Current Activities

Protect Water! Oppose Dirty Water Rule! Comments Due April 15th

On February 24, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to enforce his regulatory reform agenda.  It established the U.S. policy “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.”

On Valentine’s Day, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a “Dirty Water Rule,” which would eliminate critical Clean Water Act protections for ephemeral streams and other stream segments, such as perennial and intermittent segments, above ephemeral streams.  Ephemeral streams flow for a short amount of time, such as after a summer monsoon.  https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule

The New Mexico Environment Department estimates that over 96 percent of New Mexico’s waters would lose Clean Water Act protection.  https://www.env.nm.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/032119-WOTUS-lawsuit.pdf  New Mexico does not have regulatory authority from EPA to issue permits for eliminating discharges of pollutants to waterways under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES.  Nor does New Mexico have the regulatory authority from the Corps to issue permits for dredge and fill operations.  EPA and the Army Corps run those programs.

The proposed rule would create a regulatory void in New Mexico.  No state programs exist to fill the regulatory gap if the dirty water rule is approved.  The EPA and Army Corps also would lose jurisdiction for ephemeral, perennial and intermittent streams.

For example, the impacts of discharges of legacy waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) would be tremendous for the Rio Grande.  Ephemeral streams that drain the Pajarito Plateau, where LANL and its dumpsites are located, flow to the Rio Grande.  The Clean Water Act would no longer cover them.  Currently such discharges from LANL into these streams are subject to several NPDES permits issued by EPA.  These include an industrial wastewater permit with 11 separate outfalls; multiple outfalls regulated by a Multi-Sector Industrial Permit; an Individual Stormwater Permit that regulates discharges from 405 contaminated sites; and other discharges regulated by a Construction General Permit.  The proposed changes to the definition of “Waters of the United States” would eliminate EPA’s ability to require LANL to comply with the existing permits.

The Clean Water Act governs water pollution.  Its goal is to maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters so they are fishable and swimmable, meaning that people and fish can swim in the water without harm.

Comments are due to EPA and the Army Corps on Monday, April 15th.  Protect water!  Get your comments in!

Amigos Bravos has a sample comment letter you can use at https://amigosbravos.org/spotlight/view/113

WildEarth Guardians has a detailed explanation about how to submit comments at https://wildearthguardians.org/stand-for-clean-water-info/


The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC) scheduled their next meeting for Friday, April 19th from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at the Espanola City Hall to discuss a Restated and Amended  Joint Powers Agreement Establishing the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities By and Among the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, the City of Espanola, Rio Arriba County, the Town of Taos, Taos County and the Sovereign Governments of the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh and the Pueblo of Jemez.  https://regionalcoalition.org/

Despite public requests since 2010, the RCLC has not defined key terms in the JPA dealing with congressional lobbying activities to increase the Department of Energy (DOE) funding at LANL.  These terms include “mission diversification,” “economic development,” advocary for long-term stable funding of LANL missions,” etc.   

Friday, April 19th is Good Friday and the beginning of Passover.  CCNS’s experience over the past 31 years indicates there is less public participation during times of cultural and religious holidays.  Inevitably, this will be the case with the RCLC meeting. 

Please contact your elected officials who are representatives of the RCLC and ask that the meeting be rescheduled:

Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal – <hproybal@santafecountynm.gov>

Taos Councilor Darien Fernandez – dfernandez@taosgov.com

Santa Fe City Councilor Peter Ives – pnives@santafenm.gov

Los Alamos County Councilor David Izraelevitz – david.izraelevitz@lacnm.us

Mayor Javier E. Sanchez – javiersanchez@espanolanm.gov

Taos County Commissioner Mark Gallegos – mark.gallegos@taoscounty.org

Ohkay Owingeh Representative Ron Lovato

Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo – lvjaramillo@rio-arriba.org

 

CCW Asks WQCC to Remand LANL Permit to NMED Secretary

On Tuesday, April 9th, the Communities for Clean Water (CCW) will argue that the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission remand a groundwater discharge permit proceeding back to the New Mexico Environment Department Secretary because the Hearing Officer and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) corrupted the permit hearing process.  CCW questions the legal ethics of the Hearing Officer and the Department of Energy’s NNSA at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) because during the permit proceedings, the Hearing Officer successfully applied for employment with the NNSA.  http://ccwnewmexico.org/

The permit proceeding involves a groundwater discharge permit for the 66-year old Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility, which treats liquid wastes contaminated with hazardous and toxic pollutants, plutonium, and low-level radiation.

