, as well as waste type and waste volume limitations. It would also increase transportation and transportation risks.

 

We can stop DOE from sending this new waste to WIPP and turning our state into the nation’s nuclear dumping ground. We have a window of opportunity right now and your actions are critical to protecting our property, health and lives.

 

What’s this opportunity?

We are in the first stage of the public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be prepared to evaluate alternatives for the “disposition of plutonium surplus to the defense needs of the United States.” Right now the public can comment on what should be covered in this EIS, if the alternatives in the EIS are adequate, and if the public process so far has been adequate, fair & inclusive. These are called scoping comments. However, this comment period ends on Monday, February 1, 2021.

 

Click on the map to see an animated video about DOE’s broken promises

 

DOE’s preferred alternative is the “dilute & dispose” alternative that would transport 34 metric tons of plutonium back and forth across the country before disposing it in WIPP.  Even DOE’s “no action” alternative includes dilution of 7.1 MT of plutonium and disposal in WIPP.

 

Transportation risks

DOE’s plans would put people in New Mexico and many other states at risk, increasing accident and plutonium release risks. Such a release would be devastating. Much of this surplus plutonium is stored in Texas. It must be transported first to Los Alamos to be oxidized and then to South Carolina to be diluted before being shipped back to WIPP in New Mexico.

 

Click on the map to see an animated video on transportation risks & more

 

Even during normal operations, increased transportation will lead to increased exposures to workers and the public. Radiation is not fully contained by the shipping casks, irradiating anyone close by—especially the WIPP drivers and employees at truck & rest stops, who are irradiated over and over again.

 

Some points you may want to make

in your comments about the EIS

  1. There should be an alternative that does not end up with any of this waste coming to WIPP.
  2. Risk assessments and effects studies need to be done for each alternative both for the sites and especially along the shipping routes.
  3. The EIS must explain why DOE wants to break the social contract agreements it made with New Mexico that included other disposal sites.

 

What Can I do?

Click here for a short & simple sample comment email

Click here for a longer, more detailed sample comment email

Click here for a WIPP timeline and summary of WIPP history

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Donate by credit card through our GoFundMe page

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

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

 

January 22, 2021: A Day for the History Books

Joni Arends, of CCNS, (L) and Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen (R) holding the Entry into Force banner at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM.  Jan. 21, 2021.

Celebrating the entry into force of the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Friday, January 22nd, the Santa Fe Veterans for Peace invited people to join them in an extended Friday noon vigil.

In Santa Fe, at the corner of St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, under a bright winter sun, members of Veterans for Peace held white peace flags that fluttered in the stiff wind, and their light blue, frame-supported banner said, “Nuclear Weapons are Illegal” in black lettering.  Nuclear Watch New Mexico and Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety held bright yellow 8-foot banners with the same large black lettering. Across the bottom of all the banners was written, “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Is Now Law.”  Cars at the intersection honked in support of the message that was displayed by about twenty individuals.

After the hour-long Santa Fe vigil, almost everyone drove to Ashley Pond Park in Los Alamos and stood for a second hour-long vigil on the sidewalks along Trinity Drive.

As the hour came to a close, the group circled around to reflect on the day’s significance.  Mateo Peixinho, of Chimayo, acknowledged that Los Alamos is built on Pueblo de San Ildefonso lands.  He reported that he’d just learned that this day, January 22nd, is the Pueblo’s Feast Day, an auspicious day for the celebration of the Treaty’s entry into force.

Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, shared words from his inspiring op ed:  “The U.S. was among the last major countries to abolish slavery but did so in the end.  To modify Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous quote, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards [the] justice’ of abolishing nuclear weapons.  This ban treaty is the beginning of that end and should be celebrated as such.”  https://nukewatch.org/

Ken Mayers, of Veterans for Peace, added this observation.  “In New York City, activists used high-powered projection lights to illuminate the side of the UN building with a powerful message about nukes for the occasion: ‘Always immoral; Now illegal.’ ’’

Friday, January 22nd was intense, offering a local perspective and a chance to appear in person, at the end of a remarkable January week.  Monday was filled with the sights and sounds of commemorative programs honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On Tuesday, at the reflecting pool in Washington, D.C., President-elect Joe Biden presided over a prayer vigil for the 400,000 lives lost so far in the pandemic. Wednesday, Inauguration Day, brought the focus to plans for the future and the potential to begin anew across the country.

The local demonstrations in support of the Treaty brought home in an immediate way—with live human beings, neighbor-to-neighbor, properly masked and distanced–the possibility of curtailing the world’s reliance on nuclear weapons.

Basia Miller, a CCNS Board member, reflected by saying, “On this sunny day, we joined together also to celebrate the devoted efforts of the thousands of people in the 86 signatory countries and around the world who worked so long to make this United Nations Treaty a reality.”  BASIA’S 1-16-21 MY VIEW


Did You Know about the upcoming public comment opportunity, a CodePink event and interesting articles?

 

  1. Monday, Feb. 1, 2021: Comments due to DOE about the scope of a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement for its plans to bring up to 48.2 metric tons of “surplus” plutonium to New Mexico for processing at LANL and disposal at WIPP.  It is important for DOE to receive comments for New Mexicans.   Sample public comments you can use available at http://nuclearactive.org/ on the right side of the page under the golden #STOPFVRWIPP logo.

 

  1. Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 from 3 – 4 pm MST – CodePink webinar The True Cost of Nuclear Weapons with Beata Tsosie-Peña of Tewa Women United; Joni Arends of CCNS; and Trisha T. Pritikin, Author of The Hanford Plaintiffs. To register for the event, go to  https://www.codepink.org/02022021

 

  1. “Why the United States should support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” by William J. Perry, at https://thebulletin.org/2021/01/why-the-united-states-should-join-the-treaty-on-the-prohibition-of-nuclear-weapons/

 

  1. “Turn back the Clock: The nuclear ban treaty is entering into force,” by Talei Luscia Mangioni and Alicia Sanders-Zakre, at https://thebulletin.org/2021/01/turn-back-the-clock-the-nuclear-ban-treaty-is-entering-into-force/

 

  1. “This is your COVID wake-up call: It is 100 seconds to midnight,” 2021 Doomsday Clock Announcement on January 27, 2021, at https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/