CCW contested the permit because the New Mexico Water Quality Act states that if a facility handles hazardous waste and would be regulated by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, and then no Water Quality Act permit may be issued.

Further, the permit will never come into effect.  The Water Quality Act states that a permit becomes effective when there is a discharge.  LANL stopped discharging in November 2010.  The permit would never become effective, thus, the permit is a nullity.

In March 2018, before the April 19th permit hearing began, CCW filed a motion to dismiss because there is no discharge.  The Hearing Officer denied the motion without explanation.

In June, CCW renewed its motion to dismiss.  On July 19th, the Hearing Officer issued a draft report, in which she rejected CCW’s argument, again without explanation.  The Parties provided comments on the draft report.  The Hearing Officer issued a revised report on August 29th, and the Secretary approved the permit the same day.

In January, CCW learned that on June 15th, 2018, NNSA had published a job opening for an attorney.  Applications were due by July 26th.  Sometime before July 26th, the Hearing Officer applied.

NNSA stated in its response brief, “The facts do not establish exactly when any interviews may have occurred.  Accordingly, it would be justified for the Commission to assume for these purposes that contact may well have occurred prior to the Hearing Officer’s issuance of her report and revised report.”

On September 18th, NNSA offered the Hearing Officer the job.  She accepted and started work on November 25th.

Under the law, a decisionmaker who has a personal interest that may be affected by his or her decision is disqualified.  In this situation, the Hearing Officer’s job application would have a better chance if she ruled in favor of the LANL.  She did rule in LANL’s favor, and then she got the job she had applied for.  CCW argues that the Hearing Officer’s decision was invalid and the case must go back to the Environment Department.

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

PLEADINGS:

2-4-19    CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –  CCW MOTION TO VACATE AND REMAND WQCC 18-05-A on DP-1132-20190204

2-5-19    CCW Exhibits A and B Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   EXHIBIT A     EXHIBIT B

2-18-19  New Mexico Environment Department’s Response to CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand  –  190219 DP-1132 NMED Response WQCC 18-05(A) 02-19-19

2-19-19  U.S. Department of Energy and Triad National Security, LLC Response to CCW Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   190219 DP-1132 WQCC No 18-05(A) Triad DOE’s Response to CCW’s Motion to Vacate (2-19-19) (W3369547x7A92D)

2-25-19  CCW Reply Brief on Motion to Vacate Agency Decision and Remand the Petition for Review of DP-1132  –   WQCC 18-05-A CCW reply brief 2019-02-25


…about these upcoming events:

1. Saturday, April 6, 2019 – Trinity Site Open House. The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium (TBDC) invites everyone who would like to stand with them at either the gate to the Stallion Site, off of Highway 285 about 10 miles east of San Antonio from 9 am to 1 pm, OR at the Tularosa Gate Site, at the Tularosa High School parking lot beginning from 7:30 to 8:30 am.

The TBDC invites everyone to bring their own chair, water, snacks and appropriate clothing as the weather is sometimes cold and windy.  They will provide a porta-pottie for everyone’s convenience.

The goal is to educate people about what it has meant to be a downwinder.

2.  Monday, April 15th, 2019 – Waters of the United States (WOTUS) – If the proposed dirty water rule is approved by EPA, the New Mexico Environment Department estimates that 96% of the waters of New Mexico would not be subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction and protection under the proposed rule.  HELP!  Get your comments in!

Amigos Bravos provides sample public comments you can use at https://amigosbravos.org/take_action/letter/42

 

New Nuclear Arms Race & Downwinders Events at White Sands

On February 1st, the Trump Administration announced that the United States would withdrawal from the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia.  Both the U.S. and Russia are expected to complete the withdrawal process in August.  At the same time, the Pentagon plans to begin flight tests for two intermediate range missiles that are banned under the Treaty.  Defense officials claim that the missiles are non-nuclear.  They are land-based cruise or ballistic missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,410 miles.

The Treaty, which came into effect in 1987, was negotiated to eliminate intermediate-range, nuclear tipped missiles because they have short flight times to reach their target.  The work with non-compliant missiles would cease if the two countries reach a deal before August to continue the Treaty.

(Pat Vasquez-Cunningham/Journal)

To make a statement in support of the Treaty and the first victims of atomic bomb testing on July 16th, 1945, please join the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium at two White Sands Missile Range entrances during the Trinity Site open house on Saturday, April 6th.  The Army opens the radioactively contaminated Trinity Site to the public twice a year.  https://www.wsmr.army.mil/Trinity/Pages/Home.aspx

Beginning at 7:30 am, the Downwinders 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 Downwinders will gather at the Stallion Range Station, east of San Antonio on Highway 380, for a three-hour peaceful demonstration.  Please bring your own water, snacks, chair, hat, and a poster or sign.

The Downwinders will provide information about the harm done to the People living downwind of the Trinity Site and their efforts to ensure that the 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 in the atmosphere.   The Trinity Downwinders have never been included even though over $2.3 billion has been paid in claims.  https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca

Tina Cordova, a co-founder of the Downwinders said, “Seventy-four 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.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/home

1.  This week is the 40th year since the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident.  Beyond Nuclear compiled a number of stories about the overexposure of residents to radiation and how the true health impacts weren’t properly investigated.  Now Three Mile Island wants a bailout.  

*  Residents around TMI exposed to far more radiation than officials claimed –  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/03/24/residents-around-tmi-exposed-to-far-more-radiation-than-officials-claimed/

*  Too cheap to meter now needs a bailout?  Now Three Mile Island wants a fourth bailout – the first in 1979 to defuel the melted core; the second in 1995 for “cleanup” of the accident; the third in 1996 during the restructuring of the electrical industry – separating the generation of electricity from its distribution and transmission; and the fourth – Exelon Energy and First Energy wants to charge consumers a nuclear tax.

2.  For more information about how the nuclear power industry operates, see Eric Epstein’s article referenced above.  Mr. Epstein is the chairman of Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., a safe-energy organization based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and founded in 1977.

3.  For more information about TMI’s 40th commemoration, listen to Libbe HaLevy’s special edition of Nuclear Hotseat at http://nuclearhotseat.com/2019/03/26/three-mile-island-40th-anniversary-pt-1-wtf-happened-at-tmi-nh-405/  Ms. HaLevy is a survivor of the TMI accident.

 

Trump Budget seeks to boost nuclear weapons and reduce cleanup

On March 11, the Trump administration released its overall budget for Fiscal Year 2020 that includes a $1.3 billion increase to $12.4 billion for nuclear weapons, while reducing cleanup funding by $517 million to $5.5 billion, compared with current spending. The 11.8 percent increase for nuclear weapons is for “modernization” and to support the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Among other things, that nuclear weapons policy intends to “[p]rovide the enduring capability and capacity to produce plutonium pits at a rate of no fewer than 80 pits per year by 2030.”  Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is the only site currently that manufactures the plutonium pits that are the core of nuclear bombs. But in addition to increasing pit production at LANL, the budget will support development of new pit manufacturing capacity at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The dramatic increase from the current production of from 0 to a few plutonium pits per year to 80 pits would also result in more dangerous activities for workers, and significantly more radioactive and toxic chemical waste production. Nonetheless, the Budget Request reduces cleanup spending at LANL from $220 million to $195 million, or more than 11 percent.

Sandia National Laboratory’s nuclear weapons work would increase to about $2 billion (a few million dollars more than LANL), while its $2.6 million cleanup budget would remain about the same amount and would not fund clean up of the Mixed Waste Landfill, which is a significant public concern in Albuquerque.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), New Mexico’s third major Department of Energy site, which is the repository for transuranic or plutonium-contaminated nuclear weapons waste, would have a funding increase of about $23 million to $363 million. The increase is for continuing efforts to expand the amount of waste at the site and extend its operational lifetime for decades.

Congressional committees will debate the budget for several months with the goal of passing authorization and appropriations bills by September 30 to fund all of the federal government, including the nuclear weapons and cleanup activities. Senator Tom Udall is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes the appropriation bills. Senator Martin Heinrich is on the Senate Armed Services Committee that develops the National Defense Authorization bill that includes nuclear weapons and cleanup. Representatives Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres-Small serve on the House Armed Services Committee that originates the defense authorization bill.

Whether the nation’s, and New Mexican’s, priorities are more nuclear weapons and nuclear waste and less cleanup will be part of the congressional debate over the next few months. People are encouraged to contact their Representative and Senators about these important issues.


  1. The Trump Budget Request for the Department of Energy is at:

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/03/f60/doe-fy2020-budget-in-brief_0.pdf

  1. More detailed budget requests are at:

https://www.energy.gov/cfo/listings/budget-justification-supporting-documents

  1. The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review is at:

https://dod.defense.gov/News/SpecialReports/2018NuclearPostureReview.aspx

  1. The Budget Request for the entire federal government is at:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/

 

CCNS’ Lawyers Take LANL’s Clean Water Act Exemption to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

On March 19 in Salt Lake City, Utah, CCNS’ lawyers will ask the court to invalidate an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Water Act permit for the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) through Outfall 051.  https://www.env.nm.gov/swqb/NPDES/Permits/NM0028355-LANL.pdf

If the court rules in favor of CCNS, the facility that treats radioactive, hazardous, and toxic liquid waste and then stores the drums of sludge containing hazardous waste would be regulated by the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act, which calls for detailed regulation and provides for enhanced public participation.

But, under an EPA rule, called the Wastewater Treatment Unit exemption, if a facility is regulated under a Clean Water Act permit, that facility is exempt from the Hazardous Waste Act.

However, since November 2010, no discharge has occurred from Outfall 051.  In order to have coverage under the Clean Water Act, there must be a discharge.  More than eight years ago, LANL began its zero-discharge system by evaporating the discharge into the air.

But LANL wants to keep the Clean Water Act exemption, and the laboratory acknowledged in a 1998 report that 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 enhanced public participation would be required.

A New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act permit, issued by the New Mexico Environment Department, could regulate the operation of the entire liquid waste system, including all the pipes and systems that deliver liquid waste to the treatment facility, the facility itself, and the pipes and tanks that are downstream.

In June 2016, CCNS, through its attorneys, Jon Block with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, and Lindsay A. Lovejoy, requested EPA’s Region 6 office in Dallas to terminate Outfall 051 from the permit.  http://nmelc.org/ and http://lindsaylovejoy.com/  In August 2017, EPA denied CCNS’s request.  The EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, DC, also denied CCNS’s request.

The Oral Argument before three judges of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is at 9 am on March 19 at the University of Utah – S.J. Quinney College of Law in Salt Lake City. The Court will issue an order deciding the case at a later date.

Lindsay Lovejoy, who will be arguing CCNS’s case, said, “This facility should be subject to the New Mexico Hazardous Waste Act. The law requires such regulation, which would also better protect public health and the environment.”

March 28th marks the 40th anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant disaster.  For more information, please visit:

  1. Three Mile Island Alert at http://www.tmia.com/ The group has produced a 40th anniversary downloadable media packet.
  2. Beyond Nuclear’s Three Mile Island Truth at http://www.beyondnuclear.org/tmi-truth/
  3. Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) articles at https://www.nirs.org/?s=three+mile+island
 

Trinity Downwinders Benefit on Sunday, March 17th in ABQ

You are cordially invited to attend the Second Annual Benefit for the Trinity Downwinders on Sunday, March 17th from 1 to 5 pm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  Featured local artists include New Mexico Music Hall of Fame 2018 Inductee, Franc Chewiwie, and his Latin Jazz Allstars https://www.facebook.com/nmmhof/photos/a.520741688122348/868199403376573/?type=3&theater; Paul Pino and the Tone Daddies http://paulpino.com/; and Nosotros https://www.nosotrosmusic.net/.  There will be dancing, a cash bar and restaurant, silent auction, and door prizes.

The benefit will raise funds for members of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium to travel to Washington, DC in support of proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that would include the Trinity Downwinders. Currently, the Downwinders are not eligible for compensation and medical care because they are not included in RECA. 

Last year, the benefit raised enough funds to fly ten Trinity Downwinders to Washington, DC to support co-founder, Tina Cordova, as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 27, 2018.  That hearing was the first time that Trinity Downwinders were able to present their case in a congressional hearing.

New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Representatives Ben Ray Lujan, Deb Haaland, Xochitl Torres-Small all support proposed RECA amendments that would include the Trinity Downwinders. They also support amendments so that people that worked in uranium mines after 1971 would be included in RECA.

RECA bills will be introduced in the new Senate and House soon.  Hearings before the House Judiciary Committee may be scheduled this spring or summer.

dhanson@abqjournal.com

Last year, the Downwinders testified about their over exposure to radiation received following the July 16, 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test.  They explained to the congresspeople the health, cultural, and economic impacts they have experienced living downwind and downstream of the Trinity Site.

The Downwinders documented the harm in their 2017 health impact assessment, entitled, “Unknowing, Unwilling, and Uncompensated:  The Effects of the Trinity Test on New Mexicans and the Potential Benefits of a Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendment.” https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/health-impact-assessment

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, is grateful to the generous sponsors, the musical artists, and all the people who are donating their time and talents. She said, “Our event will be a sellout this year as it was last year.  We are grateful for the support people have shown us.  We’re looking forward to a very successful event and know those who join us will have a great time.”

The National Hispanic Cultural Center is located at 1701 4th Street, Southwest, in Albuquerque.  http://www.nhccnm.org/

To contribute to the silent auction, to sponsor a table, and for additional information or to make a donation, please call 505-235-3427, or visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/


1. On July 16, 1945, the U.S. Government tested the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Test Site at the White Sands Missile Range, in south central New Mexico.  It was exploded from a fire lookout at the height of 100 feet.

2. The mushroom cloud gathered up vegetation and soils and rose nearly seven miles into the atmosphere.  It stratified, moving north, east, south, and west, dumping radioactive fallout for days following the blast.

3.  At the point the bomb exploded, the people living downwind and downstream of the Trinity Test Site became “Downwinders,” a term used to describe those who have been harmed from over-exposure to radiation.

4.  In 1990, Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include Downwinders in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.  Congress did not include the Trinity Downwinders.  Amendments passed in 2000 also omitted the Trinity Downwinders.

5.  The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium have been working for years to ensure the Trinity Downwinders are included in RECA.

 

WIPP Worker Exposures Being Investigated

From July to October 2018, several workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) had “multiple overexposures to hazardous chemicals, including carbon tetrachloride, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as a series of heat-stress incidents.” That statement came from the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Enterprise Assessments in announcing an investigation of Nuclear Waste Partnership, LLC (NWP), the contractor in charge of WIPP operations. That DOE office can impose fines and penalties.

dhanson@abqjournal.com

The number of workers exposed, the types of exposure, and why NWP did not adequately protect the surface and underground workers as it is supposed to do under its contract may be determined by the investigation.

One source of the exposures was identified by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) on September 7, 2018. Its WIPP monthly report stated that “high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC)” were in various containers arriving at WIPP from the Idaho National Laboratory and that NWP was assessing how to maintain safety in the Waste Handling Building.

 On October 5, 2018, DNFSB reported that an underground worker felt ill, likely caused by heat stress and poor underground air quality. Another worker became ill after apparently being exposed to high levels of nitrous oxides.

In its November 2, 2018 report, DNFSB stated that “underground workers were exposed to unsafe levels of sulfur dioxide.” In addition, there were two separate cases when “workers on the surface were exposed to unsafe levels of carbon tetrachloride while unpacking waste.”

dhanson@abqjournal.com

The DOE investigation could determine why more workers in the Waste Handling Building were exposed two months after the problem of high levels of VOCs from Idaho was reported.

Various problems in the underground, in addition to worker exposures, can be related to insufficient underground ventilation, dating from the radiation release on February 14, 2014. The resulting significant underground contamination requires that the air must be filtered to remove contaminants before it is released to the environment. Because WIPP was never supposed to have such a release, the facility was not designed to operate with all air being filtered. In addition to worker exposures, various roof falls have occurred that can endanger workers because ventilation is not sufficient to carry out some necessary maintenance.

“These continuing failures of NWP to protect workers from overexposures should result in fines for the contractor and significant changes in operations to avoid similar problems in the future,” said Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center. He also says, “NWP’s inability to safely operate the facility, in compliance with its contract, should result in terminating the contract, because if the company could fix the problems to avoid the overexposures, it should have done so years ago.”

 


  1. The Department of Energy Office of Enterprise Assessment notice of investigation of Nuclear Waste Partnership is available at:

https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/01/f59/Notice%20of%20Intent%20to%20Investigate%2C%20Nuclear%20Waste%20Partnership%2C%20LLC.pdf

  1. The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board’s WIPP Monthly Reports are available at:

https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/reports?f%5B0%5D=field_doe_site%3A65

  1. The Safety Board also produces Weekly Reports on Los Alamos National Lab that are available at:

https://www.dnfsb.gov/documents/reports?f%5B0%5D=field_document_type%3A38&f%5B1%5D=field_doe_site%3A62

The Safety Board also issues reports on other nuclear weapons sites. The Department of Energy is trying to reduce the Board staff’s access to DOE sites and information. You can get involved.

 

Trinity Downwinders Benefit on Sunday, March 17th in ABQ

You are cordially invited to attend the Second Annual Benefit for the Trinity Downwinders on Sunday, March 17th from 1 to 5 pm at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.  Featured local artists include New Mexico Music Hall of Fame 2018 Inductee, Franc Chewiwie, and his Latin Jazz Allstars https://www.facebook.com/nmmhof/photos/a.520741688122348/868199403376573/?type=3&theater ; Paul Pino and the Tone Daddies http://paulpino.com/ ; and Nosotros https://www.nosotrosmusic.net/ .  There will be dancing, a cash bar and restaurant, silent auction, and door prizes.

The benefit will raise funds for members of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium to travel to Washington, DC to testify before Congress in support of the proposed amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) that would include the Trinity Downwinders.

Last year, the benefit raised enough funds to fly ten Trinity Downwinders to Washington, DC to support co-founder, Tina Cordova, as she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 27, 2018.  To view the hearing, go to  https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/examining-the-eligibility-requirements-for-the-radiation-exposure-compensation-program-to-ensure-all-downwinders-receive-coverage

Currently, the Downwinders are not eligible for compensation and medical care because they are not included in RECA.  https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca

New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, and Congresspeople Ben Ray Lujan, Deb Haaland, Xochitl Torres-Small all support the proposed RECA amendments to include the Trinity Downwinders and Post ’71 Uranium Workers.

RECA bills will be introduced in the new Senate and House soon.  Hearings before the House Judiciary Committee may be scheduled this spring or summer.

Last year, the Downwinders testified about their over exposure to radiation received following the July 16, 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test.  They explained to the congresspeople the health, cultural, and economic impacts they have experienced living downwind and downstream of the Trinity Site.

The Downwinders documented the harm in their 2017 health impact assessment, entitled, “Unknowing, Unwilling, and Uncompensated:  The Effects of the Trinity Test on New Mexicans and the Potential Benefits of a Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) Amendment.”  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/health-impact-assessment

Tina Cordova, co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, is grateful to the generous sponsors, the musical artists, and all the people who are donating their time and talents. She said, “There are amazingly generous people in this world who see the value of what we are trying to achieve, which is bringing back the justice we’ve been waiting for all these many years.  Every dollar raised or donated is important and very appreciated.  When we show up at the hearings with eight to ten people who represent the New Mexico Downwinders, it has a true impact.”

The National Hispanic Cultural Center is located at 1701 4th Street, Southwest, in Albuquerque.  http://www.nhccnm.org/

To contribute to the silent auction, to sponsor a table, and for additional information, please call 505-235-3427, or visit trinitydownwinders.com/


1. On July 16, 1945, the U.S. Government tested the first atomic bomb at the Trinity Test Site at the White Sands Missile Range, in south central New Mexico.  It was exploded from a fire lookout at the height of 100 feet.

2. The mushroom cloud gathered up vegetation and soils and rose nearly seven miles into the atmosphere.  It stratified, moving north, east, south, and west, dumping radioactive fallout for days following the blast.

3.  At the point the bomb exploded, the people living downwind and downstream of the Trinity Test Site became “Downwinders,” a term used to describe those who have been harmed from over-exposure to radiation.

4.  In 1990, Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) to include Downwinders in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.  Congress did not include the Trinity Downwinders.  Amendments passed in 2000 also omitted the Trinity Downwinders.

5.  The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium have been working for years to ensure the Trinity Downwinders are included in RECA.

 

Livestreamed Nuclear Safety Board Hearing on February 21st in Albuquerque

Complete oversight of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is no longer allowed under the revised Department of Energy Order 140.1.  The Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building, or RLUOB, one of the facilities of the CMRR Project, handles weapons grade plutonium.  It is designated as a Hazard Category 3 facility.  The Department of Energy (DOE) Order eliminates all Hazard Category 3 facilities from the Board’s purview.

Oversight of the CMRR Project is one of the concerns that will be discussed at the Board’s Thursday, February 21st public hearing from 5:30 pm to 9 pm Mountain time at the Albuquerque Convention Center.  It will be live streamed from the Board’s website at dnfsb.gov.  A link will be posted there on the day of the hearing.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/content/federal-register-notice-5

Please use the sample public comment letter f DOE O 140.1 sample comment ltr 2-14-19 to submit your comments to hearing@dnfsb.gov

This is the Board’s third public hearing about DOE Order 140.1.  It is being held in New Mexico at the request of Tewa Women United and Honor Our Pueblo Existence, both based in the Espanola Valley, downwind of LANL.  To view the previous hearings, visit dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings.

The Board invites you to attend the hearing and provide public comments from 7:15 to 8:50 p.m.  You can pre-register to speak by emailing hearing@dnfsb.gov by February 19th.

Production of plutonium pits, the triggers for nuclear weapons, is expected to resume at Los Alamos National Laboratory, with a goal of making as many as 80 pits a year by 2030. This is a file photo of past work on a pit at LANL through an airtight glovebox. Courtesy LANL) moswald@abqjournal.com

 

The Board invited its Technical Director, Chris Roscetti; as well as Todd Shrader, the manager of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant; Jeffery Harrell, the Sandia Field Office manager; Doug Hintze, the Los Alamos clean-up manager; and William (Steve) Goodrum, the Los Alamos nuclear weapons program manager, to testify.

The purpose of the CMRR Project has always been to replace the Cold War-era Chemistry and Metallurgy Research building because of on-going safety and seismic issues.  In the mid-2000s, DOE proposed the CMRR Project, which consisted of two parts.  One part is the RLUOB, which was constructed and does analytical chemistry and materials characterization of the plutonium cores, or pits, for nuclear weapons manufactured at LANL.  It does not meet the seismic requirements of a Hazard Category 3 facility.

The second part was a Super Wal-Mart-sized Nuclear Facility, which was defeated through citizen action in New Mexico and across the country.  In 2014, it was officially canceled.

Since then, DOE gave itself permission to increase the amount of plutonium allowed in the RLUOB from 8.4 grams to 400 grams, which increased its rating to a Hazard Category 3 facility.  https://nuclearactive.org/doe-gives-itself-permission-to-increase-plutonium-in-cmrr-without-required-nepa-analysis/  And now, DOE has issued DOE 140.1 to eliminate the Board’s oversight of it.

To learn more, please check out previous Updates, with links to important documents, at https://nuclearactive.org/chairman-tries-to-abolish-the-defense-nuclear-facilities-safety-board/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-100-028-NA-1-Welcome-Letter-ARCHIVE.pdf ; http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/DOE-O-140.1-Interface-with-the-Defense-Nuclear-Facilities-Safety-Board.pdf ; https://nuclearactive.org/dnfsb-public-hearing-about-doe-interface-on-august-28th/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/santa-fe-county-commissioners-call-for-suspension-of-doe-order-140-1/ ; https://nuclearactive.org/ana-opposes-new-doe-order/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/doe-must-hold-hearings-in-new-mexico-about-order-140-1/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/safety-board-holds-nov-28-live-streamed-public-hearing/http://nuclearactive.org/public-comments-at-safety-board-hearing-say-it-all/  ; and http://nuclearactive.org/feb-21-safety-board-public-hrg-livestreamed-from-abq/

Also see September 27, 2018 comments submitted to the Board by Nuclear Watch New Mexico at https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/DNFSB-NWNM-comments-on-DOE-Order-140.1.pdf


Did you know about these upcoming events?

1.    Friday, February 15 – The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment will host “Uranium Workers’ Day” at the NM Legislature.  The press conference will begin at 11 am in the Rotunda.  https://swuraniumimpacts.org/uranium-workers-day-feb-15th/
2.    Sunday, March 17th, 2019 Benefit Fundraiser for the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM, from 1 to 5 pm.  Music, dancing, food, silent auction, door prizes.  Tickets will be available soon! Flyer: TBDC benefit poster  Stay tuned! https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/
3.  Saturday, April 6th, the Trinity Site, on the White Sands Missile Range, is open to the public from 8 am to 2 pm.  The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will hold two peaceful demonstrations – one at the Tularosa Gate; the other at the Stallion Gate, near San Antonio.  Stay tuned for more details.  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/
 

Feb. 21 Safety Board Public Hrg Livestreamed from ABQ

The Department of Energy Order 140.1 will be the topic for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board public hearing during the evening of Thursday, February 21st, in Albuquerque.  The Department of Energy (DOE) order restricts the Board’s access to personnel, facilities, and documents for some of the most dangerous nuclear weapons facilities located across the country.  http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/DOE-O-140.1-Interface-with-the-Defense-Nuclear-Facilities-Safety-Board.pdf

The restrictions are contrary to congressional legislation that established the Safety Board in 1988.  The Board’s statutory mission is to “provide independent analysis, advice, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy … in providing adequate protection of public health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.”

The hearing will be held in Albuquerque from 5:30 pm to 9 pm Mountain Time, at the Albuquerque Convention Center, 401 Second Street, Northwest.  It will be live streamed from the Board’s website at dnfsb.gov.  A link will be posted there on the day of the hearing.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings/february-21-public-hearing

Witnesses include four managers from the three DOE sites in New Mexico, which are Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).  The scheduled witnesses are:  Todd Shrader, the WIPP manager; Jeffery Harrell, the Sandia Field Office manager; Doug Hintze, the Los Alamos clean-up manager; and William (Steve) Goodrum, the Los Alamos nuclear weapons program manager.  The Board’s Technical Director, Chris Roscetti, will also testify.  https://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/meeting/Albuquerque%20Hearing%20Agenda_1.pdf

The Board invites you to attend the hearing and participate in the public comment portion from 7:15 to 8:50 p.m.  If you would like to speak, please pre-register by emailing your request by February 19th to hearing@dnfsb.gov.

This hearing is the third about the DOE Order.  To view the previous hearings on August 28, 2018 and November 28, 2018, visit dnfsb.gov/public-hearings-meetings.

To learn more, please check out previous Updates, with links to important documents, at https://nuclearactive.org/chairman-tries-to-abolish-the-defense-nuclear-facilities-safety-board/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-100-028-NA-1-Welcome-Letter-ARCHIVE.pdf ; https://nuclearactive.org/dnfsb-public-hearing-about-doe-interface-on-august-28th/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/santa-fe-county-commissioners-call-for-suspension-of-doe-order-140-1/ ; https://nuclearactive.org/ana-opposes-new-doe-order/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/doe-must-hold-hearings-in-new-mexico-about-order-140-1/ ; http://nuclearactive.org/safety-board-holds-nov-28-live-streamed-public-hearing/ ; and  http://nuclearactive.org/public-comments-at-safety-board-hearing-say-it-all/   Also see September 27, 2018 comments submitted to the Board by Nuclear Watch New Mexico at https://nukewatch.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/DNFSB-NWNM-comments-on-DOE-Order-140.1.pdf

The order, entitled, “Interface with the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board,” was issued last May, without public notice and opportunity to comment.

One issue of particular concern is the Board’s oversight of both worker and public health and safety.  The new Order eviscerates the Board’s oversight to only public health and safety outside a facility’s boundary.

Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen, and former CCNS Board Chair, encouraged the public’s participation at this important nuclear safety hearing.  Hansen said, “The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board is an important board that works to keep workers, the public, and the environment safe from Los Alamos and their completely unstable safety record.  The Trump administration is trying to reduce the Board’s oversight with Order 140.1.  Don’t let them take away the Board’s critical oversight.  We need the Board to be stronger, not weaker.   Please make the time to attend and participate in this important hearing.  Everybody counts!”  https://www.santafecountynm.gov/county_commissioners/anna_hansen


Did you know about these upcoming events?

1.    Friday, February 15 – The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment will host “Uranium Workers’ Day” at the NM Legislature.  The press conference will begin at 11 am in the Rotunda.  https://swuraniumimpacts.org/uranium-workers-day-feb-15th/

2.    Sunday, March 17th, 2019 Benefit Fundraiser for the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, NM, from 1 to 5 pm.  Music, dancing, food, silent auction, door prizes.  Tickets will be available soon!  Stay tuned! https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/

3.  Saturday, April 6th, the Trinity Site, on the White Sands Missile Range, is open to the public from 8 am to 2 pm.  The Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium will hold two peaceful demonstrations – one at the Tularosa Gate; the other at the Stallion Gate, near San Antonio.  Stay tuned for more details.  https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/